The Way to Live
St. Bonaventure in Holiness of Life: “The Law of the Lord teaches us the way to live, what is to be done, avoided, believed, prayed for, longed for and feared. It teaches how to live the blameless and spotless life, how to keep one’s promises, and how to be sincerely contrite for one’s failings. The Law of the Lord teaches contempt for earthly things and a loathing for all things of the flesh. Finally, it explains how with our whole heart, whole soul, and whole mind we are to be converted to Jesus Christ (Mt. 22: 37)
Pope Benedict XVI: “If the love of God lays down deep roots within a person, “he is able to love even those who do not merit it, just as God loves us. A father and a mother do not love their children only when they deserve it: they love them always, even though they let them know when they make mistakes. From God we learn to wish well, and never ill, upon others. We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes, but also with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ, ... which looks beyond appearances to man's deepest expectations: the desire to be listened to, to receive attention; in short, the desire for love. But this occurs also in reverse: by opening myself to others, accepting and reaching out to them, ... I open also myself to knowledge of God, to the knowledge that He exists and is good”.
“Love for God and love for neighbor are “inseparable and have a reciprocal relationship. Jesus invented neither the one nor the other, but showed that they are, fundamentally, a single commandment. He did so not only through words, but above all by example: the very Person of Jesus Himself and His mystery incarnate the unity of love for God and neighbor, like the two arms of the Cross, vertical and horizontal. In the Eucharist He gives us this dual love, in giving Himself to us as, nourished by this bread, we love each other just as He loved us”.
Be always charitable, praise people, whether they seem to deserve it or not. Do not judge people. Highlight the positive about the person you are speaking with. Don't even begin to think about all that is wrong with him or her. He comes to you out of need, asking you, perhaps, for a few dollars. Don't immediately jump to the conclusion that he's not going to use that money for food. I had such an encounter once, in a large parking lot. I did not see him approach and as I was getting out of my car, a hand tapped me on the shoulder (an unnerving experience). I was looking at a haggard face, someone whose life experience showed in his eyes. Could I spare some money. Yes, of course I could. After I put my wallet back in my pocket I looked around. He was totally gone as if he never existed. I remember this encounter here because we never know who taps us on our shoulders. It could have been Jesus or one of His angels!
We are expected to show refinement for "stepping aside is a graceful movement of the soul." Don't seek praise... but give it, as the Prayer of Saint Francis says. "We seek to take on the manners of Heaven. Stepping aside is the outer garment of humility. Also, always speak the truth. Even to yourself. Truth is strength, Truth is God.
Practice detachment from worldly goods. As Secular Franciscans we do not have a vow of poverty, but nonetheless, we know that amassing worldly goods is not the way to Heaven. A person who practices detachment does not deprive others of their rights. Do not judge others, just try to help where you can. St. Francis of Assisi could have scorned the lepers as the outcasts of society they were in the 13th Century, but he helped them and bathed their wounds. He had a deep love for people, a love received from God.
Pride is a terrible obstacle to attaining perfection. Humility kills pride. It is a gift: "Were it not for our Master and Lord, not one of us would strive to acquire humility." Bear irritations and humiliations silently. Remember St. Francis' description of Perfect Joy - he bore irritation and humility with perfect joy! Silently accept sorrow as he did. You'll find out that being humble is real suffering at times, but offer it up for Jesus. "We catch a glimpse of God's patient and absorbing love," when we strive to be humble and patient.
Obedience to the Will of God takes total surrender. Breaking our own will, that very free will He gave us, takes an immense amount of pain and suffering. But we must... Jesus loves us totally and unconditionally. Can we do any less for Him? Can we do any less for our sisters and brothers? This falls under the subject of personal conversion and we, as Franciscans, should work on that every day! Also, feelings have no place in the life of the spirit. How often I hear someone say... it feels so good to pray. Our feelings must never be the issue in prayer... because our feelings are pride. The Eucharistic life is a marvel of love. Feelings have no place in this Eucharistic life - deep convictions do. Craving for anything outside of God will do us harm.
Our focus is clear from our Charism, our vocation. Service to others, our brothers and sisters, also to those who are marginalized and whose rights as human beings are trampled upon, that service is the loss of self in the interest of God. Service is the purchase price of peace. And, "whoever does not carry my Cross, cannot be my disciple." (Lk 14:27) Love all, do not overlook anyone. "A radiant smile is a blessing; bad humor, a poor choice of words, casts a pall of doom." (F. Schaeffer, OFS bc289, 2013)
© Fred Schaeffer, SFO. Oct. 26, 2019
Have you read my Biography, A Gift of
a New Life, I published earlier this month?
You’ll find it here: https://www.newlife-dmf-ofs.org/ Thank You.
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs