St. Francis of Assisi’s Focus and Perfect Joy

October 3, 2017

St. Francis of Assisi’s Focus and Perfect Joy

Francis was always very focused. He insisted on being focused. We believe he feared that if he veered even a micro-millimeter from his focal point, he was lost. He never considered himself very intelligent, or an eloquent speaker. But when you have a direct pipeline to the Holy Spirit, how smart do you have to be? You just let God’s Words flow through you, and you will be considered the most brilliant of all men, and perhaps the most despised.
An excellent example of Francis’ focus was his definition of Perfect Joy. It’s an outlook that, if adopted, is almost a guarantee that you’ll never be disappointed. Francis and Brother Leo were returning to Santa Maria degli Angeli. Francis said to Brother Leo,
“Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to the deaf, makes the lame walk, and restores speech to the dumb, and what is still more, brings back to life a man who has been dead four days, write that perfect joy is not in that.”
They walked along silently for a short distance. Francis was becoming emotional. He cried out loudly,
“Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew how to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that.”
Then once again, a little farther on, Francis cried out to Brother Leo,
“Brother Leo, little lamb of God, even if a Friar Minor could speak with the voice of an Angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if he knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that.”
Brother Leo knew that Francis was on a roll. He also knew if he didn’t finally ask the question, this would continue on until they reached Assisi. But he remained silent. Then Father Francis called out again,
“Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that he should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there.”
By this time, the discourse had been going on for two miles. Leo decided it was time. He cried out to Francis, whom he loved more than life. “Father, I beg you in God’s name to tell me where perfect joy is!” That was all Francis needed. He cried out with such delight,
“When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily, `Who are you?’ And we say, `We are two of your brothers’, and he contradicts us, saying, `You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away!’ And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls – then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!
“And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying, `Get away from here, you dirty thieves – go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won’t eat or sleep here!’ – and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!
“And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says, `Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I’ll give them what they deserve!’ And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds – if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write, that is perfect joy!
“And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God’s, as the Apostles say, `What have you that you have not received?’
“But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostles say, `I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ!’”
Francis’ philosophy was simple. He wanted to live the Gospel life. True, he wanted to go out to teach all nations, and there must have been a certain amount of joy at the beginning, when the fraternity grew so rapidly. Brothers were going all over Europe, preaching the Gospel. But he knew why he had to be a ramrod in his persistence. He knew he could not go to the right or to the left; he had to remain in the center of his vision, or he would lose it.
Francis considered anything other than the basic, ground-zero commitment to poverty and the Gospel, as distraction. He feared that distraction would lead to division. Too many books would clutter the mind; the Gospel would become vague. He didn’t want his Friars to read too much. There was nothing that could top the Gospel, was there? And that’s what their calling was, wasn’t it? He was happy with the little huts they had begun with, nestled all around the Portiuncola. He and the brothers could go off preaching for months at a time, and come back, to find that nothing had been disturbed, because there was nothing of any value to steal.
A perfect example of Francis’ philosophy took place when he was invited to have dinner at a Bishop’s home. Francis asked for the discarded bread. The Bishop asked Francis to at least eat the fresh bread. Francis’ reply was, “If I eat the fresh bread, I will want to eat the gravy. And if I eat the gravy, I will want to eat the meat.” Francis knew exactly who he was. He knew who his Friars were. Theirs was such a rigid, difficult road to walk, the slightest breach of a rule could make the entire structure crumble. Francis knew that. Unfortunately, others of his Fraternity did not.

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Saint Francis’s 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, Lord, that I may carry out
Your holy and true command. Amen.

Overcome evil with good – Listen to the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

June 14, 2016

francis1We believe Francis had the ability to empty himself almost completely, and let Jesus reflect through him. It was no longer Francis who spoke to the Moslems; it was Jesus, through Francis. Very possibly, in this place and time, Francis put into practice his simple prayer. Bob and Penny Lord

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is discord, unity.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is error, truth.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is sadness, joy.

Where there is darkness, light.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled, as to console.

To be understood, as to understand.

To be loved, as to love.


It is in giving, that we receive.

It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.

It is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer of Saint Francis

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There is too much emphasis in our times on hatred!  As Christians we are called to bring some light into this darkness.

We cannot be like the mobs and concentrate on hatred.

We must change the world by bringing in the truth.

Through the centuries, the Lord has sent us what we needed at the time to overcome evil.

Saints like Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Maxmilian Kolbe, Francis Xavier Cabrini and the list goes on and on.

He has sent us Popes like Leo the Great and Pope John Paul II

And he has sent us great leaders like King John Sobieski, Don Juan of Austria, Jerzy Popieluszko and the list goes on an on.

Let us all pray that the Lord send us some more like these into our world.

Brother Joseph Freyaldenhoven


St. Francis made a Crèche at Christmas

November 13, 2015

St. Francis made a Crèche at Christmas

Francis of Assisi

Family, the traditional Nativity Scene put up with great joy in anticipation of the coming of the Savior is something we do, but we don’t really think about where it came from.  We want to tell you the story of St. Francis of Assisi at Greccio one Christmas eve in 1223.  We are quoting from Celano’s First Life of St. Francis, as put forth in the Omnibus of Sources.

“Francis’ highest intention, his chief desire, his uppermost purpose was to observe the Holy Gospel in all things and, with perfect vigilance, with all zeal, with all the longing of his mind and his heart, ‘to follow the teaching and footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’ He would recall Christ’s words through persistent meditation and bring to mind his deeds through the most penetrating consideration.  The humility of the Incarnation and the charity of the Passion occupied his memory particularly, to the extent that he wanted to think of hardly anything else.

What he did on the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ near the little town called Greccio in the third year before his glorious death should especially be noted and recalled with reverent memory.  In that place there was a certain man by the name of John, of good reputation and an even better life, whom blessed Francis loved with a special love, for in the place where he lived he held a noble and honorable position in as much as he had trampled upon the nobility of his birth and pursued nobility of soul.

Blessed Francis sent for this man, as he often did, about fifteen days before the birth of the Lord, and he said to him: ‘If you want us to celebrate the present feast of Our Lord at Greccio, go with haste and diligently prepare what I tell you.  For I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our bodily eyes in some way the inconveniences of His infant needs, how He lay in a manger, how with an ox and an ass standing by, He lay upon the hay where He had been placed.’  When the good and faithful man heard these things, he ran with haste and prepared in that place all the things the saint had told him.

But the day of joy drew near, the time of great rejoicing came.  The brothers were called from their various places.  Men and women of that neighborhood prepared with glad hearts, according to their means, candles and torches to light up that night that was lighted up all the days and years with its gleaming star.  At length the Saint of God came, and finding all things prepared, he saw it and was glad.  The manger was prepared, the hay had been brought, and the ox and ass were led in.  There simplicity was honored, poverty was exalted, humility was commended, and Greccio was made, as it were, a new Bethlehem.  The night was lighted up like the day, and it delighted men and beasts.  The people came and were filled with new joy over the new mystery.  The woods rang with the voices of the crowd and the rocks made answer to their jubilation.  The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing.  The Saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with live, and filled with a wonderful happiness.  The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.

The Saint of God was clothed with the vestments of the deacon, for he was a deacon, and he sang the holy Gospel in a sonorous voice.  And his voice was a strong voice, a sweet voice, a clear voice, inviting all to the highest rewards.  Then he preached to the people standing about, and he spoke charming words concerning the nativity of the poor King and the little town of Bethlehem.  Frequently too, when he wished to call Christ Jesus, he would call him simply the Child of Bethlehem, aglow with overflowing love for Him; and speaking the word Bethlehem, his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep.  His mouth was filled more with sweet affection that with words.  Besides, when he spoke the name Child of Bethlehem, or Jesus, his tongue licked his lips, as it were, relishing and savoring with pleased plate the sweetness of the words.

The gifts of the Almighty were multiplied there, and a wonderful vision was seen by a certain virtuous man.  For he saw a little child lying in the manger lifeless, and he saw the holy man of God go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep.  This vision was not unfitting, for the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many; but by the working of His grace, He was brought to life again through His servant St. Francis and stamped upon their fervent memory.  At length the solemn night celebration was brought to a close, and each one returned to his home with holy joy.

The hay that had been placed in the manger was kept, so that the Lord might save the beasts of burden and other animals through it as He multiplied His Holy Mercy.  And in truth it so happened that many animals throughout the surrounding region that had various illnesses were freed from their illnesses after eating of this hay.  Indeed, even women laboring for a long time in a difficult birth, were delivered safely when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes of that place, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought.  Later, the place on which the manger had stood was made sacred by a Temple of the Lord, and an altar was built in honor of the most blessed Father Francis over the manger and a church was built, so that where once the animals had eaten the hay, there in the future men would eat unto health of soul and body the flesh of the Lamb without blemish and without spot, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who in highest and ineffable love gave Himself to us, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, eternally glorious, forever and ever.  Amen.   Alleluia, Alleluia.” Omnibus of Sources – First Life Celano

Family, I think we have lost a great deal of the reverence and love that was exhibited first by St. Francis in Greccio that Christmas Eve, and then magnified by the presence of Jesus in the form of the living baby, as testified by John of Greccio.  Miracles abounded after that night when anyone touched the hay of the Holy Manger.  Just a little hay from the Manger would bring about cures, help with difficult pregnancies, and heal hearts and souls.  But the real miracle was the love which poured out from the people in the neighborhood of Greccio, where there had been no love before, and“overcome with love, and filled with a wonderful happiness.”

How would you like to have that experience this Christmas Eve?  Do what St. Francis did.  Set up a Crèche in your home, a Nativity Scene if you will.  Put it in your front window, where people outside can see it.  Make it a Christmas Eve celebration.  Get your neighbors to take part in your Christmas Eve celebration.  Keep the image of the Baby Jesus out of it until after midnight on that Holy Night.  Sing hymns to the Newborn Child, the Savior of Israel, the Savior of the world.  We need a Savior, brothers and sisters.  The world is moving in a tailspin, not in a good direction.  We need a Hero who will stop the downward momentum and bring us up from the black hole we are descending into, and save us from a world without God.  You can do it.  Just call on Him.  Call on Our Lady, the Angels and the Saints, especially St. Francis.  Have a Blessed Christmas.  We love you!

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