Monday, November 21, 2011

Fraternity Mission Statement

Mission Statement of the
Glory of the Most High (Yahweh) Secular Franciscan Fraternity

The Glory of the Most High Secular Franciscan Fraternity (canonically established as the Glory of Yahweh Secular Franciscan Fraternity) is a canonically established branch of the 800 year old order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi that exists to help its members live the Gospel life and so be equipped to rebuild the Church as our father St. Francis was called to do by Jesus Himself.

We begin this work of faith with OURSELVES. By experiencing ongoing formation through prayer and study in fraternity, the Holy Spirit guides our salvation and sanctification in keeping with:

the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church,
and Franciscan Spirituality.

In this way, as we grow in Christian holiness, by the grace of God, we are enabled, more and more, to minister to the LORD Himself by:

acts of worship,
lives of reparation,
and obedience to His will.

We are also enabled to minister to EACH OTHER with growing affection and with the Spirit-filled gifts that are being given to each of us for the sake of the Fraternity.

In this way we are also enabled to reach out to the WORLD as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission:

By providing a Franciscan presence so that others who are similarly called may hear that call and have a fraternity to join in order to fulfill it.

By witnessing in each of our lives and words to the fullness of truth in our various vocations and apostolates, and by supporting each other as needed in these ministries.

By joining together from time to time in apostolates that, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are called to as a Fraternity.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Spirituality of the TAU

From the speech, BELONGING TO THE SFO
By: The late Emanuela De Nunzio SFO, former General Minister of the SFO,
And consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The external sign of belonging/identity of the Secular Franciscan is the TAU … St. Francis highly regarded and honored this sign, the symbol of conversion…The exterior sign of the TAU gives testimony which by grace we connect ourselves to the "spirituality of the cross". We reread Rule n. 10: “...Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions." Let us reread also art. 10 of the General Constitutions: the Cross is “the ‘book’ in which the brothers and sisters, in imitation of Francis, learn the purpose and the way of living, loving, and suffering.” When we were working on updating the Constitutions, the request came in from a national Fraternity to abolish or to change this article because it was too pessimistic. What is more optimistic than to give to our suffering an eternal and universal value?

He who does not accept the mystery of the cross will never find peace, nor will he find any answer to the eternal questions of man about the meaning of suffering, of illness, of death, of the uncertainty of existence. He will never understand the great love that is hidden in the wounds of the Cross. He will never know how to put himself in the wounds of His sacred side, of the hands and feet of Christ with the confession of Thomas: “my Lord and my God”; or with the discovery of Paul: “(Christ) loved me first and he gave himself for me”, or with the invocation of Francis: “that I may die for the love of your love, like you have deigned to die for the love of my love”. There is no other explanation for suffering and pain if not on the horizon of love.

In the homily for the canonization of St. Padre Pio of Pietralcina (June 16, 2002), John Paul II affirmed that our times have a need to “rediscover the spirituality of the cross in order to re-open the heart of hope.” Hope in a world in which “every tear will be dried”, but also the hope of improving the human condition in this world, making it more just and evangelical through the practice of Christian virtue and through the works of mercy.

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Message to all SFO members

From: Encarnación del Pozo, OFS, General Minister
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil - October 29, 2011


Dear Brothers and Sisters,May the Lord give you peace! It gives us great joy to offer you warmest greeting from the whole chapter of the OFS, which met for the very first time in South America in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

From this place, we want to share with you the enthusiasm and spiritual energy that this chapter has given to each and everyone of us.

The order is growing! It is growing not only in numbers but also in awareness of its identity, of its proper place in the Family and the Church as well as in awareness of the work it must undertake in the world in continuing the mission of Francis.

The number of emerging fraternities is increasing in all parts of the world, especially in those areas where the Church exists in very difficult conditions.

Once again, the chapter exhorts us to be generous and to get involved in accompanying these fraternities both spiritually as well as materially and to assist them in formation.
Franciscan Youth is growing stronger all over the world and is a witness to us of a profound commitment of Christian and human authenticity. We have received many great signs of hope and encouragement to help us understand how much we both need each other.

We exhort you to love, get to know, and support YOUFRA.

We were forcibly and passionately challenged to discover and to live out our fundamental Christian vocation in our secular state by living radically as Francis did.

Our mission is that of the Church: “To evangelize is the grace and vocation proper to the Church; it is at the core of her identity” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 14) We are called to carry out this mission with courage, generosity and creativity.While we were in Chapter, the Holy Father in his message, asked us ” to confront with determination the evangelical challenges of this present moment, and to be builders of a civilization of love”, “witnesses and instruments of the redemptive mission of the Church, announcing Christ both by word and their own example.” It is a mission which is urgent and demanding.

We also seriously called ourselves to reflect on our engagement to build a more just and fraternal world, to become active witnesses and not just passive and distracted observers of the injustices and extreme material and spiritual poverty that a world without God imposes on a large part of humanity and creation.

We can no longer sit on the fence. The Church and the world is waiting for a courageous and effective response from us. The Church and the world has a need for Francis and for the Family of which we are the part that is the largest in number and the most deeply implicated in every place of the world.

There is still much to be done to create lines of stable and effective communication with all national fraternities and to fully develop a sense of belonging which is also attentive to the material necessities of the order. We need to be very much engaged in this way. The chapter reacted with responsibility and sensitivity to this issue. This is a great sign of consolation and hope.

We experienced moments of great fellowship with many religious brothers, our Spiritual Assistants as well as several provincial Ministers from Brazil and Paraguay. We leave with an immense sense of gratitude towards our religious brothers for the affection they have for us and for the genuine, vital and reciprocal communion that was already strong but has now grown stronger. We felt supported and surrounded by the love of our brothers of all the First Order and TOR who, through their respective Ministers General and many Provincial Ministers, sent us messages of encouragement and expressions of warm fraternal communion.

At the Monastery of the Poor Clares at “HOPE FARM”, which we visited to show our love for the Second Order and to celebrate the memory of St. Clare, we received prayerful, enthusiastic and loving support for the Chapter and for all the order. The Chapter took advantage of this special time of communion to present a preview of the message the Secular Franciscan Order will send to all the Poor Clares of the world marking the anniversary of the birth of their order.From thousands of brothers and sisters in this wonderful country, we experienced a joyous welcome as well as a great and generous hospitality.

The whole chapter was held under the maternal protection of Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, venerated here as Our Lady of Aparecida. To her, our protectress and advocate, we entrust the whole Order that she might watch over us and lead us to the full realization of our vocation and mission.

We ask the Lord to give us “wisdom and insight” to welcome the conclusions of this General Chapter with great love as well as a determination to make them part of our lives and to implement them in a courageous manner.

On behalf of all your brothers and sisters of the Chapter,
Encarnación del Pozo, OFS
General MinisterPax et bonum

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day of Recollection

All are invited on Saturday, November 5, 2011
for a day of prayer, teaching and witnessing
led by Fr. Anthony Baetzold, C.F.R. and 5 Novices
of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal Order, Bronx, NY.

St. Leo the Great Church
167 Lake Avenue, Hilton 14468

The day will begin with Mass at 9AM
and will conclude with the Divine Mercy Chaplet
and Benediction at 3PM.
Free will donations will be accepted in support of
the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Bring your own brown bag lunch!
And a beverage, fruit or snack to share.
Sponsored by local Secular Franciscan Orders:
The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Hilton, NY
Glory of the Most High, Rochester, NY.

Pax et bonum

Upbuilding God's House

Upbuilding God’s House
Marty Lynch SFO

While reading accounts of the Pope’s four day visit to Germany, I saw that, as usual, he has some wonderful things to say for the upbuilding of the Body of Christ and the re-conversion of a grossly secularized Europe. One comment stands out among the many that epitomizes the mission of his pontificate. I thought it was worthy of sharing with our Franciscan community. Here it is:
"I encourage the Church in Germany to pursue with resolute confidence the path of faith which leads people back to their roots, to the heart of the Good News of Christ. It will be small communities of believers -- and these already exist -- whose enthusiasm spreads within a pluralistic society and makes others curious to seek the light which gives life in abundance.
"Wherever God is present, there is hope: new and often unexpected horizons open up beyond the present and the ephemeral."
Just a little gem from a good shepherd’s heart that is a message, not just for all of Europe, but for our small community of believers also.

Pax et bonum

Maureen Madonia, SFO: Rest in Peace

"Eternal rest grant her O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon her.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
by the mercy of God, rest in peace"

Rest in God's merciful love, Maureen Bees Madonia,
October 12, 2011.

Pax et bonum

Friday, September 30, 2011

From the National Minister: Summer Vacations

Beloved National Family,

At the beginning of autumn, permit me to share with you one challenge and one joy of going to Vietnam, Cambodia and Brazil this past summer.

My family and I journeyed first to Vietnam, and the challenge in Vietnam was the difficulty of practicing our Catholic faith in a Communist country. At first I thought it was my nervousness or paranoia because I always felt that I and the worshippers were being watched when we attended Mass; for me, twice in Hanoi, once in Cai Be and once in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). I shared my fear of being watched and tried to laugh it off with my Vietnamese guide, who replied, "Don't laugh. You probably were being watched."

I promise you it's not a good feeling to be looking over your shoulder as you try to focus on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a language (Vietnamese) vastly different from English. Some people, even in my immediate family, take our freedom to attend Mass in America so for granted that we don't even bother to attend every Sunday. Not the Vietnamese people. I met one man who told me his daughter had been refused entrance to University in Vietnam even though she had excellent entrance examination results solely because she and her family were Catholic.

Perhaps in response to this challenge or threat, I could feel the joy of celebrating their faith within the Vietnamese Catholic Community. At every Mass I attended, regardless of city, the people sang their responses throughout the whole Mass! It was a beautiful, faith-filled call and response from the priest to the people even though I understood only a little.

Even before the Mass, people came early to pray together. In Hanoi, in the dark, but stately Cathedral of St. Joseph, with the Altar to the Sacred Heart on my left and the Altar to the Blessed Mother on my right, with statues of St. Francis and St. John Vianney on pillars flanking the Main Altar, and gentle St. Joseph guarding the Tabernacle in front of me, the entire congregation sang the Rosary together. After one decade of sung Hail Marys, I could catch the rhythm and repetition, and felt so uplifted.

In Saigon, at the famous and often-photographed Notre Dame Cathedral, we sang the Liturgy of the Hours before Mass. These strong, suffering, but joyful Catholics strengthened my faith. They were probably not sure what to make of me, but I certainly wanted to be one of them! I can only pray that I would have the courage and grace of these Vietnamese Catholics to practice my faith even when harshly opposed by my country's government if that day ever comes.

Joyful Vietnamese girls wearing their white Ao Dai's to Sunday Mass
In Cambodia, I discovered a different challenge. My family and I flew from Vietnam to Siem Riep, the jumping-off point to the great Temples of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. We were placed in a lovely hotel on a broad, tree-lined boulevard of spacious hotels. One street over on either side of this scenic boulevard were dirt hovels and, to me, desperate poverty. I have traveled to many countries, but I have never seen such pervasive poverty as I saw in Cambodia. When the monster Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge slaughtered nearly one fourth of their own people, they killed all the professionals, the doctors, teachers and educated people. They drove all the people of Phnom Penh, the capital, out to work in the rice paddies. I don't think the country has yet recovered. Ninety of the urban areas of Cambodia run on the dollar. I never even saw the local currency during my entire visit there.

Perhaps in response to this challenge flows the utter graciousness of the Cambodian people. When they greet you, they grasp their hands together as if in prayer and bow their heads in honor of meeting you. They are good listeners. They are very polite. They are also very attractive people. The little that they have they will give to you!

Please note the lovely young girl, perhaps eight or nine years old or even younger, in the picture at the beginning of this article. Can you see how dirty her hair and shirt are? Do you see the half-eaten sugar cane clutched in her hand? Her job is to sell that sugar cane to tourists stopping briefly at a rest stop along the horribly pitted main highway out of Siem Riep. Sell it, not eat it! She was so hungry, however, that she could not resist eating her own merchandise. Can you see behind her an even younger and smaller girl, perhaps her sister, perhaps only a fellow sales girl? This second girl had just come up. She said something to the bigger girl, and the girl turned to her. Even though this girl was hungry herself and even though she really shouldn't be eating her own retail products, when the other little girl came up to her and looked beseechingly at her sugar cane, this hungry girl immediately gave it to her. Perhaps this is why outside the Church of St. John in Siem Riep, not on the luxurious boulevard, but on one of the poor side streets, where I worshipped and visited with two of Blessed Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity, you find this utterly gracious Child Jesus opening His hands to the people, with a most inviting Blessed Mother behind Him.

About ten days after getting my family safely home from Vietnam and Cambodia, it was time to follow up on a personal invitation by Jim Flickinger SFO, head of Amazon Relief ( to come and visit Manaus, Brazil, where much of their ministry takes place among the good people afflicted there with leprosy, homelessness and poverty. The immediate and continuing challenge is where to begin since there are so many problems.

As you know, in the very first words of his great Testament, St. Francis wrote, "This is how God inspired me, Brother Francis, to embark upon a life of penance. When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I had pity on them. When I had once become acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became a source of spiritual and physical consolation for me. After that I did not wait long before leaving the world."

Yet after you have hugged the one suffering with leprosy or smiled at the one caught in poverty, what do you do next and every day thereafter? That's the challenge. Well, Jim and good Sister Caritas from the Missionaries of Charity and others showed me that you do what you can do for as long as you can do it. You visit those suffering from leprosy in the hospital. You help them stay clean and well fed. You dignify them. You help them be as pain-free and independent as they can be. You pray with them. You set up schools and affordable housing for their children and dependents. All of this Jim and others are doing, and the doing brings its own special reward.
The great joy I felt here and throughout my summer vacations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Brazil was that perhaps precisely because of the challenges, Christ was there. Of course, God is everywhere, but when most needed, Christ seems most present. And where God is, even in the face of leprosy, poverty and oppression, there is also and always hope, mercy and love.

I close with my embrace of a gentle and very warm soul named Angelo das Graças, whose name I translate as Angel of Thanks. You can see him below. Please pray for him; he prays for you. Of course, you can see in his face that leprosy is no fun, but Angelo was not an unhappy or bitter person. He asked how I was! As his name indicates, he was thankful for the visit, thankful for the care, thankful that his dependents were receiving help with education and housing. I'm not trying to sugarcoat this, I'm just telling you how I found him. He was and is a man of faith.

Can I "fix" Angelo's leprosy? No. Can I remove the poverty I saw in Cambodia? No. Can I defeat the Communism in Vietnam? No.

Yet "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). Let us pray that we will do what we can do to alleviate the suffering around us in the world as well as in our own families and fraternities. As Jim Flickinger always says, "We cannot do everything, but we can do something."

It often doesn't take much. I saw one lady in the hospital who had blown out her left flip-flop and didn't have the fingers left because of her leprosy to fix it. I bent down, fixed her flip-flop and put it on her foot. "Deus abençoe!" (God bless!) she said over and over. These people bless us whenever we do what we can. Lord, show us the way.

Peace and love to all,


Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feast of the Stigmata

…Blessings on this extraordinary day, the Feast of the Stigmata of our holy father…
Marty, sfo
Martin Francis Lynch, sfo
The Glory of the Most High
Franciscans, SFO

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Padre Pio Quotation

"Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace." - St. Padre Pio

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prayer for SFO Vocations


O Good and Gracious God,
God of mercy, compassion, generosity,
and love,
As we live our lives today
in the model of St. Francis,
choosing daily to live
the Gospel life,
Help us to help others
hear Your call.
Help us to help others
to recognize their vocation
as a Secular Franciscan
that You have already
planted in their heart.
Help us, so that together
we all may work
to bring the Gospel to life.

Marian R. Crosby, SFO
NAFRA Chapter 2010
Scottsdale, AZ

Pax et bonum

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Franciscan Quotation

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Pax et bonum

Monday, June 20, 2011

Corpus Christi (St. Francis)

Let the entire man be seized with fear;
let the whole world tremble;
let heaven exult when Christ,
the Son of the Living God,
is on the altar in the hands of the priest.

O admirable height and stupendous condescension!
O humble sublimity!
O sublime humility!
that the Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
so humbles Himself that for our salvation
He hides Himself under a morsel of bread.

(From a letter to all the Friars)

Pax et bonum

Monday, April 18, 2011

Franciscan Passion for Holy Week

EWTN is offering a special program for Holy Week - PASSION OF CHRIST ACCORDING TO ST. FRANCIS

Saint Francis offered a meditation on several scriptures to help his companions better understand Christ’s suffering. This program explores this meditation and is augmented by a 14th century fresco cycle of Assisi’s traditional Good Friday Procession.

The program will be broadcast Tuesday at 4:30 AM and Thursday at 9:00 PM (both times are Eastern Time).

Pax et bonum

Friday, March 11, 2011

St. Francis and Lent

(from The Little Flowers of St. Francis)


The true servant of Christ, St Francis, was in certain things like unto a second Christ given to the world for the salvation of souls. Wherefore God the Father willed that in many points he should be conformed to his Son, Jesus Christ, as we have already explained in the calling of his twelve companions, as also in the mystery of the holy stigmata, and in a fast of forty days which he made in the manner following:

St Francis, one day of the Carnival, was near the Lake of Perugia, in the house of one of his devout children, with whom he had spent the night, when he was inspired by God to go and pass the time of Lent in an island on the lake. Wherefore St Francis begged his friend, for the love of God, to convey him in his boat to an island uninhabited by man: the which he should do during the night of Ash-Wednesday, so that none might know where he was; and the friend, because of the great devotion he bore to St Francis, agreed to his request, and conveyed him to the said island, St Francis taking with him naught but two small loaves. When they had reached the island, his friend left him and returned home; the saint earnestly entreating him to reveal to no one where he was, and not to come and fetch him before Holy Thursday; to which he consented.

St Francis being left alone, and there being no dwelling in the island in which he could take shelter, entered into a thick part of the wood all overgrown with brambles and other creeping plants, and forming as it were a kind of hut, there he began to pray and enter into the contemplation of divine things. And there he passed the whole of Lent without drinking or eating save half of one of the small loaves he had taken with him, as we learned from his friend who, going to fetch him on Holy Thursday, found one of the loaves untouched and the other only half consumed. It is believed that St Francis ate this half out of reverence for our Blessed Lord, who fasted forty days and forty nights without taking any material food; for by eating this bit of bread he put aside the temptation to vainglory, and yet fasted forty days and forty nights in imitation of the Saviour. In later times God worked many miracles, through the merits of the saint, on the spot where St Francis had fasted so wonderfully, on which account people began to build houses and dwell there, and little by little a town rose up, with a convent called the Convent of the Isle; and to this day the inhabitants of that town hold in great respect and great devotion the spot in which St Francis passed the time of Lent.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day of Reflection

A wonderful Franciscan day of reflection in Hilton today!

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our Fraternity's Mission Statement

Mission Statement of the Glory of Most High Secular Franciscan Fraternity

The Glory of the Most High Secular Franciscan Fraternity (canonically established as the Glory of Yahweh Secular Franciscan Fraternity) is a canonically established branch of the 800 year old order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi that exists to help its members live the Gospel life and so be equipped to rebuild the Church as our father St. Francis was called to do by Jesus Himself.

We begin this work of faith with OURSELVES. By experiencing ongoing formation through prayer and study in fraternity, the Holy Spirit guides our salvation and sanctification in keeping with:

the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church,
and Franciscan Spirituality.

In this way, as we grow in Christian holiness, by the grace of God, we are enabled, more and more, to minister to the LORD Himself by:

acts of worship,
lives of reparation,
and obedience to His will.

We are also enabled to minister to EACH OTHER with growing affection and with the Spirit-filled gifts that are being given to each of us for the sake of the Fraternity.

In this way we are also enabled to reach out to the WORLD as Jesus commanded in the Great Commission:

By providing a Franciscan presence so that others who are similarly called may hear that call and have a fraternity to join in order to fulfill it.

By witnessing in each of our lives and words to the fullness of truth in our various vocations and apostolates, and by supporting each other as needed in these ministries.

By joining together from time to time in apostolates that, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are called to as a Fraternity.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February 19 - Feast of St. Conrad

Conrad was born at Piacenza, Lombardy, in the year 1290, of a very noble family, and while still quite young, he married Euphrosyne, the daughter of a nobleman of Lodi. He had a great fondness for chivalrous sports and was an eager hunter.

One time when out hunting, his quarry hid itself in dense underbrush. To force it into the open, Conrad directed his attendants to set fire to the brushwood. The wind, however, drove the flames upon a nearby grain field, where it continued to spread, destroying the entire crop and a large forest besides. The governor of Piacenza at once sent out armed men to apprehend the incendiary.

Filled with consternation at the unfortunate turn of the conflagration, Conrad meanwhile fled into the city along certain lonely roads. The posse, however, came upon a poor peasant who had gathered a bundle of charred sticks and was carrying them into the city. Believing him to be the guilty person, the men seized him. He was tortured on the rack until they wrung from the poor man a statement that he had set fire to the woods out of sheer spite. He was condemned to death.

Not until the unfortunate victim was passing Conrad's house on the way to execution, did Conrad learn why the sentence of death had been imposed on the peasant. Driven by his conscience, Conrad rushed out, saved the man from the hands of the bailiffs, and before all the people acknowledged that he was the guilty person. He went to the governor and explained that the conflagration was the result of a mishap; that he was willing to repair all the damage done. His wife joined him in his good will and sacrificed her dowry to assist in making restitution.
The incident taught Conrad the vanity of the goods of this world, and he resolved to give his attention only to eternal goods. He communicated his sentiments to his wife, and found that she entertained the same ideas. She went to the convent of Poor Clares and received the veil there, while Conrad, who was only 25 years old, left his native town and joined a group of hermits of the Third Order.

In a very short time he made such progress in virtue that the fame of his sanctity attracted many of his former friends and acquaintances to his hermitage. But it was Conrad's wish to forsake the world completely; so he slipped away to Rome, and from there went to Sicily, to the Noto valley, near Syracuse, where he hoped he could remain unknown and in utter seclusion. He lived there for 36 years, the last of which he spent in a lonely cave on a height since named Mount Conrad.

There Conrad lived an extremely penitential life, sleeping on the bare earth and taking only bread and water with some wild herbs for nourishment. Nevertheless, he was subjected to some of the most terrible assaults of the devil. But by means of prayer so pleasing to God that he was granted the gifts of prophesy and miracles.

When Conrad perceived that his end was drawing near, he went to Syracuse to make a general confession of his life to the bishop. On the way flocks of birds flew about him and perched on his shoulders as they used to do to St. Francis, and on the way back to his solitude they accompanied him again, to the astonishment of all whom he met. On the very same day he was seized with a fever, which resulted in his death a few days later. He was kneeling before an image of the Crucified when he peacefully passed away on February 19, 1351. In accordance with his wishes he was buried in the church of St. Nicholas at Noto, where his remains still repose in a silver shrine. Many miracles have taken place there. In the year 1515 Pope Leo X permitted his feast be celebrated at Noto. Urban VIII canonized him in 1625.

- From the Five Franciscan Martyrs Region of the Secular Franciscan Order

Pax et bonum

Retreat Day

Next Saturday, we have a day-long retreat day beginning with a Mass celebrated by Father Tony. It will be held out at St. Leo's in Hilton. The day takes the place of our regular meeting.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Saint Francis of Assisi

Hail, O Lady,
Holy Queen,
Mary, holy Mother of God:
you are the Virgin made Church
chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is all fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Dwelling!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!

And hail all you holy virtues
Which are poured into the hearts of the faithful
through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,
that from being unbelievers,
you may make them faithful to God.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 15, 2011

St. Berard and Companions

January 16 is the Feast of St. Berard and Companions (d. 1220). Preaching the gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving one’s homeland and adjusting to new cultures, governments and languages is difficult enough; but martyrdom sometimes caps all the other sacrifices.

In 1219 with the blessing of St. Francis, Berard left Italy with Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to preach in Morocco. En route in Spain Vitalis became sick and commanded the other friars to continue their mission without him.

They tried preaching in Seville, then in Muslim hands, but made no converts. They went on to Morocco where they preached in the marketplace. The friars were immediately apprehended and ordered to leave the country; they refused. When they began preaching again, an exasperated sultan ordered them executed. After enduring severe beatings and declining various bribes to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, the friars were beheaded by the sultan himself on January 16, 1220.

These were the first Franciscan martyrs. When Francis heard of their deaths, he exclaimed, "Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" Their relics were brought to Portugal where they prompted a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the next year. That young man was Anthony of Padua. These five martyrs were canonized in 1481.

The deaths of Berard and his companions sparked a missionary vocation in Anthony of Padua and others. There have been many, many Franciscans who have responded to Francis’ challenge. Proclaiming the gospel can be fatal, but that has not stopped the Franciscan men and women who even today risk their lives in many countries throughout the world.

Before St. Francis, the Rules of religious orders made no mention of preaching to the Muslims. In the Rule of 1223, Francis wrote: "Those brothers who, by divine inspiration, desire to go among the Saracens and other nonbelievers should ask permission from their ministers provincial. But the ministers should not grant permission except to those whom they consider fit to be sent" (Chapter 12).

(From the Syracuse SFO newsletter)

Pax et bonum

He Who Wants to Be One of Us ...

“He Who Wants to Be One of Us in Everything”
Marty Lynch SFO

I came across these beautiful words by our Holy Father in his homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, It sheds new insight into yet another reason as to why Jesus asked John to do for Him what he of all people did not need to do: be baptized as a sign of his sorrow for His sins.

Notice also we have here another example of the comfortable and reverent use of God’s holy name, “Yahweh,” for the world to hear and read within the liturgy of the Mass:

“…The baptism of Jesus, which we recall today, fits into this logic of humility: It is the gesture of one who wants to be one of us in everything and gets in line with sinners; he, who is without sin, lets himself be treated as a sinner (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21), to carry on his shoulders the burden of guilt of all humanity. He is the "servant of Yahweh" whom the prophet Isaiah spoke to us about in the first reading, ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights…’ (Isaiah 42:1). …”

May the holy name of the Most High be revered among the peoples and exalted to the heavens!

Pax et bonum

National Minister's Message

The Joy and Mystery of the Incarnation

To what extent may we Franciscans justly claim that our St. Francis himself helped to highlight and deepen the joy and mystery of Christmas?

No less an authority than our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, spoke in great detail about this at his General Audience on December 23, 2009. He said:

the special, intense spiritual atmosphere that surrounds Christmas developed in the Middle Ages, thanks to St Francis of Assisi who was profoundly in love with the man Jesus, God-with-us. The Saint's first biographer, Thomas of Celano, recounts in his Vita Secunda that St Francis "Over and above all the other Solemnities, celebrated with ineffable tenderness the Nativity of the Child Jesus, and called "the Feast of Feasts' the day on which God, having become a tiny child, suckled at a human breast" (cf. Fonti Francescane, n. 199, p. 492). This particular devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation gave rise to the famous celebration of Christmas at Greccio. Francis probably drew the inspiration for this from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and from the manger at St Mary Major in Rome. What motivated the Poverello of Assisi was the wish to experience as real, living and actual the humble grandeur of the event of the Child Jesus' Birth, and to communicate the joy of it to all.

In his first biography Thomas of Celano speaks of the night of the nativity scene at Greccio in a lively and moving way, making a crucial contribution to spreading the most beautiful Christmas tradition, that of the crib. Indeed, the night at Greccio restored to Christianity the intensity and beauty of the Feast of Christmas and taught the People of God to perceive its most authentic message, its special warmth, and to love and worship the humanity of Christ. This particular approach to Christmas gave the Christian faith a new dimension. Easter had focused attention on the power of God who triumphs over death, inaugurates new life and teaches us to hope in the world to come. St Francis with his crib highlighted the defenceless love of God, his humanity and his kindness; God manifested himself to humanity in the Incarnation of the Word to teach people a new way of living and loving.

In that Child, in fact, God-Love is manifest: God comes without weapons, without force, because he does not want to conquer, so to speak, from the outside, but rather wants to be freely received by the human being. God makes himself a defenceless Child to overcome pride, violence and the human desire to possess. In Jesus God took on this poor, disarming condition to win us with love and lead us to our true identity. We must not forget that the most important title of Jesus Christ is, precisely, that of "Son", Son of God; the divine dignity is indicated with a term that extends the reference to the humble condition of the manger in Bethlehem, although it corresponds uniquely to his divinity, which is the divinity of the "Son".

His condition as a Child also points out to us how we may encounter God and enjoy his presence. It is in the light of Christmas that we may understand Jesus' words: "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 18: 3). Those who have not understood the mystery of Christmas, have not understood the crucial element of Christian life. Those who do not welcome Jesus with a child's heart, cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven: this is what Francis wished to remind the Christians of his time and of all times, until today. Let us pray the Father to grant us that simplicity of heart which recognizes the Lord in the Child, just as Francis did in Greccio. Then what Thomas of Celano recounts referring to the experience of the shepherds on the Holy Night (cf. Lk 2: 20) with regard to those who were present at the event in Greccio might happen to us: "each one went home full of ineffable joy" (cf. Vita Prima, op. cit., n. 86, p. 479) (

Let us pray that the tender love, profound peace and "ineffable joy" that St. Francis felt in the presence of the child Jesus may stay in our hearts all through this still New Year 2011.

- Tom Bello, SFO
Minister, Secular Franciscan Order - USA

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The pope to go to Assisi

Catholic News service reports that Pope Benedict XVI has announced plans to go to Assisi in October to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's interreligious prayer for peace.

The pope said he would go to Assisi on pilgrimage and would like representatives of other Christian confessions and other world religions to join him there to commemorate Pope John Paul's "historic gesture" and to "solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service in the cause of peace."

Read more here.

Pax et bonum