Dear Associates and Members of the Order of Franciscan Hermits... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Each January I write to give us a spiritual theme to concentrate on throughout the year. The theme for 2022 was to have "Patience" within the "Silence of Solitude" which was definitely challenging for many who have shared their stories with me this past year. It seems that many people put their happiness and satisfaction somewhere out into the future, waiting on the Lord for desired outcomes. Meaning, if the Lord isn't answering their prayers the way they want today, then they won't be happy or fulfilled until their prayers are answered. They feel a sense of "lack" or abandonment... All self-imposed. Can you see the problem with this?
There are three very important things to know, understand, and be Patient about when it comes to prayer... the Lord hears our prayers the first time we ask... He always answers our prayers the way HE wants... and He always answers when HE wants. It is our responsibility to work within HIS timeframe and "cooperate with the process" of RECEIVING the Grace (the "Gift") that the Lord is giving us. He absolutely told us to, "Ask and you shall Receive"... but, what isn't in that quote, is "when" we will receive. So, this leaves many impatient people unsatisfied and discouraged.
So, in hopes of providing a remedy for impatience, for 2023, I feel that we should now shift our focus to "Gratitude," which then takes our attention off of the perceived "lack" in our lives, and now allows us to see the Abundance the Lord has already given us. It is impossible to feel lack or disappointment when we focus on Gratitude and Abundance.
As Franciscans, when we read the "Peace Prayer" (attributed to, but not written by St. Francis), we are to be sources of Peace, Love, Pardon, Faith, Hope, Light and Joy... NOT Hatred, Injury, Doubt, Despair, Darkness and Sadness. Can you feel the difference between these??? When we live these virtues, we, and the people we Serve, gain the Strength to persevere in everything. ALL of this points us to the Lord's Prayer that says, "Thy Will be done on EARTH, as it is in Heaven"... Today... right now... not someday when we feel that the Lord is finally answering our prayers the way we want.
So, in Gratitude, We do HIS Will Today, Living the Gospels and all they require of us, on Earth as it is in Heaven, which will never allow us to lose Hope.
PEACE and LOVE in Gratitude to you Always...
Br. Paul, OFH
Founder & Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
On October 4th each year, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis who died in 1226. It is through his exemplary life of Prayer, Simplicity, and Service to the Poor, that we choose to live the Gospel in his footsteps as Associates and Members of the Order of Franciscan Hermits.
How many of us will be remembered 800 years from now??? When history remembers certain people, it's for us to pay attention to their life merits (or lack thereof) and their story. As my friend, George would say, "He was one of the Good Guys."
Although Francis was a young man who was positioned in life to make great wealth off of the noble class through his family's business, he had a series of conversion experiences that challenged him (and all of us) to live the actual words of the Gospel in Matthew 19:21-24 which says...
“If you want to be perfect, GO, Sell ALL of your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. THEN come and follow Me.... for it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Hearing these words, Francis LITERALLY gave EVERYTHING away, including his clothes and birthright to his inheritance, in order to follow the Gospel. He didn't want to be like the "young rich man" in verse 22 who "went away in sorrow because he had great wealth."
Luke 12:48 says, "To whom much is given, much shall be required."
These words of the Gospel are hard for anyone to hear and live, no matter what point in history you live, especially in our modern times.
I think a remedy for this challenge to "GO, Sell All that you have" is Francis' and the Gospel's remedy... to Serve and Help the poor to our greatest degree. I think we remember St. Francis almost 800 years later, not because he gave everything away, but because he was able to fully show that, "It is in Giving that We Receive" and in doing so, he lived "Perfect Joy."
Speaking of Inheritances... In Matthew 25:34-40...
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Francis made that passage his way of life... It is what Jesus asked us to do. It is our turn now.
The Order of Franciscan Hermits has much to celebrate this year... we were federally recognized as a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Religious Charitable Organization in the United States. We have grown to have Associates and Members in over 90 countries worldwide. We have Ministries in the Franciscan tradition of helping the poor and marginalized for the betterment of humanity. Domestic and International efforts support Ecumenical and Interfaith communications; peace and social justice; clean water and food security; environmental sustainability; health and human services; education; spiritual development and associated support groups. We support & promote programs aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Luke 12:48 says "To whom much is given, much shall be required."
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation in support of our Mission and Ministries. You and your family will continue to be remembered in our daily prayers... please send your prayer intentions to: PrayerRequests@FranciscanHermits.org.
We also continue to invite you to join us in praying the rosary for WORLD PEACE by joining our Perpetual Rosary Association found at https://RosariesForPeace.com. It is free to join, and your intentions will be included in our daily prayers. Please share this post with your friends who pray the rosary, so we can all be United in this effort Our Lady has asked of us in the many places throughout the world she has appeared.
Please know you and your families are All in my thoughts and prayers each day... May we all be encouraged by the promises of the Gospel to bring us Everlasting Life.
PEACE and LOVE Always...
Br. Paul, OFH Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
HAPPY FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS!
Dear Members and Associates of the Order of Franciscan Hermits... Brothers and Sisters... Although we "Celebrate" and commemorate the Holy Life of our Founder - St. Francis of Assisi, today, I am sure many of us find it difficult to be sources of Hope and Joy when there is such devastation and suffering going on throughout the world with COVID-19, fires, social injustices, political divisiveness, the inability to attend Mass in many areas throughout the world, and overall lack of Unity among the people of this planet (etc. etc. etc.) It seems to be a tall order to believe we can solve all of these issues.
St. Francis witnessed the tragedies of his own time and his solution was to keep his eyes on Christ... to imitate and identify with Him so closely, that he bore the wounds of his Lord and Savior. I'm not suggesting that we all need to have the Stigmata, but to really, truly be followers of Christ, by Living the Gospel Life... "The Good News"... "The Way" to LIVE and BE "on EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN." Jesus gives us the solution for our difficult times...
"LOVE" is not just a "State of BEing"... "to BE in LOVE" but is also an "Action Verb"... "To LOVE"... LOVE requires ACTION. The Gospels give us the strategy to solve the problems we're facing now and for all eternity.
In John 14:12 we have an VERY interesting passage that I think is overlooked way too often...
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father."
"Works" in the Gospels are not only feeding the poor and visiting the sick and imprisoned, but also include performing miracles. Healing others was part of Jesus' "works." In this passage, Jesus is saying that YOU and I can do "GREATER WORKS" than He did!
I can hear you now... "Brother Paul is going crazy here... he's saying we can perform miracles???!!!"
YES... with the Help of the Lord and our Faith in Him.
ALL of our "Saints" that have been canonized, including St. Francis, have had "miracles" attributed to them through their intercession. YOU and I are Saints in the making. If you believe in the Bible... Here's my proof that we can solve our world's problems...
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
All we need is FAITH. Trust in the Lord, but we must "ASK and You Shall RECEIVE." Matthew 7:7
Many of you know that a dear friend's son, Ian, was diagnosed this summer with liver cancer at the age of 15. We immediately started praying here within our OFH FB group, and Ian was "miraculously" given a liver transplant even though he was way down on the list of recipients needing a new liver. For whatever reason, the Lord decided to send him a perfect donor match ahead of everyone else on the list. Within 2 days of receiving the transplant, he was walking and sitting up in a chair in the hospital. He is out of ICU now and has a bright future ahead of him. I TRULY BELIEVE that, through our prayers, Ian was given this new chance at life. It was through our "Asking" that we "Received" this miracle.
The question is... How much do we want WORLD PEACE... EQUALITY... JUSTICE... to LOVE as the Lord has asked us to LOVE???
I believe that ALL of the world's problems are due to a lack of LOVE within humans. Greed and selfishness is so strong, there is no room for LOVE to exist within. I believe we cannot LOVE, Unless and UNTIL we FORGIVE... FORGIVENESS is a Dimension of LOVE... Forgiveness is not separate from LOVE. Let's start Forgiving and LOVING Today!
Until we can see that we are ALL Children of God, despite our differences (political, religious, racial, financial, gender... ALL the many differences we perceive each day)... Until we BE and DO as Jesus did as asked of us in the Gospels, we will continue to suffer from the Sin of selfishness that has separated all of us from one another.
Every time we pray the "Our Father" we say, "Thy Will Be Done, on EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN"... Who do we think is supposed to be "DOing" the Will of the Father??? It's just magically going to happen, or if it someone else's job??? NO... it is each and every one of us that are called to do the Will of the Father, by Living the Gospel Life!
Knowing this now, we have the ability to be sources of Hope, Joy and HEALING for others... to BE LOVE and DO LOVE, to...
BE on EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN!
Pax et Bonum Dear Brothers and Sisters... PEACE and LOVE Always
Br. Paul, OFH
Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
Happy New Year to All of our Order of Franciscan Hermits Associates, Members, Family and Friends! It is with much LOVE and JOY that I send my prayers for your Happiness, Health and Spiritual Growth throughout 2019.
The Order of Franciscan Hermits now has over 2500 Associates and Members in over 87 countries worldwide who have committed to carrying out St. Francis' original Mission to "Rebuild the Church" and to Pray for World Peace. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT! Even though we are dispersed throughout the world, we are UNITED in this Mission and we each serve as anchors of Christ's Unconditional LOVE and COMPASSION - Welcoming Home EVERYONE who is estranged (for whatever reason) from our Family as One Body in Christ! I can picture the Globe with Bright Lights Shining as our Brothers and Sisters in 87 countries are keeping this important Franciscan Calling very much Alive, each and every day!
I would like to ask each of us to read the story of the "Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-32) and keep this as our ongoing "theme" and lesson to live by as I see it as fully interconnected with our Mission to Rebuild the Church.
The Lord is constantly searching for us... yearning for us to "Come Home." We are called to be in a Loving Relationship with the Father.
We read that, "while [the Son] was yet at a distance," the Father, "saw him and had compassion, and RAN and embraced him and kissed him." Our Lord and Father in Heaven "RUNS" towards us... seeks us out every moment of every day with Joy and Enthusiasm to Welcome Us Home! He's NOT judging our past or counting all of the inheritance that we've squandered... NO! He's CELEBRATING our return HOME, for 'We were Dead and are now Alive; we were Lost, and now Found!"
Are WE enthusiastic about our Mission to Rebuild the Church through our prayer life and truly yearn for our reunification with our lost Brothers and Sisters? Are we too busy looking at the "speck" in our Brother's eye while we have a "plank" in our own???!!! (Matthew 7:1-5).
If we are truly to be Franciscans... Christians committed to "Love One Another as I have Loved You." we must welcome EVERYONE Home regardless of their sins and CELEBRATE their return, not looking at any of their transgressions, but EMBRACING them as the Father embraces us!
Look at these beautiful depictions of the Father Joyfully and Tenderly Embracing Us, Welcoming Us Back Home into His Care. We need to be the Prodigal Son... the Prodigal Father... Christ for One Another...
This isn't too much for us to accomplish... Remember... we're "Temples of the Holy Spirit!" We have the Gifts which allow us to LOVE... God... Our Neighbors... Ourselves and our Enemies. It is only our own reluctance to Accept One Another, just as they are on their Journey, that is keeping us from Living the Gospel Life.
As the song, "Hosea" says...
"Come back to ME with ALL your Heart... Don’t let FEAR keep us apart!
Long have I waited for your coming Home to Me and Living DEEPLY Our New Life!"
This is our invitation and our Mission as Franciscans and Christians. I pray that we persevere in our quest and I say it is NOW time to go HOME and CELEBRATE DEEPLY Our New Life!
PEACE, LOVE and JOY Always...
Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words"... here we see our beloved founders Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi teaching us all we need to know about Living the Gospel Life....
Keep our eyes on Jesus and let His Light Illuminate our Soul!
As contemplatives, this picture can teach us a great deal about Prayer, Spirituality and the Transformation we can have with an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ... specifically the Christ Child.
Gaze at the picture... what do you see? What are the emotions Francis and Clare are expressing?
Francis is truly humbled, brought to utter Silence and simply IS ("BE"-s) in the Presence of the Lord. You can clearly see his Stigmata which shows how closely he identified with Christ, yet there is no pain because it is all worth enduring for the Christ Child who calls us closer to him. Clare is amazed, JOY-filled... stopped-in-time at the miracle of witnessing such Innocence and Purity. Both saints eyes are transfixed on THE ONE who Unites Us into ONE Body in Christ.
What about Jesus... what is he doing in the picture?
Jesus looks at Francis and Clare [US] asking, "Are You Ready?" It looks like he is going to tell them exactly what He needs... His plan for them. You can't have the encounter with Christ without the call to Action. So, while it is great having a contemplative vocation, it doesn't stop there! Christ always asks us to put our Faith into Action... to Feed the Hungry, Visit the Sick and Imprisoned... TO LOVE which is an Action Verb!
My Novice Master told us daily, "Go to the Silence... Go to the Silence"... this picture of the "Silent Night" is exactly what he was talking about. Allow the Silence... the Christmas PEACE and LOVE of the Christ Child fill us with JOY and there, we will find our vocation or calling... He will tell us exactly what He wants us to do. Every question or doubt we have ever had will be answered in that Silence. It will give us the strength and clarity to go forward to LIVE the Gospel Life, Loving and Serving One Another.
So, it is with a heart filled with Christmas PEACE, LOVE and JOY and that I send my prayers of Health, Happiness and Perseverance out to you and your families as we each Celebrate this "Silent Night" today, and EVERY day of our lives.
Pax et Bonum...
Founder & Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits