Franciscans: October 2009 Archives

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Where else would a seminarian and a priest be doing on a rainy, Thursday afternoon in the middle of prep work for midterm exams & papers? If you guessed wine making then you answered correctly. Taking a break from an afternoon of meetings, paper writing and exam prep, Father Philip (from Burma) and I took a ride over to Saint Leopold Friary to see what the good Franciscan Friars of the Renewal are doing with their wine making project. Brother Giuseppe Maria is spear-heading a Franciscan making effort for two years. This second try seems to be off and running well.

Sacred Scripture supports wine drinking (and wine making, of course). Can one ever think of true Christianity without wine? If you 

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don't believe me look at 1 Timothy 5:23 which says: "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." If you want more holy Scripture, try on Revelation 6:5-6 for size: When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!"

Looking into the spiritual tradition you can see monks and friars making wine and beer for medicinal purposes. Let's just look a the Benedictine tradition for a second. In chapter 40 of his Rule for Monasteries, Saint Benedict doesn't think wine should be served to monks but he concedes that it may be served to the 

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sick and those who can't be persuaded otherwise. Saint Benedict writes: "However, with due regard for the infirmities of the sick, we believe that a half a bottle of wine a day is sufficient for each. And then he says: "We read it that monks should not drink wine at all, but since the monks of our day cannot be convinced of this, let us at least agree to drink moderately and not to the point of excess, for "wine makes even the wise fall away" (Eccles. 19:2). OK, so tradition is a beautiful thing and so let's enjoy a little bit of life. Just for the record, Mount Angel Abbey has a Festival of Arts and Wine.

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So it is no wonder Brother Giuseppe and his Franciscan brothers are making wine. This IS serious work!

Here are some photos of step two in making homemade wine.

Our Lady of Cana, pray for us.

Wayne Hellman & the Pope

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WHellmann & Pope Benedict.jpgIn the mid-1990s when I was in formation at Bellarmine House and a student in St Louis, Missouri, I made the acquaintance of Conventual Franciscan Father Wayne Hellman. Father Wayne was a professor of Theology at Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO. I think he was also the Friar Guardian of the local Conventual Franciscan House (St Bonaventure's Friary) and one of the nation's experts in Saint Bonaventure's theology. 

Wayne was frequently perceived as a zaney Franciscan professor but an incredibly bright and sensitive man, one that you can easily approach. I enjoyed his company. Until reading about his encounter with the young Joseph Ratzinger, didn't I realize the  interest and scope of theological formation and how he started off. The pedigree of theologians is always of interest to me because I am interested in history and trajectory.

My friend David Miros sent me and a few others a striking story published in the Saint Louis University News of Father Wayne's recent encounter with the Holy Father. Why is this striking to me and why should you read the story? Because it is a realization how the Holy Spirit works at the lowest and yet the most human of levels: the heart.

Sonnet for Assisi

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Blind Francis, waiting to welcome Sister Death,

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Worn though he was by ecstacies and fame,

Had heart for tune. With what remained of breath,

He led his friars in canticles. Then came

Brother Elias, scowling, to his side,

Small-souled Elias, crying by book and candle,

This was outrageous! Had the friars no pride?

Music at deathbeds! Ah, the shame! the scandal!

Elias gave him sermons and advice

Instead of song; which simply proves once more

What things are sure this side of paradise:

Death, taxes, and the counsel of the bore.

Though we outwit the tithe, make death our friend,

Bores we have with us even to the end.

(Phyllis McGinley, 1950)

Saint Francis of Assisi

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St Francis in Sacro Speco.jpgLet us rejoice in the Lord, and keep a festival in honor of blessed Francis. Let us join with the angels in joyful praise of the Son of God.

Father, You helped our seraphic father Francis reflect the image of Christ through a life of poverty and humility. May we follow Your Son by walking in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi and by imitating his joyful love.

The Minister General and the General Definitory of the Friars Minor gave his worldwide brothers (and to the rest of us) a letter on the feast of holy father Saint Francis. It can be read Letter for St Francis feast 2009.pdf.

May I invite you to read the homily for this feast of Francis given/posted by my friend and classmate, Capuchin Father Charles, who serves as a curate at the nearby Sacred Heart Church. His perspective into the person Francis is worth the time.

The author of a recent book on Francis speaks on an American Magazine podcast. I don't know the reliability of the author's work, but it sounds interesting, especially in these days of Christian-Islam exchange.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Franciscans category from October 2009.

Franciscans: September 2009 is the previous archive.

Franciscans: November 2009 is the next archive.

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