WOM#5 – The Penitential Rite of the Mass – The Way of Mystery with Deacon James Keating episode 5 – Discerning Hearts

Episode 5 -The Way of Mystery:  The Eucharist and Moral Living– The penitential rite of the mass, while not the pivotal point, it is one of the most important points of the mass, and key in our moral conversion…it’s about the crucifixion to sin, meeting evil with love.

Deacon James Keating, PhD, the director of Theological Formation for the Institute for Priestly Formation, located at Creighton University, in Omaha, is making available to ”Discerning Hearts” and all who listen, his series of programs entitled “The Way of Mystery”.

The Vatican II documents remind us that the spiritual journey is not made in a vacuum, that God has chosen to save us, not individually, but as The People of God. The Eucharist must help Christians to make their choices by discerning out of Christ’s paschal mystery. For this process to take place, however, Christians must first understand how the Eucharist puts them in touch with Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, and what concrete implications being in touch with this mystery has for their daily lives.

IPF logo small ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

For more information on the “Institute of Priestly Formation” and for other material available by Deacon Keating, just click here

Communion with Christ ROHC#6 Deacon James Keating – Heart of Hope part 6 from Resting On the Heart of Christ

Don’t forget to pickup a copy of “Communion with Christ” , it is one of the best audio sets on prayer…ever!

Check out Deacon Keating’s “Discerning Heart” page

The Prayer for The Year of Faith – The Nicene Creed: Our Profession of Faith – Discerning Hearts

Our Nicene Creed is the beautiful Profession of our Faith.  The Church has encouraged us to pray this prayer every day during the Year of Faith in order that we may live it every day for the rest of our lives.

This is where the New Evangelization begins….

St. Teresa of Avila shows that time spent in prayer is not lost

TERESA OF AVILA: CONTEMPLATIVE AND INDUSTRIOUS

VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2011 (vatican.va) –

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the course of the Catecheses that I have chosen to dedicate to the Fathers of the Church and to great theologians and women of the Middle Ages I have also had the opportunity to reflect on certain Saints proclaimed Doctors of the Church on account of the eminence of their teaching.

Today I would like to begin a brief series of meetings to complete the presentation on the Doctors of the Church and I am beginning with a Saint who is one of the peaks of Christian spirituality of all time — St Teresa of Avila [also known as St Teresa of Jesus].

St Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. In her autobiography she mentions some details of her childhood: she was born into a large family, her “father and mother, who were devout and feared God”, into a large family. She had three sisters and nine brothers.

While she was still a child and not yet nine years old she had the opportunity to read the lives of several Martyrs which inspired in her such a longing for martyrdom that she briefly ran away from home in order to die a Martyr’s death and to go to Heaven (cf. Vida, [Life], 1, 4); “I want to see God”, the little girl told her parents.

A few years later Teresa was to speak of her childhood reading and to state that she had discovered in it the way of truth which she sums up in two fundamental principles.

On the one hand was the fact that “all things of this world will pass away” while on the other God alone is “for ever, ever, ever”, a topic that recurs in her best known poem: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices”. She was about 12 years old when her mother died and she implored the Virgin Most Holy to be her mother (cfVida, I, 7).

If in her adolescence the reading of profane books had led to the distractions of a worldly life, her experience as a pupil of the Augustinian nuns of Santa María de las Gracias de Avila and her reading of spiritual books, especially the classics of Franciscan spirituality, introduced her to recollection and prayer.

When she was 20 she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, also in Avila. In her religious life she took the name “Teresa of Jesus”. Three years later she fell seriously ill, so ill that she remained in a coma for four days, looking as if she were dead (cfVida, 5, 9).

In the fight against her own illnesses too the Saint saw the combat against weaknesses and the resistance to God’s call: “I wished to live”, she wrote, “but I saw clearly that I was not living, but rather wrestling with the shadow of death; there was no one to give me life, and I was not able to take it. He who could have given it to me had good reasons for not coming to my aid, seeing that he had brought me back to himself so many times, and I as often had left him” (Vida, 7, 8).

In 1543 she lost the closeness of her relatives; her father died and all her siblings, one after another, emigrated to America. In Lent 1554, when she was 39 years old, Teresa reached the climax of her struggle against her own weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of “a Christ most grievously wounded”, left a deep mark on her life (cf. Vida, 9).

The Saint, who in that period felt deeply in tune with the St Augustine of the Confessions, thus describes the decisive day of her mystical experience: “and… a feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly, so that I could in no wise doubt either that he was within me, or that I was wholly absorbed in him” (Vida, 10, 1).

Parallel to her inner development, the Saint began in practice to realize her ideal of the reform of the Carmelite Order: in 1562 she founded the first reformed Carmel in Avila, with the support of the city’s Bishop, Don Alvaro de Mendoza, and shortly afterwards also received the approval of John Baptist Rossi, the Order’s Superior General.

In the years that followed, she continued her foundations of new Carmelite convents, 17 in all. Her meeting with St John of the Cross was fundamental. With him, in 1568, she set up the first convent of Discalced Carmelites in Duruelo, not far from Avila.

In 1580 she obtained from Rome the authorization for her reformed Carmels as a separate, autonomous Province. This was the starting point for the Discalced Carmelite Order.

Indeed, Teresa’s earthly life ended while she was in the middle of her founding activities. She died on the night of 15 October 1582 in Alba de Tormes, after setting up the Carmelite Convent in Burgos, while on her way back to Avila. Her last humble words were: “After all I die as a child of the Church”, and “O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another”.

Teresa spent her entire life for the whole Church although she spent it in Spain. She was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622. The Servant of God Paul VI proclaimed her a “Doctor of the Church” in 1970.

Teresa of Jesus had no academic education but always set great store by the teachings of theologians, men of letters and spiritual teachers. As a writer, she always adhered to what she had lived personally through or had seen in the experience of others (cf. Prologue to The Way of Perfection), in other words basing herself on her own first-hand knowledge.

Teresa had the opportunity to build up relations of spiritual friendship with many Saints and with St John of the Cross in particular. At the same time she nourished herself by reading the Fathers of the Church, St Jerome, St Gregory the Great and St Augustine.

Among her most important works we should mention first of all her autobiography, El libro de la vida (the book of life), which she called Libro de las misericordias del Señor [book of the Lord’s mercies].

Written in the Carmelite Convent at Avila in 1565, she describes the biographical and spiritual journey, as she herself says, to submit her soul to the discernment of the “Master of things spiritual”, St John of Avila. Her purpose was to highlight the presence and action of the merciful God in her life. For this reason the work often cites her dialogue in prayer with the Lord. It makes fascinating reading because not only does the Saint recount that she is reliving the profound experience of her relationship with God but also demonstrates it.

In 1566, Teresa wrote El Camino de Perfección [The Way of Perfection]. She called itAdvertencias y consejos que da Teresa de Jesús a sus hermanas [recommendations and advice that Teresa of Jesus offers to her sisters]. It was composed for the 12 novices of the Carmel of St Joseph in Avila. Teresa proposes to them an intense programme of contemplative life at the service of the Church, at the root of which are the evangelical virtues and prayer.

Among the most precious passages is her commentary on the Our Father, as a model for prayer. St Teresa’s most famous mystical work is El Castillo interior [The Interior Castle]. She wrote it in 1577 when she was in her prime. It is a reinterpretation of her own spiritual journey and, at the same time, a codification of the possible development of Christian life towards its fullness, holiness, under the action of the Holy Spirit.

Teresa refers to the structure of a castle with seven rooms as an image of human interiority. She simultaneously introduces the symbol of the silk worm reborn as a butterfly, in order to express the passage from the natural to the supernatural.

The Saint draws inspiration from Sacred Scripture, particularly the Song of Songs, for the final symbol of the “Bride and Bridegroom” which enables her to describe, in the seventh room, the four crowning aspects of Christian life: the Trinitarian, the Christological, the anthropological and the ecclesial.

St Teresa devoted the Libro de la fundaciones [book of the foundations], which she wrote between 1573 and 1582, to her activity as Foundress of the reformed Carmels. In this book she speaks of the life of the nascent religious group. This account, like her autobiography, was written above all in order to give prominence to God’s action in the work of founding new monasteries.

It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. I would like to mention a few essential points. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life and in particular, detachment from possessions, that is, evangelical poverty, and this concerns all of us; love for one another as an essential element of community and social life; humility as love for the truth; determination as a fruit of Christian daring; theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water. Then we should not forget the human virtues: affability, truthfulness, modesty, courtesy, cheerfulness, culture.

Secondly, St Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical figures and eager listening to the word of God. She feels above all closely in tune with the Bride in the Song of Songs and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with Christ in the Passion and with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Saint then stresses how essential prayer is. Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5). St Teresa’s idea coincides with Thomas Aquinas’ definition of theological charity as “amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum”, a type of human friendship with God, who offered humanity his friendship first; it is from God that the initiative comes (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1).

Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.

Rather than a pedagogy Teresa’s is a true “mystagogy” of prayer: she teaches those who read her works how to pray by praying with them. Indeed, she often interrupts her account or exposition with a prayerful outburst.

Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.

She reformed the Carmelite Order with the intention of serving and defending the “Holy Roman Catholic Church”, and was willing to give her life for the Church (cf. Vida, 33,5).

A final essential aspect of Teresian doctrine which I would like to emphasize is perfection, as the aspiration of the whole of Christian life and as its ultimate goal. The Saint has a very clear idea of the “fullness” of Christ, relived by the Christian. At the end of the route through The Interior Castle, in the last “room”, Teresa describes this fullness, achieved in the indwelling of the Trinity, in union with Christ through the mystery of his humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, St Teresa of Jesus is a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time. In our society, which all too often lacks spiritual values, St Teresa teaches us to be unflagging witnesses of God, of his presence and of his action. She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends.

This is the friendship we all need that we must seek anew, day after day. May the example of this Saint, profoundly contemplative and effectively active, spur us too every day to dedicate the right time to prayer, to this openness to God, to this journey, in order to seek God, to see him, to discover his friendship and so to find true life; indeed many of us should truly say: “I am not alive, I am not truly alive because I do not live the essence of my life”.

Therefore time devoted to prayer is not time wasted, it is time in which the path of life unfolds, the path unfolds to learning from God an ardent love for him, for his Church, and practical charity for our brothers and sisters. Many thanks.

 

Check out Teresa of Avila’s Discerning Hearts Page

IP#174 Dr. Matthew Bunson – St. Hildegard and St. John of Avila on Inside the Pages

On October 7, at the beginning of the Synod on the New Evangelization, St. Hildegard and St. John of AvilaPope Benedict XVI will declare St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. John of Avila  Doctors of the Church.  On this special edition of Inside the Pages I talk with Dr. Matthew Bunson about the significance of this declaration.  We talk about the lives and work of both saints and how their teachings can touch our lives today.

St. Hildegard and St. John of Avila
St. Hildegard
St. Hildegard and St. John of Avila
St. John of Avila

The Day the Sun Danced…the sixth and final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima

How can you pack the richness of Fatima into a little ol’blog post here?

I discerned….you can’t.  There is just so much for us to take in and ponder.  For a fuller explanation of the approved private revelation I found this wikipedia article gives a fairly balanced presentation – Our Lady of Fatima.

The year is 1917: a dancing sun, an abundance of miracles, and so much more, were all given to wake up an aching world to the consequences of sin and the need to return to the heart and love of the Father, through the beautiful Immaculate Heart of Our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  A message was given to 3 shepherd children…a message basically consisting of prayer, penance and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  If we can enter into these basic of all practices, our hearts would ultimately find their way “home”…to heaven and to the embrace of our loving Father.  Practice of the first five Saturday devotion, frequent recitation of Our Lady’s rosary, and devotion to the Eucharist are all central elements to the experience of Fatima.

Many Roman Catholics recite prayers based on Our Lady of Fátima. Lucia later revealed that she and her cousins had had several visions of an angel in 1916. Calling himself the “Angel of Portugal” and the “Angel of Peace,” he taught them to bow with their heads to the ground and to say “O God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.” Lucia later set this prayer to music and a recording exists of her singing it. Sometime later he returned and taught them a Eucharistic devotion now known as the Angel Prayer.

Lucia said that the Lady emphasized Acts of Reparation and prayers to console Jesus for the sins of the world. Lucia said Mary’s words were “When you make some sacrifice, say ‘O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.‘” At the first apparition, Lucia wrote, the children were so moved by the radiance they perceived that they involuntarily said “Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I love you in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”Lucia also heard Mary ask for these words to be added to the Rosary, after the Gloria Patri prayer: “O my Jesus, pardon us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need.”

In the tradition of Marian visitations, the “conversion of sinners” is not necessarily religious conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, but general repentance and attempt to amend one’s life according to the teachings of Jesus.Lucia wrote that she and her cousins defined “sinners” not as non-Catholics but as those who had fallen away from the Church or, more specifically, willfully indulged in sinful activity, particularly “sins of the flesh” and “acts of injustice and a lack of charity towards the poor, widows and orphans, the ignorant and the helpless” which she saidwere even worse than sins of impurity. – wikipedia

 

How much the Father loves us all!  To allow, through the action of the Holy Spirit, an encounter with Our Blessed Mother, especially one that is so loving  and nurturing.  Praise God for the grace of courage, perseverance, fortitude and so much more, poured out to those 3 little children who communicated that message to the world.  I am reminded of what Jesus once conveyed to St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church…that He uses the humble (like uneducated fisherman, simple women and little children) to communicate a message from heaven in order to confound the arrogant and to bring an opportunity of humility to us all.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us My favorite movie surrounding the mystical experience of Fatima is “The 13th Day” distributed by Ignatius Press.   Here is another video. film “The Miracle of Fatima”  

The Day the Sun Danced…the sixth and final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima – Discerning Hearts

How can you pack the richness of Fatima into a little ol’blog post here?

I discerned….you can’t.  There is just so much for us to take in and ponder.  For a fuller explanation of the approved private revelation I found this wikipedia article gives a fairly balanced presentation – Our Lady of Fatima.

The year is 1917: a dancing sun, an abundance of miracles, and so much more, were all given to wake up an aching world to the consequences of sin and the need to return to the heart and love of the Father, through the beautiful Immaculate Heart of Our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  A message was given to 3 shepherd children…a message basically consisting of prayer, penance and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  If we can enter into these basic of all practices, our hearts would ultimately find their way “home”…to heaven and to the embrace of our loving Father.  Practice of the first five Saturday devotion, frequent recitation of Our Lady’s rosary, and devotion to the Eucharist are all central elements to the experience of Fatima.

Many Roman Catholics recite prayers based on Our Lady of Fátima. Lucia later revealed that she and her cousins had had several visions of an angel in 1916. Calling himself the “Angel of Portugal” and the “Angel of Peace,” he taught them to bow with their heads to the ground and to say “O God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love you.” Lucia later set this prayer to music and a recording exists of her singing it. Sometime later he returned and taught them a Eucharistic devotion now known as the Angel Prayer.

Lucia said that the Lady emphasized Acts of Reparation and prayers to console Jesus for the sins of the world. Lucia said Mary’s words were “When you make some sacrifice, say ‘O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.‘” At the first apparition, Lucia wrote, the children were so moved by the radiance they perceived that they involuntarily said “Most Holy Trinity, I adore you! My God, my God, I love you in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”Lucia also heard Mary ask for these words to be added to the Rosary, after the Gloria Patri prayer: “O my Jesus, pardon us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need.”

In the tradition of Marian visitations, the “conversion of sinners” is not necessarily religious conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, but general repentance and attempt to amend one’s life according to the teachings of Jesus.Lucia wrote that she and her cousins defined “sinners” not as non-Catholics but as those who had fallen away from the Church or, more specifically, willfully indulged in sinful activity, particularly “sins of the flesh” and “acts of injustice and a lack of charity towards the poor, widows and orphans, the ignorant and the helpless” which she saidwere even worse than sins of impurity. – wikipedia

 

How much the Father loves us all!  To allow, through the action of the Holy Spirit, an encounter with Our Blessed Mother, especially one that is so loving  and nurturing.  Praise God for the grace of courage, perseverance, fortitude and so much more, poured out to those 3 little children who communicated that message to the world.  I am reminded of what Jesus once conveyed to St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church…that He uses the humble (like uneducated fisherman, simple women and little children) to communicate a message from heaven in order to confound the arrogant and to bring an opportunity of humility to us all.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us My favorite movie surrounding the mystical experience of Fatima is “The 13th Day” distributed by Ignatius Press.   Here is another video. film “The Miracle of Fatima”  

Pope Benedict on Prayer – The Liturgy: “participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit”

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis from original text in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the last catechesis I began speaking about one of the privileged sources of Christian prayer: the sacred liturgy, which – as the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms – is “participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1073). In the liturgy, all Christian prayer finds its source and goal.”(n. 1073). Today I would like us to ask ourselves: in my life, do I reserve enough space for prayer and, above all, what place does liturgical prayer have in my relationship with God, especially the Mass, as participation in the common prayer of the Body of Christ which is the Church ?

In answering this question we must first remember that prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (cf. ibid., 2565). Therefore, the life of prayer lies in habitually being in the presence of God and being conscious of it, in living our relationship with God just as we live the usual relationships of our lives, those with close family members, and with real friends; indeed our relationship with the Lord gives light to all of our other relationships. This communion of life with God, One and Triune, is possible because, through Baptism we have been inserted into Christ, we have begun to be one with Him (cf. Rom 6:5).

In fact, only in Christ we can talk to God the Father as children, otherwise it is not possible, but in communion with the Son, we too can say, as he said “Abba”, because only in communion with Christ, can we know God as our true Father (cf. Mt 11:27). For this Christian prayer lies in constantly looking, in an ever new way, at Christ, talking with Him, being in silence with Him, listening to Him, acting and suffering with Him. The Christian rediscovers his true identity in Christ, “the firstborn of every creature », in whom all things were created (cf. Col 1:15 ff). By identifying with Him, being one with Him, I discover my personal identity, that of the true child who sees God as a Father full of love.
But do not forget: we discover Christ, we know him as a living Person, in the Church. It is “his Body.” This embodiment can be understood from the biblical words on man and woman: the two shall become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24, Ephesians 5.30 ff. 1 Cor 6.16 s). The unbreakable bond between Christ and the Church, through the unifying power of love, does not negate the ‘you’ or ‘I’, but raises them to their most profound unity. Finding one’s true identity in Christ means achieving communion with him, that does not cancel me out, but raises me to the highest dignity, that of a child of God in Christ, “the love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God’s will increasingly coincide “(Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 17). To pray means to rising towards the heights of God through a necessary gradual transformation of our being.
Thus, participating in the liturgy, we make ours the language of the Mother Church, we learn to speak it and for it. Of course, as I have already said, this takes place in a gradual manner, little by little. I have to progressively immerge myself in the words of the Church, with my prayer, my life, my suffering, my joy, my thoughts. It is a journey that transforms us.

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St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

 St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the ecology, was a Roman Catholic saint who took the gospel literally by following all Jesus said and did.

Who Was St. Francis?
by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.” He was, for a time, considered to be a religious “nut,” begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.
But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (see Luke 9:1-3).

Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord. From Saint of the Day

 

   

 

  

St. Francis of Assisi – Discerning Hearts

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

 St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the ecology, was a Roman Catholic saint who took the gospel literally by following all Jesus said and did.

Who Was St. Francis?
by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.” Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to “build up my house.” But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor “nothing” man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis’ “gifts” to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, “Our Father in heaven.” He was, for a time, considered to be a religious “nut,” begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.
But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: “Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff” (see Luke 9:1-3).

Francis’ first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church’s unity.

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord. From Saint of the Day