The Seraphic Alphabet Part 5  12/20
How to describe the spirit of our Franciscan charism?  We can discover a whole range of life-imitable traits contained in the letters of the title which Holy Church herself has attributed to the spiritual family of St. Francis of Assisi.

The     S*E*R*A*P*H*I*C     Order.

Just past the midpoint of our SERAPHIC considerations, we arrive at another peak of Franciscanism: PENITENCE.  Once Assisi's astonishment had abated into admiration for Francis, the boisterous king-of-the-youth turned man-of-God, the townspeople, with a fine sensus fidei, christened the ragged bands of his first followers "the joyous penitents."  Now, it might seem at first glance that joy and penance are mutually exclusive, but our Seraphic Father has long proved just the opposite, and so has his army of happy penitents which has swelled the ranks of the Church triumphant with a battalion of saints whose earthly lives proclaimed that the secret of sanctity does indeed lie in doing penance happily!

Penance: for our Seraphic Father Francis was not merely a something, a dreary duty imposed or an impossible burden tolerated.  No, PENANCE for Francis was a PRIVILEGE, espoused, embraced, desired as an act of love for Someone, that Someone being our Lord Jesus Christ who showed the depths of His redeeming love for us even unto PASSION and death on the Cross.  PENANCE embraced in this spirit is not only a fitting way of expressing sorrow for the sins that have so offended God; it also serves as a wonderful testimony of our gratitude to Him who suffered so much to save us from our sins.


Praise/Prayer:
Joyful PENITENCE also clears the heart from all that can keep it from the pure PRAISE of God, which is at the very heart of the Franciscan's life of PRAYER.  If any further evidence is needed to prove the fruitfulness of the happy PENANCE which is always offering us daily opportunities to make reparation for our sins, - be it a kind word to a ruffled neighbor, a hidden act of self-sacrifice, a well-make sacramental Confession, the serene acceptance of suffering (large and small) in union with Jesus Crucified, - we need only look to the Gospel.

Perfect:

Be PERFECT as your Heavenly Father is PERFECT!

For the times when we have failed to live up to this large life-order, we do happy PENANCE.

For the strength to do better, we turn to God in honest, faith-filled PRAYER.

For the times when we, with the help of His grace, have been able to join in His Son's saving work, we offer to the Lord our grateful PRAISE.

And thus we take one more step on our Gospel path to PERFECT love.

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