DAY 51 - OUR LADY OF FATIMA, PRAY FOR US
PRAY A ROSARY
- Rosary of the Day: Joyful Mysteries
- Traditional 54 Day Rotation: Glorious Mysteries
SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Jonah, Chapter 1, verse 9-10:
9 “I am a Hebrew,” he replied; “I FEAR the LORD,
the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10Now the men were seized with great FEAR
and said to him, “How could you do such a thing!”—They knew that he was fleeing
from the LORD, because he had told them.
Jonah as wise as he was tried to flee the Lord, are we
any wiser. We often choose the wrong path. Jonah was motivated but not by love.
He wanted justice and not mercy for Nineveh. Pope Francis in a dispute recently
stated that mercy is greater than justice when confronted with the sins of
mankind and the churches stance. Our Lord desires to give us his mercy and we
should seek it and give it as often as possible.
In the night and the day that followed the Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed by one of his own. He was delivered over to the authorities in such humiliating powerlessness that even those who thought they loved him fled. He who came to reveal to us the God who is Love, fell into the hands of loveless men. Then, before the eyes of John, the only apostle who was present at the Lord’s execution, and his mother Mary, he died an appalling death. Here at the center of the mystery of our redemption, the full measure of the “marvelous exchange” begins to be unveiled. The Son of God not only became the Son of Man, fulfilling beyond expectation the great hope contained in the psalms and the prophets. Jesus came to be the purifying flame of Love in our midst, unsettling a world that had become comfortable in its estrangement from God. He came to pour his Spirit on us and reconcile us to the Father. When St. Paul tells us that the Son of God “emptied himself”, he does not mention only Jesus’ birth. When the Son of God took on our humanity, his “exchange” with us goes all the way to the end: “Being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”. Elsewhere, St. Paul points to the same unfathomable mystery of solidarity with sinners that John the Baptist had glimpsed at the Jordan: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. When we gaze with Mary and John on Christ, who “died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures”, we come face to face with all the consequences of the Incarnation. In joining himself to his creation, the Son of God took on all our fate. He took on even the thirst of a world suffering its self-inflicted estrangement from God. Even death. For centuries, the faithful people of Israel thirsted for God like the dry earth. They prayed, “My throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God”. All of humanity thirsted, for by sinning, we had rejected the source of our life. We had defended ourselves against the God who is Love. Yet our suffering in “this time of God’s absence” was as nothing before the terrible cry Mary and John heard at the foot of the cross. “Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst!’. The tortured, dying man thirsted for water – but also for love. He thirsted for our love, for he had come to espouse mankind to himself. And although he was “true God from true God … consubstantial with the Father,” he thirsted even for God. John could not have imagined such a use – or fulfillment – of the words of the psalms as when the Son of God cried out his thirst to his Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When John heard this, he somehow understood. Those words were written for this day. They were prayed through the centuries so that Jesus might sum up all human thirst for God, all suffering and forsakenness, in himself. These words were handed down from generation to generation so that when the Son used them to express his own thirst, suffering, and forsakenness to his Father, our words would become divine words of unbreakable, unsurpassable love. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” Jesus cried. Finally, “he bowed his head” and handed over the Spirit that bound Father and Son. He made even his death a revelation of the unbreakable communion of Love that is God. When a Roman centurion pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, John, Mary, and the centurion himself saw blood and water – a sign of Christ’s divinity and humanity – gush forth over the parched earth. The covenant was established. It would never be broken. The divine bridegroom had truly loved us “to the end”. Even the centurion, an unbeliever who knew neither the psalms nor the prophets, recognized this radiant humility and saw the glory of this love: “When the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly, this man was the Son of God!’”
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
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.
O God, Who by the merits of blessed Francis dost increase Thy Church by a new progeny, grant us by imitating him to despise earthly things, and ever to rejoice in the participation of heavenly gifts. Amen.
EPISTLE. Gal. vi. 14-18.
Brethren: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ: by Whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And whosoever shall follow this rule, peace on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man be troublesome to me: for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body. The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
GOSPEL. Matt. xi. 25-30.
At that time Jesus answered and
said: I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast
hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little
ones. Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight. All things are
delivered to Me by My Father. And no one knoweth the Son, but the Father:
neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall
please the Son to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened,
and I will refresh you. Take up My yoke upon you, arid learn of Me, because I
am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For My
yoke is sweet and My burden
· 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
· 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."
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.
35 Promises of God cont.
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”-Ps 37:4
· Eat waffles and Pray for the assistance of the Angels
· Iceman’s Total Consecration to Mary-Day 24
· Total Consecration to St. Joseph
· Monday: Litany of Humility
· Go to Mass
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.