Another Atlanta Eucharistic Congress closes…

“As Grain Once Scattered…..” — the theme of this year’s Eucharistic Congress.   This year I helped process with my Secular Franciscan fraternity banner…

Immaculate Conception Fraternity of Secular Franciscans - Jonesboro, GA

Immaculate Conception Fraternity of Secular Franciscans - Jonesboro, GA

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Immaculate Conception Fraternity SFO Jubilee

Today, the Immaculate Conception Fraternity of Secular Franciscans of Jonesboro, GA, Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis Region, celebrated their Jubilee Anniversary.  To honor this special occasion, we received a special Papal Blessing.

Jubilee Anniversary of Immaculate Conception Fraternity - Jonesboro, GA

Jubilee Anniversary of Immaculate Conception Fraternity - Jonesboro, GA

We celebrated a special Mass and luncheon at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro, GA.  Mass was celebrated by Fr. Michael Kolodziej, OFM Conv, Minister Provincial of the Saint Anthony of Padua Province.  Fr. Michael also delivered the homily which reflected on the “party” spirit of St. Francis as appropriate to our festive spirit.  Our Gospel reading was the parable of the Prodigal Son to which Fr. Michael likened St. Francis and challenged us to place ourselves in that Gospel as the father, the son, and the jealous brother.  
Concelebrating OFM Conventual Friars were Fr. Gregory Hartmayer (Pastor of St. Philip Benizi), Fr. Mark-Thomas Booth, Fr. Abelardo Huanca and Fr. Linus De Santis.  We were joined by brothers and sisters from neighboring fraternities in and outside of Georgia.  We are deeply grateful for the support of our First Order friars and fellow Secular Franciscans.

Each of our twelve dining tables had a table-scape reflecting a scene in Francis or Clare’s life.  The table-scapes were a collaboration of contributed items from fraternity members and those scavanged (with permission) from around our Franciscan parish.  Fr. Linus spoke at our luncheon and challenged us as the Penitents.  Not the sort of penitence that is inflicted through acts of self-mortification; but, the sort that is found in relationship with our brothers and sisters, “We are in continuing conversion.”  This is exactly what drew me to St. Francis — his love of the Gospel and I saw through his expression of Gospel life – a true model of continuing conversion.

 

Francis prays before the San Damiano cross

Francis prays before the San Damiano cross

Francis preaches to the birds

Francis preaches to the birds

 

Clare allows Francis to cut her beautiful locks of hair

Clare allows Francis to cut her beautiful locks of hair

Candle memorial table for our deceased brothers and sisters

Candle memorial table for our deceased brothers and sisters

 

Is living the Gospel of Jesus in the spirit of St. Francis calling you?

St. Francis Prays With Us – Vision In the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

My Secular Franciscan Fraternity has a Franciscan Crown Rosary prayer apostolate.  Every Wednesday night, a few of us meet after Mass in our Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  The picture of St. Francis on the left hangs on the center of the back wall and faces the Tabernacle.  Last week it started getting dark earlier.  The wall behind the Tabernacle is all glass windows.  The darker it becomes outside, the more vivid the window reflects back into the room.  From my seat, I saw that the photo of St. Francis was reflecting back into the chapel from behind the Tabernacle.  The reflection was off focus and Francis’ eyes appeared closed.  I turned to look over my right shoulder at the wall behind me.  The picture is vivid with piercing eyes that seemed to see through me.  I turned back to the window and the eyes appeared closed.  We continued to recite the Crown Rosary and I began to see Francis’ mouth move.  I looked over my shoulder — the vivid image — back to the window — the muted image.  Throughout the Crown, it seemed Francis was praying with us.  I told my companions once we had completed the Crown.  I mentioned it to a few at our fraternity meeting on Saturday.

 

Today, we celebrated the Feast of the Stigmata.  The chapel was full for the Crown and I sat on the other side of the room.  The same thing happened.  Maybe the image is all in my mind, but, I had the overwhelming feeling that Francis was praying with us.  He is also very happy to be facing the Tabernacle.

More on the Franciscan Crown

Mount La Verna Leaf & The Stigmata of St. Francis

On September 17, Franciscans will celebrate the Feast of the Stigmata.  On my last trip to Italy, our group took a trip to Mount La Verna — the site of St. Francis receiving the stigmata (wounds of Christ.) 

It was October and the leaves were turning.  We walked up a long tree lined road from the parking lot up to the monastery.  I rescued a fallen leaf from the ground and slipped it between the pages of my breviary.  It is still beautiful–it is there in my photo.  If I had not known I was in Italy, I could easily have been on a Fall leaf trip in the Blueridge Mountains of North Georgia.  I remember the air was crisp and we were scheduled for Mass in the church.  Our friar priest offered reconciliation in old fashioned confessionals — a wooden closet.  I thought that would be so cool.  Of course, as I was next, we ran out of time and I was asked to tell Father, “It’s time for Mass.  We have to go now.”  That is my one quirky memory of my visit on Mount La Verna.

 New Advent reports as many as 62 saints and blesseds who have received the stigmata.

Just as you may have thought that all Life of Francis Giotto’s must be in the Basilica of St. Francis, this famous Giotto is at the Louvre in Paris.  According to the Louvre information, “The theme of this altarpiece, painted in 1300 for a church in Pisa, is a well-known episode from the life of St. Francis of Assisi related by his companions: the miracle of the stigmata on Mount La Verna.” read more from Louvre

Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula

As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula, the words of Thomas of Celano account not only the rebuilding of a church.  His words account the simple and devout way in which Francis desired with all his heart to imitate Christ.  The words divinely written in the gospels were Francis’ model for life. 

From The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano

From there he moved to another place, which is called the “Portiuncula,” where there stood a church of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God built in ancient times.  At that time it was deserted and no one was taking care of it.  When the holy man of God saw it so ruined, he was moved by piety because he had a warm devotion to the Mother of all good and he began to stay there continually.  The restoration of that church took place in the third year of his conversion.  At this time he wore a sort of hermit’s habit with a leather belt.  He carried a staff in his hand and wore shoes.

One day the gospel was being read in that church about how the Lord sent out his disciples to preach.  The holy man of God, who was attending there, in order to understand better the words of the gospel, humbly begged the priest after celebrating the solemnities of the Mass to explain the gospel to him.  The priest explained it all to him thoroughly line by line.  When he heard that Christ’s disciples should not possess gold or silver or money, or carry on their journey a wallet or a sack, nor bread nor a staff, not to have shoes nor two tunics, but that they should preach the kingdom of God and penance, the holy man, Francis immediately exulted in the spirit of God.  “This is what I want,” he said, “this is what I seek, this is what I desire with all my heart.” The holy father, overflowing with joy, hastened to implement the words of salvation, and did not delay before he devoutly began to put into effect what he heard. 

Gospel References

Mt 10:9-10; Lk 9:2; Mk 6:12; Lk 1:47