The Rule, Article 4

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Hyacinth was born of a noble Roman family near Vitero in the year 1585. She joined the Franciscan Sisters early in life but put off acquiring the virtues of religious life. It was only during her recovery from a serious illness that she gave up her worldly vanities. Thereafter, she afflicted her body with severe penance and diligently occupied herself with works of charity, thus meriting to receive heavenly favors from God. She died at Viterbo in the year 1640.

From the common of virgins, 1441.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The Soul’s Journey into God

by Bonaventure

I call upon the Eternal Father
Through his son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
That through the intercession of the most holy Virgin Mary,
The mother of the same God and Lord Jesus Christ,
And through the intercession of blessed Francis,
Our leader and father,
He may enlighten the eyes of our soul
To guide our feet
In the way of that peace
Which surpasses all understanding.
This is the peace
Proclaimed and given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ
And preached again and again
By our father Francis.
At the beginning and end of every sermon he announced peace;
In every greeting he wished for peace;
In every contemplation he sighed for ecstatic peace-
Like a citizen of that Jerusalem of which
That Man of Peace says,
Who was peaceable with those who hated peace;
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Angela Merici (1474–1540), founder of the Ursuline nuns, was born at Desenzano del Garda, a small town on the southwestern shore of Lake Garda in Lombardy. She and her younger sister were left orphans when she was about ten years old. She joined the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted herself with several companions to the education of poor girls. In 1535 they dedicated themselves to this work under the patronage of Ursula, but they took no vows and wore lay clothes. In 1565 the formal organization of this sisterhood became the Congregation of Ursuline nuns. They have been described as ‘the oldest and most considerable teaching order of women in the Roman Catholic Church’. She died on January 27, 1540. Her body was clothed in the habit of a Franciscan tertiary and interred in the Church of St Afra, Brescia. Saint Angela Merici was beatified in Rome on April 30, 1768, by Pope Clement XIII. She was canonized on May 24, 1807, by Pope Pius VII.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On the Eucharist

From A Letter to the Entire Order, St. Francis of Assisi

Let everyone be struck with fear,
let the whole world tremble,
and let the heavens exult
when Christ, the son of the living God,
is present on the altar in the hands of a priest!
Oh wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity!
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
so humbles Himself
that for our salvation
He hides Himself
under an ordinary piece of bread!
Brothers, look at the humility of God,
and pour out your hearts before Him!
Humble yourselves
that you may be exalted by Him!
Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves,
that He Who gives Himself totally to you
may receive you totally.

Monday, January 25, 2010


by Bonaventure

Believing, hoping and loving
With my whole heart, with my whole mind
And with my whole strength,
May I be carried to you, beloved Jesus,
As to the goal of all things,
Because you alone are sufficient
You alone are good and pleasing
To those who seek you and love your name.
For you , my good Jesus,
Are the redeemer of the lost,
The savior of the redeemed
The hope of exiles,
The strength of laborers,
The sweet solace of anguished spirits,
The crown and dignity of the triumphant,
The unique reward and joy of all citizens of heaven ,
The renowned offspring of the supreme God
And the sublime fruit of the virginal womb,
The abundant fountain of all graces,
Of whose fullness we have all received.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Francis de Sales, (1567-1622) was was the first-born of twelve children of a noble French family in the 16th century. The Jesuits provided his intellectual and spiritual formation. Francis experienced a personal theological crisis in his adult life which resulted in serious illness. After regaining his health he dedicated his life to God, became a priest, choosing to serve God instead of money. Francis came to the conclusion that whatever God had in store for him was good, because God is Love, as Scripture attests. This faithful devotion to the God of love influenced the rest of his life and his teachings.

In 1602 Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva, and became a very effective preacher and a friend of the poor St. Francis developed a sign language in order to teach a deaf man about God. Because of this, he is the patron saint of the deaf. In 1923, Pope Pius XI proclaimed him a patron of writers and journalists, because of the books he wrote, Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God, along with many letters of spiritual direction.

Along with Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Francis founded the women's Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Annecy on 6 June 1610. The order of the Salesians of Don Bosco (s.d.b.), founded by St John Bosco, is named after him, as are the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (o.s.f.s.), founded by Louis Brisson, and the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, founded by Peter Mermier in 1830. The Paulist Fathers also count him as one of their patrons.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a Society of Traditional Priests who celebrate the Latin Mass also has St. Francis De Sales as one of their three primary Patrons. One of the largest Apostolates of the Institute in the United States is the Oratory of St. Francis De Sales in St. Louis, Missouri. Another location of their ministry is the Oratory of St. Patrick’s, 8th and Cherry, Kansas City, Missouri.

These developments are indicative of the influence for good one single person can be. Pope Alexander VII canonized him in the year 1665. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1877.


O love eternal, my soul needeth and chooseth Thee eternally!

Ah, come Holy Ghost, and inflame our hearts with Thy love!

To love -- or to die!

To die -- and to love!

To die to all other love in order to live in Jesus' love, so that we may not die eternally;

but that we may live in Thine eternal love, O Saviour of our souls, we eternally sing, "Live, Jesus!

Jesus, I love!

Live, Jesus, whom I love!

Jesus, I love, Jesus Who liveth and reigneth forever and ever.


From The Treatise on the Love of God.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From a Sermon of Saint Bonaventure, bishop

Let us do penance and suffer with Christ

Although the cross especially before Christ’s passion was in itself a horrible thing, it is nevertheless something to be sought after because it is the source of life. All men seek and long for eternal life. There is no one steeped in sin who would not say that he desires and seeks eternal life. Yet these men do not seek it the way they should because they want to have it along with their vices and the defilements of their sins.

Dear Friends, that is not the way to eternal life. The way to eternal life is through Christ, through the cross, through battle and victory over our enemies. Viewed on the surface of things the cross strikes us with terror, but viewed in proper perspective it is desirable. Viewed superficially the cross appears as the tree of death, but to one who views it in depth the mystery of the cross shines forth as the tree of life because of him who hung upon it. Since it is the source of life it gives life by infusing grace. In the epistle to the Romans we read: The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life. The cross is the tree of life-giving grace which makes us new men in Christ and brings us to repentance.

What kind of wood is it that has the power to bring man from a barren desert to a verdant garden, from death to life? It is the wood of Christ’s cross. Why did the Son of God suffer for men and not for angels? Because man is capable of doing penance, an angel is not. For man it is the wood which bears fruit through the moisture it receives from water, that is, the grace that brings one to do penance.

Therefore, because the cross is a tree of life-giving grace, let us who have died so many times by reason of our sins long for that tree do penance and suffer with Christ. Christ suffered in the flesh; therefore, arm yourselves with the same mentality, says Saint Peter. Unless we do penance how shall we be able to give an answer to Christ on judgment day?

If then you wish to bear spiritual fruit you must die in the flesh. In his Gospel John cites the words of Christ: Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. To share the fruit of the tree of life with Christ who was crucified and died, we must be crucified with him.

Dear friends, whoever wished to find the Lord finds him on the cross. Consequently to forsake the cross is to abandon the Lord as well. He who longs ardently, and desires the cross and the Lord, finds the Lord there, not empty-handed but laden with abundant graces.

(Opera ominia 9 [Quaracchi] 463-470)

From: Proper offices of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds in the Liturgy of the Hours

Monday, January 18, 2010

To the Brothers and Sisters of Penance - Chapter 2

Earlier Exhortation

Those Who Do Not Do Penance

All those men and women who are not living in penance, who do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who practice vice and sin and walk after the evil concupiscence and the evil desires of the flesh, who do not observe what they have promised to the Lord, and who in their body serve the world through the desires of the flesh, the concerns of the world and the cares of this life: They are held captive by the devil, whose children they are , and whose works they do. They are blind because they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ. They do not possess spiritual wisdom because they do not have the Son of God, the true wisdom of the Father. It is said of them: Their wisdom has been swallowed up and Cursed are those who turn away from your commands. They see and acknowledge, know and do evil, and knowingly lose their souls.

See you blind ones, deceived by your enemies: the flesh, the world and the devil, because it is sweet for the body to sin and it is bitter to serve God, for every vice and sin flow and proceed from the human heart as the Lord says in the Gospel. And you have nothing in this world or in that to come. And you think that you will possess this world’s vanities for a long time, but you are deceived because a day and hour will come of which you give no thought, which you do not know, and of which you are unaware when the body becomes weak, death approaches, and it dies a bitter death And no matter where, when, or how a person dies in the guilt of sin without penance and satisfaction, if he can perform an act of satisfaction and does not do so, the devil snatches his soul from its body with such anguish and distress that no one can know [what it is like] except the one receiving it.

And every talent, ability, knowledge, and wisdom they think they have will be taken away from them. And they leave their wealth to their relatives and friends who take and divide it and afterwards say: “May his soul be cursed because he could have given us more and acquired more than what he distributed to us.” Worms eat his body and so body and soul perish in this brief world and they will go to hell where they will be tortured forever.

In the love which is God we beg all those whom these words reach to receive those fragrant words of our Lord Jesus Christ written above with divine love and kindness. And let whoever does not know how to read have them read to them frequently. Because they are spirit and life, they should preserve them together with a hold activity to the end.

And whoever has not done these things will be held accountable before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of judgment.

Francis of Assisi, The Saint, Early Documents

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Berard, Priest, and Companions, Protomartyrs, First Order

In the year 1219 disciples of St. Francis set out for Spain to preach the Gospel to the Mohammedans. They were taken into custody and sent off to Morocco where they continued to preach. Apprehended once more in the city of Marrakesch they were put in chains, cruelly tortured and finally condemned to death by the king of the region in the year 1220.

From the common of several martyrs, 1402

From the Chronicle of the Minister General
(Analecta Franciscana, volume 3 {Quaracchi 1897} 15-19)

We despise everything for the sake of Christ

By the will of God blessed Francis sent six excellent friars to the kingdom of Morocco to preach the Catholic faith courageously to the unbelievers. While they were in the kingdom of Aragon, however, friar Vitalis became seriously ill. As he saw his illness dragon on, and not wishing to delay God’s work by his own bodily weakness, he commanded the other five to carry out the will of god and of friar Francis and to go to Morocco.

Obediently the holy friars left the sick friar Vitalis behind and made their way to Coimbra. Disguising their attire they set out from there and reached Seville, then under the rule of the Saracens. One day in their fervor they went unescorted to the principal mosque or oratory. As they attempted to enter, indignant Saracens rushed upon them, shouting, pushing and beating them; they did not permit them to enter under any circumstances.

When at length they arrived at the entrance to the king’s palace they said they had been sent as ambassadors from the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Thereupon they spoke at length to the king about the Catholic faith to induce him to be converted and to receive baptism. The king became enraged and ordered them to be beheaded. Later, however, after consultation with older men he sent them to Morocco as they wished.

They entered the City and began immediately to preach to the Saracens who were in the market place. The king heard of this and he commanded that they be sent to prison where they spent twenty days without food and drink, nourished only by divine consolation. The ruler then had them brought forth. When he found them steadfastly professing the Catholic faith he was greatly angered and ordered them to be tortured in various ways, to be kept separately and to be severely beaten.

Thereupon the hostile attendants bound the hands and feet of the holy men, put ropes around their necks, dragged them to and fro, and beat them so fiercely that their bare bones were almost visible. Containers of boiling oil and vinegar were emptied over their wounds. The vessels were then broken and spread on the floor and the holy men were thrown down on the pieces and rolled to and fro. They were thus kept in custody and tortured for a whole night and cruelly beaten by about thirty Saracens.

The king of the Moroccans filled with rage had them brought before him. With their hands tied behind their backs, stripped of their clothing and barefooted, with their
tormentors spattered with blood from the incessant cudgeling, they were brought
in. When the king saw them and found them firm in the faith, he brought in some
women, ordering the others out, and said : “Be converted to our faith and I will
give you these women as your wives and much money besides. You will be held in
honor in my realm.”

The blessed martyrs however replied: “The women and your money we do not want’ we despise everything for the sake of Christ.” The enraged king then took a sword and fractured the skull of each in turn. He used three swords to behead them and thus killed them with his own hands with deadly cruelty.

From: Proper offices of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds in the Liturgy of the Hours

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blessed Odoric of Pordenone, Priest, First Order

Odoric was born in the city of Pordenone, Italy in the year 1265. He entered the Order of St. Francis and in a marvelous way combined austerity of life with apostolic zeal for the propagation of the faith. The first scene of his apostolic labors was in the missions of the Order in Asia. Later he went on to the distant Indians and Tartars and finally reached China where he was instrumental in establishing the ecclesiastical hierarchy in the city of Peking known then as Cambalek, and brought many thousands to the Christian faith. He is rightly called the "Apostle of China." As he was on his way to Avignon to report to the Pope on the progress of Christianity in the distant mission, he died in the friary of Udine on January 14, 1331.

From the common of pastors: missionary priest, 1426

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To the Brothers and Sisters of Penance - Chapter 1

Those Who Do Penance

All those who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with their whole strength and love their neighbors as themselves, who hate their bodies with their vices and sins, who receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who produce worthy fruits of penance. O how happy and blessed are these men and women while they do such things and persevere in doing them, because the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them and make Its home and dwelling place among them, and they are children of the heavenly Father Whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are spouses when the faithful soul is joined by the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers to Him when we do the will of the Father who is in heaven. We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through a divine love and a pure and sincere conscience and gave birth to Him through a holy activity which must shine as an example before others.

O how glorious it is to have a holy and great Father in heaven! O how holy, consoling to have such a beautiful and wonderful Spouse! O how holy and how loving, gratifying, humbling, peace-giving, sweet, worthy of love, and, above all things desirable to have such a Brother and such a Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who laid down His Life for His sheep and prayed to His Father, saying:
Holy Father in your name, save those whom you have given me in the world; they were yours and you gave them to me. The words that you gave to me, I have given to them, and they have accepted them and have believed in the truth that I have come from you and they have known that you sent me.
I pray for them and not for the world. Bless and sanctify them. I sanctify myself for them. I pray not only for them, but for those who will believe in me through their word that they might be sanctified in being one as we are .
I wish , Father, that where I am, they also may be with me that they may see my glory in your kingdom. Amen.
This writing is used as the prologue to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blessed Bernard of Corleone, Religious, First Order

Bernard Latini (baptized Philip) was born at Corleone in Sicily in the year 1605. He was a quarrelsome person in his youth and was prone to violence. But converted to a better way of life, he sought admission to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in 1632. Wholly devoted to God alone, he bent every effort o become like Christ crucified through heroic love and genuine deeds of penance. He died in the year 1667.

From the common of holy men: religious, 1452

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Prayer before the Crucifix

Most High,
glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command

Friday, January 8, 2010


The Secular Franciscan Order - Chapter One

The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan order to the needs and expectations of the Holy church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blessed Angela of Foligno

Today is the feast of Blessed Angela of Foligno, Religious, Third Order

Blessed Angela was born in Umbria in the year 1248. Putting aside the allurements of the world which attracted her for a time she joined the Third Order of Penance of St. Francis and drew many women to follow her example. She was conspicuous for her fervent love of Gd and fellowmen, especially the poor, and for her humility, patience and poverty. Blessed by God with heavenly favors she had a special devotion to the mysteries of the life of Christ and left remarkable writings on spiritual topics which gained for her the title "Teacher of Theologians." She died at Foligno in the year 1309. (from the common of holy women, 1462)

The following was taken from the spiritual writings of Blessed Angela:

My God, make me worthy to grasp your ardent and ineffable love overflowing from the Blessed Trinity and effecting the profound mystery of the holy Incarnation, the source of our salvation. The Incarnation does two things for us: it fills us with love, and it renders us certain of our salvation. O Love, exceeding our understanding! There is no greater love than for God to become man to make me God.

O Love that emptied itself! You abased yourself to make me when you took on our human nature. You did not abase yourself to diminish yourself or your divinity. It is the unfathomable mystery of your Incarnation that causes me to use these expressions. You who surpass our understanding have become understandable! You who are uncreated have become a creature! You who surpass our power of thought have become comprehensible! You who cannot be touched can now be felt by physical contact!

Lord, make me worthy to plum the depths of this profound love which you manifested to us in this most Incarnation. Make me worthy, uncreated God, to know the depth of your love and glowing charity. Make me worthy to grasp the unspeakable love that you communicated to us when you showed us your Son, Jesus Christ, in the Incarnation, and the way the Son in turn showed you to us as Father. Make me worthy, Lord to recognize and grasp your love forward us when you created me.

You who surpass man's understanding, make me capable of recognizing and grasping your inestimable burning love by which you emptied yourself. From all eternity you chose to let the human race see you face to face, even as you, Most High, willed to see our face. Supreme Being, make me worthy to understand this the greatest of gifts, that all the angels and saints have no other gift save to behold you, the object of their love, and to love and contemplate you.

O gift surpassing all gifts because you are love. O greatest Good, you condescend to have us recognize you who are love, and to bring us to love such love. All those who come into your presence will be filled according to the love they have. And there is nothing else that could lead the blessed to contemplate you, nothing else but genuine love.
Taken from Proper Office of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds in the Liturgy of the Hours. This book is available in the Good News BookShop at the Franciscan Prayer Center, Independence, MO.