Monday, September 23, 2013

St. Francis Parish Magazine: St. Francis Day 2013

ST. Francis Parish Magazine
St. Francis Day 2013

Thanks and More Thanks

It is hard to imagine a more wonderful and perfect celebration of my twenty years at St. Francis than the one we had last Sunday. Now I shall have to try to live up to all the marvelous things that were said about me. But you all will have to figure out how to have a bigger and better party on St. Francis Day. I have no fears in that department! I cannot begin to thank folks by name and in any case there is not a single person in the parish who did not contribute to the festivity. However, I did leave one person out in my remarks and that is Beverly. (No, she did not hit me with a rolling pin, when I got home.) She was the one who so many years ago first suggested that I ought to become a priest. Despite that obvious error in judgment, she has supported my vocation, kept me from making even more stupid mistakes than I have made, pushed me when I needed to be pushed and restrained me I needed to be restrained and loved me much more than I deserve to be loved. Debts, debts, debts, how they pile up! Thank you all.  Fr.  Allen

Seraphic Love

I have on every St. Francis Day been intrigued by the Proper Preface of St. Francis. (The Preface is the bit after “Lift up your hearts” and before the Eucharistic Prayer.) The following is my translation of the Latin because I write this without an English Missal close at hand: 

It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Who by thy most high goodness and mercy hath exalted thy servant the venerable confessor blessed Francis to the merits and virtues of thy saints and internally by the Holy
Spirit hath enkindled his mind with the most ardent seraphic love and externally hath marked  his body with the Sacred Stigmata, the sign of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ.

The phrase that always makes me wonder is ‘seraphic love.’

St. Bonaventure, the seventh General Minister of the Franciscans, scholastic theologian and biographer of St. Francis (not to mention appointed  to the post of Archbishop of York, a position he declined), was called the Seraphic Doctor. But why this term in reference to Francis?

When I finally decided to find out, the Franciscan publication St. Anthony’s Messenger gave this explanation:

“The Sixth-century writer Dionysius the Areopagite drew on different scriptural texts to list nine choirs of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. First in this hierarchy of angels are the Seraphim. An individual member of this group is called a Seraph.

The Seraphim are mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7. There they stand before the throne of God praising him and crying out, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts." And it is a Seraph who touches the lips of Isaiah with a live coal, cleansing him from sin. Associated with the Seraphim is their burning love for God.

It is a Seraph who appears in the story of how Francis of Assisi received the stigmata in his body. Omer Englebert, drawing on St. Bonaventure, describes the event. Francis prayed to experience the pains of Christ’s passion and to feel the same love that made Christ sacrifice himself for us.

Then a seraph with six wings of flame came from heaven. He bore the likeness of a man nailed to a cross. Upon Francis’ body he imprinted the stigmata.

Because of this experience and his burning love of God, Francis is often called the Seraphic Saint and some parishes and institutions are named St. Francis Seraph”.

No surprise that really. For St. Francis the man and St. Francis the parish it always comes back to the Cross of Jesus. The great Crucifix over the altar grabs our attention, when we enter the church and we hope it also grabs our hearts, as it surely grabbed the body and heart of Francis.
Fr. Allen

In one of the previous issues of the Parish Magazine I reproduced a review of the new biography of St. Francis by Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP. I follow up with this article about the St. Francis we never knew based on the same biography. Fr. A

By Woodeene Koenig-Bricker

The image we have of St. Francis as the happy, holy troubadour of God from the Franco Zeffirelli movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” isn’t quite true to the historical Francis, said Father Augustine Thompson, OP, Ph.D., author of a new and acclaimed biography called “Francis of Assisi” (Cornell University Press, 2012). 

Over the years, the stories about Francis have made him seem perfect, said Father Augustine. People “put things into his mouth — things he never said — and they have become
conventional wisdom.

“If you filter those out,” he continued, “you see he goes through dark nights of the soul, when he was feeling inadequate. [He is] not the
Birdbath saint.”
Father Augustine spent several years researching the historical Francis.
“For the first time in 25 years as a practicing historian, I got to do what historians always dream of doing: Be a detective. Especially for medievalists, it’s very rare you have a bunch of evidence like a detective has and you get to put together what lies behind the evidence.
“I had a pile of carefully prepared evidence so  I could sit down and try and figure out what I thought happened,” he said. “It was really like
being Agatha Christie.”

In his work, Father Augustine uncovered several little-known facts, as well as numerous misconceptions, about Francis. Some of these include:

1. Francis’ father wasn’t a wicked, hateful man.

Pietro de Bernardone, his wife Pica and their other son, Angelo, weren’t villains. Thompson explains that in the earliest accounts of their relationship, the family didn’t realize they had a saint in their midst and were confused and hurt by his actions. Originally, his father is presented as someone who suffered because he didn’t understand his son.  However, shortly after Francis’ death, the relationship was rewritten so that his father became a totally evil money- grubber, probably to highlight Francis’
radical decisions.

2. Francis’ great conversion didn’t happen when he stripped naked and
renounced his family fortune.

The iconic scene with the bishop had more to do with inheritance law than with holiness, said Father Augustine. It was working among lepers in a leprosarium on the outskirts of Assisi, he said, that “would always be for Francis the core of his religious experience.”
Francis’ “experience with the lepers had nothing to do with choices between wealth and poverty, knightly pride and humility, or even doing service instead of conducting business. It was a dramatic personal orientation that
brought forth spiritual fruit.”

3. He probably suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Francis tried his hand at being a soldier when, at age 20, he was part of a military expedition against a neighboring state. He was taken prisoner and spent a year as a captive. The experiences on the battlefield seemed to have marked him for the rest of his life.
“He was a very fragile psyche,” said Father Augustine, “who carried with him a lot of demons.“He struggled with the horrors of the battles. It looks like post-traumatic stress disorder, and [while I] don’t like doing psychology on someone who lived 800 years ago, he was clearly traumatized by his time in
the service.”

4. Francis was not a rebel against the
institutional church.

“The one thing people need to remember is Francis was a devout, committed 13th-century Catholic,” said Father Augustine. “If you read modern spiritual writers on Francis, he is always a model for confronting hypocrisy in institutions. My answer to that is a sigh. [The image of] Francis at war with the institutional church is . . . completely anachronistic.”

5. Many of the stories we associate with
Francis are legends.

Tales such as the wolf of Gubbio and the talking crucifix were added by early hagiographers, said Father Augustine. “What a hagiographer does is remodel the story to give a theological message,” he explained. “The job of the hagiographer is not to tell a history. They are to tell you the religious meaning of the person. . . . One of the things they do is tell us that this person is a saint, so they conform the person to the canons of what an age thinks a
saint should be like.”

6. Francis didn’t write the “Peace Prayer
of St. Francis.”

“I have often been astonished at how unhappy students can be when they encounter a different Francis from the one they expect. Oddly enough, the most painful moment usually comes when they discover that St. Francis did not write the ‘Peace Prayer of Saint Francis.’

“The ‘Peace Prayer’ is modern and anonymous, originally written in French, and dates to about 1912, when it was published in a minor French spiritual magazine, La Clochette,” said Father Augustine.

So after the stories and misconceptions have been stripped away, what is left of Francis for
us today?

The essential and radical love of God that
Francis embodies.

“When Francis is confronted with unexpected things, he reconciles himself to them and moves forward,” said Father Augustine, “spontaneously seeking to do God’s will.”
It is “his willingness to follow wherever God leads him, even when it’s not something he expected, that kind of spontaneous seeking to do God’s will,” that is the theme of his life.
“It’s a beautiful theme,” concluded Father Augustine.

St. Francis and the Liturgy
Sometimes people accuse us around here of ‘copying everything Roman’. That is not true but, if it were true, it would be very much in line with St. Francis. The liturgy of the city of Rome displaced local rites and was spread across Europe largely by Franciscans who were following the counsel of Francis.

From Fr. John Todd Zuhlsdorf

MYTH: Francis hated the “triumphalism” of the Roman Liturgy. He wanted Mass celebrated in barns, the Sacred Species held in shoe boxes or recycled bottles. And he couldn’t stand the “ritualism” of liturgical norms and devotional practices (and shall we mention his murky understanding of the doctrine on the Eucharist?):

Epistola ad custodes
To all the custodians of the Friars Minor to whom this letter shall come, Brother Francis, your servant and little one in the Lord God, greetings with new signs of heaven and earth which are great and most excellent before God and are considered least of all by many religious and by other men.

I beg you more than if it were a question of myself that, when it is becoming and you will deem it convenient, you humbly beseech the clerics to venerate above all the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Name and written words which sanctify the body. They ought to hold the chalices, corporals, ornaments of the altar, and all that pertain to the Sacrifice as precious. And if the most holy Body of the Lord is left very poorly in any place, let It be moved by them to a precious place, according to the command of the Church and let It be carried with great veneration and administered to others with discretion. The Names also and written words of the Lord, In whatever unclean place they may be found, let them be collected, and then they must be put in a proper place. And in every time you preach, admonish the people about penance and that no one can be saved except he that receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord. And whenever It is being sacrificed by the priest on the altar and It is being carried to any place, let all the people give praise, honor, and glory to the Lord God Living and True on their bended knees. And let His praise be announced and preached to all peoples so that at every hour and when the bells are rung praise and thanks shall always be given to the Almighty God by all the people through the whole earth.

The Devotion of St. Francis to Our Lady
 From an anonymous source

For St. Francis the Blessed Virgin Mary was Mother, Advocate and Queen.  St. Bonaventure bears witness that St. Francis honored Her as Mother, when he says:  "He loved with an unspeakable affection the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, forasmuch as that She had made the Lord of glory our Brother, and that through Her we have obtained mercy." (Leg. Mai. IX,3)  For who can make the Lord our Brother, if She not also be our Mother?  And again, this Doctor of the Church recounts that even before his perfect conversion the Seraphic Father had devotion for Her as Queen, for speaking of the Portiuncula, he says:  "When the man of God beheld it thus abandoned, by reason of the ardent devotion that he had toward the Sovereign Lady of the world, he took up abode
there, that he might diligently labor to repair it." (Leg. Mai II,8) 

St. Bonaventure writes in the first place, "In Her, after Christ, he put his chief trust, making Her his own patron and that of his Brethren ...",

St. Bonaventure testifies: "and by the merits of the Mother of Mercy, he did himself conceive and give birth unto the spirit of Gospel truth. For while on a day he was devoutly hearing the Mass of the Apostles, that Gospel was read aloud wherein Christ gave unto His disciples that were sent forth to preach the Gospel pattern of life, to wit, that they should possess neither gold, nor silver, nor money in their purses, nor scrip for their journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves. Hearing this, and understanding it, and committing it to memory, the lover of Apostolic poverty was at once filled with joy unspeakable. 'This,' said he, 'is what I desire, yea, this is what I long for with my whole heart.'" (Leg. Mai. III,1)

October 4th

St. Francis of Assisi

Low Mass according to the Extraordinary Form 6:45 AM

October 6th 2013

St. Francis of Assisi

Feast of Title and Dedication

Low Mass 8:00 AM

Solemn High Mass 10:15 AM

Followed by Pot Luck Meal

All are welcome.

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