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The month of October is a Franciscan month as well as one dedicated to the Holy Rosary because during the month we celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4). The vocation blog of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal has a beautiful story about St. Francis that reflects his love for his fellow friars, his brothers.
Fr. Isaac Mary, CFR, tells us that Perfectae Caritatis, the Vatican II document on the renewal of religious life, says that it is much easier to live the vow of chastity in an environment of genuine fraternal charity. One could add that it is also easier to live out a marriage vocation in a house where genuine charity prevails.
Saint Francis had a profound love for God and also for his fellow man. In his short Testament, it is written: “Francis, makes the simple, yet profound statement that ‘the Lord gave me some brothers….'” One day, one of the young brothers was literally starving from his intense fasting. Francis, rather than embarrass the young brother or chastise him, roused all of the brethren and had them eat grapes “with the young man so that he would not be ashamed of his weakness.” Francis loved them all with the love of the Father.
Father Isaac Mary concludes: “Fraternal life and charity is meant to be a particular source of joy and strength for a religious in any community. St. Francis understood this completely and he continues to teach it to us, the brothers whom God has given him!”
I once told a priest from Germany that I thought that EWTN had saved Catholicism in America. He looked surprised and startled at my pronouncement. But where on the TV waves was (and is) authentic Catholicism being taught? How many Catholic and non-Catholic lives have been transformed through the network?
Congratulations to EWTN which celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 2, 2012.
“There is significance that Mother Angelica started EWTN to defend Jesus Christ, and we were founded on the feast of St. Athanasius, a doctor of the Church, defender of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the ‘Father of Orthodoxy,’” said Father Joseph Wolfe, MFVA, the first priest ordained for the new Public Clerical Association of the Faithful in 1993. “Mother Angelica wanted us to be a spiritual support for the television network.” He uses the analogy that their cloistered nuns are to be the heart of the mission and the friars and EWTN are to be the voice of the mission.
Today, there are 17 Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA) friars who are priests or brothers. Twelve are in perpetual profession. On June 2, two men will be ordained to the transitional deaconate and two to the priesthood, increasing MFVA priests’ numbers to seven.
May the friars continue to be true to the their motto: The lost I will seek out; the strays I will bring back (Ezekiel 34:16).