“Let the entire man be seized with fear; let the whole world tremble; let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest.” – St. Francis of Assisi
In our life of prayer, the first place is given to liturgical prayer, particularly the celebration of the Holy Mass. Each morning, the friars participate in the Holy Sacrifice, standing at the foot of the Cross in union with the Immaculate, offering themselves, through our Lady, as victims in union with the Divine Victim.
As Marian Franciscans, we cannot fail to acknowledge the maternal role of our Lady in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. As Holy Church teaches, the Sacrifice of the Cross was effected by the one and only Mediator, Christ Jesus, once and for all, in a bloody manner upon the Cross on Calvary, redeeming mankind from the guilt of sin. But there beside Him was His Immaculate Mother, offering up Her Son for the redemption of mankind. Our Lady was most profoundly and intimately united to Her Son in His sacrificial offering, uniting Herself by Her dolorous compassion, in total abandonment to the Will of the Heavenly Father. Thus, there lay upon the altar of the Cross not one, but two Hearts, two Hearts beating together as one, for the salvation of all souls. Not only do we acknowledge the blood of Christ washing away our sins, but also the compassionate tears of our Lady, which brought about our regeneration.
In contemplating the awesome role of our Lady in mankind’s reconciliation with the Heavenly Father, we cannot but extol Her, the Immaculate Coredemptrix, as the supreme model of active and fruitful participation in the Holy Mass. Ever fixing our gaze upon Her who most perfectly participated in the redemptive Sacrifice, we likewise seek to “stand by the cross of Jesus” (cf. John 19:25) as our Lady, in silent contemplation upon the mystery of our redemption.
A spiritual son of Padre Pio once asked, “Father, how should we take part at Holy Mass?” Padre Pio replied, “As our Lady, St. John and the pious women did on Calvary – with love and compassion.”
With love and compassion, then, does the friar assist at the Holy Sacrifice, co-immolating himself with Christ Crucified, in imitation of the perfect co-immolation of our Mother Coredemptrix at the foot of the Cross. Desirous of reproducing in himself Jesus’ condition of victimhood, the friar will strive evermore to clothe himself with the same mind and dispositions of His Saviour – that same humble spirit of submission, adoration, love, praise and thanksgiving to the great majesty of God – daily entering more profoundly into the mystery of our redemption.
May the friar gaze upon and imitate the stupendous example of our Lady, St. Francis, and the vast multitudes of Franciscan saints who’ve come before us, who daily assisted at the Mass in a true spirit of love, adoration, and contrition.
THE DIVINE OFFICE
In our life of prayer, the Divine Office has the greatest importance after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is celebrated every day in common and in its entirety, sanctifying every part of the day from morning to evening with that most sublime prayer, which is the prayer of the Mystical Body and for the Mystical Body. In this opus Dei, “it is not so much ourselves, as much as the Church, the Spouse of Christ, and together with the Church, our Order, who recite the praises of God.”
The Marian Franciscan strives to pray the Office in union with the Immaculate, with Her very spirit of prayer and recollection, gazing upon Her, who is the first model in our life of prayer. As She has preceded us in recitation of the very psalms recited during the Divine Office, these same psalms still yet conserve the perfume of her maternal voice and of her virginal lips. Thus, the friar who enters into the very spirit of our Lady, learns how to pray with Her spirit – Her spirit of recollection, of reverence, of devotion, and of holy fear.
May the Immaculate ever guide us to pray with a purified mind and heart, in imitation of our Seraphic Father St. Francis, who was “accustomed to recite the Divine Office with great reverence and devotion.” May our Lady every teach us how to pray worthily, attentively, and devoutly – digne, attente, et devote – as we join in with the multitudes of angels and saints in Heaven, as well as those of the Church Militant, in the chanting of the divine praises!
ADORATION AND BENEDICTION
“O admirable height and stupendous condescension! O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread.” – St. Francis of Assisi
Besides the daily participation in the Holy Mass accompanied by the reception of Holy Communion, the friar seeks to prolong and continually nourish that most profound union of love with that sacrament of love, the Eucharist, with frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament and with numerous spiritual communions.
The Marian Franciscan never forgets that the chapel must be the centre of affection for the entire community, and for every consecrated heart, wherein beats the Eucharistic Heart of our Divine Saviour, ever bidding His chosen ones: “Abide in My love!” (Jn. 15:9).
With the heart of the Immaculate Virgin, the friar must be ever “solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how one may please God…that one may be holy both in body and in spirit…to attend upon the Lord without impediment”
(I Cor. 7:32, 34, 35).
Like our Seraphic Father, the true son of St. Francis makes the Chapel and Tabernacle the pole of constant attraction which irresistibly draws his heart to enflame itself with seraphic devotion. There, before our Lord’s presence, the friar must be as a true, visible angel, imitating them in their love, innocence, humility, and ardent and joyful adoration.
In regard to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, our ideal is to arrive at perpetual adoration during the day, as soon as there are a sufficient number of friars, keeping in mind what St. Maximilian has said: “The most important activity is perpetual adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament. To each one is assigned one half hour every day” (SK 954).
May the friar ever strive to imitate the burning love of St. Francis for Eucharistic adoration, who would spend entire nights at the foot of the Tabernacle, crying out, “My Lord and my all!” May the heart of every friar ever remain in the Tabernacle, where dwells Jesus, our Eucharistic Love.