Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi on October 3
Daily Readings for:October 04, 2014
(Readings on USCCB website)
Collect: O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis’ footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
- Ordinary Time: October 4th
- St. Francis of Assisi, confessor
Old Calendar: St. Francis of Assisi, confessor ; Other Titles: Il Poverello
St. Francis (1182-1226) was born and died in Assisi. He was the son of a rich merchant, Bernardone, received a good education, and in the beginning followed the ways of the world. He was taken prisoner in the battle between the Assisians and Perugians, and after his release decided to abandon everything for Christ. His father became extremely displeased at his action, and disinherited him. In 1220 he founded a new order which in ten years numbered five thousand brothers. His followers were called Friars Minor because they were to consider themselves as the least among religious. Out of humility Francis never accepted the priesthood but remained a deacon all his life. He had a great love for God’s creatures and called them his brothers and sisters. His ardent love of God merited for him the name of Seraphic. This feast is celebrated today both in the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
St. Francis of Assisi
Francis Bernardone was born in 1181 at Assisi, Umbria, Italy. The son of a wealthy cloth merchant, he lived a lavish and irresponsible life. At the age of twenty, he went to war against Perugia, but was captured and imprisoned. During his imprisonment he experienced a vision from Christ and changed his life completely. He left all his possessions and embraced complete poverty, taking the Gospel as his rule of life.
He wore ragged old clothes, begged for food and preached peace. He began to attract followers, and in 1209 with the papal blessing he founded the Friars Minor (Franciscans). Then in 1212 with St. Clare of Assisi he founded the foundation of the Order of “Poor Ladies,” now known as the “Poor Clares.” He also founded the “Third Order of Penance” (the Third Order) which included lay people. He was the first person (recorded) to receive the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ) in 1224. He died on October 4, 1226 at Portiuncula, Italy. He was canonized by Gregory IX less than two years later.
Patron: against fire; animals; Catholic Action; dying alone; ecology; environment; families; fire; lacemakers; merchants; peace; zoos; Italy; Assisi, Italy; Colorado; Sante Fe, New Mexico; archdiocese of San Francisco, California; archdiocese of Denver, Colorado; archdiocese of Sante Fe, New Mexico; diocese of Salina, Kansas.
Symbols: birds and animals; bag of gold and rich raiment at his feet; winged crucifix with five rays; stigmata; crown of thorns; lighted lamp; fiery chariot; birds; deer; fish; skull; wolf; fire.
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. Find out more about this historical event. See the articles in our Activities top bar.
- 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, how it is has changed from Francis’ original “charter”. 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.
- This is an excellent Biography of St. Francis that includes wonderful material about Assisi and the surrounding areas.
- 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.”
Meditation: Luke 10:17-24
Saint Francis of Assisi
I have given you the power “to tread upon serpents.” (Luke 10:19)
What a joyful tone this reading has! Jesus sent out seventy-two of his followers to preach and teach and heal, and they returned with glowing reports. Jesus must have had great confidence to entrust these relatively untested men and women with the same work that he had given to the twelve apostles. And he wasn’t disappointed!
This story tells us that Jesus is confident in each one of us. He doesn’t want to limit the work of the gospel to a few experts. Because his Spirit lives in us, we are all called and empowered to share his good news. None of us should feel inadequate or unqualified. Remember, it’s not so much what we do but what we allow the Spirit to do through us.
Often, it takes only a simple gesture to begin to reach out. Start small, and let the Spirit build your confidence. Intercede for someone you know. Try to perform two or three extra acts of kindness a day, and see what opportunities for evangelism open up. Who knows? Maybe you will make a positive, eternal difference in someone’s life.
Today the Church honors St. Francis of Assisi, the troubadour-turned-friar whose simple love for Christ unleashed a wave of renewal in the Church. A cursory look at him probably wouldn’t move us to imagine him becoming one of the great evangelists of the medieval Church. He was just a middle-class merchant’s son who enjoyed eating and drinking, and who dreamed of daring exploits. But once he heard God’s voice, he dedicated himself to sharing the joy of the gospel. He didn’t always get it right. He had a number of false starts and setbacks. But he kept trying and he kept learning, and God took care of the rest.
Let Francis’ example spur you on today. You have more to offer people than you think! Your kindness, your generosity, and your patience can make a difference in someone’s life. It can open doors for you to share about the One who loves you so much. According to one legend, Francis once told his brothers, “Preach the gospel at all times; use words when necessary.” Make this your motto today, and you just may find yourself “treading upon serpents.”
“Lord, you have given me so much joy. Help me bring that joy to those around me!”
Job 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17; Psalm 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130
FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI – 4 OCTOBER 2014
POPE FRANCIS ON ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
The Holy Face in Franciscan Spirituality
Saturday, 04 October 2014 08:00
When it comes to Franciscan spirituality, I, being a son of Saint Benedict and an unworthy disciple of Blessed Abbot Marmion, lay claim to nothing other than ignorance. In spite of this, I thought that, in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi’s feast, I might share with the readers of Vultus Christi a few texts that illustrate the centrality of the Face of Christ to the Franciscan charism.
Saint Bonventure, the Seraphic Doctor, in his Tree of Life, contemplates the adorable Face of Christ:
That Face, venerated by the Patriarchs,
desire of the Angels,
delight of Heaven,
was defiled by spittle from vile mouths,
struck by the blows of the inhuman,
and so as to augment the mockery, was covered with a veil by the sacrilegious.
The Face of the Lord of all creation was struck
as though He were an abject slave.
And He, serene of Countenance speaking softly,
gently had admonished one of the servants of the High Priest who had struck Him:
“If I have spoken evil, tell Me where I have erred;
if however I have spoken the truth, why do you strike me?
In the Mystic Vine, the Seraphic Doctor writes:
Behold the Face of your Christ, O Christian soul,
and lift not your eyes without tears to His torments,
lift not your contrite heart without compassion
and behold how much affliction He endures, to seek you, to find you.
Open wide your eyes to behold the Face Of Jesus.
Hear Him attentively!
If ever in inexpressible suffering, He utter a word,
hide it when you have heard it
as the most precious treasure in the coffer of your heart.
The Face of Christ and the Face of Francis
The July-December 2005 issue of Il Volto dei Volti, the review of International Institute of Research on the Face of Christ, contained two articles on the Holy Face in the Franciscan tradition. The first, by Father Stefano Maria Manelli, F.I., is entitled Volto del Povero, Volto di Cristo. Father Stefano writes:
The crowning of the ascetical and mystical path of the Poverello of Assisi . . . happened on the mountain of La Verna: there on a rocky height, the bloody crucifixion signed even the body of Saint Francis as it had that of Jesus ‘poor and crucified.’ Thus did Saint Francis appear then, to the eyes of all, with the face of an authentic “repeater of Christ,” as Saint Bonaventure says, another genuine, and perhaps the most genuine, “repeater” of Jesus “poor and crucified.”
At this point, the face of the divine “Poor One of the LORD,” that is the Face of Jesus poor and crucified became, in the most impressive way, the face of Saint Francis of Assisi, himself poor and crucified.
Saint Clare of Assisi
In the same issue, an article by Father Jacek Neumann, a spiritual father to the Poor Clares of Vesperbild in Germany, writes of “The Face of All Faces in the Spirituality of Clare of Assisi.”
Saint Clare experienced the beauty of God in the blessed passion and death of Christ. Contemplating the Face of Christ as in a mirror, Saint Clare calls Him the Eternal King, the Immaculate Lamb, the Splendour of Eternal Glory, the Radiance of Eternal Brightness, the Spotless Mirror. At every moment, the eyes of Saint Clare were fixed on the Face of Christ; there she contemplated the unfading beauty of Love.
Devotion to the adorable Face of Christ continues in Blessed Angela of Foligno, Saint Veronica Giuliani, and a multitude of other saints and mystics of the Seraphic Family. To my mind, however, the most telling indication of the centrality of the Holy Face to the Franciscan tradition is that the precious Holy Face of Manoppello, visited by Pope Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006, should remain entrusted to the humble sons of Saint Francis, the Capuchin Friars “of the Holy Face” who first received the sacred image in 1506.
Saint Pio and Manoppello
A significant but little known fact is that on September 22, 1968, the day preceding his death, at dawn, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina appeared at Manoppello, in prayer before the Holy Face. Capuchin Father Domenico da Cese witnessed the miraculous bilocation. The following night Padre Pio died. Death is not improvised. One dies as one lives. Saint Pio’s “pilgrimage” to Manoppello on the eve of his death, confirms my intuition that there is a particular grace given to the children of the Seraphic Family to live and to die with their eyes fixed on the Holy Face of the Crucified.
Saint Francis and the Liturgy
Saturday, 04 October 2014 08:00
Franciscans and the Liturgy: A Benedictine Point of View
Here and there in the family of the Seraphic Saint Francis of Assisi one finds communities that glow with a warm love for liturgical prayer. I’m thinking, in particular of the Poor Ladies of Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, Virginia, where a warm and glowing love for the Sacred Liturgy has been fostered for many years. I’m thinking also of the Conventual Franciscan Friar at the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padova who authors a splendid Italian blog: Cantuale Antonianum. The Franciscans of the Immaculate are known for their commitment to the liturgical cause as much as for their fervent and enlightened Marian piety. The Capuchins, for their part, have the following splendid passage in their Constitutions:
We direct the clerics and priests who are not legitimately impeded
to assemble as quickly as they can in the choir at the first sound of the bell in order
to prepare their hearts for the Lord. There, with devotion, recollection,
mortification, quiet and silence, let them bear in mind that they are before God
where they should take up the angelic office of rendering the divine praises.
We also instruct that the office be said with due devotion, attention, maturity,
uniformity of voice and in harmony with the spirit, without frills or distractedly,
and with the voice neither too high nor too low, but in between. The friars should
strive to sing psalms to God more with the heart than with the mouth so that what
our fair Saviour said of the Hebrews may not be said of us: “These people honour
me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” We direct that the lay friars
assemble at the beginning of matins, vespers and compline, and at the Te Deum
laudamus. After making their preparation in common, they may withdraw
somewhere according to their devotion as the office is beginning and say the Our
Fathers as the Rule imposes on them. We also direct those the lay friars and clerics not impeded for a just reason to come together for vespers and for all the Masses they can on all the feastdays. (1536 Constitutions of the Friars Minor Capuchin)
I am old enough to remember having heard Franciscans of various allegiances chant the Divine Office in choir in Latin. It was impressive and profoundly edifying. The Franciscans of the Atonement at Graymoor were particularly marked by a love for the Divine Office inherited from their founders — both converts from Anglicanism — Father Paul James Francis Watson and Mother Lurana Mary Francis White.
The Conventual Franciscans (O.F..M., Conv.) had, in many places, a strong commitment to choral prayer and a somewhat higher standard of liturgical performance than that cultivated by the (O.F.M.) Friars Minor, although the latter are not entirely without a few strongholds of choral liturgical prayer in Italy and, of course, in the Holy Land. The Capuchins, for their part, while reciting the Hours dutifully in choir, eschewed chant as a distraction and an impediment to recollection, and like so many movements of reform, invested more in the ways of mental prayer and a bracing asceticism than in choral liturgical prayer.
The “Anti-Monastic” Prejudice
With the advent of the “peace and justice” enthusiasms of the 1970s, a serious commitment to choral liturgical prayer was judged, by many, incompatible with the “fundamental option for the poor” incumbent upon Franciscans in the post-conciliar age. Franciscans, Friars, Sisters, and even some Poor Clares, explored other non-liturgical or para-liturgical forms of prayer. Friaries and convents in which the complete cycle of the Hours was chanted in choir became extremely rare.
One must also identify a certain “anti-monastic” prejudice that has always dogged the mendicant Orders, and the Franciscans, in particular. The tired old refrain, “We are not monks,” became a useful excuse from any form of consistent regular observance and choral liturgical prayer. Certain practices were rashly identified as “too monastic” and swept aside in favour of a flawed notion of “simplicity” and “active participation.” This, in spite of the fact, that the Romano-Seraphic liturgical books included the full array of resources necessary for an integral celebration of the Mass and Divine Office in Gregorian Chant.
Embracing the Holy Father’s Vision
Pope Benedict XVI’s choice, in 2010, of Saint Francis of Assisi as a model of liturgical piety was a clarion call, invited all followers of the Poverello to examine their commitment to a full, liturgical life, including the choral celebration of all the Hours. Magnificent early Franciscan liturgical manuscripts, described by the famous Franciscan liturgiologist, Father Stephan J. P. Van Dijk, O.F.M., attest to the importance attached to the Sacred Liturgy by the sons and daughters of the Seraphic Patriarch. Perhaps now, after more than forty years of alienation from the sources of an authentically Franciscan liturgical spirituality, the children of the Little Poor Man of Assisi may be ready to embrace the vision of Pope Benedict XVI as a passage “from the world to God.”
Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of Italy
November 4, 2010
The Saints Never Fade Away
[…] 1. In these days you have gathered in Assisi, the city in which “a sun was born to the world” (Dante, Paradiso, Canto XI), proclaimed patron of Italy by venerable Pius XII: Saint Francis, who preserves intact his freshness and his relevance – the saints never fade away! – due to his being conformed totally to Christ, of whom he was a living icon.
Saint Francis and the Breviary
Like our own, the time in which Saint Francis lived was also marked by profound cultural transformations, fostered by the birth of the universities, by the rise of the townships and by the spread of new religious experiences.
Precisely in that season, thanks to the work of Pope Innocent III – the same from whom the Poverello of Assisi obtained his first canonical recognition – the Church undertook a profound liturgical reform.
Its highest expression is the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which numbers among its fruits the “Breviary.” This book of prayer incorporated the richness of the theological reflection and prayer experience of the previous millennium. By adopting it, Saint Francis and his friars made their own the liturgical prayer of the Supreme Pontiff: in this way, the saint assiduously listened to and meditated on the Word of God, to the point of making it his own and then transposing it into the prayers he authored, and into all of his writings in general.
The Fourth Lateran Council itself, devoting particular attention to the sacrament of the altar, inserted into the profession of faith the term “transubstantiation,” to affirm the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice: “His body and his blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the species of the bread and wine, because the bread is transubstantiated into the body and the wine into the blood by divine power” (DS, 802).
We adore you, Lord Jesus
From attending holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion with devotion arose the evangelical life of Saint Francis and his vocation to retrace the steps of Christ Crucified: “The Lord,” we read in the Testament of 1226, “gave me such faith in churches that I would simply pray and say: We adore you, Lord Jesus, in all of your churches in the whole world, and we bless you, because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world” (Fonti Francescane, no. 111).
Reverence for Priests
This experience also gave rise to the great deference that he showed for priests, and his orders to the friars to respect them always and no matter what, “because I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world, if not his Most Holy Body and Blood that they alone consecrate, and they alone administer at the altars” (Fonti Francescane, no. 113).
The Mystery Celebrated and Adored
Before such a gift, dear brothers, what responsibility of life follows for each one of us! “Be mindful of your dignity, brother priests,” Francis moreover urged, “and be holy, because he is holy!” (Letter to the General Chapter and to all of the friars, in Fonti Francescane, no. 220). Yes, the holiness of the Eucharist demands that one celebrate and adore this mystery mindful of its greatness, importance, and efficacy for Christian life, but it also demands purity, consistency, and holiness of life from each one of us, in order to be living witnesses of Christ’s one sacrifice of love.
The saint of Assisi never stopped contemplating how “the Lord of the universe, God and Son of God, is so humble as to conceal himself, for our salvation, in the paltry appearance of bread” (ibid, no 221), and vehemently asked his friars: “I beg you, more than if I were doing it for myself, that you humbly beseech the priests that they venerate above all things the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Names and the words written of him that consecrate the body” (Letter to all the Custodians, in Fonti Francescane, no. 241).
The Liturgy: Veritatis Splendor
The authentic believer, in every time, experiences in the liturgy the presence, the primacy, and the work of God. It is “veritatis splendor” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 35), nuptial event, foretaste of the new and definitive city and participation in it; it is the bond between creation and redemption, heaven open to the earth of men, passage from the world to God; it is Pascha, in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is the soul of the Christian life, call to follow, reconciliation that moves to fraternal charity.
A Window that Opens Onto What Is Beyond Time
Dear brothers in the episcopate, your coming together places at the center of the work of the assembly an examination of the Italian translation of the third standard edition of the Roman Missal. The correspondence of the prayer of the Church (lex orandi) and the rule of faith (lex credendi) shapes the thought and sentiment of the Christian community, giving form to the Church, the body of Christ and temple of the Spirit. Human expression can never stand completely outside of its time, even when, as in the case of the liturgy, it constitutes a window that opens to what is beyond time. Giving expression to a perennially valid reality therefore demands a wise balancing of continuity and newness, of tradition and revitalization.
Every Reformer: Obedient to the Faith
The Missal itself takes its place within this process. Every true reformer, in fact, is obedient to the faith: he does not act in an arbitrary manner, he does not appropriate any discretion over the rite; he is not the owner, but the custodian of the treasury instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us. The whole Church is present in every liturgy: adhering to its form is a condition of authenticity for what is celebrated. […]
From the Vatican, November 4, 2010
|Better Than Success|
October 4, 2014. Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Luke 10: 17-24
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ´to tread upon serpents´ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, I approach you in prayer, knowing that these are some of the most important moments of the day. This time I spend with you helps put the rest of the day in perspective and gives me a sense of my total dependence on you. With childlike simplicity I trust in your loving providence. Though I am unworthy to be in your presence, I at least want to offer you my best effort during this prayer, seeking only to please you.
Petition: Let me see, Holy Spirit, that the most important thing in life is to reach heaven, and to act as if I really believe that.
1. Name-dropping: The disciples marvel at the power of Jesus´ name, even before demons. Such is the great power of Christ in the world. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ, as the Messiah who came to redeem us, is in a league by himself. Thus, all authentic devotion, be it to Mary, be it to a favorite patron saint, only has sense insofar as it leads us to Christ. He is and remains the best model for us. As Vatican II teaches, Christ “fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Is there anyone I put ahead of Christ in my life?
2. The Ledger: Jesus seems to shrug off the victories over Satan. What he deems more important for his disciples is that their names are written in heaven. Indeed, Christianity is about more than just defeating the devil. Ours is an eminently positive faith, designed to help us grow in our love for God and in our imitation of the virtues of Christ. As an exercise in love, it is open-ended, always inviting us to do more for others and for Christ. Love knows no limits, so we shouldn´t think that we “have arrived.” Do I understand that I´m called to love and to imitate Christ till the last moment of life?
3. Model Son: Love drives Christ, specifically love for his heavenly Father. The realization that he does his Father´s will impels Christ to undergo hardships, tiredness, hunger and rejection. But he won´t be deterred. As a young man in love, Christ seems to have an endless reserve of energy for the sake of his Beloved. It is his secret source of strength, so to speak. Thus he teaches us a deep truth of human nature. “Man cannot live without love,” wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his first encyclical. “He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him.” If ever we feel burned out by the world, we should ask ourselves, “How much do I love others? Do I gladly sacrifice myself for others? Do I seek the good of others first?”
Conversation with Christ: My faith is first and foremost a relationship with you, Lord. It requires a constant response of love on my part. Help me be generous in responding to your inspirations toward love.
Resolution: I will show thanks for my faith by doing an extra act of charity today.
By Father Edward McIlmail, LC