Sunday, 12 October 2014

Important news about CAPDOX

The material from CAPDOX has been integrated into the website of the Capuchin Friars of Australia.

After 1 November 2014, visitors to the Capdox URL will be redirected to the website of the Capuchin Friars in Australia ( 

On 1 February 2015 the URL will be shut down.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Method of Prayer Combining Spirit and Mind
 by Silvestro da Rossano

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

Silvestro Franco da Rossano (+ 1596) belongs to the ranks of the devout and popular Capuchin preachers of the later part of the sixteenth century who were anxious to launch or revitalize devotional or charitable initiatives. He stepped aside from the position of being “a learned man who was a good and accomplished preacher” who “displayed a great zeal for the Christian doctrine contained in the feasts, he established confraternities, and helped them after they had been set up and praised and recommended them in his preaching”. (cf. I Frati Cappuccini, vol II, section I, doc. 56)  In fact it was this aspect of his apostolic commitment that made the greatest impression on those who knew him. Above all else he preached about devotion to the most precious blood that had been shed by the Incarnate Word. He never missed an opportunity to emphasise this. He promoted this devotion in the Confraternities that he tried to establish in various cities where he preached. He did this in Piacenza in 1570, in Florence in 1572 and in Fermo in 1573. To this end he composed appropriate rules and norms and wrote booklets and spiritual leaflets containing an explanation of “the method” for carrying out this pious practice.

The librarians within the Order mention a particular work, which was printed in Florence in 1573 and which bore the title: Twelve Devout Considerations Concerning the Twelve Times That The Most Precious Blood of Our Saviour Jesus Christ was Shed. However, up to the present time no copy of this edition has been found. However, one of his booklets bearing the title A Method for Contemplating and Performing the Devotion to the Most Precious Blood, by F. Silvestro, a Capuchin, is listed in the Index in Parma in 1580. This work is probably more genuine, original and close to the style of the Capuchins who lived in Calabria. We do not know the reason for this prohibition. There is a booklet which was printed in Venice in 1613 which contains in a very simple and clear manner at least an abbreviated version, if not the whole, of this text, in the form of prayer intentions for each of the twelve times that the Blood of Christ was shed.  This text bears the title: A Brief Method for Praying Prompted by the Shedding of the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was precisely his activity as the advocate among the people of the spirituality of the devotion towards the Passion and the Blood of Chris that made him develop a more extensive teaching on the practice of mental prayer. In an explanatory letter to the General Inquisitor in Venice, Father Ludovico da Rimini, a Dominican, dated 31 July 1574, he personally explained this connection: “Because I had taught the devotion to the precious blood of Jesus the Saviour, as Your Reverence knew and approved, I was asked to write down some points regarding that devotion and concerning the frequency of prayer to exercise, perform and sustain this devotion”.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The mercy of the Father - His absolute fidelity to His own love - love that is stronger than death

Dear Friends,

The Paschal Mystery is Christ at the summit of the revelation of the inscrutable mystery of God. It is precisely then that the words pronounced in the Upper Room are completely fulfilled: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." In fact, Christ, whom the Father "did not spare" for the sake of man and who in His passion and in the torment of the cross did not obtain human mercy, has revealed in His resurrection the fullness of the love that the Father has for Him and, in Him, for all people. "He is not God of the dead, but of the living." In His resurrection Christ has revealed the God of merciful love, precisely because He accepted the cross as the way to the resurrection. And it is for this reason that-when we recall the cross of Christ, His passion and death-our faith and hope are centered on the Risen One: on that Christ who "on the evening of that day, the first day of the week, . . .stood among them" in the upper Room, "where the disciples were, ...breathed on them, and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"

Here is the Son of God, who in His resurrection experienced in a radical way mercy shown to Himself, that is to say the love of the Father which is more powerful than death. And it is also the same Christ, the Son of God, who at the end of His messianic mission - and, in a certain sense, even beyond the end - reveals Himself as the inexhaustible source of mercy, of the same love that, in a subsequent perspective of the history of salvation in the Church, is to be everlastingly confirmed as more powerful than sin. The paschal Christ is the definitive incarnation of mercy, its living sign in salvation history and in eschatology. In the same spirit, the liturgy of Eastertide places on our lips the words of the Psalm: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.

These words of the Church at Easter re-echo in the fullness of their prophetic content the words that Mary uttered during her visit to Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah: "His mercy is...from generation to generation." At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. After the resurrection of Christ, this perspective is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the People of God, marked with the Sign of the Cross and of the resurrection and "sealed" with the sign of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman's house: "His mercy is...from generation to generation."

Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God's mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love, to the covenant that He willed from eternity and that He entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in that revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the cross. No one has experienced, to the same degree as the Mother of the crucified One, the mystery of the cross, the overwhelming encounter of divine transcendent justice with love: that "kiss" given by mercy to justice. No one has received into his heart, as much as Mary did, that mystery, that truly divine dimension of the redemption effected on Calvary by means of the death of the Son, together with the sacrifice of her maternal heart, together with her definitive "fiat." (John Paul II, Dives in misericordia, 8...9)

Br. Paul

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Towards PCO VIII

With the first meeting of the Preparation Committee, the Capuchin Friars prepare for their Eighth Plenary Council of the Order...La grazia di lavorare (On the grace of working ... or in other words On our work as gift of the Lord). 
For the previous PCO's.....

The Committee (or Commission) is headed by Br. Stefan Kozuh, the Vicar General of the Capuchin Fraternity worldwide. In his video message he extends this invitation to the Capuchin Brothers: 

Dear brothers, I send you warm greetings and best wishes for the New Year, this time not only in my name, but also in the name of the members of the Preparatory Commission for the VIII Plenary Council of the Order.
Right at the beginning of this year we have begun to work, responding to the request of the General Minister, to prepare this important event of reflection and inspiration for the Order, which will take place next year, in 2015. Our meeting focused in a particular way on preparing a working tool for the whole Order and also for you, the friar listening to me, such that the reflection on what we are and how we work should help us to live better and work with more fervor, enthusiasm, and also effectiveness.
We touched on certain points and aspects of work such as work as it strengthens our belonging to the Order, work as the fullness of personal identity, work as a means of support—for we must earn for ourselves our daily bread, work as an identification with the simple people around us, work and not excessive activity, work as means for formation—in the first stages but not only, and work as personal initiative and expression of fraternity.
In these days all of this is being developed as well as materials prepared which will be sent to the provinces and custodies to then arrive in all the fraternities. I ask you now, brother, to participate with much openness, with creativity, coming at these reflections with a prophetic gaze that will help, as the result of your work, the members of the Plenary Council that will gather in October-November of next year, but first of all will help you, brothers, you and the fraternity to reflect—not only—but perhaps also to find other ways, effective and prophetic, to work in this time. Keep up the good work!

Cari fratelli, un carissimo saluto e un cordiale augurio di un Buon Anno, questa volta non solo nel mio nome personale, ma anche nel nome dei membri della Commissione preparatoria dell’VIII° Consiglio Plenario dell’Ordine.
 Proprio all’inizio di questo anno abbiamo cominciato a lavorare, rispondendo alla richiesta del Ministro generale, per preparare questo importante evento di riflessione, e anche ispirazione per l’Ordine che avverrà nell’anno prossimo, 2015. La nostra riunione era centrata in modo speciale per preparare uno strumento di lavoro per tutto l’Ordine, anche per te fratello che mi ascolti, perché la riflessione su quello che siamo e come lavoriamo ci aiuti a vivere meglio e lavorare con più fervore, più entusiasmo, anche più efficacia.
 Abbiamo toccato alcuni punti, alcuni aspetti di lavoro come lavoro che ci da forza alla nostra appartenenza all’Ordine; lavoro come pienezza di mia identità personale; lavoro come un mezzo di sostentamento – perché dobbiamo guadagnarci il nostro pane quotidiano; lavoro come identificazione con la gente semplice che ci circonda; lavoro e non attivismo; lavoro come mezzo di formazione – nelle prime tappe e non solo; lavoro come iniziativa personale e espressione di fraternità. In questi giorni si sta sviluppando tutto questo, si sta preparando un materiale che sarà mandato alle province, custodie, e poi arriverà anche nella tua fraternità. Ti chiedo già ora, fratello, di partecipare con molta apertura, con creatività, con uno sguardo profetico a queste riflessioni che aiuteranno, come risultato del vostro lavoro ai membri del Consiglio plenario che si radunerà in ottobre-novembre dell’anno prossimo, ma prima di tutto aiuteranno a Voi, fratelli, a Te e alla tua fraternità per riflettere – ma non solo – chissà, anche per trovare altri modi, efficaci e profetici, di lavorare in questo tempo. Buon lavoro!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Spiritual Rosaries by Mattia da Salò

From  I Frati Cappuccini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo,  Vol. III/1 pp. 768 - 805, edited by. Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap, and translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap.

Mattia da Salò genuinely lived what he wrote. If his other works appear to be more sophisticated because their style is scholarly, heavy, meditative and wide ranging, the little work that is presented here represents a more personal summary of the substance of his method of prayer, reduced as one might say today, to the simplest little crumbs.

In a letter dated 4th January 1595 that was addressed to Orazio Mancini, the author himself speaks about this work. (I Frati Cappuccini part II pp. 984-986). In his book  La Filotea (part II, ch 1)recommended it immediately next to the writings of St Bonaventure His Brother, Giovanni da Salò, who was the editor of this small pocket edition, explained the whole history of the work and how it was used by the author and famous people such as St Charles Borromeo and the great influence that it exercised in the Order both for the formation of young novices and students and how it was used by St Serafino da Montegranaro who “being inspired by God, - as his most ancient biographer reported – memorised certain Rosaries composed by Father Mattia da Salò a very devout Capuchin religious, and had many copies made of them, which he distributed to many devout souls… To the great astonishment of all he had memorised these lengthy passages of various meditations so well that he was able to recite them unflinchingly without the slightest error.” (Cf. AO 18 [1900] 238a in the note).

It might be well to let Giovanni da Salò speak as he has faithfully and accurately documented all the important facts in the Prologue:

“St Charles of happy memory, asked Father Mattia, who is the author of this little book, for a devout work on prayer (concerning which he knew that he was well versed and in whom he had great trust) and he sent back his Practices of Mental Prayer. The Saint replied that he held the Practices in esteem (indeed during one of his Councils he had exhorted fathers of families to read them to their servants on feast days) but that he was looking for something more brief, easy and lively because of the many, weighty activities which distracted and tired his mind and which did not permit him to enter into long meditation to be stirred by them. The author replied: “I have written some Rosaries to keep the mind on the path: perhaps they will serve your purpose”. He sent them to him. The Saint told him subsequently that he was very pleased with them and had derived great profit from them. In addition to this Giussanti alludes to them in Book VIII chapter 5 of his History of the Saint stating that he frequently meditated on the Passion of Our Lord, for which he had a special devotion, breaking it up into various points, and that he had made a book with illustrated pages of the mystery of the Passion, to have them at hand to look at as a help to his memory concerning the things on which he wanted to meditate. At the time of his death several volumes were found containing points such as these.

A similar exchange took place between the author and Cardinal Morosini, Bishop of Brescia, who appreciated the Rosaries, which he copied with his own hand. He said later on that he did not uses more than twelve points during an exercise, keeping them close at hand to keep his mind recollected, attentive and on the subject and ready to continue the act of prayer with relish.

When the Bishop of Ascoli was gathering information concerning the sanctity and reputed miracles of Brother Serafino da Montegranaro, a Capuchin, when the city of Ascoli was requesting the Pope to beatify him, he found that the Brother held the Rosaries in such esteem and practiced them so much that he knew them off by heart (for he could not read) and that he carried them around so that he could give them to people as the occasion arose.

Various young Capuchins were content to perform them, to such an extent that they knew where a particular point was when they were suddenly asked for it. For example: that the fourth point of the third decade of the sixth Rosary dealt with the love out of which the Saviour freely sent the Spirit from God to us. They stated that they spent three hours each night in fasting and praying without being distracted and that this made them feel delighted and that they would have spent more time if obedience had permitted. They were translated into Latin for the novices in Bohemia.

Likewise they were also fruitfully communicated to other religious Prelates and secular friends who had asked the author for advice as to how to pray easily and well.

It would seem that he only communicated them in writing to satisfy those who were devout and that when this happened they regarded them as more valuable and put them into practice with more passion and profit. He never wanted them to be printed. Now that he is dead here they are in print for the common good after they had already been reviewed and updated by him a few years ago.

With respect to the author, whether he was ill or involved in work, in seventy years of religious life he was never known to have omitted to perform the two house of mental prayer that the Capuchin Order laid down for each day. During these periods, for example at Easter and Christmas and on other Solemnities he meditated (often easily in tears) on the Lord’s Passion and Birth, chewing over the points using the beads of the Rosaries as they were gleaned from the texts of the Gospels. Desiring that the entire world should meditate on them he was never satisfied with preaching them using the voice, print or the pen. We know from those in whom he confided that he always remained steady to such an extent that he dealt with existing external duties with a mind that was agile, detached and active, and that he also practiced the method of the Preparation for Mass which he had suggested to others (which God willing will be printed and can soon be seen in Practices 66 and 67 in part four) according to which he accompanied Christ and the Church Triumphant and Militant and the mystical members of the Church, who are the saints, in continually offering the Passion of Christ Himself to the divine Majesty for the glory of God.

He held this exercise of prayer in regard for another reason: and he used to say that the matters that he treated with God in prayer were so important that he did not want the foolishness of children (this is how he used to refer to external matters no matter how serious they were) to take precedence over the cross. In fact in the Order he always joyfully carried his cross of austerity, toil, government or sickness etc., which was clear proof that he frequently meditated on the Passion and indicative of outstanding purity and a Christian frame of mind.

Much might be said concerning the origin and utility of this little work, which at first sight might appear to be dry, by way of a brief introduction, but it needs to be read right through and put into practice, keeping in mind that habitual usage makes it easier to overcome many obstacles, that individuals have different tastes so that each one should be led by the Holy Spirit; bearing in mind what our Father St Francis taught that anyone who takes any subject other than Christ the Saviour as the object of their prayer is exposed to the deceptions of the devil and to falling. Above all try to discipline yourself and place yourself on the cross if you wish to acquire a suitable taste for contemplation.” (Spiritual Rosaries, 6-12).

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

One of these days...

One of these days I shall get this Blog business sorted....Apologies for the ugly appearance of today's post,

Update to layout and contents of "A Scurrilous Letter to Pope Paul III. A Transcription and Translation of Ms 469 (f.101r – 129r) of the Vadianische Sammlung of the Kantonsbibliothek of St. Gallen."

by Br. Paul Hanbridge OFM Cap

This study was completed in 2010 and introduces a transcription and English translation of a ‘Letter’ in VS Ms 469. The document is titled: Epistola invectiva Bernhardj Occhinj in qua vita et res gestae Pauli tertij Pont. Max. describuntur. The study notes other versions of the letter located in Florence. It shows that one of these copied the VS469, and that the VS469 is the earliest of the four Mss and was made from an Italian exemplar. An apocryphal document, the ‘Letter’ has been studied briefly by Ochino scholars Karl Benrath and Bendetto Nicolini, though without reference to this particular Ms. The introduction considers alternative contemporary attributions to other authors, including a more proximate determination of the first publication date of the Letter. Mario da Mercato Saraceno, the first official Capuchin ‘chronicler,’ reported a letter Paul III received from Bernardino Ochino in September 1542. Cesare Cantù and the Capuchin historian Melchiorre da Pobladura (Raffaele Turrado Riesco) after him, and quite possibly the first generations of Capuchins, identified the1542 letter with the one in transcribed in these Mss. The author shows this identification to be untenable. The transcription of VS469 is followed by an annotated English translation. Variations between the Mss are footnoted in the translation. 
To do this study it was necessary to locate and transcribe the relevant manuscripts, as well as Karl Benrath's published transcription in “Lettera a Paolo III, documento sconosciuto del secolo xvi” in Rivista Cristiana 2(1874) 257-272, 289-302. A synoptic view of the transcriptions permits a comparison of Benrath's transcription and mine, (so that the reader may check my transcription errors). The synoptic also identifies quickly some of the content variations evident in the Mss.
This updated file includes both the study and the synoptic presentation of the Mss and may be found under the HISTORY tab on the Capdox homepage, or go there directly from here.
Capdox relies on the honesty of the user. This material should not be copied or quoted without acknowledgement.