Wednesday, August 30, 2023

On becoming a Secular (Third Order) Franciscan.


I believe I was named after my father’s brother, Frank Rega. Unfortunately, my birth certificate says Frank, instead of my uncle’s real name, Francesco. That was 1942. I would love to have been Francesco, especially now that I am a Secular Franciscan. 


I was just a Sunday Catholic who went to public schools. But around the time I received the sacrament of Confirmation, I was thinking of becoming a priest, due to our inspiring parish priest. I used to collect baseball cards and articles about players, and I thought that I could put them in a little suitcase and keep them even if I became a priest. I would give everything up but not that collection!


Unfortunately during my High School years I lost the faith to the point of becoming an agnostic – maybe there is a God but we can’t know it. I was reading a lot of Bertrand Russell, who was a non-violent pacifist (good), but he did not consider himself a Christian (bad). Looking back, I wish I had been reading Thomas Aquinas instead. 


I went to college and graduated from Rutgers University in 1965 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers was, and probably still is, a liberal left-wing hotbed, and I fit right in. As a Psychology major, some of my classes treated the false theory of evolution as a scientific fact, and I did not disagree. I don’t recall ever going to Mass during this time. 


I was seeking after Truth, but did not connect Truth with God. I tried graduate school at the Yale Institute of Human Relations, but dropped out after one year because I did not think I could really learn what life was all about by sitting in a classroom.


So I found myself living and working in New York City. After a lot of adventures and various jobs, I ended up back in New Jersey, beginning a career as a computer programmer. Somewhere around the early 1970’s, in my search for Truth, I walked into a Catholic bookstore and purchased a book called The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi. This book put my life back on track. After reading it, I truly believed in the Lord. 


From an agnostic I returned to the Catholic faith, and to Mass. However it was not the Mass I knew when I was confirmed. After the Vatican II Council, there were a lot of changes and even confusion in the Church. I visited the parish of the priest who had inspired my youthful desire to become one, and at his Mass, for Holy Communion they gave out pieces of cake! 


Throughout those post-Conciliar years, I did a lot of reading from Catholic authors, and finally got to St. Thomas Aquinas. Better late than never. But my main attraction was St. Francis, and how he lived close to nature, and to Jesus. I also developed a devotion to the Blessed Virgin, to St. Joseph, and to Padre Pio. 


My computer work took me to Philadelphia, where I lived in an apartment within walking distance to the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, which became my parish. Providentially, the cathedral hosted a large secular Franciscan fraternity, known appropriately as the Cathedral Fraternity. Fortunately their monthly meeting was on a Saturday, so although I was working full-time I could join with them. Many of the members participated in a very fruitful apostolate of feeding the hungry and helping the poor at the St. Francis Inn, a facility with a large dining area founded by three Franciscan friars (, located in Kensington. 


I was received into the Third Order on March 13, 1982 (my Reception Day), but I was not yet professed. However, I was invested with the Brown Scapular and the cord, sacramentals which have since been replaced for Franciscan seculars by the TAU cross. Unfortunately, the Cathedral Fraternity no longer exists.


Next stop in my computer career was Washington, D.C., and I took an apartment near the campus of Catholic University. The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America ( was only about two miles away, and I joined their Secular group, named Mt. St. Sepulchre Fraternity. Since they met on the third Sunday of the month, I was able to participate although working full-time. 


It was there that I became a professed Secular Franciscan, on June 19, 1983, at the age of 41. I don’t recall that the fraternity had a special apostolate, other than helping in some way at the monastery with the many visitors who tour the famous rose gardens and replicas of Catholic shrines.


After my retirement from the computer world, I moved to coastal Sussex County in Southern Delaware. Around 2004 I saw an announcement in my church bulletin about an effort to form a new Secular Franciscan fraternity to be named after St. Clare. I began going to their gatherings, and after a few years the fraternity was granted official canonical status. Based in Rehoboth Beach, the St. Clare Fraternity meets on Thursdays once a month, which is not a problem for retirees since so many live in the county, although the demographics are changing with new construction everywhere. 


Their apostolates revolve around providing food, clothing and other assets for many charitable causes. Since I now had more time as a retiree, I began to write Catholic books, including one on St. Francis titled St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims. Then a few years ago, mainly due to health issues, I formally became an inactive member of the St. Clare Fraternity. 


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Monday, August 21, 2023

God requires only faith from you in order to act.

Everything is possible for God. But as far as you are concerned, know that God requires only faith from you in order to act. We accuse Him so often of not listening to us and of not satisfying us.


On December 31, 1943, Our Lord said to the mystic Maria Valtorta that “...under the devil's lash, your hearts are led to waver in doubt, the first step towards despair. That is what Satan wants. He is not so interested in the material ruins he produces as in the spiritual effects they have on you. It is thus appropriate for Me, the Master, to repeat to you once more the lesson concerning the way to behave so as to obtain.” The Lord then reflects on two points.


[First point:] “Mark, in the sixth chapter of his Gospel, verse 5, says, ‘And he could not do any miracles there, only that he cured a few that were sick, laying his hands upon them.’ Only someone considering the perfection of the God-Man […] can comprehend how lovingly I had gone to my homeland. God does not deny and forbid your sentiments when they are honest and holy. He condemns only the ones which you erroneously call sentiments, but which are in reality perversions.


“I loved my homeland, then, and, within it, my home town, with a special love. My heart returned every day with loving thoughts to Nazareth, from which I had set out to evangelize, and I returned as well, for I would have wished to benefit and sanctify it, even though I knew it was closed and hostile to Me. If I lavished the power of the miracle everywhere, in Nazareth I would have wanted this power not to leave any case of physical illness, moral illness, or spiritual illness unresolved; I would have wanted to provide consolation for every form of misery, give light to every heart. But against Me was the incredulity of my fellow townsmen.


“Therefore, only those few who came to Me with faith and without pride in judgment were granted a miracle [of cures if sickness]. You accuse Me so often of not listening to you and of not satisfying you. But examine yourselves, O children. How do you come to Me? In you where is that constant, absolute faith like that of an innocent child who knows that his older brother, his loving father, and his patient grandfather can help him and make him content in his needs as a child because they love him so much? In you where is such faith towards Me?


“Am I not perhaps a foreigner among you, as I was in Nazareth, because incredulity and criticism expelled Me from it as a citizen? You pray. There are still some who pray. But as you ask Me for a grace, you think, without saying so even to yourselves, but thinking in the depths of your spirit, “God does not listen to me. God cannot grant me this grace.” 


“He cannot?! What is God unable to do? Consider that He made the Universe from nothing consider that for millennia He has been launching the planets into space and governing their course; consider that He holds back the waters on the shores, and without barriers; consider that from the mud He made that organism which you are; consider that in this organism a seed and a few drops of blood mixed together create a new man, who in being shaped is in relation to the phases of the stars thousands of kilometers away, but also present in the work of forming a being, [In what way are the stars present in the work of forming a being? A mystery that Jesus hints at, but certainly not in the astrological sense that one’s destiny is fated in some way by the position of the stars at one’s birth.] just as, with their ethers and their rising and setting in your skies, they regulate the sprouting of crops and the blossoming of trees; consider that in his wise power He has created flowers endowed with organs capable of fecundating other flowers for which winds and insects act as pollinators. Consider that there is nothing which has not been created by God, so perfectly created, from the sun to the protozoon, that you can add nothing to such perfection.


“Consider that, from the sun to the protozoon, his wisdom has ordered all the laws for life, and be convinced that nothing is impossible for God, who at his ease can have all the forces of the cosmos at his disposal, increase them, halt them, and speed them up, provided his Thought so considers. How often, in the course of millennia, have the Earth's inhabitants remained astonished at stellar phenomena of inconceivable grandeur: meteors with strange lights, nighttime sun, comets and stars arising like flowers in a garden, in God's garden, and being launched into space as if by child's play, to amaze you?!


“Your scientists give ponderous explanations of the […] stellar bodies to make the incomprehensible development of the skies human. No. Be silent. Say a single word: God. Here is the shaper of those shining, rotating, burning lives! God is the one who, as a warning to you that are forgetful, tells you that He exists by way of the northern lights, the darting meteors tingeing the ether furrowed by them with sapphire, emerald, ruby, or topaz, the comets with a flaming tail like the mantle of a heavenly queen flying across the firmaments, the opening of the eye of another star in the vault of heaven, and the whirling of the sun perceptible at Fatima to convince you of God's will. Your other inductions are the smoke of human science and envelope error in the smoke.


“Everything is possible for God. But as far as you are concerned, know that God requires only faith from you in order to act. You act as a barrier to God's power with your distrust. And your prayers are contaminated with distrust. And I am not counting those who do not pray, but curse.


[Second point:] “Another point in Mark's Gospel is verse 13 in the same sixth chapter: ‘...And they anointed the sick with oil and healed them.’ In empirical medicine at that time oil played a leading role. Nor can it be said that it was more harmful or less effective than your complicated medicines at present. Indeed, it was certainly more innocuous.


“But it was not in the oil that the power of healing lay for the sick upon whom my apostles carried out the anointings. As always, a visible sign was needed for human dullness. Who could have thought that a touch of the hand of those poor men who were my apostles, known to be fishermen and common people, could heal? If they had thought so, they would have said, ‘You heal by the power of the prince of the demons,’ as they said to Me. And they would have accused them of being possessed by devils. That was not to be. I thus gave them the human means to be believed by the empirical, if nothing else. But the power was God, who infused it into them to make proselytes for his doctrine.


“I said, ‘Those who believe in Me will be able to walk upon serpents and scorpions and do the works I do.’ I never lie, and into the hand of a child believing and living in Me I can infuse divine power. Isn't the history of Christianity filled with such miracles? The early centuries are strewn with them, and the flowering of them has gradually diminished, not because God's power has diminished, but because you are not equal to the task of being ministers of God.


“Have faith. Have faith. Have faith. It will save you."

Maria Valtorta, The Notebooks 1943, December 31. Available from the “Maria Valtorta’s Readers’ Group,”


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Wednesday, August 2, 2023

War is Hatred

In December of 1943 Our Lord spoke a few short but concise words to Maria Valtorta, while WWII was raging in Italy. 


He told her that another sign of His coming to be born on earth was peace. “The world was entirely at peace when I was born. I was God, and God is Love. War is hatred.” Jesus, our Redeemer was the true Prince of Peace, and He could not come to us unless there was peace on earth at his birth. 


Jesus is the New Adam, who established a new generation among men, annulling by His martyrdom the perverse generation of the earlier one. As the first of the new generation, He was “born to life [...] when there was no fighting in the world.” Even though because of the influence of Satan, “the massacre of the animals carried out by man and among the animals themselves still continued […] men were at peace among themselves. At least among themselves, they were at peace.”


But before the fall of Adam, “not even those two forms of slaughter existed,” − men did not kill animals, and animals did not kill each other!


Bombed out railroad station in Maria Valtorta’s hometown of Viareggio, Italy. WWII photo.


“War is hatred, and God is not present where there is hatred. To merit God, one must be without hatred. Towards anyone. Any means is useless if God is lacking. […] The first condition in order to emerge from this hell is for you first to emerge from the hatred which robes you and for you to extirpate from yourselves the hatred which is like marrow of your bones.


“Now I say to you, ‘Pray.’ Among you there is still a minority capable of heeding Me, of praying and suffering for the world. To these I say, ‘Pray.’ It is time to divert the severity of the torment which has begun with prayer and immolation... 


“While the world blasphemes and kills, sing hosannas to the Lord and love. Love is more powerful than strength and defeats even hell. Love overcomes everything, O my beloved ones. [...] And not only this, but the good you do will attract Heavenly Good in an ever-increasing measure, for God asks for nothing except to pour Himself out upon you in love, and you would experience the era of peace promised to good men at My birth.”


Maria Valtorta, The Notebooks 1943, December 21 and 22. Her works are available from the Maria Valtorta Readers’ Group,

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