Saturday, April 9, 2016

Franciscan Virtues Through the Year: 52 Steps to Conversion from Saint Francis of Assisi

Introducing Franciscan Virtues Through the Year: 52 Steps to Conversion from Saint Francis of Assisi  -- just published by the Confraternity of Penitents.

Practice living simply and joyfully after the manner of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Franciscan Virtues Through the Year: 52 Steps to Conversion from Saint Francis of Assisi contains 52 different themes from the life of Saint Francis. Each theme begins with a quote from Scripture, a writing of Saint Francis, and an incident from the life of Saint Francis as detailed in his early biographies. There follow a reflection, meditation on the virtue, and then a call to practice that virtue for a week.

We guarantee positive changes in your life at the end of a year's time.

The virtues discussed are: Attentiveness --  Confession -- Courage -- Courtesy -- Detachment -- Discernment --  Eagerness -- Empathy -- Encouragement -- Eucharistic Reverence -- Evangelization -- Example -- Faith -- Fraternity --  Generosity -- Gratitude -- Honesty -- Hope -- Humility -- Imitation of Jesus -- Joy -- Justice -- Love of Enemy -- Love of God -- Love of Neighbor -- Love of Self -- Loyalty to Church -- Marian Devotion -- Minority -- Obedience -- Pardon -- Patience -- Peace -- Perseverance -- Poverty -- Praise -- Prayer -- Presence -- Purity -- Respect for Creation - Sacrifice Self- knowledge -- Service -- Silence -- Simplicity -- Surrender -- Trust -- Vigilance -- Vulnerability -- Wisdom -- Witness -- Work


Franciscan Virtues Through the Year: 52 Steps to Conversion from Saint Francis of Assisi published by the Confraternity of Penitents. Jennifer Vetter, Editor

 Here is a sample chapter of the book:



But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)

Writings of Saint Francis

Those who want to remain in hermitages to lead a religious life should be three brothers, or four at most; of these, let two be "mothers" and have two "sons," or one at least.

The two that are "mothers" should maintain the life of Martha and the two "sons" the life of Mary, and have a single enclosure, in which each may have his cell to pray and sleep in.

And they are always to say Compline of the day immediately after sunset. And they should make sure to keep the silence. And they are to recite their Hours. And they are to get up for Matins. And let the first thing they seek be the kingdom of God and his justice.

. . . . And as to the enclosure where they stay, they may not allow any person either to enter or to eat there.

Those brothers who are the "mothers" are to make sure they keep their distance from people and, on account of the obedience due their minister, shield their "sons" from people, so that nobody can get to speak with them.

And those "sons" are not to speak with any person other than their "mothers" and their minister and custodian, when he wishes to visit them with the blessing of the Lord God. (Rule for Hermitages)

Incident from the Life of Saint Francis

I want to leave and bequeath to the brothers the place of Saint Mary of the Portiuncola as a testament, that it may always be held in the greatest reverence and devotion by the brothers. Our old brothers did this: for although the place itself is holy, they preserved its holiness with constant prayer day and night and by constant silence. And it, at times, they spoke after the time established for silence, they discussed with the greatest devotion and decorum matters pertaining to the praise of God and the salvation of souls. If it happened, and it rarely did, that someone began to utter useless or idle words, immediately he was corrected by another. (The Assisi Compilation, Chapter 56)

Silence is a virtue in many ways. When we keep silent instead of saying something critical or hurtful that would’ve benefited no one, we have practiced the Virtue of Silence. When we let others speak and we listen without interrupting, we have practiced the Virtue of Silence. When we allow our minds to be alone with God, without interruption or distraction or noise, we have practiced the Virtue of Silence.

Do you like silence? Would you rather have noise and activity? Silence can be threatening because, in the silence, we have to confront our fears, our sins, and our needs without anything to distract us. This is why Jesus went to lonely places to pray. He had no distractions there to keep him from his focus on God.

Those who wish to follow Jesus need to have silence in their lives. They need to find a place where they can be alone with God and where He can speak to their heart without interruption from outside activity. Silence is a virtue, not in itself, but by what is accomplished when one is silent. One speaks to God. One allows others to speak. One refrains from speaking hurtful words. One lets God speak. Often, we have to work at maintaining silence or finding silence in our lives. How much silence does your life have?

Spend a minimum of five minutes meditating on the Virtue of Silence. Do not write anything during this time. Merely begin your time by praying, “Lord, help me to see the value of the Virtue of Silence. How can I find silence? How can I be silent? Enlarge my understanding, Lord. Amen.”

At the end of your meditation time, ask yourself:

Do I see the value of silence? Am I naturally a quiet person? Do I know when to keep silence and when to speak? Do I ever pray before blurting out something? Do I like silence? Does silence make me uneasy? If so, what frightens me or unnerves me about silence? Have I ever sought silent time with God? Do I do all of the talking during my prayer time, or do I stop and listen to God? Do I have a place to go where I can be silent? Do I have a time of day when I can savor the silence? If not, where can I find these?

Find another section in Scripture which illustrates the Virtue of Silence. Find a statement of Jesus or an incident in His life that deals with the Virtue of Silence. Write these into your journal.

If you are a member of a Religious Order, find one place in your Rule or Constitutions which calls for the Virtue of Silence. Explain why you chose this section.

Practice the Virtue of Silence this week. Try to increase your awareness of when to speak and when to remain silent. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with this discernment. Then carve out a time each day for 5 to 15 minutes of silence. Can you take this time early in the morning if you wake up 15 minutes earlier? Is there a quiet place—a church, a park, a parking lot—where you can go after work for this silent time (turn off your cell phone!)? Could you create a prayer closet in your home (it could be a cleared out closet) where you can close the door and have relative silence? Work at finding a place and making time. Then just be quiet with God. Don’t worry about saying anything to God or fret if God says nothing to you. Every day, just savor the silence.

Each evening, write into your journal any insights you gained about the Virtue of Silence. Was it easy or difficult to keep silent? Are you becoming more comfortable with silence? What is silence teaching you? Pray, “Lord quiet my tongue and quiet my mind. Grant tranquility to my spirit. Let me feel Your Presence in the silence. Amen.”.

At the end of the week, record in your journal what you have learned from this exercise.

Franciscan Virtues Through the Year: Available from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop,, Kindle, and through your local religious gift shop.

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