Monday, December 6, 2010

Franciscan Christmas

In Franciscan spirituality, the Incarnation is an important event. It is the great gift of the Most High Father of His Son, Jesus Christ who, out of Love, through His own poverty becomes One with us.

For Father Francis, the Incarnation was a time of great joy. Bethlehem spoke of the love and poverty of God. It was by the example of God, the Word made Flesh – that our Holy Father Saint Francis embraced Lady Poverty and begin our Way of Life. In the year 1223, in the small town of Greccio, that he built a new Bethlehem.

Today, more than ever, the goal of every Franciscan is to make every city, every place a new Greccio, where Jesus the Christ becomes a real, living experience. However, we can never create the new Greccio if we do not experience poverty.

Poverty flees the emptiness of the world and seeks the fullness of life in Christ. It loves little things, and is content with the ordinary things of life. For Franciscans, poverty is making things our slaves instead of enslaving us to things. When one is poor, he can possess nothing but God.

May the Peace of the Lord be with you this Christmas. May your have a Franciscan Christmas. God bless you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Profession as a Secular Franciscan

Finally last September 25, 2010, I, together with two brothers and two sisters, made my solemn profession as a Secular Franciscan. The road to being a Franciscan has truly begun.

At the moment, I am overwhelmed by the challenges I am facing. There are still a lot of rough edges I need to smoothen. At the moment, I consider 'liberating myself from myself' at the top of the list for me to truly live the counsels as Saint Francis did. Please pray for us, that we would persevere in our vocation.

Bro. Albert

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thoughts on the Secular Franciscan Order

The Franciscan family is not just an apostolic family. In reality, it is a fraternal family. Francis left to his sons and daughters a strong fraternal spirit in his writings and by way of personal example. Nothing was more important to him than his brothers and sisters. It is this spirit of brotherhood that has drawn so many millions to the Franciscan family through the centuries.

Francis, too, was very unique in his way of doing things. He was the first religious founder to introduce the idea of a secular religious order into the Church.

What has kept the Secular Franciscan Order alive for 800 years has been the great love its members have for Francis. Those who joined the order were inspired by his journey and his application of the Gospel.

Franciscan brothers and sisters are to spend time reflecting on Francis' spirituality. This gathering is a school where the individual learns how to live the Gospel using Francis' manner in the world. People should then take notice of the different set of values he lives.

It is important to keep one thing clear: the Secular Franciscan believes that the secular world is holy and that secular brothers and sisters can live a religious life in this world, without having to enter a monastery. The Secular Order must always protect and preserve the secular lifestyle, but not the worldly lifestyle. There is a difference.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

True Devotion to Saint Francis

True devotion to Saint Francis must not strive to attain nor merely admire the spirit of the Poverello and his way of life. True devotion to Saint Francis involves loving what the saint loved with his form of love and the purpose of his he love for it.

Historical sources on the life of Saint Francis clearly indicate this preeminent love in the heart of Saint Francis. On the morning of February 24, 1208 A.D. at the Portziuncula, outside Assisi, he declared: ‘This is what I want; this is what I long for with all my heart.’

The Saint said this as a reaction to a passage of scripture that the priest had explained to him at the Mass in honor of Saint Matthias, the Apostle – our Lord sending out the Apostles and establishing the apostolic life of mendicancy.

This form of life was the essential hallmark of the spirituality and religious consecration of the Poor Man of Assisi. This is the key to his life and love of Christ Crucified.

It follows then, that true devotion to Saint Francis necessitates the essential adoption of the evangelical life of mendicancy in all its rigor and simplicity, not because Saint Francis lived it, but because Christ taught it.

Such devotion requires, then, nothing less that a return to and resolute observance of the precepts of the Rule of Saint Francis. This is the form of life that the Saint wanted expressly to hand down to his children as a perpetual inheritance and heritage. This Rule embodies simply and rigorously the principles of the life that Christ taught to the Apostles.

To be a true son of Saint Francis is to be an observer of the Rule. One who finds the essence and form of his life, vocation, and charism, not in the constitutions or statutes or customs and practices of the Franciscan community to which he may belong; but rather, one who finds essence and form of his consecrated life and vocation; indeed of his very identity and destiny in the Rule of Saint Francis, and holds this to be the very day to day discipline that guides his personal life and apostolate.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

True Devotion

The word ‘devotion’ is derived from the Latin verb ‘devovere’, meaning ‘to consecrate’. Devotion is nothing more than fidelity and resoluteness in the following of Christ after an admirable example.

The devoted follower is one who has consecrated his entire life to discipleship. While a devotee of a saint is often associated with one who invokes his patron saint in his daily prayers and frequents celebrations, churches, and chapels in the saint's honor, the devoted follower, the devoted disciple, is someone much more. For him, the imitation of the saint is the fundamental character of his existence, the foundation of his identity and the key to his personal destiny in Christ.

One can imitate a saint by incorporating the saint’s behavior, ideals, habits, customs, and virtues into his life. However, this form of devotion moves only on the material level. True devotion to a Saint requires a formal union of heart and mind with the Saint. There is no greater imitation than for the disciple to become one with his teacher. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught this kind of devotion when He said of His own disciples, ‘No disciple is greater than his Master; a disciple should rejoice to be like his Master.’

True devotion then, to a Saint must transcend material devotion. For such a devotion fails to incorporate the truth in Christ that the Saints are means not ends to imitation of Christ Jesus, the One Teacher of all. To truly imitate a Saint then, is to make the desire, wisdom, and resoluteness that was his to follow and imitate Christ, one's own. In such a manner, devotion to a Saint is transfigured into authentic Christian life and perfection.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


After having spoken at length concerning what Franciscan spirituality is, let us find out who is a true Franciscan.

He is a true Franciscan passionate with the threefold desire of our Seraphic Father. ‘Our holy Father Francis… burned with a threefold desire: that he might be a perfect imitator of Christ by perfect virtue; likewise that he would be able to cling to God alone through his love for constant contemplation; and also that he would be able to gain many for God and save the souls for whom Christ willed to be crucified and to die.''

‘He did not consider himself a friend of Christ unless he cared for souls, whom Christ redeemed. He said that nothing was to be preferred to the salvation of souls, proving this especially by the fact that the Only–begotten Son of God deigned to hang upon a cross for them.' ' Hence he who is not inflamed with the desire to gain souls for Christ is not a true Franciscan. Celano tells us: ‘We are sent to the aid of priests for the salvation of souls, so that what may be found wanting in them, may be supplied by us.’

All Franciscans are called to the Apostolate, but to an apostolate that is preached more effectively by actions than by words. In his first rule, Saint Francis says: ‘Let all… preach by their deeds,’ that is, by example. But even more than this, souls are saved by prayer, sacrifice, and suffering, following the example of Christ, who performed the greatest work of Redemption on the Cross.

The abundant harvest of the Apostolate is not limited to only a few. All ordained friars, nuns, secular and lay brothers and sisters should work for the salvation of souls. In other words, the entire family, as one entity, has the duty of sharing in the Apostolate. The reason for this is that Christ is the true Savior of souls, and Christ Himself lives and works in the community. Hence the Apostolate does not consist in the work of the preacher only, or the one given to prayer, or the sufferer alone, but each one acting according to his own individual calling but all toward a common end.

What a marvelous work of charity this is, which constitutes the Apostolate of Christ as well as the Apostolate of the community. He also is a true Franciscan who is passionate with the second desire of our Seraphic Father: ‘that he would be able to cling to God alone, through his love for constant contemplation.’

The goal of every soul is to be united with Almighty God in perfect love. This union is the necessary condition for every Apostolate for preaching and suffering. Unless God Himself works within a person, his preaching, whether it is by words or actions, is to no avail. A person's sufferings are of no value unless he suffers in Christ, making up for ‘those things that are lacking in His sufferings.’

Finally, a true Franciscan is on fire with the prime desire to become one with Christ by imitation of Him, transformation into Him, and identification with Him. Union with God, and a return to the Father are not achieved except by one who becomes another Christ: ‘No one comes to the Father but through Me.’

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Saint Francis desired that these times be spent in manual labor in order to avoid idleness, but always in such way as to forestall any danger to our life of prayer and contemplation. In the Holy Rule, our Seraphic Father directs: ‘Let the friars work faithfully and devotedly so that, having done away with idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish in themselves the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, to which all temporal things should be subservient.''

Likewise, in order to dispel idleness, the intellectual labor necessary for the Apostolate must be pursued. ‘To those friars who were asking whether or not it pleased him that the learned men, who had already been received into the Order, should devote themselves to study Sacred Scripture, Francis responded: 'It is indeed pleasing to me. But following the example of Christ, Who, we know, did more praying than reading, let them not omit the pursuit of prayer, nor let them study only for the purpose of learning how to speak. But they should study so that they may do the things they have learned, and when they have done these things, let them teach others to practice them also.'‘

Thus, Franciscans to whom God has given the grace to study, ought to regard study not only as a means of obtaining knowledge, but should value it even more as a basis for action. Moreover, they should preach more by their deeds than by their words. We read that ‘Blessed Francis did not want his friars to be desirous of knowledge and books, but he desired and preached to them that they should be eager to have and to imitate that pure and holy simplicity in which the saints and early Fathers of the Church were steeped. And he believed this a more secure way to obtain the salvation of souls.''

To sum up, therefore, let us remember that knowledge and study, as well as the entire active life, should all conduce to the contemplative life -- to fostering union with God. Otherwise we could not extol their value, but rather the contrary, they would have to be discouraged as being detrimental to the spiritual life. If however, knowledge and study are utilized in the right spirit, besides being necessary for the Apostolate, they can actually be counted as among the best means of attaining perfection!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Contemplation and Activity Part II

We say this because all of the Franciscan's work and all his love will be directed to God, since he sees Christ Himself in his brethren. Hence his apostolate draws him deeper into the contemplative life, and he daily grows closer and closer to the one goal of all souls – union with God by love. It is well to note that when the contemplative life becomes rather difficult in the midst of external activity, it is best and often necessary, to observe days of recollection, in order to foster a greater union with God.

It is also beneficial to establish retreat houses where the Franciscans, over a protracted period of time, may be able to replenish the spiritual energy that they have expended in the Apostolate. Bypassing such periods in recollection, we are following the example of our Seraphic Father, who often retired to Mt. Alvernia or other suitable places for this same purpose. There, after the arduous task of preaching to the laity, he found a safe refuge where he could speak, undisturbed, with God.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Prayer and Contemplation II

All of the Franciscan's work and all his love is directed to God, since he sees Christ Himself in his brethren. Hence his apostolate draws him deeper into the contemplative life, and he daily grows closer and closer to the one goal of all souls – union with God by love. It is well to note that when the contemplative life becomes rather difficult in the midst of external activity, it is best and often necessary, to observe days of recollection, in order to foster a greater union with God.

It is also beneficial to establish retreat houses where the Franciscans, over a protracted period of time, may be able to replenish the spiritual energy that they have expended in the Apostolate. Bypassing such periods in recollection, we are following the example of our Seraphic Father, who often retired to Mt. Alvernia or other suitable places for this same purpose. There, after the arduous task of preaching to the laity, he found a safe refuge where he could speak, undisturbed, with God.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


As we continue our discussion of Franciscan prayer, the question arises: ‘Exactly what effect does prayer have on the Franciscan life?’ The answer is simple. As we have already seen, Saint Francis desired that his sons should practice continuous prayer, with the result that the Franciscan life is eminently contemplative. But the love of our brethren in Christ, Who desires the perfection and completion of His Mystical Body, makes our life also an active form of religious life. This activity finds its outlet in the exercise of the Apostolate. The life of the Franciscan, therefore, is not first of all active and then contemplative; but rather, our activity is the result of the abundance of our contemplation.

Contemplation is the source of love, and love inflames souls with zeal for the Apostolate. Thus contemplation and prayer occupy the first place in Franciscan spirituality. This is so because our way of life is entirely supernatural and we must look to God for all things, trusting neither in our own strength, nor in mere human means. Moreover, there is a mutual reciprocity between the Franciscan contemplative life and apostolic works. For, just as the former leads to the active ministry, so also does the Apostolate lead to contemplation; which should bring the Franciscan into a closer union with God.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Habit of Prayer Part II

Saint Bonaventure says: ‘Francis firmly enjoined that the grace of prayer should be desired above all things by every religious man. He believed that no man can progress in the service of God without it, and he exhorted the friars, by every means in his power, to seek this grace.''

How wonderful is Franciscan prayer! It seeks the union of love; it is indeed the exercise of that very union of love. But in addition to this, the purpose of Franciscan prayer is to honor and glorify Almighty God. We Franciscans need look no further than our Seraphic Father to find out how this is done. In his ‘Canticle of Brother Sun,’ Saint Francis gives us the key to the hymns of praise that he would have all creatures sing to their Creator.

Concerning this Canticle, he says: ‘I wish to formulate a new hymn to the Lord, for His glory, for my consolation, and for the edification of my neighbor. It is to be based on His creatures which we use daily, without which we cannot live, through which the human race so often offends its Creator, and for which we are continually ungrateful. God has generously given us these creatures, yet we do not praise our Creator and Giver of all good things as we should.'' By means of this Canticle of Brother Sun, our Seraphic Patriarch wished all his sons to become ‘priests of creation,’ singing the praises of God on behalf of all created things. He wished them to lead an intimate life with God and all creatures in a union of love. We know that ‘only one thing is necessary’: to love and thus to live in union with God who is Charity, Unity, and Love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The only way to lead this life of divine love, in which all are made one in perfect Franciscan joy, is to cultivate intensely the life of prayer and contemplation. This is not a prayer that is performed only at a scheduled time; it is the type of prayer that characterized our Seraphic Father.

Saint Francis lived habitually in God and appeared a ‘living prayer.’ Celano tells us: ‘Thus he directed every thought and affection as one prayer which he addressed to the Lord, not so much like one praying, but as a living prayer.’ Such prayer implies a complete union with Almighty God, not only at the time appointed for prayer, but also during the course of the entire day.

Hence the admonition of Our Blessed Lord is fulfilled: ‘that they must always pray.'' Moreover, the supernatural life demands this habit of prayer, and consequently it is a requirement of our own Franciscan life and spirit. In his first rule Saint Francis shows us how complete our union with God must be: ‘In that Holy Charity which is God, I ask all the friars, both superiors and subjects, after they have put aside all burdens, anxieties, or worries, to serve, love, adore and honor the Lord God with a clean heart in whatever way they are best able. Our Lord Himself desires this above all things. And let us always fashion in ourselves a dwelling place and mansion for Him, Who is the Almighty Lord, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.''

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Charity Part II

There were chaste embraces, tender affection, fraternal kisses, pleasant conversations, modest laughing, cheerful countenances, guileless eyes, humble spirits, peaceful words, gentle answers and proposals, ready compliance and willing hands. Indeed, since they despised all earthly things and never exclusively considered their own interests, they were filled with a love for everyone, freely giving themselves so that they might aid their brethren in every possible way.’

This is Franciscan charity that, according to the words of Saint John, turns community life into a paradise: ‘No one has ever seen God.’ But ‘if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.’

This is the charity which unites all of the brethren into one, thus fulfilling Our Divine Lord's prayer: ‘That all may be one!’ Franciscan charity is the supernatural bond uniting all in the one spirit of love. It is infinitely above all human love, yet it is the greatest human love. Our Seraphic Father urges us to espouse it by reminding us: ‘If a mother nourishes and loves her son according to the flesh, how much more diligently should one love and minister to his spiritual brother!’

Moreover, Seraphic love is the source of all Franciscan perfection, for, by means of it, God and our brothers are loved in the Holy Spirit. Hence Francis might say to us in all truth: ‘Love and this suffices!’ For he who truly loves God, his brothers, and all creatures in God, is perfectly poor. This is true because no one can love to such a degree unless he is detached from all things for God's sake, who must be loved completely and above all else.

He who possesses true love is likewise already chaste and obedient, enjoying full freedom of spirit. We say this because he who is desirous only of Infinite Love will not allow himself to be held back by any lower passion; he will not be shackled by any bond of creatures. Finally, the life of the Franciscan who loves truly is already filled with perfect joy, for this is the reward of love and the complete crucifixion of one's nature: by which he has actually arrived at Infinite Love – the highest joy and happiness.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Now we shall speak of Franciscan charity that embraces all creatures, especially our fellow men. The very first place in our Franciscan hearts should be occupied by ‘those who are of the household of faith,'' our own brethren who, with us, constitute one family, an intimate unity. What a marvelous example of charity and unity we can find in the first Franciscans and the first Christian communities! Their only law was the new commandment of Our Lord: ‘Love one another as I have loved you!’
Thomas of Celano tells us: ‘A noble structure was built on the foundation of a true and constant charity. Upon it the living stones, gathered from all parts of the world, were fashioned into a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. How the ardor of charity glowed in the new disciples of Christ! How great was their love for their holy community, and how this love continued to grow in them! When they chanced to come together or met somewhere on the road, there was always evidence of spiritual affection, which also sowed in the hearts of others the seed of true affection. This love was based upon a complete dedication to true love.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Franciscan Poverty part II

Pope Pius XII

The following are the words from Pius XII regarding our observance of holy poverty. ‘Poverty is so necessary and so much a part of the evangelical doctrine, that a Christian has very little regard for his salvation, if he does not at least hold this virtue in high esteem and divert his desires from worldly interests. Hence it is necessary that there be in the Church those, who distinguished by their observance of poverty, act as beacons leading and reminding others to practice it. These souls are you Franciscans, provided that you do not deviate from your ancient and venerable rule. Strive therefore, to preserve a becoming poverty in your houses and possessions… Be poor in your garb and your manner of life. Work therefore, to become exceedingly rich, by the grace of God, in those things which are true riches, and which engender virtue in those who are willing. And pour out these riches upon others with a generous hand.''

From what we have already said concerning poverty as a condition for perfect love of God, perhaps one would be led to believe that the Franciscan life is one devoid of all affection for creatures, and that our days must be passed in the frigid air of a false detachment. It is quite the opposite.

Poverty denotes the fullness of true love. But love of the Infinite God, which is man's only true happiness, does not exclude a right love of creatures. Rather, it includes it, since ‘he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.’ Love of creatures therefore, is not only consistent with Franciscan spirituality, but a sign of it. By a correct love of creatures we direct all our love ultimately to God, and hence nothing is detracted from the love due to Him, if we love all things in and for God. Thus poverty is truly the correct guide to loving all creatures in the right way, because by it we abandon all things for the love of God. We then acquire the correct perspective toward creatures, loving them not for themselves, but because of God and in God who is present in them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Francis loved the poverty that he saw in Christ and in His Blessed Mother, but he saw it only as a condition for the infinite love that occupied his every desire. He realized so well that only Christ, God alone, is worthy of infinite love; and on the other hand, he knew that we poor mortals are incapable of loving infinitely and completely. But Francis conceived a way out of this dilemma.

Perfect poverty is the answer to perfect love in so far as a creature is able to love perfectly. We must withdraw our hearts from the attachment to all other love, and give them to Almighty God by complete poverty. Such poverty entails the surrender of every material thing, and even more; namely, the uprooting of all vanity and pride by perfect simplicity and humility. It also requires the renunciation of oneself and one's own will in perfect obedience. How necessary then, is poverty, if the love of God, which demands absolute detachment, cannot be attained without it!

It is therefore especially true in the case of the Franciscan that poverty must be a characteristically Franciscan virtue and must be outstanding in us.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


In his Christ–centered spirituality, the Franciscan is co–crucified in his own humanity with Christ,thus enabling him to live supernaturally and divinely in Him. There follows quite naturally from this Christ–centered spirit, the traditional Franciscan attachment to the Holy Mother of Jesus.
In his devotion to the Mother of Christ, the Franciscan, who is united with and transformed into Christ,makes Mary his own Mother. How can it be otherwise, for it was Mary who begot Christ, and hence it is Mary who has given the True Life to the Franciscan.

Mary is our Mother because she is the Mother of the Head of the Mystical Body, of which we are members.She is the one Mother of the One Christ. Francis ‘embraced the Mother of Jesus with an indescribable love,because she made the Lord of Majesty our brother.’ Moreover, how great should be the Franciscan's love for the Most Holy Eucharist! Is not the Sacred Host upon our altars the corporeal presence of our Beloved Christ,who is the life of our life, the Host offered upon the cross, for love of us, in union with whom is our entire perfection and our entire love?

‘Francis was on fire with love for the Sacrament of the Body of the Lord with every fiber of his being, holding Its dignity and right to our devoted love, in greatest awe.’

Sunday, March 7, 2010


The devotion of the Franciscan toward Christ crucified expresses the deep compassion that he has for the Savior in the greatest manifestation of His love. But the true meaning of this devotedness has a deeper purpose than merely compassion.
The Franciscan devotion to Christ crucified indicates a desire for one's own crucifixion, so that dying with Christ, we may live with Him, through Him, and in Him, in a new supernatural mode of life. To what avail would one weep over the death of Jesus, unless he dies with Him in a union of love? The Seraphic Doctor, Saint Bonaventure, admonishes us to bear our cross joyfully if we would be loyal followers
of Christ. ‘The true lover of God and disciple of Christ, who desires to be conformed perfectly with the Savior of all mankind Who was crucified for him, ought to pursue this union with great zeal. Then he shall be able to bear the Cross of Christ wherever he goes, both in mind and in body; and the words of the Apostle shall be verified in him.''

Sunday, February 28, 2010


First and foremost in the heart of our Seraphic Father and all us is the love of Christ crucified. This love, however, has to be aided with a love for poverty for it to grow and mature. Hence we say that poverty together with love, constitute the essence of Franciscan spirituality. These elements cannot be separated because love of Christ cannot exist alone without poverty, and on the other hand, poverty alone is merely a negative virtue, a means, not an end. The purpose of our life is love, and thus poverty has no value except it be united with love.

We know that Saint Francis denied himself all things so that his entire love might be given to Love itself, and he did this ‘with his whole heart and soul, and with his whole strength.’ He realized that if he were in any way to give himself to a love other than the love of God, he would fall far short of his goal. Perfect Love will not allow itself to be divided.

Is the love of Christ and identification with Him, rightly called Christ–centered spirituality, the ultimate end of our endeavors as Franciscans? It is not, but only the proximate means to the ultimate end, the love of Infinite Love.

‘I am the way,’ Christ has told us. He was and is the way to the Father in the unity of Infinite Love.

What, then, constitutes Christ–centered Franciscan spirituality?

It is a combination of poverty and love, the means by which a Franciscan strives for a union with Infinite Love. By the detachment of oneself in all things, and by love of Christ crucified, he is transformed into Christ. In Christ, the Franciscan acquires His perfection, and he lives Christ's life. But this is done for one purpose only: that by loving Christ, he may be enabled to love the Father, and thus participate in a union with Infinite Love.

Saint Francis prays, ‘I beseech You O Lord, that the fiery and sweet strength of Holy Love, may absorb my mind from all things which are under Heaven, so that I may die for love of You Love, as You did demeaned Yourself to die for love of my love.’

Our Seraphic Father directed his love to the Incarnate and Crucified Love, so that this Love might lead him to the end he sought so tirelessly. ‘Through Him, with Him, and in Him,’ the Franciscan must work to acquire a participation in His life -- in the bosom of the Trinity, in the unity of Infinite Love. Then the heart, created for Infinite Love, may take its rest, for it has fulfilled its destiny. ‘You alone are Good, all Good, the Highest Good, the Lord God, living and true, You are charity, Love.’

Monday, February 15, 2010


Although each type of spirituality must abide by the teaching found in the Holy Gospel, it is the manner in which Saint Francis lived the Gospel that differentiates his spirituality from others. For him, the Gospel is simply Christ and His life. Indeed, the evangelical doctrine is nothing but the life of Christ, for Christ first acted and then proceeded to teach. Hence the spirituality of the Franciscan must center about the contemplation of Christ crucified.

As Saint Francis contemplated on Christ, his heart was filled with love and he desired nothing else but to become one with his Beloved. This is the result of a love that unites the lover and the Beloved; and this is the goal of every true Franciscan.

A Franciscan to be in union with the Christ crucified will only be effected when he possesses Christ Himself, and with Christ, the virtues of Christ. He becomes one with Christ by imitation of Him, transformation into Him, and identification with Him, so that he may exclaim with Saint Paul: ‘It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.’

This is the truly supernatural life. This is the Christian perfection to which we are called – the perfection of Christ in us! When the ‘old man’ is dead to himself, he makes way for the ‘new man,’ i.e., for Christ living in us, so that the mystical Christ may become one in all.

The words of Saint Paul found in the office of the Stigmata of Saint Francis, provides an excellent description of Franciscan spirituality. ‘With Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.’ Saint Francis, inspired by love, lived these words. We as his followers, must also live them.

The love of Francis for Christ crucified is a response to the love for us that Christ expressed on the Cross, and it is the source of Francis' self–crucifixion by mortification, poverty, and humility. For, since the foundation of Franciscan spirituality is the love of Christ and, through that love, union with Him, this crucifixion must be undergone. It is only by crucifixion of the self through mortification, humility, and poverty, that one is transformed into Christ. This transformation into the likeness of Christ, or conformity with Christ, cannot be secured except through the destruction of the ‘old man’ in us, so that we may live as new men in Christ.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Having seen that each religious order has a spirituality that is its own, we look at our own way to holiness – the Franciscan way. The spirituality of each order is based upon the intention of its founder, to whom Christ assigned a special place and work in His Mystical Body and a particular way of holiness, along which he was to lead others to sanctity. Hence we need only to look to our Seraphic Father to find out the manner by which we are to attain holiness.

Pope Pius XII, has this to say concerning us Franciscans and our Seraphic Father: ‘The Patriarch of Assisi, the most fiery lover of the Gospel, the herald of the Great King, the shining image of Christ, wields an indescribable influence upon the hearts of all men. This influence is so great that he very frequently draws to his love even those who do not profess the Catholic Faith. How much more, then, should you who are his sons and followers, give an example of extraordinary devotion to him! Let this devotion however be evidenced more by your actions than by your words. If you truly love him, follow his precepts, walk faithfully in his footsteps, become inflamed by the inspiration of his seraphic spirit.’

We see it in the very first words of our Rule: ‘To observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, our Seraphic Father longed for the simple observance of the Gospel. In these words of the Rule we see the simple man. He was not tainted by the influences of pagan literature, philosophy or ethics. Thomas of Celano states: ‘His greatest desire and foremost purpose was to observe the Holy Gospel in all and through all things, to follow the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ perfectly and to imitate His life with all care, with consuming zeal, with his whole mind and with all the fervor of his heart.’

To do this, our way must follow that of our Seraphic Father – complete acceptance of the Holy Gospel, led solely by the rule of Divine Love with the desire for perfection and holiness, observing ‘…poverty, humility, and the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as we firmly promised.'

We see the distinguishing character of our way to God – the observance of the purity of the Gospel, which we are to keep free from any influence that would detract from its teaching. We are to live and preserve it in its integrity, vigilant lest we fall into only a partial observance of it or look upon it with the prejudiced eye. Moreover, our total dedication to its observance must find its strength in Love. ‘You shall love the Lord Your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole strength, and with your whole mind.'

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


CATHOLIC theology teaches us that all Christians are bound to strive for holiness as they journey toward God.Regular and secular religious, however, are to seek holiness in an incomparably greater manner than that of the ordinary Christian's. Our very vocation is to live in the state of holiness – to strive daily, even hourly, to become saints.

This manner of holiness is taken upon ourselves by our profession. The manner of obtaining perfection and holiness is proper to each religious order, although essentially perfection and holiness are the same for everyone, consisting in an intimate union with God through love, in a participation in His nature and life.

God would not establish such a variety of religious institutes and inspire their founders unless He approved this difference in their mode of spirituality. We read that, ‘each religious order should have its own nature and character and it is necessary that it preserve them, if it desires to occupy the place destined for it by God in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is beautified in many ways.’

Continuing further, we find that this goal is reached only by the imitation of Christ and identification with Him. The perfection of Christ, however, is infinite and proper to Christ alone. Perfection is achieved only in the fullness of His Mystical Body, in the unity that exists in its many members. Among these members are the various religious orders, which possess their own individual spirituality.

Each order completes this Body only by the preservation of its own spirituality, sanctifying its own members, by its own proper rule. If this is not accomplished, what further reason can there be for the existence of any particular order and its members? The religious would continue to live on, but on a false basis. They would be traitors to the original purpose of their order and would be straying completely from the path of sanctity.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Creed and Mission of a Disciple

A Blessed New Year to all. A brother of mine (a Secular Franciscan) wrote a short piece on the mission of a Disciple of Christ. Here it is.

The Creed and Mission of a Disciple

As a disciple of my Lord and Savior,
I profess that

Through Jesus Christ
we have been given the perfect gift,
the Incarnation of the Love of God.

Through His birth,
we have been given the hope of redemption in Him.

Through His death,
we have been given His infinite compassion and mercy.

Through His resurrection,
we have been given the fulfillment of the promises of our faith in Him.

And through His Holy Spirit,
we have been given the grace

to become witnesses of His Love.

to be instruments of His Will,

to be servants in leading others to Him,

that we may be all united
in the peaceful bliss of eternal life.

By this creed,
I live and sanctify my daily life.

For this mission,
I commit and consecrate my whole self.
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