Thursday, June 30, 2011

Evangelization and the Secular Franciscan Order

At our last fraternity meeting, we had a representative of the regional organization.

She had some positive observations. She also suggested that we work at promoting the fraternity to attract more members - and to help more people discover the Secular Franciscan Order and to discern if they have a calling.

Indeed, there may be people who would be attracted, who are called, but have never even heard of the SFO.

After I left the meeting, I thought of my father.

He was a very successful insurance salesman who won awards for the number of policies he sold.

Dad was never "off." He'd chat up people and distribute his card no matter where we were. Many a waitress got a generous tip and his business card when we went out to lunch, for example. Fix his car? You got his business card. Sell him some tools or grass seed? He'd leave a card with you. He'd even mail greeting cards to customers and even prospective customers to help mark significant events - marriages, births, new homes, and so on - just to keep his name before them.

I and my fellow SFOs could learn a lot from him about reaching out to others.

The representative suggested that we leave information about the fraternity in various places. There was even joking about leaving some at dentist offices.

I've been taking her advice. I ran off some of the fraternity's trifold brochures and have been leaving them in churches I visit and the St. Padre Pio Chapel. I'll be taking some to the local Catholic bookstore, and this Saturday I'll give one to each of the persons gathered at Planned Parenthood to pray.

I'll keep on looking for places to leave them.

Pax et bonum

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Franciscan Moment With Brother Rat

My wife is for the birds.


She's a member of Audubon.

Our backyard has several feeders and birdhouses. We have to make regular runs to buy 40-pound bags of seeds.

But along with the birds come some other critters.

Squirrels. (For whom I have a certain fondness, so we also feed them!)

Chipmunks. (Not singing, though.)

A woodchuck. A large fellow that makes my dog nervous.

And ...

At least one rat.

He took up residence under the garage, and has been spotted making runs out to seed debris beneath the largest feeder.

My wife refers to him as Rattus rattus. But since he's a brown rat, he's technically Rattus norvegicus. Not that it matters.

He's a rat.

The other guests are welcome. But Brother Rat, while still one of God's creatures, is an uninvited guest.

Besides, he and/or his brothers and sisters got into some books I had stored in the garage.

Now I know Francis was not a big fan of books, but to chew them that way ....



A deadly rat trap.

A capture alive trap.

I opted for the latter.

Yesterday, a chipmunk. I let him go in the yard.

This morning, Rattus norvegicus was in there.

He did not look happy.

After morning Mass, I took him to a nearby park where there's a picnic area and a large often-full dumpster. Mmmmm.

I released the lock on the trap. He leaped out in mid air, hit the grass running, and was gone.

I didn't even get a chance to preach to him!

We'll watch to see is any of his buddies show up under the bird feeder before resetting the trap.

As for Brother Rat, I hope he eats well and has a long happy life.

Just not in our yard.

Pax et bonum

Lift the City - a Franciscan Eucharistic flash mob

This is wonderful!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Franciscan quotation

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

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Prayer by St. Thomas More, SFO

Give me the grace, Good Lord

To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men's mouths.

To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.

Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.

Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.

To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God. To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity.

Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life.

To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the judge comes.

To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks.

To buy the time again that I have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations.

Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ.

To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap.


(Written while a prisoner in the Tower of London)

Pax et bonum

St. Thomas More

Today is the Feast Day of St. Thomas More - martyr, humanist, writer, Chancellor of England for Henry VIII, and Secular Franciscan.

He died rather than accept Henry's attempt to divorce his wife, and then to break from the Catholic Church.

Pax et bonum

Monday, June 20, 2011

St. Francis: Corpus Christi Reflections

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

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

Consider, brothers, the humility of God
and "pour out your hearts before Him,
and be ye humbled that ye may be exalted by Him.

Do not therefore keep back anything for yourselves
that He may receive you entirely
who gives Himself up
entirely to you.

- From the "Letter to all the Friars

Pax et bonum

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Three Weeks to Profession

The time is drawing near: On July 9, I will be professed.

I feel a sense of relief that the profession formation process is nearing its end - though, of course, formation will continue for the rest of my life. I also feel a sense of unworthiness, knowing how un-Franciscan-like my thoughts, words, and actions can be, and how inconsistent and weak my prayer life is. Room for more growth!

But most of all, I feel joy. I will be part of a world-wide family, a family dedicated to loving and serving the Lord.

After years as a lone child, I now have thousands of brothers and sisters!

Pax et bonum