September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
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June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
The Secular Franciscan Companion, published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009, is a handbook on Franciscan spirituality as practiced by the Secular Franciscan Order. Though published specifically for Secular Franciscans, this book is invaluable for any lay Catholic who is interested in practicing Franciscan spirituality in his or her daily life. It includes a short history of the Secular Franciscan Order as well as the full text of the Secular Franciscan Rule at the front for easy reference. The rest of the book is comprised of two sections; the Secular Franciscan at Prayer, which makes up most of the book and includes several subsections, and a Calendar of Franciscan Saints. The primary subject of the book, and indeed of Franciscan spirituality, is that of prayer. First come the daily prayers, many of which are familiar to every Catholic, such as acts of contrition, the Creed, morning and night prayers, etc., but also includes uniquely Franciscan prayers, such as the Franciscan morning prayer, the Crown Rosary, and many other prayers penned by Saint Francis himself, on a variety of subjects. There follow prayers to Saint Francis, such as a prayer for fidelity to the Rule, and those of devotion and perseverance, and a selection of prayers to Franciscan Saints, including St. Bonaventure and St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
Next come meditations. There are beautiful meditations for before Holy Mass, meditations of adoration and praise, of thanksgiving and penance, and the Creed of Pope Paul VI. Following is a section on liturgical prayer, with many familiar prayers like the sacrament of penance and the Office of the Passion, yet, again, enriched by many specifically Franciscan prayers, such as the Liturgical Office of the Twelve Our Fathers. This section also features the entire text of the ordinary parts of the Mass. Seriously! Even if you can’t make daily Mass, you can follow along in spirit. Non-liturgical prayers such as the Seraphic Office, the Office of Praise, and, of course, the Office Prayed with St. Francis, follow. The next section is devoted to devotions; prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, the Stations of the Cross, and the Mysteries of the Rosary included, as well as many novenas and litanies, like the Chair of Unity Octave and Novena to Saint Francis, as well as the Litany to Saint Francis and many other litanies. Finally, there is the Calendar of Franciscan Saints, with the feast days of very many Franciscan Saints for every month of the year. Franciscans will have no lack of reasons to celebrate when consulting this calendar.
This small book, which can easily be carried in a pocket or purse, is absolutely packed with everything one needs to put the faith of Saint Francis to work in their daily lives. Incredibly, the print is large and easily readable on the almost three hundred pages in this little book. For those Catholics who love prayer and devotions, the Secular Franciscan Companion is an invaluable resource that is sure to bring many graces to the reader. It is hard to get across just how much is packed into this small book, so I recommend that you get your own copy today and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!
You can purchase this book here.
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March 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
I was unaware of what fertile soil Catholicism has found in Japan, until reading about St. Maximilian Kolbe’s trip to the island nation for the purpose of founding a “City of the Immaculata”, called Mugenzai no Sono (Garden of the Immaculate). More than three hundred years after the martyrdom of the first Catholic (Franciscan) missionaries to Japan, three Franciscans, this time led by Friar Maximilian Kolbe, set out to try to bring Christ to Japan one more time, through Mary. The locals laughed when St. Max placed his monastery on the wrong side of the mountain- how unharmonious! They didn’t laugh after the atomic bombs fell, leaving the sheltered monastery undamaged. God’s provision of His mother’s “garden” was confirmation that the friars of Mugenzai no Sono were to be successful in their mission to spread the Gospel to the people of Japan.
So far I have had no word on how Japan’s City of the Immaculate has weathered the recent quake and tsunami, but it seems that no news is good news. With many Catholic missionaries in Japan, and Japanese converts joining the Church daily, this catastrophe can be an opportunity for all Catholics to pray for Japan, not only for those suffering the effects of the devastating tsunami, but for Catholic missionaries who have been serving the people of Japan for these many years. Prayers and charitable giving are most needed right now, and this season of Lent is the perfect time to make a sacrifice for the people of Japan. Catholic Charities, via Catholic Relief Services, are currently taking donations to be put to immediate use in Japan. So let’s continue to pray for Japan, and if the Spirit moves you, why not make a donation to Catholic Relief Services, too. Our brothers and sisters in Japan need us now, let us take the example of Kolbe and other Japanese missionaries, who risked life and limb to bring Christ to the Pacific. We might especially ask Our Lady of Akita for her prayers during this tumultuous time.
February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
I have been discerning a vocation for many years, but am the type of person that likes to take a lot of time when facing such an important decision. I have looked into the spirituality of many monastic groups, especially that of my patron, St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was a Franciscan. I don’t feel myself drawn to any one in particular, so I end up mixing in elements of each into my personal prayer life. One practice engaged in by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, is the Examen. I like to make the Examen nightly, just before bed, but before the rosary. The Examen consists of looking back upon the day and examining it through the eyes of the Church. Have I sinned today? How and why? What caused me to sin? What were the circumstances that led to any sins or stumbles this day, and what can I do tomorrow to avoid the same thing? What emotions do I feel when thinking about certain events of the day, and what can I learn from this?
I find it very helpful to do this nightly, striving always to understand myself and my actions, resolving to align myself more and more with the teachings of the Church, and therefore the the will of Christ, strengthening my faith and becoming a better Catholic along the way. Here are the steps of this very easy yet fulfilling devotion, from the Ignatian website.
1. Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.
2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.
3. Pay attention to your emotions. One of St. Ignatius’s great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Elation? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?
God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these sins and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to her in some way.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.
5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask him for help and understanding. Pray for hope.