Pain is the rent we pay for being human, it seems, but suffering is usually optional. The cross was Jesus's voluntary acceptance of undeserved suffering as an act of total solidarity with all of the pain of the world. Reflection on this mystery of love can change your whole life.
-from Eager to Love
† "You change your life by changing your heart." — St. Benedict of Nursia
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." — C. S. Lewis, p. 205 AN EXCERPT FROM Mere Christianity
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Saint Francis of Assisi
(September 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226)
Saint Francis of Assisi's Story
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 sense 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 all his possessions, 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 fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evoking 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" (Luke 9:1-3).
Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no intention 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.
Francis of Assisi was poor only that he might be Christ-like. He recognized creation as another manifestation of the beauty of God. In 1979, he was named patron of ecology. He did great penance (apologizing to "Brother Body" later in life) that he might be totally disciplined for the will of God. His poverty had a sister, humility, by which he meant total dependence on the good God. But all this was, as it were, preliminary to the heart of his spirituality: living the gospel life, summed up in the charity of Jesus and perfectly expressed in the Eucharist.
Saint Francis of Assisi is the Patron Saint of:
Animals Archaeologists Ecology Italy Merchants Messengers Metal Workers
Lord, you are always there waiting for me. May I never be too busy to find time to spend in your presence.
God is not foreign to my freedom. Instead the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires, gently nudging me towards all that is good. I ask for the grace to let myself be enfolded by the Spirit.
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?
Brothers and sisters: You heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions. But when he, who from my mother's womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the Apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. (As to what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I am not lying.) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only kept hearing that "the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." So they glorified God because of me.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15 R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. O LORD, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. My soul also you knew full well; nor was my frame unknown to you When I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Alleluia Lk 11:28 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 10:38-42
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus may seem to be preferring contemplation to action, praising Mary and criticising Martha. Yet, he cannot be telling us to be content with sitting down to listen to his word, for he always insists that true listening to his word means putting it into practice. His objection to Martha is that she is too worried and distracted by many things to be able to really listen to him. Do I merit the same reproach? I ask for a pure heart, really focussed on what will not be taken away.
▪ We all find St Francis so appealing because he was so capable of embodying the Gospel spirit, On his feast day I ask him to help me be more Christ like. I also pray for Pope Francis, who so often asks for our prayers.
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. (Psalm Response)
Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi. Although he died nearly eight hundred years ago, this beloved saint continues to teach us about the value of simple faith and trust. Consider the following story.
Late one night, one of Francis' friars woke from sleep, groaning and crying aloud, "I am dying!" Awakened by the noise, Francis lit a lamp and asked, "What ails you, my Brother, to make you die?" "I am dying of hunger!" he answered. It seems that Francis' zeal for the Lord had inspired this friar and his brothers to excessive fasting as a way of capturing that same sense of devotion.
Moved with pity, Francis spread the table and invited all the friars to join him in eating with the starving brother so that he wouldn't be ashamed to eat alone. Then he told all of them to be careful not to harm their bodies and souls, whether by practicing severe fasts and penances or by overindulging in pleasure. He said that what God wanted from them most of all was conversion—deep, lasting, and ongoing.
If he could speak to us today, Francis would remind us as well that our salvation is a "gift of God," "not from works, so no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Whenever we rely on our own willpower to perfect ourselves through prayer, fasting, and other pious practices, we are in danger of draining the cross of its power. Whenever we reduce faith to a set of rules and put our trust in following them as a means to holiness, we lose sight of Jesus' love and his sacrifice for us.
Although Francis led a demanding life and occasionally performed severe penances, he always maintained a joyful spirit because he was filled with God's love. Indeed, joy was the hallmark of Francis and his brothers.
We can live this way too if we let the joy of the Lord become our strength. We can become saints if we surrender ourselves to God's mercy and to the power of the cross that sets us free to do his will.
"By your grace alone, may we make our way to you, . . . God all-powerful forever and ever." (St. Francis, "Appeal to God the Father")
Galatians 1:13-24 Luke 10:38-42
audio-2cents my2cents: Saul turned into Saint Paul, and said "You heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it", he didn't even understand what he was persecuting...much less WHO. The other day my little kids came up to me and said "she called me a dummy" and I said "you can't call her a dummy because you are calling yourself a dummy". What you say about one in the body of Christ, you say of the whole of the body of Christ, because we are one in Him. We are in the family of the Lord our God. We prayed today "Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way. O LORD, you have probed me and you know me...you knit me in my mother's womb...My soul also you knew full well...When I was made in secret, when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth." They say the most humble are saints, and the word humble comes from the word "humus" which means dirt. So they are the most dirt-like. What does this mean? The most human. What does that mean? Everything against what is in-humane, like the destruction of what is in the womb, that what God fashions, that what we try to rule over and lord over. This is God's creation, even my mind, body, and soul. The Lord saw Mary and Martha. Martha served like crazy. She flipped out and said "Lord tell Mary to help me!" As if to say "it's not right to just sit there with you, she should be serving you". Saint Francis embodies this predicament the best, torn between serving and sitting contemplating the Lord. I've heard people say that religious people waste their lives contemplating in prayer, far away while the world rots away. But the world needs both. We are a family in Christ. My serving in various ministries is fueled by what happens in contemplative (silence and baskingin His light) and meditative (concentrating in His life in the rosary etc). If you have no prayer life, just service, you are missing what Jesus says "...you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." There is a difference when we speak of what we "want" and what we "need". Many times wants are converted to needs, the desires of our own whims and fancies. Saint Francis lived a simple and poor life, humble and devoted to God to rebuild His church, not Francis' church. Francis' will became one with the will of the Lord. So many books have been written about this saint, songs, I even wrote a song once in spanish, but it boils down to humility, of giving up your life, of loving Christ so much, in the Eucharist, that you become what you eat. I've been attending daily Mass every day for the last couple of weeks, and I've noticed something...the more I consume Him and honor Him and revere Him in the Eucharist...the more He is revealed as God. The other day, I was looking down in procession (in line) to receive the Lord, and I would only see the feet of those walking back that received the Lord...and I looked at the different feet and in my head it went "there goes Christ, (as another passed by ) There goes the Lord (another passed by) there is Jesus." What does this say? We become one in Him. I can not say a word or hurt a soul. But I can shine the light in the darkness. Darkness today is behind walls, in rooms. There are centers of death called abortion clinics, and there is a great push to keep them open. But there is a greater push of Christ that defeats sin and death. When the world seems it will defeat you and beat you...do what Christ did...dive in, with open arms Be Not Afraid