Let us all imagine when the Cross of San Damiano came alive and Jesus spoke to Francis, "Go and rebuild my Church, which as you can see is in ruins." how those words changed him...and should change us...His focus must have been like a magnetic compass locked in by Christ's edict which empowered his personal performance statement -
"Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace."
With Christ at the helm of this spiritual vessel and the Christocentic Team of Franciscan Brothers, Francis set out and changed the Church and the world forever. For his love and devotion to Christ, Francis was branded with the first earthly stigmata and awarded the title of St. Francis of Assisi.
MANY OF us characterizes that he is perhaps the closest human being on earth to mirror Jesus; and it is said that He appeals to just about every person and every aspect of humanity possible....and....in fact... to many of us -- He is the Gospel..too....
...When John Paul II outlined in his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp226,
"Thus the saints of every age are also an incarnation of the filial love of Christ, which is the source of a FRANCISCAN love for all creatures and also of love for the saving power of the Cross, which restores to the world the balance between good and evil." he reminded the world of Francis and His
FRANCISCAN LOVE FOR ALL CREATURES....
...This fortifies me, and as a simple Shepherd of a flock of sheep my secular franciscan journey of faith has led me into... finding the source of that Franciscan Love.....to..... The Animal Kingdom of God.....to Saint Francis... and to the love of the saving power of the Cross of Christ....you have now visited Shepherd Too now go and visit the homes of these FRANCISCANS----here
YOUR OWN SHEPHERD STORIES
We are simple Shepherds of a flock of three sheep, and also friends of St. Thomas's writings, and Franciscan and we are uneducated seculars just like the ignoramuses who asked St. Bonaventure
."When one thinks of the light that great doctors like you receive from Heaven, how do you expect ignoramuses like us to be saved?"
To which he replied, resoundingly.....
"all importantly one must love God for ultimate salvation...". ...therefore my secular franciscan journey of faith has led me into... ....finding the source of that Franciscan Love...
A Dog of St. Francis
A FRANCISCAN friend of mine, Bill Wicks, SFO National Minister of the SFO AT THE TIME, sent me an email after I told him a story about our dog Charlie. He quoted this part of a book about a dog Francis of Assisi
"Here is a quote from the book "The Secret of Francis of Assisi"- A Meditation" by Christian Bobin about dogs.
"This dog is in the Bible. There are whales, lambs, birds, serpents, but very few dogs. In fact you know of no other dog but that one, roaming the roads, following the two masters; laughter and silence, playfulness and grace. The dog Francis of Assisi. "
Dogs have eternally been linked with mankind...especially Shepherds of Sheep. At Shepherd Too we have three sheep - Hanna, Charlotte and Ashley. Dogs are a big part of Shepherd Too and Charlie is a big part of all of our lives.
A Little Background Story About Charlie
Charlie is our Cavalier King Charles who has been an inspiration to so many he has touched. Charlie was purchased from a breeder just outside of Philadelphia. Although we were skeptical about purchasing a puppy from outside the Cavalier King Charles Club, we felt compelled to visit anyway.
Upon arrival, I noticed a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the front of the breeders house. Feeling this was a sign, we proceeded to visit with the owners and sure enough, our feelings about the puppy and the owners were validated.
Upon a recent visit to the breeder, the breeder said to me "I must admit, your dog Charlie is the most lovable and largest and most beautiful of all the dog's we bred." "Bet you say that to all of your patrons," I joked in embarrassment" bet I don't" he said back" your dog is a a very special dog."
This is a portion of a story that appeared in the TAU about Charlie and dogs....
"...It was late...and Charlie sat on my lap as I reached for "The Challenge"(the newsletter from Fr. Phil Dabney, C.Ss.R. of the Repemptorist Order..."..."Well Charlie look at this...there's a picture of Fr. Kevin Murray,C.Ss.R. and his dog Nellie, ...and listen to this Charlie, "....Father's part lab, part German shepherd dog who serves as hostess (At Sarnelli House in West Phila.) and who takes her job very seriously, standing in the entrance hall waiting for guests (the most abandoned) to arrive. A friendly pat on the head is her reward..."..."...see Charlie," I said as I patted him on his head..."this must be a Redemptorist dog of St. Alphonsus Liguori...he and his followers too, like the Franciscans..."..have a Preference for the Most Abandoned...too
Charlie looked up at me with his large brown eyes as I said, "It's getting late buddy, time for some prayers,"OH LOOK" ---let me read this to you from the same article....
"To those who pray, God gives with no sparing hand,...but God's riches are infinite, and the more He gives the more He has to give,and therefore, He gives abundantly with unsparing Hand, far surpassing aught we can ask."
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Father Phil Dabney is the Director of Redemptorist Vocations at:
His office: firstname.lastname@example.org
A story "Charlie Did It" is also published in "Dog Tales for the Soul"
This family picture of Charlie is a part of the back cover of this book, and his proceeds go to help out some of his most abandoned and disowned friends in Butler County (Pennsylvania) Human Society no kill shelter at :
"Heavenly Father, You gave Your servant Francis great love for each of Your creatures. Teach us to see Your design in all of creation. We ask this in Jesus Name. Amen. "
..A long, long, time ago I watched my friend as he studied in the Franciscan Order in Loretto Seminary...I then asked St. Francis to teach me all about God's Creatures so that they can teach me about God's love......This morning as I sat a top my Morgan horse mare, looking down in the valley at our house below this is what I saw:
...A little white house with a little barn and sheep shed; there were sheep in our meadow, horses in our stalls, and many other of God's (rescued) creatures in our warm barn...to the North, to the South, to the East and to the West...in the distances were Amish farm steads......Our homestead was surrounded by the plain people...andall of God's creatures..and I was living in a town called Churchtown....now I felt what it was like to be rescued........I fingered the rosary beads in my pocket...asked my mare to cantor down the hill...and she galloped me home...to my loving wife and our world filled with all of God's loving creatures...
"...The new movements, instead are oriented, before all else, toward the renewal of the individual....he himself must be renewed in Christ....these movements are made up for the most part of lay people who are married and have professions..."
Crossing the Threshold of Hope Page 168 John Paul II, soon to be St. John Paul the Great.
The Pope's plane is named Shepherd One. Our home and web site are named Shepherd Too in His Honor.
A Franciscan Blessing
We stood outside the old farmhouse...the 150 year old floors had retained all the imprints of the many families who lived there before us... ...I told my daughter, Christin, "Go get Belle," ( her newly acquired Welsh pony) ,and bring her around here..." ...So she went to our old barn and brought the pony around to the front of our historic (first) house... ..."I took her lead rope and led her up to the front door... and everyone looked at me in amazement.
..."Dad, what are you doing...:" ..."Just watch me, now go open the back door..." ...and she did... ...I looked at my wife, Megan and daughter, Christin, and young son, Scott, and of course Gramma..... ...and I led the pony through the empty house. ...Her hoof prints left some indelible marks...and the hoof beats echoed throughout the house... ..."What are you doing" they all stared at me in utter amazement...
...This is my idea of a real franciscan blessing...I've lived all my life -till now- in places with signs that said
"No Pets/Animals Allowed.."...I hereby state that "All God's Creatures are allowed in this house... and those foot prints and sounds prove it..." ...they all laughed..."there is something wrong with you..." ...and I laughed and hugged Belle..."wait till we put a St. Francis statue in front of the stable... ...You haven't seen anything yet... ....Bring on the statue..."
This story is in Horse Tales for the Soul 5...fficitur libero.
Francis and the Birds
DISCOURSING WITH THE BIRDS AND ANIMALS
...We all know that in St. Francis discourse with the birds, He said, "My little sisters, many are the bonds which unite us to God, and your duty is to praise Him everywhere and always, because He has let you free to fly wherever you will..." ..Well...we all should realize that the birds are doing what your beloved St. Francis taught them...they are praising Him...
.It is obvious to us that our ''LITTLE SISTERS' that unite us to God...are doing what the Master Francis instructed them to do...to praise God and the Franciscan Orders... ...So with that concept pressing my pen to the paper here is the story of --
A LESSON IN HANDLING BLUEBIRDS
...Believe it or not...St. Francis NEVER saw an Eastern Bluebird ?... for they are only found in the United States and Bermuda... ...At one point they were almost extinct...but today bluebirds are flashing across the local airways, and as Henry David Thoreau once described, ... carrying the sky on their backs... and as I describe...they are always ready to share their sounds and signs of springtime and images of love and hope with everyone... ...So they have become one of my many (wild) pet friends...(and spiritual teachers) .and I have learned to feed them in a special way ...and they (In turn) have fed me in a special way... ...I can call them and they will come and eat out of my hand (s)... ...But there is nothing mystical or magical about the routine...it's all in their training and my handling of them...
...It's all in my training and in their responses...
...it's a little like our spirituality...
...I love bluebirds and bluebirds love back... St. Francis never saw a bluebird in Assisi...but when you hold a bluebird in your hand you sure do understand His spirituality...you sure understand His training and his handling of our spirituality.. At this point we can (then) thoroughly understand why His stories are so astonishing and why their discourses with us can BE so inspiring....