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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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.

Fifth Week of Lent Reflection – 2017

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’  Martha said to him, ‘I I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day’  Jesus told her,

‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and in me will never die.’

I think that in many ways, the above statement by Jesus is among the most powerful in Saint John’s Gospel.  It is indeed, the “Good News” that a suffering, weary world is waiting for, yearning for.

I feel, however, that these words give more than hope for eternal life, after death.  For those of us weighed down by the life’s heavy burdens; we will rise!  For those of us threatened by persecution and discrimination; we will rise!  For those of us who are in depression and despair; we will rise!  By the love and power of Christ; we will rise!


First Sunday of Lent – 2017


Since last Wednesday, “Ash Wednesday,” the Catholic Church, along with other Christian churches, began a 40 day period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  This leads up to Holy Week, and the commemoration of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, the First Sunday of Lent, the sanctuary of our church is decorated in somber, purple; with no flowers.  We process in, not with hymns, but chanting prayers, begging for God’s mercy; and for the intercession of the saints.

The scripture readings for today, first tell of how our first parents, gave into temptation, and brought sin and death into the world.  Then  we hear the Gospel, the “Good News,” of how Jesus resisted temptation, and began the journey that would lead to our liberation.  

So how will we spend these days of Lent; will we intensify our spiritual lives? Will we “repent and believe the Good News?”  Will we be lights to a world so threatened by darkness, by hate, and violence.  Let us “prepare the way of the Lord, and be witnesses of the power of His Love!

Someday

“Someday,” is a word with many uses.  It is used by those of us who prefer to put things off; “Someday, I will learn to paint.” Someday, I will lose weight.” “Someday, I will become that better person.”  Life challenges us to not wait for someday, but to begin now to be all we can be.

In the life of faith, also, we use the word: “Someday.”  How many of us make promises to God? That someday, we will have a deeper prayer life.  That someday, we will become better Christians.  Jesus challenges us to begin today; that “someday,” becomes “now.”

Feast of All Saints – 2016

Blessed be God, in His angels and in His Saints 

Today, the  Church recognizes all those unknown individuals, unknown,  except by the Father, as saints.  These are those persons who strived to lead a lives of holiness; living the Gospel life.  Their struggles and their successes, maybe seen by only a few; still can provide quiet inspiration for us all.

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – 2016

 

millaisthe_pharisee_and_the_publican_tateSirach 35: 12-14, 16-18

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

 

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, who both go up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray.  Jesus tells us about how the Pharisee “took up his position.”  Jesus hints that this Pharisee had a designated spot, probably in a prominent place in the Temple Sanctuary.  Jesus has the Pharisee, in his prayers, tell God of the “good” he has done during his life; how thankful he is, that God did not make him like the rest of humanity, especially that (ugh!) tax collector in the back of the Temple courtyard.  Jesus, in his tale, turns our attention to that tax collector; who many in Israel of this at time, considered a thief and a traitor.  This tax collector is on his knees, bent over, not daring to raise his eyes.  His only prayer is: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Jesus then must have shocked his audience when he declared that the tax collector left the Temple area justified, but not the Pharisee!  It all has to do with humility.

Humility is somewhat of a dirty word in our society.  Our social media, our TV programming, our magazines, are full of stories of people who really make a big deal of themselves. In no way could it be said that they are being humble. Those seeking a job, are always told to present yourself in the best possible light; really sell yourself and your skills to a possible employer.  There is no room for being humble in that scenario.  Or is there?  What I mean is that to be humble, is not that we let other people walk over us; but that we acknowledge our true self, the self that was created by God.  We acknowledge all the gifts and talents we possess, were given to us by the God who loves us.  We acknowledge that everyone else around us, has been similarly blessed with unique skills and talents.   And to be humble, is to also acknowledge that at times, we may have misused those skills and talents. And we acknowledge that we need the healing power of the Father’s forgiveness.

Jesus is calling on us to remember who we truly are; what our relationship with God truly is.  In a certain way, Jesus is echoing the words of the prophet Micah: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with you God.” (Micah 6:8)