Random Thoughts

“The Rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.” SFO Rule: Article 4

I have ten minutes to create a post for this blog, so here goes!

The Franciscan way of life, both religious and lay, has taken many different forms over the centuries. Different lifestyles, different ways of prayer, different emphasis of mission. But it must all remain rooted in this, the Gospel and the way Francis strove to faithfully live the Gospel!

For a lay Franciscan, this can prove to be a challenge. But in accepting this challenge, he or she enters a blessed way of living. The will be high moments, and low. There will be times of satisfaction, and frustration. But we are not alone in this journey; we will have brothers and sisters here on this earth; and others in heaven, who will encourage us on! The challenge is to get off our duffs and do it.

Saints Francis and Clare, and all Franciscan Saints, pray for us!

Blessed Jacoba of Settesoli, Secular Franciscan

Jacoba of Settesoli was born in the year 1190 into a noble Italian family. She married into a wealthy Roman family, and she and her husband would have children, including two sons. Sadly, her husband passed away.

While managing her household and caring for her children, she began to hear of an itinerant preacher, by the name of Francis. What she heard stirred her heart; and she desired to meet him.

An opportunity came when Francis and his band of brothers came to the city of Rome. Francis was seeking the Pope’s approval of his Rule of Life for his growing community. Lady Jacoba was able to speak to him about how she could live a more spiritual life, following Jesus. Francis advised her to continue caring for her family; that it was possible to live the Gospel life as both a mother and a householder. She followed his advice, although she did turn over management of the family lands to her two sons. She began living a life of prayer and charity. Francis and his brothers would visit her when they were in Rome. She gave a gift of land to the friars so that they could establish a shelter and hospital for local lepers.

During his final illness, he sent word to Jacoba, asking her to come to Assisi, with cloth to make a burial shroud. And he also asked her to bring some of those almond cookies she used to bake for him when he visited her home. She left Rome immediately.

When she reached Assisi; there was an argument among the brothers if it was appropriate for a woman to enter the friary! Francis settled the issue when he commanded them to let “Brother Jacoba” come in. She was present when he died; and mourned with the brothers.

Lady Jacoba remained to Assisi for the rest of her life. She died on February 8, 1273, and is buried in crypt of the Basilica of St Francis; near his tomb.

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal

Born in 1271, Elizabeth was a daughter of one of the rulers of the kingdom of Aragon; which would eventually become part of modern Spain. At age 12, she was married to the king of Portugal, who at that time was named, Denis. She would eventually give birth to two children. While her husband was a philanderer, she remained faithful to him, and fulfilled all her royal duties. She was also a woman of faith, attending church regularly, and maintaining a life of prayer and charity.

She was drawn into royal politics and diplomacy, when her husband and her son’s relationship had deteriorated to the degree that civil war threatened the country. Through her efforts, peace was maintained. Much later in her life, she worked to prevent war between the kingdom of Portugal and the Spanish kingdom of Castile. For her efforts, she became known as “the Peacemaker!”

When her husband died, she left the royal court and took up residence in a Poor Clare monastery. She put on the habit of a Third Order Franciscan tertiary, and lived a life of prayer and charity. Still, she was continually called on to come out and apply her diplomatic skills to keep peace on the Iberian Peninsula.

Elizabeth died in 1336; in 1625, she was canonized as a Saint, in the Roman Catholic Church.

All Franciscans are called to be peacemakers; in our families, communities, churches, nations, the whole world. We do this by actively working for peace, speaking out for peace, supporting peacemaking organizations. And ultimately, maintaining peace within ourselves!

During This Time of COVID, Secular Franciscans Gather!

On Sunday, April 18, 2021, St. Francis Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, based in Milton, MA, gathered in a member’s backyard. It was the first time the fraternity has come together since the COVID pandemic was declared. Everyone wore masks and social distancing was observed.

Franciscan friars from St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston MA, came and celebrated Mass with us. Also with us was a group of Korean Catholics, who were entering formation to become Secular Franciscans. One of the friars was also Korean, and he preached the homily both in English and Korean. One of the Korean’s with us, sang a beautiful Korean hymn during the Mass. it was a very blessed moment for us all!

After a delicious pot luck lunch, there was held a Welcoming ceremony for the Korean Catholics, who hoped to become professed Secular Franciscans after their time in formation. The ceremony was simple but moving. It gives to us “old timers,” hope that the Order will go on and flourish!

It has been a little more than a year since this pandemic grabbed hold of our world! There has been mourning of loved ones lost! Empty town and city streets; empty stores and offices. And empty churches and synagogues! Our fraternities have developed new skills in using programs like Zoom to keep in touch. Newsletters, personal notes of prayers and support have helped some in maintaining contact.

Still the most important thing we can and should do is pray for one another. Pray for fraternity brothers and sisters, locally, regionally, nationally, and throughout the world! It is by prayer, it is by recognizing that in Christ, we are all one, in Christ, we will get through this, and flourish!

Happy Feast Day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order

“Father, you helped Elizabeth of Hungary to recognize and honor Christ in the poor of this world. Let her prayers help us help us to serve our brothers and sisters in time of trouble and need.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

From the Franciscan Supplement for Liturgy of Hours.

In times like the ones we are going through right now, we need St. Elizabeth’s example to inspire us; and her intercessions to strengthen us!

Belated Happy Feast Day, St. Anthony!

St Anthony of PaduaWith the tragedy in Orlando, Florida; I forgot to write something acknowledging the feast day on June 13th of this blog’s namesake, St. Anthony of Padua.

Born in Portugal, an Augustinian monk; he wound up in Italy as Franciscan friar.  He was famous for his eloquence, and skill as a preacher.  During his life, and after his death, he gained a reputation as a miracle worker.  The following is a prayer, asking his intercession:

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers.  Encouraged by thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request).

O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours.  Amen.

If there was ever a time when, as a country , and a world; we needed a miracle, it is now!  So, St. Anthony, pray for us!

Loring Crossman – Rest In Peace Brother

Loring Crossman, OFS

Loring Crossman, OFS

Last week I lost a friend, Loring Crossman, a fellow Secular Franciscan.  I was asked the day before his funeral, to give a brief eulogy for him.  I had no notes when I gave it, but to the best of my memory, here is what I said.

“Loring Crossman was my brother.  Through Baptism, we were brothers in Christ.  We were also brothers in Saint Francis of Assisi.  Loring was a person committed to ’ living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi’  He succeeded me as Minister of our fraternity, and he lead the fraternity as we strived to adapt our lives to the new Rule of Life, that came out of Vatican II.  Like St. Francis, he led us with gentleness and compassion.  I only saw him lose his temper once, and that was at me over something I had failed to do.  Like St. Francis, he was generous with his time, talents, and treasure.  And like St. Francis, he had fraternity members who would provide comic relief.  I remember that once at the anniversary of our new Rule, St Bonaventure University, in New York, was sponsoring a seminar on the SFO Rule.  I drove there myself; Loring, Edwina and two other members were traveling together.  They had to pick up one member in Connecticut, because she was spending some time at the casinos!

Like St. Francis, Loring suffered from many illnesses.  In Francis’ final months, he spent some time with St. Clare and the Poor Ladies of Assisi, at San Daminao monastery.  Francis stayed in a small hut on the monastery grounds.  He was suffering from blindness, stomach problems and other illnesses.  And his hut was being overrun by mice and other critters, which allowed him no rest.  Yet, in all that suffering, Francis was able to compose a most beautiful hymn, the first poem in the Italian language, “The Canticle to Brother Sun.”  It was Francis way of praising God, despite all his suffering.  And I am sure that Loring, despite everything he was going through, was able to continue praising God, to trust in His love.  Loring was able to say, with all his heart, ‘Welcome Sister Death, I am going home to the Father.’’