"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."

A special "Thank you!"
Goes out to
John Michael Talbot
for giving us permission
to use his song on our
"Come to the Quiet"
You Tube Video
_______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Mountain Woodsorrel Thought Extinct Found Near The Portiuncula


Local naturalists documented the lovely mountain woodsorrel, Oxalis montana, pictured above, this spring. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this flower was thought to be extirpated (no longer found) in Ohio, but not so fast because we have one here! In addition to its delicate flower, the mountain woodsorrel is easily identifiable by its large clover-like leaves. We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful illustration of the importance of conservation and its role in preserving biodiversity. Thanks to Daniel Caron for the photo and documentation.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pentecost Sunday


Homily: Pentecost Sunday - Fr. Matthew Charlesworth, S.J.

Caritas Dei diffusa est in cordibus nostris per inhabitantem Spiritum eus in nobis, alleluia.

The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us.


Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Dung Of Worthlessness


Tomb of the Unborn Child
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Take care lest, when the dung of worthlessness has been placed at your roots, you be found sterile, for then there will remain nothing but that the ax be put to you. Do not trust entirely the spirit that is now in you, for man's senses are more prone to evil than to good, even though it may have been considerably separated from it.

Saint Francis of Assisi
Sacrum Commercium - 54


Happy Mother's Day!


One time St. Francis was giving a mother and her daughter the comfort of the Word of God. All the while he spoke, he never looked at them, and so when they left, his companion said to him, "Father, that holy woman and her virgin daughter came to you with such devotion; why didn't you look at them? But the holy father answered, "Who would not be afraid to look upon the bride of Christ? A whole sermon was preached with my eyes and face when they looked at me, but not I at them."

Saint Francis of Assisi
Celano, Second Life - 114


Saturday, May 09, 2020

Begging For Stones In Ozark, Ohio


The Portiuncula Franciscan Hermitage and Retreat Center​ spent this past week digging up the old foundations of my Great-Great-Great Grandfather Johnny Burkhard's old Barn, Garage, Chicken Coops, Tobacco House, and my Great-Uncles house foundation to come up with the stones to build our little Adoration Chapel. We still need an additional 100 stones and are asking our Monroe County, Ohio neighbors to drop off any extra cut sand stones they may have lying around their homes onto the property adjacent to the Immaculate Conception Cemetery on Ozark-Eddy Bridge Road .....

Around my Great Uncle Dutch Martin's homestead...

Clearing next to the cemetery to pour the footer.

Remnants of the old garage where we found around 20 cut sand stones.

Remnants of the old barn where we found nearly 40 cut sand stones.

We piled around 200 stones in the field next to the house while we searched for more.

Our biggest surprise was the number of giant cut stones we found in the old Tobacco House!

Once again, adding to the pile getting ready to run  them to the building site.

Spreading the stones out so the Stone Mason's can see them all and decide which one's should go where.

After we realized we were probably around 200 stones short to complete a 20' X 20' chapel, down the bulldozer went into the basement of Uncle Dutch's foundation to dig up all the field stones in the foundation so that we can mix both the cut sand stones and the field stones together to make it look beautiful!

We are begging the good people of Monroe County, Ohio who may have one or two cut stones on their property to please drop them off in the pile of stones next to the Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Ozark, Ohio so that we can complete our project. 

Thank you and may God bless you all !!!!


Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Penitents Should Be Temperate In Eating And Drinking


 Fra Chris Dickson and Fra Martin Austerman 
busily preparing evening chow
"For Penitents, all Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are days of abstinence (that is, meatless days) unless directed otherwise by a physician. Meat is allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. At all times, Penitents should be temperate in eating and drinking."

Saint Francis of Assisi
First Rule of the Third Order of 1221
Chapter II: Abstinence


The Tertiary Monthly Pledge


Left to Right: Fra Chris Dickson, FLA along with 
Father Murray Bodo, OFM

All:  Realizing the importance of saving my immortal soul * and the great value of the Third Order Rule * to achieve this all important goal in life * I hereby resolve to observe this sanctifying Rule * not only in part * but as fully as human frailty will allow.

With God's grade, * I will assist at Holy Mass on weekdays, whenever possible * recite my Seraphic Office faithfully * never omit grace before and after meals * and examine my conscience each night.

I will receive the Sacraments at least once a month * attend the fraternity meetings regularly * and contribute according to my means for the charities of the Order.

I will always carefully observe the Commandments of God and the Church * wear my Scapular and Cord * avoid extravagance in dress and manner of living * avoid dangerous amusements * be temperate in food and drink * set a good example to my family and fellow-man * avoid dangerous reading * be at peace with all * avoid vulgar and improper speech * and practice charity towards all * with special solicitude toward sick and deceased members.

May Saint Francis * so wonderful in penance and love of Jesus Crucified * grant me the necessary spirit of prayer * penance * love and sacrifice * so that I may faithfully observe his rule until death. Amen.

Ritual for Public Functions
Mark Hegener, O.F.M.
Franciscan Herald Press, 1955
(Pre Vatican II)


Friday, May 01, 2020

The Tau


The first recorded reference to the TAU is from Ezekiel 9:4, "Go through the city of Jerusalem and put a TAU on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." The TAU is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and looks very much like the letter "T". 
At the Fourth Lateran Council, on November 11, 1215, Pope Innocent made reference to the TAU and quoted the above verse in reference to the profaning of the Holy Places by the Saracens. It is widely accepted that St. Francis was present at the Fourth Lateran Council and that he heard the words of Pope Innocent III when he said, "The TAU has exactly the same form as the Cross on which our Lord was crucified on Calvary, and only those will be marked with this sign and will obtain mercy who have mortified their flesh and conformed their life to that of the Crucified Savior. From then on, the TAU became Francis' own coat of arms. 

Francis used the TAU in his writings, painted in on the walls and doors of the places where he stayed, and used it as his only signature on his writings. 
St. Bonaventure said, "This TAU symbol had all the veneration and all the devotion of the saint: he spoke of it often in order to recommend it, and he traced it on himself before beginning each of his actions." 

Thomas of Celano, another Franciscan historian writes, "Francis preferred the Tau above all other symbols: he utilized it as his only signature for his letters, and he painted the image of it on the walls of all the places in which he stayed." 
In the famous blessing of Brother Leo, Francis wrote on parchment, "May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord show His face to you and be merciful to you! May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! God bless you Brother Leo!" Francis sketched a head (of Brother Leo) and then drew the TAU over this portrait.


Where did the TAU come from and what does it mean? (Rhymes with "How") Simply and basically, the TAU represents the Cross. It is also the last letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. However, the two major influences on Francis concerning the TAU were the Antonians and the Fourth Lateran Council. 

St. Francis borrowed the TAU and what it meant to him from the Antonians. They were a religious community of men founded in 1095 whose sole function was to care for lepers. They were disbanded as an Order by the Church in the 1500's because leprosy was no longer a problem and many of the religious orders had fallen into Theological problems. On their habit was painted a great TAU cross. Francis was very familiar with these men because they staffed the leper house in Assisi and the hospital of St. Blase in Rome where Francis went to stay. This is now the church of San Francisco A Ripa. 

Every time you see St. Anthony, "the Abbot or Hermit" in art, he is portrayed with the TAU. 

St. Francis was exposed to the TAU through the direct influence of the Antonians, but the greatest influence of all that made the TAU so dear to Francis, whereby it became his signature, was the Fourth Lateran Council. 

Pope Innocent III opened the Council on November 11, 1215, with these words: "I have desired with great desire to eat this Passover with you." (Luke 22-15.) Innocent announced that for him, for the Church, and for every Catholic at the time, the symbol they were to take as the sign of their Passover was the TAU Cross. 

He incorporated into his homily the statement from Ezekiel (9:4) that the elect, the chosen, those who are concerned will be marked with the sign of the TAU. He explained that this Passover is a three-fold Passover. 

Every Catholic must be involved in this triple Passover: A Corporal Passover, a Spiritual Passover and an Eternal Passover. 

These became some of the most precious themes of Francis' preaching. He must have taken them so deeply to heart that when Pope Innocent III ended his homily with "BE CHAMPIONS OF THE TAU", Francis evidently took that as a personal statement and made the TAU his own symbol: a symbol for his order, his signature, painted it everywhere, and had great devotion to it for the rest of his life. 


La Maddalena


Image result for la maddalena assisi

Quite near the Basicilla of St. Mary of the Angels, on the road to the church of Rivo Torto, is the small, semi-abandoned chapel of La Maddalena (the Magdalen). Here, the lepers worshiped: here St. Francis of Assisi prayed along with them. Here, as we know from the very first sentence of his Last Testament, he found his true vocation: "When I was in sins, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I worked mercy with them. Once I got to know them, what had nauseated me became a source of spiritual and physical consolation for me. After that I did not wait long before I left the world."


Things Jesus Never Said...




Monday, April 27, 2020

Contemplation Is A Divine Fire


Then Brother Giles said to a certain friar, "Father, I would fain know what is contemplation?" And the friar answered: "Father, truly I know not." Then Brother Giles said: "To me it seems that contemplation is a divine fire, a sweet devotion infused by the Holy Ghost, a rapture and suspension of the mind inebriated by the unspeakable savor of divine sweetness, and a sweet and tranquil enjoyment of the soul which is rapt and suspended in loving admiration of the glories of heaven, and an inward burning consciousness of that celestial and unspeakable glory."

Saint Francis of Assisi
Part Four
Chapter XI


True Obedience Means We Must Die To Self


Padre Pio

St. Francis was asked on one occasion who was a truly obedient person and he gave the example of a dead body. "Take a corpse," he said, "and put it wherever you like. You will see that it does not object to being transferred, does not complain about where it is put, and does not protest when it is cast aside. If you set it on a throne it will look down, not up; if you dress it in royal robes, it will only seem paler than ever. "

Saint Francis of Assisi
Bonaventure, Major Life
Chapter VI


Modesty Is An Ornament Of All Ages


Modesty is an ornament of all ages, the witness of innocence, the sign of a virtuous mind, and the badge of all uprightness.

Saint Francis of Assisi
Celano, First Life
Chapter VI


Find Time To Be Alone


Photo of the "South 40" of the Portiuncula Hermitage
in Jerusalem, Ohio

If you wish to grow in your spiritual life, you must not allow yourself to be caught up in the workings of the world; you must find time alone, away from the noise and confusion, away from the allure of power and wealth.



Great Peace And Tranquility


"If the body takes its food in quiet, which, along with itself, will become the food of worms, with what great peace and tranquility should not the soul take its food, which is God himself."

Saint Francis of Assisi
Celano, Second Life


"This is a warning to Catholics" say Spanish Bishops


"This is a warning to Catholics, that they can't vote in favour of this and that they won't be able to receive communion unless they ask forgiveness ... They are in an objective state of sin".
This is what Juan Antonion Martinez Camino (pictured right), the spokesman of Spain's Catholic bishops' conference, told a news conference about Spanish Members of Parliament who had voted in favour of a bill to make abortion more readily available.

I'm in Sydney, Australia, for my son's graduation at Campion College where one of the guests will be Cardinal Pell, the redoubtable church leader who's known for taking a similar position on such matters.

Pro-lifers and pro-life strategists should never underestimate the significance of such statements for the following reasons:

  • Such statements reflect accurately the gravity of voting to kill the innocent. We would not be surprised by bishops refusing Communion to politicians who would vote to kill bishops. Their refusal would reflect the seriousness of the politicians' sin in voting in such a way. The same is true of bishops' refusal of communion to politicians voting to kill unborn babies.
  • Such statements have the effect of building a great campaign for life, called for in Pope John Paul II's great encyclical on pro-life matters Evangelium Vitae95, in which he said: "What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life".
The "united ethical effort", to which Pope John Paul II refers, comes about because when the bishops make such appropriate, bold, statements, they reflect and strengthen the sentiment of ordinary people throughout the world whose respect for the fundamental human right to life is written in their hearts. Abortion supporters both inside and outside the churches will know for certain they have lost their campaign when bishops' conferences throughout the world follow the Spanish bishops' example.

As I said in my talk (also in Spanish and Italian) at the 4th World Congress for Life in Spain earlier this month:

"Here in Spain, the unity between the pro-life movement and your Catholic bishops on life issues is your greatest asset in your battle against your government's attacks on human life, marriage, parental rights and responsibilities, and the family. The loss of that unity would be the greatest threat to your pro-life and pro-family battle. The Church and the pro-life movement throughout Europe must learn from your example."


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Pope Soros And The Novus Ordo Seclorum


[We are] not bound to obey if a minister commands anything that is contrary to our life or his own conscience, because there can be no obligation to obey if it means committing sin.

Saint Francis of Assisi
Chapter 4


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Seek Out Solitary And Wild Places


The Portiuncula Hermitgage

"For a matter as intimate as converse with God, one should choose that place which least occupies and most transcends the human side of our natures. And then it must not be a place that is pleasant and delectable to our feelings (such as some habitually contrive to find) for, so instead of the recollection of the spirit in God, naught is achieved but recreation and pleasure and feelings of delight. Therefore, that place is good which is solitary, and even wild, so that the spirit wholly and directly soars upward to God, not hindered nor detained by visible things: for even though these sometimes help to raise the spirit, that is better done by at once forgetting them and resting in God."

St. John of the Cross
The Ascent of Mount Carmel


The Forgiveness Prayer


Photo of the pond at the Portiuncula Hermitage
 in Jerusalem, Ohio

Lord Jesus Christ, I ask today to forgive everyone in my life. I know that You will give me strength to forgive and I thank You that You love me more than I love myself and want my happiness more than I desire it for myself.

Lord Jesus, I want to be free from the feelings of resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness toward You for the times I thought You sent death, hardships, financial difficulties, punishments and sickness into our family.

Lord, I forgive myself for my sins, faults and failings. For all that is truly bad in myself or all that I think is bad, I do forgive myself. For any delvings in the occult; Ouija boards, horoscopes, seances, fortune telling, lucky charms, Reiki, for taking Your name in vain, for not worshiping You, for hurting my parents, for getting drunk, for taking dope, for sins against my purity, for adultery, for abortion, for stealing, for lying. I am truly forgiving myself today. Thank you, Lord, for Your grace at this moment.

I truly forgive my mother. I forgive her for all the times she hurt me, resented me, was angry with me and for all the times she punished me. I forgive her for the times she preferred my brothers and sisters to me. I forgive her for the times she told me I was dumb, ugly, stupid, the worst of the children or that I cost the family a lot of money. For the times she told me I was unwanted, an accident, a mistake or not what she expected, I forgive her.

I forgive my father. I forgive him for any nonsupport, any lack of love, affection or attention. I forgive him for any lack of time, for not giving me his companionship, for his drinking or arguing and fighting with my mother or the other children. For his severe punishments, for desertion, for being away from home, for divorcing my mother or for any running around, I do forgive him.

Lord, I extend forgiveness to my sisters and brothers. I forgive those who rejected me, lied about me, hated me, resented me, and competed for my parents' love, those who hurt me, who physically harmed me. For those who were too severe on me, punished me or made my life unpleasant in any way, I do forgive them.

Lord, I forgive my spouse for lack of love, affection, consideration, support, attention, communications, for faults, failings, weaknesses and those other acts or words that hurt or disturb me.

Jesus, I forgive my children for their lack of respect, obedience, love, attention, support, warmth, understanding, their bad habits, falling away from the church and bad actions which disturb me.

My God, I forgive my in-laws, mother, father, son or daughter-in-law and other relatives by marriage. For their lack of love, words of criticism, thoughts, actions or omissions that injure and cause pain, I do forgive them.

Please help me to forgive my relatives, my grandmother and grandfather who may have interfered in our family, been possessive or my parents, who may have caused confusion or turned one parent against the other.

Jesus, help me to forgive my co-workers who are disagreeable or make life miserable for me. For those who push their work off on me, gossip about me, won't cooperate with me, try to take my job, I do forgive them.

My neighbors need to be forgiven, Lord. For all their noise, letting their property run down, not tying up their dogs who run through my yard, not taking in their trashcans, being prejudiced and running down the neighborhood, I do forgive them.

I now forgive my clergyman, my congregation and my church for all their lack of support, pettiness, bad sermons, lack of friendliness, not affirming me as they should, not providing me with inspiration, for not using me in a key position, for not inviting me to serve in a major capacity and for any other hurt they have inflicted. I do forgive them today.

Lord, I forgive all professional people who have hurt me in any way: doctors, lawyers, policemen, hospital workers, for the things that they did to me, I truly forgive them today.

Lord, I forgive my employer for not paying me enough money, for not appreciating my work, for being unkind and unreasonable with me, for being angry or unfriendly, for not promoting me and for not complimenting me on my work.

Lord, I forgive my schoolteachers and instructors of the past, as well as the present. For those who punished me, humiliated me, insulted me, treated me unjustly, made fun of me, called me dumb or stupid, made me stay after school.

Lord, I forgive my friends who have let me down, lost contact with me, do not support me, were not available when I needed help, borrowed money and did not return it, gossiped about me.

Lord Jesus, I especially pray for the grace of forgiveness for that one person in life who has hurt me the most. I ask to forgive anyone who I consider my greatest enemy; the one who is the hardest to forgive or the one who I said I would never forgive.

Thank You, Jesus, that I am free of the evil of unforgiveness. Let Your Holy Spirit fill me with light and let every dark area of my mind be enlightened.



Monday, April 13, 2020

Consider It Joy When We Are Crushed And Broken


Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, 
former President and former Chancellor 
of the Franciscan University of Steubenville
R.I.P. my dear friend.

I truly miss my dear friend and mentor, Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, especially when just the two of us walked around the hills surrounding the Franciscan University of Steubenville discussing theology.  When Father was a guest on my radio talk show he shared a word from the Lord with our listening audience that was given to him when his journey had reached bottom, and a word we should all openly embrace within our own hearts whenever we are crushed and broken:

"Now you are broken and helpless. You can't possibly continue as you have in the past. Now I will show you MY ministry, and all you have been doing will be organized around it. You are sufficiently out of the way, with your eyes seeking me, for me to move with MY ministry, unmistakably marked with my character."

Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R.
The Truth About Trouble


The Heart's Innocence


Chris Dickson standing in front of the 
Portiuncula Hermitage in Jerusalem, Ohio
along with "Sorella Chiara" 

Since spiritual joy springs from the heart's innocence and the purity of incessant prayer, these are the two virtues we need to acquire and keep.

Mirror of Perfection


St. Francis Regarding Ezekiel 3:18


"I would take it to mean that you should be so on fire with life and holiness that the light of your example and the manner of your speaking would be a reproach to the wicked. So, as I understand it, your life shining and your goodness spreading like a sweet odor will proclaim to the wicked their own wickedness."

Celano - Second Life


You Cannot Have Resurrection Without First Going Through Crucifixion


Fully experience that our love cannot more perfectly rest in anything than in a loving compassion for Christ; and that the more we are transformed into Christ crucified, the more we are transformed into the most high and glorious God...For if we fly from his passion, we shall be sepaqrated from him in his glory, according to the words of the apostle Saint Paul: "If we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him."

Admonitions of St. Francis


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Planting Of Flowers


Francis told the brother gardener not to plant the whole garden with food, but to set aside a plot for those plants which in their season would bloom with Brother Flowers. He said the reason the brother gardener should plant this pretty little flower bed with its sweetly scented herbs and flowering plants was because it would invite all who saw it to praise God; for every creature says, "God made me for you, oh human!"

Writings of Leo, Rufino and Angelo