Suffering Unites Us with Christ

John Paul acknowledges that everyone suffers, and suffering is an evil because it diminishes physical and psychological well-being. It can also be spiritually destructive, leading as it does to doubt the existence of God. Why would a good and loving God allow pain in his world? It’s a question as old as Job.

The pope’s answer is elegantly simple. As members of the mystical body, all Christians are grafted into Christ. We share, as it were, his spiritual DNA, enjoying an indissoluble link with him shared by our brothers and sisters. We know, by faith, that Christ’s suffering was redemptive. Consequently, because we’re joined to him and to all humankind, our suffering must somehow participate in his act of redemption as well.

—from the book John Paul II: A Short Biography by Kerry Walters

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Our Pilgrim Souls

Saint Francis spent almost half of his life on and in the mountains, and the other half he spent on the road entering and leaving cities. As Jesus walked up the mountain to pray, then descended and moved among the people, so did Francis and the early brothers, discovering, contemplating, and sanctifying new places, as they continued to walk beyond their own history, as do we if we learn to walk into and out of our own Assisi as pilgrims.

To be a pilgrim means to let go of the need to be attached to one place only. Space, in turn, then becomes the place that home usually is. It requires traveling lightly, open to and expecting surprises and blessings from those we meet along the way—a foretaste of journey’s end.

—from the book Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality by Murray Bodo, OFM


Enter Assisi by Murray Bodo

The Pope of Patience

Is it possible to describe Pope Francis in a single word? I will try to suggest one: the pope of patience. Young people, he recognizes, rightly feel the need to change the world. But, very quickly, as they grow up, they discover that this objective is unattainable if they are in a hurry. It can only be done with patience. This is something that parents know well when they understand that, beyond giving a model of life to their children, they must just learn to wait until the child makes his or her own life and, if need be, his or her own mistakes.

The pope speaks of a kite, which begins to tremble. At that point, instinct would make you pull the cord, to take back control. But that would be a mistake. When the kite “wags its tail,” you must give—let it have its way; you must set it free (without abandoning it), you must give it time. We could call it the Gospel of Patience.

—from the book Pope Francis Takes the Bus, and Other Unexpected Stories by Rosario Carello


Pope Francis Takes the Bus by Rosario Carello

God, the Good Father

What would you think of a father who took his daughter’s scribbled picture, tore it up, and told her not to draw again until she got it exactly right? No good father would do that!

God looks at us the way a good dad looks at his son or daughter. When it comes to prayer, our heavenly Father sees our hearts, our sincere desires to pray well, not just our final products in prayer. So even if our praying of the rosary ends up being just a bunch of scribbles, we should remember that God can write straight with our crooked lines. He can delight in our good intentions, our sincere desires to please him in prayer, even if our minds go someplace else. Having a good intention is more important than maintaining perfect attention throughout prayer.

—from the book Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth by Edward Sri


Praying the Rosary Like Never Before

A Love That Mirrors God

Love is not divisible. Genuine love of God implies love of neighbor and self. Genuine love of neighbor and self can come only out of a love of God. Even in the most vindictive, inconsiderate, domineering person, we are called to see God. Beneath the sin and ugliness, everyone mirrors at least some of the attributes of God: free, intelligent, capable of the highest love. Even if that freedom has been enslaved or that intelligence is clouded by physical, emotional, or moral obstacles, that person is still full of potential.

Christ brought new dignity to human nature by the union of the divine and the human. In the one person of Christ, human nature is inseparably and forever united to God. Christ did not add anything to human nature. Rather he made visible the love that had never changed.

—from the book Live Like Francis: Reflections on Franciscan Life in the World


Live Like Francis by Jovian Weigel and Leonard Foley, OFM

Mary, Our Mother

In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things” (Psalm 98:1). Today we consider one of the marvelous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth; not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). That was her answer.

—from Pope Francis, as quoted in the book Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis


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Saint Francis: An Instrument of Joy

To Francis everything in him and around him was a gift from his Father in Heaven. He expected nothing, so he was grateful for everything. Even a piece of earth was cause for rejoicing, and he thanked God always for everything that was. He held everything to his heart with the enthusiasm of a child surprised by some unexpected toy. The air he breathed, the sounds he heard, the sights and smells of all the world entered his grateful soul through senses perfected by gratitude and purity of heart.

Nothing was evil, for everything came from God, and evil came only from a heart that chose not to love. 

—from the book Francis: The Journey and the Dream by Murray Bodo, OFM


Francis the Journey and the Dream Franciscan Media

Saint Teresa of Avila and the Light of Christ

Teresa of Avila had no desire to be set apart as “the holy one,” because she believed she was far from perfect. She told a priest, “During my lifetime, I have been told that I was handsome and I believed it; that I was clever and I thought it was true; and that I was a Saint, but I always knew that people were mistaken on that score.”

Teresa’s reputation for sanctity spread, in spite of her protests, among those who weren’t blinded by jealousy. Try as she might to bring her flaws to light, the Light of Christ shone more brightly within her. This holy radiance shone around her and all the saints because they carried Jesus within them. Saint Teresa’s life of prayer made this divine presence possible.

—from the book The Four Teresas by Gina Loehr


Saint of the Day Franciscan Media

 

A Return to Formal Prayer

I come back once more to formal prayer, to the doxology that traditionally concludes the prayers we begin “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In the concluding doxology, too, we usually connect Father, Son, and Spirit by the word and. But I prefer a more ancient version. This more dynamic version suggests our entering into God’s life as we pray to the Father (Mother and Source of all), through the Son (through whom we have communion with God), in the Holy Spirit (that Force which comes from God, is God, and leads all things back to the Source in a great dance).

—from the book The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life, by Brother David Steindl-Rast

Don't Panic by Maureen Pratt

Give God the Glory

We have no right to glory in ourselves because of any extraordinary gifts, since these do not belong to us but to God. But we may glory in crosses, afflictions, and tribulations, because these are our own.

—Saint Francis of Assisi, as quoted in the book The Franciscan Saints, by Robert Ellsberg


The Franciscan Saints, by Robert Ellsberg

Meeting God in the Upper Room