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Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

These seven men were born in Florence, Italy and led lives as hermits on Monte Senario. They had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.On Friday, April 13, 1240, the hermits received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand a black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading "Servants of Mary."Mary told them:"You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.They accepted the wisdom of Our Lady, wrote a Rule based on Saint Augustine and the Dominican Constitutions, adopted the black habit of an Augustinian monk, and lived as mendicant friars. The men founded the Order of Servites which in 1304 received the approval of the Holy See. They are venerated on Feb. 17 because it is said to be the day on which Saint Alexis Falconieri, one of the seven, died in 1310.All seven were beatified December 1, 1717 by Pope Clement XI  and canonized in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII.

Loving Lady Poverty

A very early Franciscan document, Sacrum Commercium, The Sacred Exchange, begins with words reminiscent of the Bible’s Song of Songs: “Francis began to go about in the streets and crossings of the city, relentlessly, like a persistent hunter, diligently seeking whom his heart loved. He inquired of those standing about, he questioned those who came near to him, saying, ‘Have you seen her whom my heart loves?’” This kind of language and imagery for Franciscan poverty makes of poverty and penance a joyful enterprise, the joyful knight, Francis, going about the countryside as the embodiment of the good knight whose virtues are those of a knight of the new Round Table of the Lord. Poverty and penance, then, are not a grim affair, but the kind of derring-do a knight would perform to impress the Lady of the Castle, even rolling in briar bushes in the dead of winter to show his fidelity to her. This charges the tone of the early Franciscan Order with the chivalry and adventure of the Quest, a Spiritual Battle, fired by a deep and abiding love for Christ the Lord whose self-emptying is symbolized in Lady Poverty who was Christ’s vesture.

—from Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

 Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

 

Grace Transforms Marriage

None of us is perfect. We’re all a mixed bag. Inside each of us coexists light and darkness, good and bad, grace and sin. Ideally, sacramental marriage is a safe place where we can be confronted on our “stuff.” Left to our own natural devices, our first and only reaction would be to fortify our ego, stand our ground and be right. Grace enables a relationship to transcend our natural inclinations. Grace can transform what would otherwise be a convenient living arrangement into a sacred space where we feel safe enough to expose our brokenness and receive forgiveness.

—from the book What I Wish Someone Had Told Me about the First Five Years of Marriage

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage


Saint Gilbert of Sempringham

Sculpture of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham at Essen, Belgium | photo by Bocachete
Image: Sculpture of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham at Essen, Belgium | photo by Bocachete

Saint Gilbert of Sempringham

Saint of the Day for February 16

(c. 1083 – February 4, 1189)

 

Saint Gilbert of Sempringham’s Story

Gilbert was born in Sempringham, England, into a wealthy family, but he followed a path quite different from that expected of him as the son of a Norman knight. Sent to France for his higher education, he decided to pursue seminary studies.

He returned to England not yet ordained a priest, and inherited several estates from his father. But Gilbert avoided the easy life he could have led under the circumstances. Instead he lived a simple life at a parish, sharing as much as possible with the poor. Following his ordination to the priesthood he served as parish priest at Sempringham.

Among the congregation were seven young women who had expressed to him their desire to live in religious life. In response, Gilbert had a house built for them adjacent to the Church. There they lived an austere life, but one which attracted ever more numbers; eventually lay sisters and lay brothers were added to work the land. The religious order formed eventually became known as the Gilbertines, though Gilbert had hoped the Cistercians or some other existing order would take on the responsibility of establishing a rule of life for the new order. The Gilbertines, the only religious order of English origin founded during the Middle Ages, continued to thrive. But the order came to an end when King Henry VIII suppressed all Catholic monasteries.

Over the years a special custom grew up in the houses of the order called “the plate of the Lord Jesus.” The best portions of the dinner were put on a special plate and shared with the poor, reflecting Gilbert’s lifelong concern for less fortunate people.

Throughout his life, Gilbert lived simply, consumed little food, and spent a good portion of many nights in prayer. Despite the rigors of such a life he died at well over age 100.


Reflection

When he came into his father’s wealth, Gilbert could have lived a life of luxury, as many of his fellow priests did at the time. Instead, he chose to share his wealth with the poor. The charming habit of filling “the plate of the Lord Jesus” in the monasteries he established reflected his concern. Today’s Operation Rice Bowl echoes that habit: eating a simpler meal and letting the difference in the grocery bill help feed the hungry.


CMF CURO SOD SAINT PG FOOTER Feb 15-21

The post Saint Gilbert of Sempringham appeared first on Franciscan Media.

The Challenge to Love One Another

In every marriage, there comes a sobering awareness that you are not able to do as much of your own thing. Even with a great marriage preparation experience, it is still normal for couples to wake up one day and think, “This is not the person I married. What happened?” It is natural for couples to experience some disillusionment in the early years. A time comes when you realize that your spouse isn’t all you thought and things aren’t working out quite as smoothly as you once hoped.  We were not created to bear the weight of perfection. Let us be content to be who God made us—broken, imperfect beings. In marriage we face the ever present challenge to love one another despite our brokenness and many shortcomings.

—from the book What I Wish Someone Had Told Me about the First Five Years of Marriage

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage


What Do We Do With This Great Love?

Francis's own song defined love for him. It was to live and be in God’s most holy will. And Francis has learned from Christ’s own words in the Gospels what God’s will is for those who love him. They are to feed the hungry, give drink to those who thirst, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison. And they are to do all that for love of his love who did the same for us when he walked among us. He remembered when he was hungry and thirsty, and a stranger, and naked, sick and in prison. And there were those who gave him food and water, and welcomed him and the brothers when they were on the road, and those who visited him when he was sick, and wanted to visit him in prison and could not. Love is of the heart, Francis thought, but loving is about acting and living out God’s will revealed in Jesus Christ and in those who love him. How simple it all was if you loved the Lord. And it was good, and now he had done what was his to do. He prayed the brothers would do now what was theirs to do.

—from Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

 Seven Teachings from Saint Francis

 

God Designed Marriage to Be Joyful

God designed marriage to be joyful. I once believed the words of a newlywed friend, that, “things will just work themselves out.” After seven years of marriage and working with couples as a therapist, I’ve learned that relationships succeed because we work things out. Marriages are not self-sustaining and do not survive on autopilot. They require constant attention and intentional effort. But it can be rewarding effort. It can be an adventure! And like any adventure it is not easy. There are unexpected detours, obstacles, and challenges. But there are also thrills, excitement, and happiness. God designed marriage this way. God desires for us to experience this fullness of grace and life.

—from the book What I Wish Someone Had Told Me about the First Five Years of Marriage

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage


God's Love Knows No Obstacles

Touching the rock face, contemplating the grotto of more than 150 years ago and offering a prayer—these actions help visitors connect to that point in time when Bernadette hurried to this obscure cave. More importantly, they connect pilgrims to the spoken and unspoken messages that Our Lady conveyed to the young girl. As Mary bore the Son of God in her womb, she carries with her his message of love, which knows no obstacles and overcomes all shortcomings. Our lives, much like the grotto in Bernadette’s time, may be disordered, but God nonetheless comes calling. Reaching into the shadows of the caves of our own making, God seeks us through his mother.

—from Lourdes Today: A Pilgrimage to Mary's Grotto

Lourdes Today: A Pilgrim's Guide to Mary's Grotto

Drink from the Spring of Holiness

The Blessed Virgin taught Bernadette with what she could see, touch and experience. “Bernadette is invited to enter a grotto, to drink spring water, to wash from it and to carry the light,” says Father de La Teyssonnière. “Rock, water and light are parts of the human experience, of the religious experience and of Christian revelation. Mary invites Bernadette to go further than the human level, to go further than the religious level, to reach the level of Christian revelation.” These basic elements of life—rock, water and light—become for Bernadette, Father de La Teyssonnière says, the place of meeting Jesus. This in turn prepares her to meet Jesus Christ in the sacraments of the Church. “Bernadette’s experience is a pilgrimage led by Mary. She has to go out of her place, to walk, to go forward, to keep going. But at the same time this concrete pilgrimage is a pilgrimage deep in the heart,” he says.

—from Lourdes Today: A Pilgrimage to Mary's Grotto

Lourdes Today: A Pilgrim's Guide to Mary's Grotto

We Are Pilgrims in the Profoundest Sense

Drawn by faith or curiosity, people from all parts of the world go on pilgrimage to Lourdes, the most visited Marian shrine in Europe. When all is said and done, many pilgrims will measure their experience not by how far they travel but by how close they come to God. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, urged Catholics in a Holy Thursday homily to remember their purpose in life: “We are only guests on earth; we are pilgrims in the profoundest sense, that the earth is not ultimate, and we are on our way to the new world.” Tucking this insight in with the luggage might help men, women and children embarking for Lourdes to view their pilgrimage within this larger frame.

—from Lourdes Today: A Pilgrimage to Mary's Grotto

Lourdes Today: A Pilgrim's Guide to Mary's Grotto