St. Francis of Paola
Francis of Paola was a man who deeply loved contemplative solitude and wished only to be the "least in the household of God." Yet, when the Church called him to active service in the world, he became a miracle-worker and influenced the course of nations.
After accompanying his parents on a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, he began to live as a contemplative hermit in a remote cave near Paola, on Italy's southern seacoast. Before he was 20, he received the first followers who had come to imitate his way of life. Seventeen years later, when his disciples had grown in number, Francis established a Rule for his austere community and sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474.
In 1492, Francis changed the name of his community to "Minims" because he wanted them to be known as the least (minimi) in the household of God. Humility was to be the hallmark of the brothers as it had been in Francis's personal life. Besides the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Francis enjoined upon his followers the fourth obligation of a perpetual Lenten fast. He felt that heroic mortification was necessary as a means for spiritual growth.
It was Francis's desire to be a contemplative hermit, yet he believed that God was calling him to the apostolic life. He began to use the gifts he had received, such as the gifts of miracles and prophecy, to minister to the people of God. A defender of the poor and oppressed, Francis incurred the wrath of King Ferdinand of Naples for the admonitions he directed toward the king and his sons.
Following the request of Pope Sixtus IV, Francis traveled to Paris to help Louis XI of France prepare for his death. While ministering to the king, Francis was able to influence the course of national politics. He helped to restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families, and between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land.
Francis died while at the French court.
The King of France, Louis XI, was slowly dying after an apoplectic seizure. He sent a messenger to Italy to beg Francis to come and heal him, making many promises to assist him and his order. Francis refused, until the king appeal to the pope, who ordered Francis to go. Louis fell on his knees and begged Francis to heal him. The saint replied that the lives of kings are in rhe hands of God and have their appointed limits: Prayer should be addressed to God.
Many meetings followed. Though Francis was an unlearned man, those who heard him testified that his words were so full of wisdom that all present were convinced the Holy Spirit wa speaking through him. By prayer and example he brought about a change of heart in the king, who died peacefully in his arms.
The life of Francis of Paola speaks plainly to an overactive world. He was a contemplative man called to active ministry and must have felt keenly the tension between prayer and service. Yet in Francis's life it was a productive tension, for he clearly utilized the fruits of contemplation in his ministry, which came to involve the workings of nations. He responded so readily and so well to the call of the Church from a solid foundation in prayer and mortification. When he went out to the world, it was not he who worked but Christ working through him—"the least in the household of God."
Patron Saint of:
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"Be still and know that I am God."
Many countries are at this moment suffering the agonies of war.
At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to You. I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations.
The Word of God
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Meditation: Isaiah 49:8-15
Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit
He who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water. (Isaiah 49:10)
Did you know that the earth's surface is over 70 percent water? And more than half of the people on earth live within 3 kilometers of fresh water! Not only that, but our bodies are 60 percent water. And while you can survive for weeks without food, you will only last 3-5 days without water. Clearly, water is essential for life.
The theme of water permeates the Scriptures, too, especially in Lent. So far, our Lenten readings have presented multiple images of trees planted by streams of water; Moses striking the rock for water in the desert; Naaman the leper being cleansed in the river; and a Samaritan woman receiving living water from Jesus. And just yesterday, we read Ezekiel's image of the Temple flowing with the river of life along with the story of a man Jesus healed by the pool of Bethsaida in Jerusalem.
Through all of these stories and more, God is showing us that his life is like water for us. In fact, our spiritual lives are surrounded by water. In Baptism we were cleansed by water, and we received within ourselves a spring of living water bubbling up in our hearts. And at the end of our lives, during the Mass of Christian Burial, our bodies are sprinkled with holy water. Each Lent, we prepare for the great liturgies of the Triduum, when holy water is blessed, and catechumens are baptized into the Church.
How do you need to experience God's life-giving water today? Take a moment in prayer, and ask the Lord to help you come in touch with the life he has placed in you. Let the spring well up within you—a spring of hope, of joy, of cleansing, and of peace. Let that living water irrigate any "parched ground" in you—softening your heart, cleansing your conscience, healing your memories, enlivening your imagination. Let it carry away your burdens and give you the simple joy of knowing that Christ is in you and that he will never stop loving and caring for you.
"Father, I want your living waters to flow in me today. Nourish, cleanse, and bring me your joy. I need you to give me your life."
Psalm 145:8-9, 13-14, 17-18; John 5:17-30
Saying to the prisoners: Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.