Wednesday, October 4, 2017

FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI-SUKKOT

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”-Ps 37:4

Psalm 111, verse 5
5 He gives food to those who fear him, he remembers his covenant forever.

This is probably a reference to the manna in the desert, which elsewhere is seen as a type of the Eucharist. In the Gospel of John Christ states, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4: 32-34). We like our Lord should have the same desire to build the Kingdom of God; to create a New Jerusalem in our home, at our work and in our communities. Our Lord asks that we prepare ourselves for the work by eating the food he gives us which is the new covenant. We need this food to create a change in us from the old man to become sons of God in and through Christ which is the new covenant of His blood. Those who love him frequent Mass and take the food He gives us through His Priests.  For this is real food indeed.  It is not food to give pleasure to the body but it is intended by God to give joy to the soul. According to the late Bishop Fulton Sheen, "You can quickly become tired of pleasures, but you can never tire of joys."  Joy comes by finding God. You cannot satisfy a soul with husks![1]

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi[2]

ST.FRANCIS was born at Assisi, in Italy, in the year 1182. His father, a rich merchant, intended him for trade, and Francis applied himself with aptness to this employment, in which, though fond of show, he exhibited, at an early day, a particular love for the poor. Agreeable and amiable, affable and kind to all, he was beloved by all around him, and the world sought to draw him to its side. But, enlightened from above, and by heavenly apparitions rendered attentive to the call he was about to receive, he followed the leadings of grace which drew him on to imitate Christ in poverty and humility. Hearing one day at Mass the words of the Gospel “Do not possess gold, or silver, or money in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff” (Matt. x. 9, 10), he began to regulate the whole manner of his life according to this precept of the Gospel, and at once began to preach penance with such evangelical poverty, and with such power, that all who heard him were moved to tears. Disinherited by his father, who was greatly displeased at his poverty and open-handedness towards the poor, he threw himself altogether upon the providence of his Father in heaven, dividing with the poor the alms he thus received. The extraordinary manner of his life soon brought around him disciples, and as the number of them increased daily, he wrote for them a rule, and then set out for Home, to procure from the Pope a confirmation of it. He came back, rejoicing in the Lord that everything at Rome had gone according to his wish, and established himself about a mile from his native city, at a small church belonging to the Benedictines, which he called Portiuncula (little portion). Here he led a life of the severest penance here he prayed day and night, and here he laid the foundation of that Order which has filled the world with the splendor of its virtues. Here in this church, dedicated to the virgin Mother of Jesus and to the holy angels, he received from Christ Himself the celebrated indulgence known throughout the whole Christian world as the Portiuncula Indulgence, for while the saint was praying there with glowing devotion, on the day of the dedication of the church, in the year 1221, the Lord appeared to him and said “Francis, ask whatever thou wilt for the salvation of the nations.” He answered: “I desire the remission of guilt and punishment, a plenary indulgence for all who shall visit this church with contrite hearts and sincerely confess their sins. The Lord replied, Go then to My representative, the Pope, and ask the indulgence in My name. “Forthwith he went to Pope Honorius III., who first, by word of mouth, and afterwards by a proper bull, confirmed to him the indulgence. The same indulgence was, at a later day, extended to all churches of the Franciscans, and by Pope Pius VII to all parish churches (at least to all in Bavaria), and may be gained on the first Sunday in August of every year. Burning with desire for the salvation of the people, St. Francis with his brethren, whom he sent out two by two to preach penance and the peace of God, labored to establish everywhere the kingdom of heaven. His love for sinners, and his ardent zeal for the salvation of souls, impelled him to visit remote parts of the world to preach the Gospel to unbelievers. For this he was rewarded by God with miraculous graces, among which there is particularly to be mentioned that which was granted him upon Mount Alverno. While he was there engaged, separated from the world, in fasting and praying for forty days, as he was accustomed to do often, the Savior appeared to him in the form of a seraph on the cross, and imprinted the five wounds of His own body on the body of St. Francis. On account of this, and for his ardent love for Jesus crucified, St. Francis received the surname of Seraph. After this event the saint lived two years in manifold bodily distress and sickness, without murmur or complaint, with perfect resignation to the will of God. Sometime before his death he caused his will to be written, in which he left to his brethren poverty as an inheritance in which they should find great treasure for heaven. As the hour of his dissolution drew nigh he had the passion of Christ read to him; he then said the one hundred and forty-first psalms, and at the words, Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise Thy name, he expired happy in the Lord, October 4, 1226, in the forty-fifth year of his age. St. Francis founded three Orders, the first and proper Order of Franciscans, or the Order of Friars Minor, then the Order of Franciscan nuns, or Clares, so called from St. Clare, their first superior and lastly, that called the Third Order, for people in the world, of both sexes, who aim at perfection, but do not desire to make the vows of the cloister. This last Order, which has been approved by many Popes, particularly by Gregory IX., Innocent IV., and Nicholas IV., has spread throughout the whole world, and is becoming in our day more and more flourishing.

We must as is sometimes do as attributed to the sayings of St. Francis, “preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

This is the first premise of leadership. As leaders, especially Christian leaders, we must demonstrate the Be, Know and Do attitudes of Christ. That is we must become an “Alter Christus” or another Christ. We must BE to others as Christ would. We must KNOW spiritual principals as Christ does and we must act or DO in the world as Christ would.

This day emulate our Lord by reflecting and living the prayer of St. Francis.

The Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of thy 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;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Things to Do[3]
  • Pray the Canticle of the Sun, which was written by St. Francis.
  • For more reading, see the selections from the Catholic Culture Library. This page from the Franciscan Archives contains links about St. Francis of Assisi, including biographies, articles, writings, Orders & Societies, liturgical texts and art.
  • Many parishes have a Blessing of animals or pets on this day. See the Prayers column for other alternatives. St. Francis loved all of God's creatures. Find the stories of the Wolf of Gubbio, the Sermon to the Birds, his Canticle of Creatures to see some illustrations of his honoring God's creation.
  • St. Francis was influential on our present-day Christmas crib or creche.
  • Although St. Francis is one of the most popular saints of the Church, and his feast is a huge celebration in Assisi, there are no particular foods attached to that festival. Tradition has passed on that on his deathbed he requested Frangipane cream or Moastaccioli (almond biscotti). Fire is a symbol of St. Francis, first of all because his heart was on fire with love of God, but there are other stories in Little Flowers of St. Francis that deal with fire, particularly when he prayed, the surrounding areas would become so bright that people thought the areas were on fire. So a flaming dessert or wine would be an appropriate ending of a wonderful feast. One could also try some Umbrian style recipes, or just have "Italian night" at home, even just simple spaghetti or other pasta and sauces.
  • Learn more about the Franciscan order. The Catholic Encyclopedia has a wonderful entry on St. Francis, including his Rule. And from the Catholic Culture Library you can read a detailed summary of the life of St. Francis and his founding of the Order of Friars Minor.
  • What does poverty in our state of life mean? How can I follow the Gospels like Francis?
  • Learn more about geography and history of the Umbria area, and how much Francis has impacted that area.
  • Study art and photos of Francis. Find out more about the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. Although the earthquake in 1997 damaged the basilica, it reopened in 1999.
  • Go here for Saint Francis of Assisi, The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi, translated by Fr. Paschal Robinson in 1906.
  • Read Little Flowers of St. Francis by Brother Ugolino online or purchase a copy. This is a collection of many stories and legends of the life of St. Francis. Of particular note is his Sermon to the Birds,
"My little sisters the birds, ye owe much to God, your Creator, and ye ought to sing his praise at all times and in all places, because he has given you liberty to fly about into all places; and though ye neither spin nor sew, he has given you a twofold and a threefold clothing for yourselves and for your offspring. Two of all your species he sent into the Ark with Noah that you might not be lost to the world; besides which, he feeds you, though ye neither sow nor reap. He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much, having thus favoured you with such bounties. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God."

St. Francis was a great respecter of life and viewed all creation as a gift of God; he called the animals brothers and the moon sister moon. If we have God’s breath and love in us we must respect and protect all creation starting with the most vulnerable of human life.

October: Respect Life Month[4]

We mark the month of October as Respect Life Month. Looking back over the last year, there's been a lot of uncertainty, suffering, and heartache. Between tragedies that occur in the public eye and trials that take place in our personal lives, there's no shortage of reasons we cry out to God. At such times, we may feel alone and unequipped to handle the circumstances. But we have an anchor of hope to cling to. With words that echo through thousands of years into the corners of our hearts, God says to us, "Do not fear: I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10). God isn't a detached, distant observer to our pain; the Eternal Son became man and Himself experienced immense suffering—for you and for me. His wounds indicate the very essence of our identity and worth: we are loved by God. There are times we may doubt the value of our own lives or falter at the thought of welcoming and embracing the life of another. But reflecting on the healed wounds of the Risen Christ, we can see that even our most difficult trials can be the place where God manifests his victory. He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new. He is the God of redemption. That's powerful. That's something to hold onto. And, He is always with us. Jesus promised this when he gave the disciples the same mission he gives to each of us: Go. As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our identity and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles, we are called to be missionary disciples. We are not only invited to follow and take refuge in God, our stronghold, but we are also commissioned to reach out to one another, especially to the weak and vulnerable. Building a culture of life isn't something we just do one month of the year, or with one event or initiative—it's essential to who we are. It happens through our daily actions, how we treat one another, and how we live our lives. How do we respond when our aging parents are in failing health? Do they know how much we love them and cherish each day given? Do we ensure they know they are never a burden to us? In our own challenging times, do we ask for support? When others offer a helping hand, do we receive it? When our friend becomes pregnant in difficult circumstances, do we show compassion that tangibly supports her and helps her welcome the life of her new little one? Sometimes, we may not be sure exactly what to do, but let's not allow the fear of doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing keep us from living out our missionary call. We don't need to have everything figured out all at once. Let's remember the guidance of Our Blessed Mother, the first disciple: "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5). www.usccb.org/respectlife

Sukkot (Camping with Christ)[5]

Sukkot (Hebrew: סוכות), meaning Tabernacles, is the autumnal 'foot festival' in which the Jews are commanded to leave their permanent houses and to dwell in booths for seven days. The idea behind this is to remember that the Israelites lived in booths in the Wilderness for forty years. Additionally, when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, this was a pilgrimage holiday to celebrate the harvest.  It is most likely our Lord did this every year as He was a devout Jew.

Tabernacles are typically built out of wood, sheets and have a roof of a natural product, such as leaves, palm branches, through which the stars can be seen at night. The Succah must be built of certain dimensions (not too low or too high) and should have three or four walls.  On Succot, it is customary for Jewish men buy a set of the four kinds/species comprising a lulav (a palm branch), an etrog (a citron), hadassim (myrtle) and aravot (willows).

Sukkot Facts & Quotes

·         Sukkot is also a harvest festival, and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif, the Festival of Ingathering.  No work is permitted on the first day, but some work is allowed on the intermediate days which are known as Chol Hamoed.
·         Each day of Succot is associated with Ushpezin (visitors), one of seven Succah visitors.  Each day has its visitor, starting with Abraham.  The other visitors are: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon.

Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

·         The book of Ecclesiastes is typically read in Synagogues.  This book relates to the futility of man under the sun, but concludes optimistically with the notion that we should just do our thing and serve God.
·         There is a special Priest's (Cohen's) blessing performed at the Western Wall during Succot.  The Western Wall is the last surviving wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the side of the Temple Mount.  Thousands of Priests, who are believed to be descendants of the original priests, assemble at the Western Wall and perform blessings.
·         In the days of Nehemiah, an original Bible was found with the passages relating to the building of a Succah.
All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel (Nehemiah 8:1).
They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month (Nehemiah 8:14).

Sukkot Top Events and Things to Do

·         Purchase or make your own Sukkah.  They are typically designed to be assembled and disassembled quickly - in less than two hours by two people.
·         One can buy the four kinds (of material used to build Sukkot as per the Torah) or order them from Israel. The four kinds include palm branches, an Etrog (citron), three willow branches and two myrtle branches. The palm, myrtle and willow are bound together in a palm holder.


·         See the movie Ushpezim with English subtitles.  It which relates to the four kinds and a couple's efforts to buy a most beautiful four species set, despite their poor economic situation.  
·         Read the book of Ecclesiastes or watch a lecture about it.  It was written by King Solomon.  It relates to the futility of life, apart from basic belief and being righteous.
·         Attend a local Succot fair.  

Daily Devotions/Prayers
·                 Drops of Christ’s Blood
·                 Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus
·                 National 54 day Rosary day 51
·                 Total Consecration Day 24
·                 Devotion to the Holy Face-Day 8

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