Br. Tim Stones, OFH says, "[I'm] from South Africa. I am deafblind – deaf and partially sighted. I became deaf due to oxygen deprivation at birth and, over the years my sight has deteriorated. There have been many challenges in my life yet, through it all, I have been acutely aware of how God has manifested Himself to show to me that His grace is, truly, sufficient. When my firstborn son became ill, with a rare brain disease, and suffered several strokes, I prayed only that God's will be done. We may never understand the ways of God, but we do not need to. We only need to trust Him, and love Him, because He is God.
At university I had the opportunity to complete a Masters degree in theology/ religious studies, where I focused on human rights, and the Christian response to social justice, based on the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I further compared the modes of ministry between the Anglican and Roman Catholic priesthood. I am an Anglo-Catholic. Over the years I have served in ministry, as a preacher and pastoral visitor to the sick and the dying. There was a time in my life where I seriously considered taking vows to join the monastic life, within the Catholic Church, but felt a greater calling to marriage, and to raise my own family.
This sense of calling to monasticism has never left me, and a few years ago I came across the Third Order, and started to explore the different expressions of secular monasticism. Throughout I have kept being drawn back to the Franciscan path, and much of my own ministry journey as a lay person has tried to model itself, or at least incorporate aspects of the Franciscan life into my own life journey.
I consider myself a spiritual, more than religious person, and the core Franciscan values of quiet contemplation and prayerful reflection, witnessed through a servant heart, led by the love and grace of Jesus Christ, evidenced through reaching out to the poor, the vulnerable, the outcast ultimately draws me now to commit my life to living out my faith as a Franciscan, and as a follower of Christ within 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
Sr. Tams Nicholson, OFH has been involved in professional non-profit servant leadership work since leaving the corporate world in 2000. She resides in the Atlanta, Ga area where, outside of work, she has an animal ministry to help others understand the need for compassion for all life and is a board member of all-creatures.org. She eventually chose the Franciscan path and spent three intensive years in Lay Franciscan discernment before work logistics prevented her from continuing in her local fraternity and being professed. She grew up as an atheist/agnostic and explored a variety of religions in her 20s after coming to know Christ. Her education is in psychology and theology.
Br. Joseph-Bernard Synder, OFH says, "My name is Joseph-Bernard Snyder, I am a retired Registered Nurse, living in the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida, born and raised in Philadelphia. I was blessed to have been born into a very devout Catholic family in 1950. I cherish and value the love of my spouse, family and friends and I live a balanced life between being retired and activities, fun times shared with family and friends.
My daily life begins with my mornings devoted mostly to my prayer. Spiritual reading, Lectio-
Divina and journaling and a morning walk. Throughout my day I do take time for other prayer.
My favorite past times are reading, journaling, moderate exercise, the beach, listening to music,
(Easy Listening, Country, Showtunes, Soundscapes; and Classical). Things I enjoy and share
with family and friends are nice dinners, stage shows, movies, etc. Retirement (Oct. 2016) has allowed me to more deeply and intently embrace the contemplative life that I by nature crave and have always longed for and been drawn towards.
I have learned over the years of my spiritual journey and walking every day with God that the
closer we walk with Him the more He draws us to greater intimacy with Him. In His great grace
and unconditional love He has filled me with a love for the Interior Life and the grace to live that
life. I have learned that He calls and draws us to "Be still...." and in that stillness He speaks to us in the Silence of our hearts, minds and souls."
Br. Joseph Kibunjah, OFH says, "I was born in a remote rural village on 24th June 1974 (the feast of St. John the Baptist), where I stayed for a few years before my parents relocated to another rural settlement scheme called Banita inNakuru county Rift valley region of Kenya.
I enrolled for elementary school both primary and secondary. Later I enrolled for advanced studies by correspondence from United Kingdom for both A level and Diploma in Freelance Journalism and Authorship. Later I sat for a Diploma course in Counselling in Youth and Behavioral Development.
I have been a Catholic throughout my life as I was born and raised in Catholic family and nursed by little sisters of St. Francis. My closest companions to date.
For years I have been in direct mission as Knight of Immaculate (Militia Immaculata) and in charitable associations having professed the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Spirit of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
My living style is simplicity and humble sublimity owning nothing for myself as I cherish the poor life of the Poverello.
Am blessed with fruits of my apostolate through my life as a single and desired the life of Gospel and now more at inner joy and peace as a hermit; through my life, mission, apostolate and catechesis, I have witnessed what it means. “Taste and see how good is the Lord” as per my motto- “What can I do to glorify the Lord. I will take the chalice of salvation and magnify the Lord”.
Am currently involved in liturgy, catechesis, lector, pastoral and corporal apostolate in my parish and militia immaculate- East- Africa and promotion of love and peace through social media with daily reflections.
I also dedicated in erecting the Grottos for Our Lady and saints; and my joy is that my requests have been granted through prayers and meditation in Franciscan Spirit.
Every 14th of August and 4th October, I do organize for Holy mass to glorify God for the gifts of St. Maximillian and St. Francis.
In the order of Franciscan hermit, I have found a home for contemplation, reflection, meditations and prayer life per the call of our Seraphic father of Francis. “Lord make me an instrument of peace.”
Much inspiration from Franciscan friars and my fellow brothers and sisters in the Order of Franciscan Hermits. My spiritual director and my beloved shepherd Bishop Morris Makuba."
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
a. The Mission or Calling of the OFH Members and Associates is the same as St. Francis given by the Crucifix of San Damiano, to “Rebuild the Church” and Promote World Peace. The OFH accomplishes this through contemplative prayer, compassionate dialogue, fraternal interaction, nonviolent action, and performing the good works asked of us in the Gospel, striving to Build and Unite the Body of Christ which suffers from many divisions, fostering a more perfect life, and exercising other works of the apostolate (Canon 298). As Hermits, we cherish substantial silence, substantial solitude, prayer and penance.
b. We choose to focus on what UNITES us as Franciscans and Christians, rather than what Divides us, as St. Paul "begs" of us in Ephesians 4:1-6:
"therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all Humility and Gentleness, with Patience, bearing with one another in LOVE, making every effort to maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. There is One Body and One Spirit, just as you were called to the One Hope of your calling, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of All, who is above All and through All and in All."
Rule of the Franciscan Third Order Regular
25th Anniversary of the approbation of the TOR Rule of Life by Pope John Paul II
Franciscanum vitae propositum
John Paul II
As a Perpetual Memorial
Much as in past centuries, the Franciscan ideal of life even in our times continually draws many men and women desirous of evangelical perfection and thirsting for the kingdom of God.
Inspired by the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, the members of the Third Order Regular set forth to follow Jesus Christ by living in fraternal communion, professing the observance of the evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity in public vows, and by giving themselves to innumerable expressions of apostolic activity.
To actualize in the best way possible their chosen way of life, they dedicate themselves unreservedly to prayer, strive to grow in fraternal love, live true penance and cultivate Christian self-denial. Since these very elements and motives for living the Franciscan ideal are clearly present in “The Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis”, and since they are clearly in accord with the genuine Franciscan spirit, We, in the fullness of Our apostolic authority, determine, declare and order that the present Rule have the force and importance to illustrate to the Brothers and Sisters this authentic meaning of the Franciscan life, while bearing in mind what Our Predecessors Leo X and Pius X, with the Apostolic Constitutions Inter cetera and Rerum condicio presented on this matter in their own times.
Since we know how diligently and assiduously this “Rule and Life” has traveled its path of “aggiornamento” and how fortuitously it arrived at the desired convergence of different points of view through collegial discussion and consultation, proposals and studied amendments, for this very reason with well-founded hope We trust that the longed for fruits of renewal will be brought to full realization.
We decide, moreover, that this Our decision have force from this moment on and be effectively binding both in the present and the future, everything to the contrary notwithstanding. Given at Rome, at Saint Peter’s under the ring of the Fisherman, on the 8th day of December, 1982, the fifth year of Our Pontificate.
Augustinus Card. Casaroli
Prefect for Public Affairs of the Church
THE BEGINNING OF THE RULE AND THE LIFE OF THE BROTHERS
AND SISTERS OF THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR OF ST. FRANCIS
WORDS OF ST. FRANCIS TO HIS FOLLOWERS
(Volterra Document 1:1-19)
All who love God with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, and with their whole strength (Mk 12:30), and love their neighbor as themselves (Mt 22:39), and who despise their tendency to vice and sin, receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and bring forth from within themselves fruits worthy of true penance;
How happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things, and persevere in doing them because the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them (Is 11:2) and God will make a home and dwelling place (Jn 14:23) with them. They are the children of the heavenly Father (Mt 5:45) whose works they do. They are the spouses, brothers and sisters, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 12:50).
We are spouses when the faithful soul is united by the Holy Spirit with our Lord Jesus Christ. We are for him brothers and sisters when we do the will of Father who is in heaven (Mt 12:50). We are mothers when we bear him in our hearts and bodies (1 Co 6:20) with divine love and with pure and sincere consciences, and when we give birth to him through our holy actions which must shine in example to others (Mt 5:16).
How glorious it is, how holy and great, to have a Father in heaven! How holy, consoling, beautiful and wonderful it is to have such a Spouse! How holy and how loving, pleasing, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable and over all things desirable it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who gave up his life for his sheep (Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father, saying: Holy Father, keep in your name (Jn 17:11) those whom You gave me in the world; they are Yours and You gave them to me (Jn 17:6). And the words which you gave me I gave to them, and they accepted them it and truly believed that I came from You. And they know that You have sent me (Jn 17:8). I pray for them and not for the world (Jn 17:9). Bless them and sanctify them (Jn 17:17). I sanctify myself for their sakes (Jn 17:19). I do not pray only for these but also for those who, through their word, will believe in me (Jn 17:20), may they be holy in oneness as we are (Jn 17:11). Father, I want that where I am they too may be with me so that they may see my glory (Jn 17:24) in Your reign (Mt 20:21). Amen.
IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!
HERE BEGINS THE RULE AND LIFE OF THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR OF ST. FRANCIS
Chapter 1 | Our Identity
1. The form of life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience, in poverty and in chastity. (LR 1:1; ER 1:1; RegCl 1:2) Following Jesus Christ at the example of Saint Francis, RegCl 6:1) they are held to do more and greater things in observing the precepts and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. They must deny themselves (cf. Mt 16:24) as each has promised God. (2LtF, 36-40)
2. With all in the holy Catholic and apostolic Church who want to serve God, the brothers and sisters of this Order are to persevere in true faith and penance (ER 23:7). They want to live this evangelical conversion of life in a spirit of prayer, of poverty, and of humility. Let them abstain from all evil and persevere to the end in doing good (ER 21:9) because God's Son himself will come again in glory and will say to all who acknowledged, adored and served him in penance: Come blessed of my Father, receive the reign that has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world (Mt 25:34; ER 23:4).
3. The brothers and sisters promise obedience and reverence to the Pope and the Catholic Church. In this same spirit they are to obey those who have been placed in the service of the fraternity (LR 1: 2-3; ER; RegCl 1:3-5). And wherever they are, or in whatever situation they are in, they should spiritually and diligently show respect and honor to one another (ER 7:15; LR 6:7-8). They should also foster unity and communion with all the members of the Franciscan family.
Chapter 2 | Acceptance Into This Life
1. Those who through the Lord's inspiration come to us wanting to accept this way of life are to be received kindly. At the appropriate time, they will be presented to the ministers who hold power in the fraternity (Test 1; ER 2:1-3; LR 2:1; FLCl 2: 1).
2. The ministers shall ascertain that the aspirants truly adhere to the Catholic faith and the Church's sacramental life. If the aspirants are found fitting, they are to be initiated into the life of the fraternity. Let everything pertaining to this gospel way of life be diligently explained to them, especially these words of the Lord: If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor (Mt 19:21; Lk 18:22). You will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. And if anyone wants to come after me, one must deny oneself, take up one's cross and follow me (Mt 16:24; LR 2: 2-6; FLCl 2:2-4; ER 1: 1-3).
3. Led by God, let them begin a life of penance, conscious that all of us must be continuously converted. As a sign of their conversion and consecration to gospel life, they are to clothe themselves plainly and to live in simplicity (ER 2:14).
4. When their initial formation is completed, they are to be received into obedience promising to observe this life and rule always (LR 2:11; FLCl 2:8). Let them put aside all preoccupations and worries. Let them only be concerned to serve, love, honor, and adore, God, as best they can, with a single heart and a pure mind (ER 22:26; Adm 16).
5. Within themselves, let them always make a home and dwelling place for the one who is Lord God almighty, Father and Son and Holy Spirit (ER 22:27; 1LtF 5-10; 2LtF 48-53) so that, with undivided hearts, they may grow in universal love by continually turning to God and to neighbor (Jn 14:23).
Chapter 3 | The Spirit of Prayer
1. Everywhere and in all places, at all times and in all seasons the brothers and sisters are to have a true and humble faith. From the depths of their inner life let them love, honor, adore, serve, praise, bless and glorify the most high and sovereign God, eternal Father and Son and Holy Spirit (ER 23:11). With all that they are, let them adore God because we should pray always and not lose heart (Lk 18:1): this is what God desire (ER 22:29-30) In this same spirit let them also celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours in union with the universal Church. Those who the Lord has called to the life of contemplation (Mk 6:31), with a daily renewed joy should manifest their dedication to God and celebrate the love that God has for the world, when God created us, redeemed us, and will save us by mercy alone (ER 23:8).
2. With all creation the brothers and sisters should praise God Ruler of heaven and earth (cf. Mt 11:25), and give thanks because, by the holy will and through the only Son with the Holy Spirit, God created all things spiritual and material, and created us in God's image and likeness (ER 23:1; CtC 3; ER 23:1).
3. Since the brothers and sisters are to be totally conformed to the Holy Gospel, they should reflect upon and keep in their mind the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the word of the Father, as well as the words of the Holy Spirit which are spirit and life (Jn 6:63; 2LtF, 3).
4. Let them participate in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and receive his Body and Blood with great humility and veneration remembering the words of the Lord: Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life (Jn 6: 54; ER 20:5). Moreover, they are to show the greatest possible reverence and honor for the most sacred name, written words and most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things in heaven and on earth have been brought to peace and reconciliation with Almighty God (Col 1:20; LtOrd 12-13; 1LtCl 1; Test 12).
5. Whenever they commit sin the brothers and sisters, without delay, are to do penance interiorly by sincere sorrow and exteriorly by confession. They should also do worthy deeds that manifest their repentance (Adm 23:3; 2LtF 25). They should fast but always strive to be simple and humble (Adm 19:2; 2LtF 45). They should desire nothing else but our Savior, who offered himself in his own Blood as a sacrifice and victim on the altar of the Cross for our sins, giving us example so that we might follow in his footsteps (ER 23:9; 2LtF 11-14).
Chapter 4 | Life in chastity for the sake of the Reign of God
1. Let the brothers and sisters keep in mind how great a dignity God has given them because God created them and formed them in the image of the beloved Son according to the flesh and in God's own likeness according to the Spirit (Adm 5:1; Col 1:16). Since they are created through Christ and in Christ, they have chosen this form of life which is founded on the words and example of our Redeemer.
2. Professing chastity for the sake of the reign of God (Mt 19:12), they are to care for the things of the Lord (1 Co 7:32) and they seek nothing else except to follow the will of God and to please God (ER 22:9). In all of their works charity toward God and all people should shine forth.
3. They are to remember that they have been called by a special gift of grace to manifest in their lives that wonderful mystery by which the Church is joined to Christ her divine spouse (cf. Eph 5:23-26).
4. Let them keep the example of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, ever before their eyes. Let them do this according to the mandate of Blessed Francis who held Holy Mary, Lady and Queen, in highest veneration, since she is the virgin made church.(SalBMV1). Let them also remember that the Immaculate Virgin Mary whose example they are to follow called herself the handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38).
Chapter 5 | The Way to Serve and Work (ER 7:1)
1. As poor people, the brothers and sisters to whom God has given the grace of serving or working should serve and work faithfully and devoutly so that once excluded idleness that is the enemy of the soul, they shall not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, that all the other material goods must serve (LR 5: 1-2; FLCl 7:1-2).
2. In exchange for their work, they may accept anything necessary for their own material needs and for that of their brothers or sisters (LR 5: 3-4). Let them accept it humbly as is expected of those who are servants of God and followers of the most holy poverty (ER 2:4; 8-9). Whatever they may have over and above their needs, they are to give to the poor. Let them never want to be over others. Instead they must be servants and subjects to every human creature for God's sake (1 P 2:13; 2LtF 47).
3. Let the brothers and sisters be mild, peaceful and unassuming, gentle and humble, speaking honestly to all in accord with their vocation. Wherever they are, or wherever they go throughout the world they should not be quarrelsome, contentious, or judgmental towards others. Rather, it should be obvious that they are joyful, good-humored, and happy in the Lord (Ph 4:4) as they ought to be. And in greeting others, let them say, God give you peace (LR 2: 17; 3: 10; ER 7: 16; Test 23).
Chapter 6 | The Life in Poverty
1. Let all the brothers and sisters zealously follow the humility and poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though rich beyond measure (2 Co 8:9) with the most blessed Virgin, his mother, he wanted to choose poverty in this world and he emptied himself (Ph 2:7; ER 9:1; 2LtF 5; FLCl 6:3). Let them remember that of the whole world we shall have nothing but as the as the Apostle says, having something to eat and something to wear, with these we are content (1 Tim 6:8; LR 6:3-4). Let them particularly beware of money (ER 9:1; LR 6:3-4; ER 8:11). And let them be happy to live among the outcast and despised, among the poor, the weak, the sick, the lepers and those who beg on the street (ER 9:2).
2. The truly be poor in spirit, following the example of the Lord, neither appropriate nor defend anything as their own live in this world as pilgrims and strangers (1 P 2:1). So excellent is this most high poverty that it made us heirs and rulers of the reign of God. It made us materially poor, but rich in virtue (cf. Jm 2:5). Let this poverty alone be our portion because it leads to the land of the living (Ps 141:6). Clinging completely to it let us, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, never want anything else under heaven (LR 6: 1-2, 4-6; ER 7:13; Adm 14; Mt 10: 27-29; FLCl 8: 1-2).
Chapter 7 | Fraternal Life
1. Because God loves us, the brothers and sisters should love each other, for the Lord says, This is my precept, that you love one another as I have loved you (Jn 15:12). Let them manifest their love for each other in deeds (cf. Jn 12: 18; 1 Jn 3:18; ER 11: 5-6; TestCl 18). With confidence let them make known their needs to one another so that each can find and offer to the other that which is necessary (ER 9:10). Blessed are those who love the others when they are sick and unable to serve, as much as when they are healthy and of service to them. Whether in sickness or in health, they should only want what God wishes for them (Adm 24). For all that happens to them let them give thanks to our Creator (ER 10:3).
2. If discord caused by word or deed should occur among them, they should immediately (Mt 5:24) and humbly ask forgiveness of one another even before offering their gift of prayer before God (cf. Mt 18:35). If anyone seriously neglected the form of life all profess, the ministers, or others who may know of it, are to admonish that person. Those giving the admonition should neither embarrass nor speak evil of the other, but show great mercy (LtMin 15). Let all be carefully attentive not to become angry or disturbed because of another's sin. For anger and disturbance impede charity in themselves and in others (LR 7:3; FLCl 9:3-4)
Chapter 8 | The Obedience in Love (Adm 3:6; SalV 3)
1. Following the example of the Lord Jesus who made his own will one with the Father's (2LtF, 10), the brothers and sisters should remember that, for God, they have given up their own wills (LR 10: 2; FTCl 10: 2). Therefore, in every Chapter they have let them seek first God's reign and God's justice (Mt 6:33), and exhort one another to better observe with greater dedication the rule they have professed and to follow faithfully in the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ (ER 18:1; Test 34). Let them neither dominate nor seek power especially over one another (ER 5:9), but let them willingly serve and obey one another with the charity which comes from the spirit (cf. Gal 5:13). This is the true and holy obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ (ER 5: 9, 14-15).
2. They are always to have one of their number as minister and servant of the fraternity (LR 8:1) whom they are strictly obliged to obey in all that they have promised God to observe, and which is not contrary to conscience and this rule (LR 10:3; FLCl 10: 2).
3. Those who are ministers and servants of the others should visit, admonish and encourage them with humility and charity (ER 4:2; FTCl 10: 1). Should there be brothers or sisters anywhere who know and acknowledge that they cannot observe the rule according to its spirit, it is their right and duty to have recourse to their ministers. The ministers are to receive them with charity and kindness they should make them feel so comfortable that the brothers and sisters can speak and act towards them just as an employer would with a worker. This is how it should be because the ministers are to be servants of all (LR 10: 4-6; FTCl 10:3; TestCl 19).
4. No one is to appropriate any office or ministry whatsoever; rather each should willingly relinquish it when the time comes (ER: 17:4).
Chapter 9 | Apostolic Life
1. The brothers and sisters are to love God with their whole heart, their whole soul and mind and with all their strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves (Mk 12:30). Let them glorify God in all they do. Sent into the whole world by God, they should give witness by word and work to God's voice and make known to all that only God is all-powerful (Mt 22:39; 1LtF 1:1; Tb 13:6; Tb 13:4; LtOrd 8-9).
2. As they announce peace with their lips, let them be careful to have it even more within their own hearts. No one should be roused to anger or insult on their account; rather, all should be moved to peace, kindness and harmony because of their gentleness (L3C 58). The sisters and brothers are called to heal the wounded, to bind up those who are bruised, and to reclaim the erring. Wherever they are, they should recall that they have given themselves up completely and handed themselves over totally to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, they should be prepared to expose themselves to every enemy, visible and invisible, for love of the Lord because he says: Blessed are they who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, theirs is the reign of God (Mt 5:10; ER 16: 10-12).
3. In the charity which God is (1 Jn 4:16) all the brothers and sisters, whether they are praying or serving or working, should strive to be humble in everything. They should not, because of good words and works even anything good that God does, speaks and makes in and through them, seek glory or rejoice or exult interiorly. Rather, in every place and circumstance, let them acknowledge that all good belongs to the most high God, Ruler of all things (ER 17: 5-6). Let them always give thanks to the one from Whom all good proceeds (ER 17: 17). EXHORTATION AND BLESSING
EXHORTATION AND BLESSING
1. Let all the brothers and sisters be mindful above all things that they must desire to have the Spirit of God at work within them (LR 10:8; FLCl 10:7). Always subject to the Holy Church and established in the Catholic faith, let them observe the poverty and humility and the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ which they have firmly promised (LR 12:4; FTCl 12:11).
“Whoever will observe these things shall be filled with the blessings of the most high Father in heaven, and on earth with the blessing of his beloved Son, with the most Holy Spirit, the Paraclete and with all virtues of heaven and with all the saints. And I, little Brother Francis, your servant, in so far as I am able, confirm to you within and without this most holy blessing (Test 40-41)
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
Br. Albert Cioffoletti, OFH passed away on September 30, 2018 - May He Rest in Peace +
From his Obituary... "My life has been complete… I have enjoyed the company of loving family members and good friends throughout the years. I ask that you not be saddened by my passing, but that you rejoice and enjoy the fond memories we have shared. Until we meet again, I pray that God will bless you with good health, long life, and peace.”~ Albert Cioffoletti
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