What a beautiful Sunday. Celebrating the Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi, for the first time as a member of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO), has a special meaning. I have grown to appreciate and love Francis’ seraphic love and desire to be with Christ.
[Hail Mary] … Holy Mary, Mother of God, …
How can a 15 year-old girl be the “Mother of God”; an entity that has lived forever? Perplexing irony, to say the least. In yesterday’s post, I explained how Mary was full of God’s love; and this love existed prior to her birth in order for her to be born without the mark of original sin. Mary is the new “Eve”, bringing in a new covenant through Jesus: a covenant of hope, and forgiveness for all though His sacrifice on the cross.
Mary is the ultimate model for mothers. She knew Jesus was special, but she did not know how so she would suffer in her love for her son. She was there throughout his ministry, persecution, death on the cross, and resurrection three days later. Even when nearly all his followers had abandoned Him, Mary was still present, probably being abused, at least verbally, along with her only child.
By allowing Jesus to be born through her, Mary also became OUR mother. Jesus loved and venerated His mother. Why should we not venerate her as well? Jesus turned the care of His mother over to His “beloved disciple.” Are we not beloved disciples of Jesus as well? Do we not care for our worldly mother? Why should we not care for our heavenly mother Mary – through prayer, veneration, and love for her unselfish act?
Mary, my beloved heavenly mother; I love you, and give myself to your Son, Jesus through you. Please keep and comfort me as you did you son, Jesus. Amen.
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Our Holy Father St. Francis
Saint Francis was born in 1182 in Assisi, Italy, the son of a prosperous merchant. Conditions in Italy were not dissimilar to the conditions of our day.
Francis of Assisi was not born a saint. The son of a wealthy merchant, he had time and money to host lavish banquets for young nobles who proclaimed him “King of Feasts.” Parties and selling cloth left Francis little time for God.
In a war between Assisi and Perugia, Francis fought with youthful enthusiasm. He was wounded and taken prisoner. Spending the next year in a dungeon, he contracted malaria. Ransomed by his father, a more reflective Francis returned to Assisi. Sickness overtook him and in that languishing experience he heard the first stirrings of a vocation to peace and justice.
During the next two years Francis sensed an inner force that was preparing him for another change. The sight of lepers caused revulsion in the sensitive soul of Francis. One day while riding his horse, he cam upon a leper. His first impulse was to throw him a coin and spur his horse on. Instead Francis dismounted and embraced the leper. On his death bed he recalled the encounter as the crowning moment of his conversion: “What seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body.”
Later, in a dramatic moment of prayer in the abandoned Church of San Damiano, he heard a voice coming from the crucifix which challenged him to rebuild the church. At first he thought it meant that he should rebuild San Damiano. Gradually, Francis realized that God meant that he should “rebuild” the Church at large. From that moment he learned that living a Christian life would place him in opposition to the values of his society and set him apart from family and friends and many of his own age.
Before Francis died in 1226 at the age of 44, he founded three Orders. His gift to humankind was his love of God as he experienced Him in all of His creation. His imprint on history are the men and women who identify with his vision in the Franciscan way of life. That legacy lives on in the followers of Francis who today seek to inspire in themselves and others the ideals of peace and justice of the gospels.
(from www.franciscanfriarstor.com website)