The Transitus of Saint Francis of Assisi

TransitusOn this evening, October 3rd, throughout the world, members of the Franciscan family, and persons attracted to Francis of Assisi; are gathering in churches, chapels, friaries, monasteries, and convents. We gather to commemorate the passing of a beautiful soul, from this life into eternal life in heaven. We will read the stories of his final days, offer prayers of thanksgiving to God, for the gift of Francis.
St. Francis of Assisi, born a cloth merchant’s son, he would become a mystic, an evangelist, a lover of the poor, a lover of God. Through him, people were drawn back to faith, to living the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. Thousands of men were inspired to follow Francis as members of the Order of Friars Minor; thousands of women joined his disciple, Clare of Assisi, in monastic communities known as the Poor Ladies, later the Poor Clares. And thousands of ordinary people, men and women, farmers and merchants, rich and poor; gathered together as Penitents, under his and his brethren’s guidance. They would become known as the Third Order of St. Francis, later the Secular Franciscan Order.
For twenty years, Francis strove to live the Good News of the Jesus Christ; now his life on this earth was ending. Friar Thomas of Celano, an early biographer of the saint, told this story of his passing:
“Then, when many brothers had gathered about, whose father and leader he was, and while they were standing reverently at his side awaiting his blessed death and happy end, his most holy soul was freed from his body and received into the abyss of light, and his body fell asleep in the Lord. One of his brothers and disciples, a man of some renown, whose name I think should withhold here because while he lives in the flesh, he prefers not to glory in so great a privilege, saw the soul of the most holy father ascend over many waters directly into heaven. For it was like a star, having in some way the immensity of the moon, but a certain extent the brightness of the sun, and it was borne upward on a little cloud.” Celano, First Life: 110
Francis of Assisi, by his life and his words, continues to inspire many Christians to live a deeper commitment to Christ. The story of his life continues to inspire pilgrims to come to Assisi, to visit the places key to life, and to his final resting place. Pax et Bonum!

 

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Weekend Coffee Share – 8/13/2017

Over a cup of coffee, I would share with you how upset I have been over the events in Charlottesville, VA.  I had hope that we had outgrown the white supremacist movement; and the racism and hatred it generates.  But, that appears not to be happening.  We know we must confront it, but we need to realize we cannot use the same tactics.  We, as a nation, are better than the racists in our midst.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that earlier last week, my wife and I were still on Cape Cod, MA, with members of her family.  While there, we paid a visit to Provincetown, located on the northern tip of the Cape.  Let us say, it is one of most unique communities in the Commonwealth, maybe in the country.  When you walk through the town streets, you are in the midst of a diverse crowds of people. It can be a very interesting time.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I have increased the number of books I have read.  Trying to spend more time with a book in my hands, rather than an IPhone.

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of my Secular Franciscan fraternity.  It has been awhile, but I needed to get back in touch with my Franciscan spiritual roots.  The Secular Franciscan Order is a lay branch of the Franciscan Movement.  It was good to  see old friends again.  

Well, the cups are in the dishwasher rack.  I will see you again next week.

Franciscans Reaching Out!

St. Francis of Assisi, and his fellow friars were different from other religious of their day.  Rather than remain in monasteries, behind walls; they went out into the city streets, marketplaces, and the highways to bring the Good News to all.

Today, Franciscan friars are still exploring new avenues of reaching out to people.  The internet, the Web, and Facebook have become the new electronic highways they travel.

I found this poster on an MBTA Red Line subway car.  I know the friar pictured in it, Brother John “Mags.”  a wonderful friar.  

The Good News of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in many ways, through many new mediums.  But, bottom line, it is how each one of us lives the Gospel that provides the best evangelization.

Weekend Coffee Share – 09/25/2016

deacon coffee mugOver a cup of coffee, I would apologize for not coming to the counter for a while.  One could say I have been struggling with one huge case of writer’s block.  It is a combination of trying to carve out a period of time to write something online; and not be able to think of anything to write.company-picnic

Anyway, let me share with you that earlier this week I attended my first company cookout earlier this week.  It was on a Tuesday, and the weather could not have been more cooperative.  Tents were set up in the parking lot of our office building.  The food was placed out buffet style.  And there were round tables for us to sit at.  Part of menu was BBQ pulled pork, sausages in a roll, hamburger sliders, very good macaroni and cheese, shrimp, and salads.  It must be sign of my getting older; but there was a time I could hit a buffet table at least twice; that is no longer true.  My wife would say that is a good thing.

One of the goodies the company was giving away, were “selfie” sticks.  Here is my first try with it.selfie

Over a cup of coffee, I would tell you that there was a big event in the Archdiocese of Boston, MA, recently; the coming of a relic, the heart of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina; also padre-pioknown as Padre Pio.  Padre Pio was a Franciscan Capuchin friar, born in 1885, in Italy, and died on September 23, 1968.  He was ordained a priest in 1910.  In 1918, he received the stigmata, after experiencing a powerful vision of the Crucified Christ.  He bore the five wounds of Christ for the rest of his life.  News of this miracle got out to the world, crowds of people gathered to witness it.  Padre Pio would be examined many times by physicians, with conflicting diagnosis’.  The Church would investigate him many times; would forbid him to say Mass or hear confessions for a period of time.  He would eventually be cleared of unorthodox thinking or practices, and returned to his priestly ministry.  He would spend a good deal of his time hearing confessions, offering spiritual council, and celebrating the Eucharist.  He remained at the Capuchin friary at San Giovanni Rotondo for the rest of his life.  He worked at, and successfully caused a hospital to be built near the town.  34 years after his death, he was declared a saint, by Pope St. John Paul II.

We Catholics have a unique relationship with our saints; we believe that they are in heaven with God, that they are praying for us, interceding for us before the Father.  Their lives continue to inspire us, encourage us to live more intensely the Gospel life.  They are very real for us; so when we come before a relic of theirs, we venerate it; knowing we are giving honor to the person, not the object.  And that is what has been happening with heart of Padre Pio; thousands of pilgrims have gathered in churches, in the North End of Boston, in Lowell, and in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.  All to venerate the relic, to ask for his intercession, or to thank him for a prayer answered.  It was a powerful demonstration of faith.  It is also a demonstration of the “juice” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston still has in Rome.  It also does not hurt that he himself is also a Franciscan Capuchin!padre-pio-heart

Over a cup of coffee, I am going to start saying something that will sound like the beginning of a bad joke; “A Catholic priest, a Methodist minister, and a Yale humanist enter a room;” what you get is “The Great Bible Experiment!”  Father Warren Savage, Catholic chaplain at Westfield State and Amherst College; the Rev. Anne Robertson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society; and Tom Krattenmaker, of the mbs_logo__0Yale Humanist Community, have been gathering in  New Haven CT, Albany, NY, Providence, RI, and on September 27, 2016, in Boston, to hold a town meeting style discussions on the Bible.  These locations, according to recent surveys, are the least Bible minded cities in America.  The final meeting in Boston, will actually be held at Harvard University; the event will be live streamed.

Well, the cup is empty; and will try to here next week, with another cuppa.

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Pope Francis has asked all Catholics, indeed, all peoples, to pray for the care of Creation.  He asks that we first offer praise and thanks to God the Creator for the precious gift of this earth.  Then, we should pray that He sends His Spirit into our hearts, to inspire us to care for this gift He has given us.  Pope Francis composed a prayer that he included in his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” that could provide a good starting point for our reflections.  I am also including below, a prayer, a hymn, by St. Francis of Assisi.  He is joining with all of Creation, in giving praise to God.  May we all do the same this day.

Francis and Brother Sun

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.

Feast of St. Clare of Assisi – 2016

Today, the Franciscan Family, with rest of the Catholic Church, celebrates the memory of Clare of Assisi.  A young noblewoman of the medieval city of Assisi, she was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, to leave a life of wealth and influence, and follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, guided by Francis, she and a group of liked minded Assisian women, formed a community of prayer, and evangelical poverty.  Living a hidden life of contemplation, with very few known writings in existence; she has been a source of inspiration to many to seek a more intimate relationship with God.

The Order she confounded with Francis still exists, now known as the Poor Clares.

Feast of the Porziuncola August 2, 2016

PoziuncolaToday, Franciscans everywhere are celebrating the Feast of the Church of St. Mary of the Angels of the Porziuncola (Little Portion).  Actually, a small chapel, it is one of several chapels around Assisi, Italy, that St. Francis of Assisi repaired; shortly after his conversion.  He was doing this in response to a mystical encounter with the Crucified Christ, who commanded Francis to “Repair My House!”  Taking the command literally, he began to repair the chapel of San Damiano, and the other chapels.  It was only later that he understood his mission was to “repair,” (ie, renew) the Catholic Church.

St. Mary of the Angels became the “mother church,” of the Franciscan Order, and indeed, the entire Franciscan movement.  Francis and his first followers built huts of mud, straw and wattle around the chapel, and used them as cells.  The little portion of  land on which the chapel stood, belonged to the Benedictine monks of Mount Subasio, who have rented the site to the Franciscans, in return for a basket of fish.  Over the years, the chapel became a pilgrimage destination, and eventually, the Franciscans and Pope ordered that the simple little chapel be enclosed in a huge grand basilica; the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels.

Today, the little chapel, located in this huge basilica, will be visited by Pope Francis.  It ties into the Jubilee Year of Mercy, that the Pope declared last year.  The little chapel is the site of one of the most famous indulgences granted by the Catholic Church.  Although the historical fact has not been proven, legend has it that St. Francis asked the Pope to grant a plenary indulgence to anyone who came to the Porziuncola chapel, praying for forgiveness of their sins.  An indulgence is granted to the soul of an individual, which remits some of the temporal “punishment”or “cleansing,” that a soul must go through in purgatory, before being admitted to the full beatific vision of God in heaven.  A plenary indulgence grants a full remittance.  The “Porziuncola Indulgence,” was originally granted only to those who visited the chapel, later Popes expanded it to those who visited a Franciscan church, chapel, or oratory.  It was finally also granted to those who visited any church designated by the local bishop, between the afternoon of August 1, to sunset on August 2.  They must at least recite the Our Father or the Creed; and must go to Confession, receive Communion, and pray for the intentions of the Pope.

Indulgences is a means by which the Church illustrates the mercy and love of God for all people.  And it is why Pope Francis is making the journey to Assisi, to go into a huge, ornate, basilica; to enter a very small chapel, that has the power of God’s love.