Many people, men and women have enormous difficulty remaining chaste in today’s culture. “Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.” (quoted from CCC 2339)
“Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God's commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. "Indeed, it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity." (CCC2340)
In his letter to all the faithful, Saint Francis emphasized the greatest commandment of all. He requests that we must love God... and our neighbor as ourselves. We, Franciscans, walk the way of the Cross in imitation of Jesus Christ.
We cannot love God if we exalt the "self" rather than adore God's Glory. "Francis' special concern is the Divine Glory and man's refusal to let it shine through his person. Vanity, arrogance, extravagant self-esteem, jealousy, envy, hatred, wrong self-assertion, deceitfulness, untruthfulness, exercising excessive control over others, these are vices that go against the glory of God. Saint Francis, in his Order and as an example for the world to see, made self-denial an absolute condition for reflecting the glory of God. In the 21st Century, most people have lost recognition of the need for self-denial and have even lost the knowledge of right vs. wrong. "The remedy for sin is to carry the cross of Jesus Christ instead of crucifying Him by sin. One carries the cross rather than inflects it, by recognizing the real enemy, the flesh."
A friar, Fr. Sergius, states: "Sin has one root: the inordinate love of self ― that tendency of the human ego to concentrate all its attention upon its own maintenance and the furtherance of its own private ends. Jesus did not aim at the elimination of this self-love but at its complete subordination to the love of God and man."
Saint Francis had a living faith in the Eucharist, and he regarded this as a special grace. This is evident from his own words: "We adore you, O Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all the churches which are in the whole world and we praise you because by your holy cross you redeemed the world." Saint Francis attended the Lateran Council of 1215 and it was at Francis' insistence that certain rules were established pertaining to the Blessed Sacrament kept in the Tabernacles in churches, because until then there were no standards of cleanliness and decoration of the Sanctuary.
Francis was "keenly aware of the triple-faceted richness of the Eucharist: 1) as sacrifice, 2) as a Sacrament, and 3) as Presence. In his writings he describes the "Real Presence." Francis noted that he "saw a prolongation of the Incarnation and how the abiding Eucharistic presence makes the Incarnate Word humanly accessible to believers of all ages."
"Adoration holds an important place in the spirituality of Saint Francis. God alone deserves adoration because He alone is good. We should praise the Trinity through the mediator Christ, that is, through the Eucharistic sacrifice." (cf. Rule of 1221)
In order for us to praise and adore God through Jesus Christ, it is first necessary to repent and confess our sins or shortcomings. Then we continue our pilgrimage of the Cross, to deny the flesh and thus only adore Jesus Christ in the way of Saint Francis. Change my Heart, O God. My life is for you, Lord. May I adore You and praise You with my actions, that are possible only with Your Grace, as charity toward brothers and sisters. As Franciscans, we have been given a clear picture of what Francis had in mind for us, our Rule, Constitutions and Statutes.
For those reading this, who are not Franciscans... If you wish to follow Jesus Christ as Roman Catholics, you too have an obligation to control the flesh, keeping in mind that falling in love is actually something beautiful, and love God deeply as His Son Jesus did. We all have a spiritual intercessor in Heaven and that is Mary, the Mother of us all.
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Written while in religious life,
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Officers as of 1/10/2016
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS