Welcome to the Family of St Francis
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
St Francis of Assisi
The Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) is a community of Catholic men and women in the world who seek to pattern their lives after Christ in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. The Newton Fraternity of St Francis of Assisi was established in 1958. We live and work in society according to our calling. No matter what that calling is, we try, as St. Francis did, to live all aspects of our life in accord with the spirit of the gospel. In this way, by our example, we proclaim the primacy of Christ to the world.
We meet on the third Sunday of each month. Sometimes meetings are re-scheduled or cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, please contact the Parish Office 08 8337 3849 to confirm the details.
St Francis of Assisi Fraternity – Newton
Secular Franciscan Order
St Francis of Assisi Church
59 Newton Road Newton SA 5074
Phone Parish Office: 08 8337 3849
Mon-Fri 10am – 5pm
October 3 – 11 2020, All Welcome!
The Order of Secular Franciscans cordially invites you and your family to the St Francis Week @ St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church & Parish Hall. Virtual Tour of Assisi (Italy), Movies: Movie: Clare & Francis, Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Documentary: St Francis of Assisi, The Reformer by Bishop Robert Barron (…)
Yesterday the Secular Franciscan Order at Newton welcomed two new members: Ariel and Joanna.
Yesterday we celebrated Feast Mass of St Clare and Profession of Danica to the Secular Franciscan Order. “May the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; may He turn His Countenance toward you and give you His Peace!”
This evening we celebrated the Transitus of St. Clare, the eve of her feast day, to commemorate her death and entry into eternal life. This service honored Clare’s life by interweaving readings and songs with the reverencing of symbols of Clare’s religious life.
May the light and love of our precious Lord Jesus fill your hearts and minds this Christmas season and always. May He keep you strong in whatever situation life finds you. May doing His will be your first priority so that His Kingdom may come on earth, as it is in heaven. As we reflect on His life, let us go forth with the courage to do what is ours to do in this life, and to love one another, as He loved us. Wishing you Joy and Happiness, Peace, and Love not only at Christmas, but every day of the New Year!
Franciscan Way Of Life
Francis, Rebuild My Church
“… One day men saw Francis in his hermit robes in the market place in Assisi singing in public like another wandering minstrel. And when he had ended his song, he went around among his auditors and begged. “He who gives me a stone will have his reward in heaven,” said he; “he who gives me two stones will have two rewards; he who gives three stones will receive three rewards.” Many laughed at him, but Francis only laughed back. Others, the legend tells us, “were moved to tears to see him converted from such great worldliness and vanity to such an intoxication of love to God.” Francis actually succeeded in getting together a quantity of stone, which he carried away on his own shoulders. He also did the masonry work, and people who went by used to hear him singing in French as he worked. If anyone stopped to look at him, he would call out to them: “You had better come and help me to build up St. Damian’s church again…”
St Francis, in his simple wisdom, saw poverty and humility as twins. We are absolutely dependent on God for all things: That is humility. And God will provide them: That is poverty. We are nothing without God: That is humility. We want nothing but God: That is poverty. As creatures, we are poor before God: That is both poverty and humility.
Humility means living the truth about oneself, being honest with oneself and others. Humility is a sign of psychological and spiritual maturity, and of interior freedom. Rather than a series of behaviors we must adopt, humility is a way of being and of relating to others. It is characterized by the way a person accepts himself and values himself.
The Spirit of Obedience
Obedience is not merely a necessity of organisation. It possesses two grace-full purposes. First, obedience provides a means of self denial and self-giving. Poverty strives for freedom from greed. Obedience seeks freedom from all stubbornness, selfishness, selfcenteredness. Obedience calls one to exercise self-discipline, to cooperate and obey according to the Rule and Constitutions. This effort will have one great result: release from self-seeking and pride. Obedience means “giving oneself to the cause”. This cause is the Church’s mission to live and preach the gospel.
The Mystery Of Poverty
“… The social struggle in my day was very lively and intense, almost, I should say, as much so as in your own times. Everywhere there arouse groups of men and women professing poverty and preaching poverty in the Church and the renewal of society. But nothing changed, because these people did not change their hearts. When poor persons are agitators, and their agitating succeeds, and they become rich, they grow arrogant like the rest of the rich, and forget their old companions in misery. Revolutionaries battle for the freedom of the working classes. But then they come to power, become wealthy, and shoot down the rest of the working class, who think differently from themselves. And then the others feel exploited, taken advantage of. No, brothers and sisters, it is not enough to change laws. You have to change hearts. Otherwise, when you have completed the journey of your social labours you shall find yourselves right back at the beginning – only this time it is you who will be the arrogant, the rich and the exploiters of the poor…”
Franciscan simplicity frees us from the trappings we’ve built our lives around. We carefully consider “needs” versus “wants” and make our decisions more consciously, more deliberately. Simplifying material needs makes more space in our lives, hearts and souls for God. If we have “Poverty of the Self’, if we become less egocentric – and that’s when God has more freedom to move within us.
How to Live in the Freedom of Simplicity:
- Buy things for their usefulness, not for status.
- Buy things for their necessity, not because you want them
- Reject anything that is addictive in nature
- Learn to enjoy things without owning or possessing them.
- Enjoy God’s Creation. Take a walk outside. Look at God’s artistry
- Let your “Yes” mean yes and your “No” mean no. [Simplicity of Speech – reduce buts and maybes]
- Reject anything that oppresses others.
Simplicity of Living – Simplifying material needs help us to:
- Eliminate our discontent and live in the moment
- Discover our missions and purpose in our lives
- Grow as individuals and experience real freedom
- Create more, consume less, rid ourselves of excess stuff
- Speak with truth
- Lose the lust for status and position
Caring For Creation
“God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” – Genesis 1:31
St Francis of Assisi was named the patron saint of ecology in 1989 for good reason. We might say that Francis saw with the eyes of God… Francis believed that all creation was God’s gift and was therefore to be treated as a treasure. In the “Canticle of the Creatures” Francis praises God for all creation – the sun and moon, the stars and the heavens, the wind and air, water and fire, flowers and fruits and herbs. Francis’s heart overflowed with gratitude for all God’s gifts.
Reflection: To whom does the earth belong? What have you done recently to improve the corner of the earth where you live?
Franciscan Love For Mary
A deep and abiding love for Mary, the mother of Christ and our spiritual mother, is a characteristic mark of Franciscan Order. St Francis’s devotion centred around one fact: Mary gave us our Brother, Christ, and shared his poverty. St Francis himself prayed to her before each hour of the Office: “Holy Virgin Mary, there is none like unto you born in the world among women, daughter and handmaid of the most high King, the heavenly Father! Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us with Saint Michael the Archangel and all the virtues of heaven and all the saints, to your most holy, beloved Son, our Lord and Master. Amen.”
Reflection: What virtue does Mary especially teach you?
Queen Of Wisdom
St Francis sang one of the most beautiful lauds in praise of all the virtues “with which the Blessed Virgin was adorned, and which should be ornaments of all holy souls… ” Hail, Queen of Wisdom … “
“… Holy Wisdom confounds Satan and all his wickedness. Pure holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the flesh. Holy poverty confounds all cupidity and avarice and the cares of this world. Holy humility confounds pride and all men of this world and all things which are in the world. Holy charity confounds all diabolical and carnal temptations and all carnal wishes and keeps the body mortified to the obedience of the spirit and to the obedience of its brother …”
St Clare Of Assisi
To consider Franciscan Life without reflecting on Clare of Assisi is like having one-sided coin, a song without music, a rainbow without sunshine. Clare teaches us that we can be committed faithful followers of Francis and of Jesus while doing it in our own unique way in accord with our circumstances in life.
“She was the first flower in Francis’s garden, and she shone like a radiant star, fragrant as a flower blossoming white and pure in springtime” – St. Bonaventure
Gift Of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is not an “extra” in Christian holiness. Rather, the sending of the Spirit is the completing of the entire beautiful plan of God to share His Life with us. The Spirit makes us alive, really alive, fully alive as God intended us to be. By opening ourselves to God’s offer of himself – our ability to respond is itself his gift – our being is gradually transformed. God’s way of loving becomes our way of loving if we allow the Spirit to possess us…. We move into deeper understanding of God’s ways, greater experience of his loving presence and power in our lives, because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5)
Created By Love & For Love
We are created by love for love. At key turning points of our lives, we may be at a loss on what to do to follow God’s call. We do well, like Francis, to acknowledge the darkness that is in our hearts and to turn to the cross of Christ for light and guidance.
A good thing to remember, God’s ways are not our ways and many surprises await us.
Come Unto Me
‘Little children, you have promised great things to God; still greater things are promised us by God if we keep to what we have promised Him and firmly expect He has promised us. The lust of the world is short, but the punishment which follows it is endless. The sufferings in this life are short, but the glories in the other life are endless!’ And upon these words he preached with great devotion and encouraged all to obedience to Holy Mother Church, to mutual charity, to patience in adversity, to purity and angelic chastity, to peace and unity with God and man, to humility and mildness to all, to despising the world, to burning zeal for holy poverty, to attention and devotion in prayer and songs of praise, and casting all care, both as concerns the body and the soul, upon the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ the Blessed.”
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
Our whole life is ongoing conversion, an attempt to open us up to God more and more. It is also a turning away from sinfulness – the infectious attitudes in us – over and over again. We do this in prayer, in the Eucharist, and in the sacrament that concentrates on our need for reconciliation and the ever-present willingness of God to give it.
Reflection: Do I think of the confession as a positive celebration of the mercy of God?
Turning To God & Away From Sin
Each of us must look into his own heart and face the reality. Perhaps our whole life has been lived on a superficial level, going through motions. Perhaps – what is more likely – we have been able by the grace of God to enter into the Christian Life with sincerity and faithfulness. In one dramatic moment or over a long period of growth, we have come to love God with our whole heart, mind and spirit.
Grace – refers to the relationship of love between God and his children. Grace is not “something” in the sense of one pancake plopped on top of another. **Our life is graced** It has divine quality put there by God. God always wants to deepen and enrich this quality in us. He is constantly calling us to be open to his presence so that we can more and more be possessed with the vision He has of the world, with the boundless love with which He cares for all his creatures, with the power that no other power can withstand. Everything is grace.
Reflection: What is the best way of describing God’s grace and power in your life?
Poverty, both rightly and wrongly understood, has been a badge of Saint Francis and of his order from the beginning, he is known as the “poor little man of Assisi”. Money is neither good nor bad in itself. The virtue of gospel poverty frees us from an unreasonable or slavish attachment to things. The Holy Spirit has told us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Therefore, detachment from an unreasonable love of money must be the root of all good. It is the enslavement to money that is evil. Money can buy pleasure, prestige, power. These can become insatiable – the more I get, the more I want. So, for all Christians, the virtue of gospel poverty is necessary to curb and control this basic danger in our weakened human nature, the tendency to bow down before mammon.
Reflection: What evidence of slavish attachment to things, arrangements, comforts can you find in your life?
Challenge: Deny yourself something and give it to God through others.
Penance – a change of heart.
Penance means “conversion from human ways of doing things to God’s ways”. There is no way that a human being can make up for sin by his or her own efforts. We cannot put God in our debt…. However once joined to Christ, a Christian can indeed make atonement, but it must never be thought of as something an individual creates by his own power. We are totally in debt to God. God is the source of all goodness. We simply accept God’s own healing of that which he has created.
Penance, then, is conversion, self-discipline and co-atonement with Christ. It’s a lifelong task, never finished. Penance is not a matter of gloom and discouragement, but of hope and confidence and joy tempered by a frank admission of past sins, present and future dangers.
Reflection: What is the area in your life that most needs discipline?
The Virtues of Peacemaking
The peacemaker must be humble. When people are at each others’ throats, they are in no mood to be lectured but they may be melted by the quiet presence of one from whom they have nothing to fear. The peacemaker must be charitable. He is not trying to impose his will on anybody or to gain the reputation of being clever arbiter. He is protecting truth and goodness. He is trying to create a little breathing space for God’s love. The peacemaker must be prudent and patient. St Paul says “If possible have peace with every man.”. One must be ready to be silent when words are futile, forgiving when sarcasm would be the most satisfying, and patient when there is every reason to give up.
Above all graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to his friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvellous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God’s as the Apostle says: What have you that you have not received?
Reflection: What is the greatest suffering you must endure today? What is your greatest personal cross?
The Spirit & Practice of Prayer
Prayer is simply the response of the human person to the personal approach to God. Prayer rises above the temptation to think that God has so many children that He couldn’t possibly be interested in me. Prayer believes – perhaps with difficulty – that God wants a personal relationship with me that is unique, totally different from all other relationships God has.My relationship with God depends on how I manage my relationship with others. But, at the heart of my life is the call to personal intimacy with God, my Father, my other, my Creator. God made me for himself.What then is a prayer? It is two things. Prayer is our uniquely personal response to God’s constant offer of himself. Prayer is a response that is separated from the rest of our lives. Prayer is direct communion with God.
Reflection: What should be the first word spoken in prayer?
Your Will be Done
“…And there apart, in the dark cave, Francis found the secret chamber where he could pray to his Heavenly Father. Day by day the desire to do the will of God increased until he had no peace, until he had clearly determined what it was that God asked of him (…) I did not know God’s will about these things, I took the Book of Gospels and prayed God to let me know his will. And I opened the book and at once found these words: ‘To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables.”
Little Flowers of St Francis
“…When St Francis was drawing nigh to a village which was on the confines of the district of Arezzo, a woman came before him, weeping greatly, and bearing her son in her arms, that was eight years of age; and this child for four years had been sick of the dropsy; and his belly was so swollen and so deformed that when he stood up he could not see his feet; and placing this child before him, this woman besought St Francis to pray for him. And St. Francis first betook himself to prayer, and then, the prayer ended, laid his holy hands on the child’s belly, and straightway all the swelling was down, and he was wholly healed; and St. Francis gave him back to his mother, who received him with the greatest joy, and led him home, giving thanks to God and to St. Francis…”
If we are humble before God, we cannot be conceited before others. Humility recognises the great truth: Everything is from God. If everything is God’s, what point is there in comparison? Is God jealous of himself? He gives this man or woman this or that talent, money, honour, status. He has given me perhaps more, perhaps less. What’s the difference? It’s all God’s. Shall I be unhappy because God has given a gift to another “Is thy eye evil because I am good?” To Francis, living the gospel life meant charity, not judging others. He simply wanted to give everybody as much of God’s treasure as possible, If God gives us a gift which he did not give to another, he did it for just one reason: that we produce fruit with it. We are not better or worse than others. We are simply what God made us. A pencil is neither better nor worse that cup or candle. Each has its own work to do.
May Jesus comfort you
in all your afflictions.
May He sustain you in dangers,
watch over you always with His grace,
and indicate the safe path
that leads to eternal salvation.
And may He render you
always dearer to His Divine Heart
and always more worthy of Paradise. Amen.
Lord, God of my heart,
You alone know and see all my troubles.
You alone are aware that all my distress
springs from my fear of losing You,
of offending You, from my fear of not loving You
as much as I should love and desire to love You.
If You, to whom everything is present
and who alone can see the future,
know that it is for Your greater glory
and for my salvation that I should remain
in this state, then let it be so.
I don’t want to escape from it.
Give me the strength to fight
and to obtain the prize due to strong souls.
Oh my Jesus, give me Your strength when my weak nature rebels against the distress and suffering of this life of exile, and enable me to accept everything with serenity and peace. With my whole strength I cling to Your merits, Your sufferings, Your expiation, and Your tears, so that I may be able to cooperate with You in the work of salvation. Give me strength to fly from sin, the only cause of Your agony, Your sweat of blood, and Your death. Destroy in me all that displeases You and fill my heart with the fire of Your holy love and all Your sufferings. Clasp me tenderly, firmly, close to You that I may never leave You alone in Your cruel Passion. I ask only for a place of rest in Your Heart. Amen.
O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence and trust in Your divine mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of Your Church. Help us to love You with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath Your cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory. May we receive You with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow You to act in us as You desire for your greater glory. O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of Your heavenly Father.
O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of heaven and Refuge of sinners, we consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to you our very being and our whole life; all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To you we give our bodies, our hearts and our souls; to you we give our homes, our families, our country. We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to you, and may share in the benefits of your motherly benediction. (…)
Teach us, we pray, humility of heart, so that we may be counted among the little ones of the Gospel to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries of His Kingdom. Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask Him. Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will help us recognize in the poor and suffering, the very face of Jesus. Sustain us in the hour of trouble and trial and, if we fall, let us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness. Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus and our Mother. Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed Homeland, where we too, hope to arrive to contemplate forever the Glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
The First Nativity Scene
St. Francis of Assisi and the First Nativity Scene, as told by St. Bonaventure.
“It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His Name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem. A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth. For the example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles.”