Category Archives: Franciscan saints & blesseds

Saint Francis of Assisi

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What gift could you possibly offer the Trinity, O holy Father,
when you possessed but a tunic, breeches, and cord?
What else could you offer the Lord but the triune gift of yourself:
The gold of evangelical poverty,
the incense of perfect obedience,
and the sweet-smelling myrrh of chastity.
In return, out of love for all mankind,
the Lord Christ granted you the grace
to know His saving Passion in your own flesh.
Beg Him to save our souls.

Saint Bonaventure

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Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity.

Ask my parents about the number of books I have. They’d say, “Too many.” But they also say that I don’t easily with them. However, I do weed out some of the books I deem useless to me and donate them to a monastery or a group of Benedictine sisters in outside of Pittsburgh who collect books for new monasteries in the developing world. I do try to act charitably.

A Capuchin friar friend of mine wrote a piece on his blog about his reluctance to lend books. I can relate. He found this paragraph of Saint Bonaventure’s that seems to capture the feelings of anyone who has ever been reluctant to lend a book:

[T]hose who are most importunate in asking for them are the slowest to return them; books return torn and dirty; he to whom they are lent, lends them to another without your permission, and this other sometimes to a third, and this third not knowing by now who owns the book is not in a position to give it back; sometimes again he to whom a book is lent leaves the place and is then too far away to bring it back; and if he manages to find someone to bring it back for him, this someone wants to read it before giving it back, or lends it, and ends up by denying that he ever had it; finally if a book is lent to one man others are angry that it is not lent to them too, so that one is forced to do without it oneself while waiting for it to come back dirty, or be lost altogether.

There’s still much to learn in the spiritual life when you take seriously the prayer of the Church (noted above), especially regarding the charity one ought to have. I fail at being charitable, a sin I confess often; but I keep trying to learn from the saints like Friar Bonaventure.

Some prior posts on Saint Bonaventure may be found herehere and here.

(Bonaventure, Determinationes quaestionum, II, 21, as quoted in Etienne Gilson, The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure, trans. Dom Illtyd Trethowan, 61-62.)

Saint Anthony of Padua


St Anthony of Padua with bk.jpgAlmighty ever-living God, who gave Saint Anthony of Padua to your people as an outstanding preacher and an intercessor in their need, grant that, with his assistance, as we follow the teachings of the Christian life, we may know your help in every trial.

One of the beautiful things that happened today was the reception of First Holy Communion of Giovannimaria Rainaldi, 6, who is living with neuroblastoma. From Rome, Italy, he’s been here seeking treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Giovannimaria has had a setback and needs our fraternal and prayerful support.

Be sure to read the select for Saint Anthony in the Office of Readings. As usual, it’s good for meditation.

Saint Anthony help us to find Christ, and stick with Him. Pray for us.

Saint Clare of Assisi continues to inspire countless

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The world’s Catholics -not merely the Franciscans–are celebrating “Clarian Year,” to observe the eighth centenary of the conversion and consecration of Saint Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) which tradition tells us took place on Palm Sunday 1211 or 1212. Pope Benedict XVI wrote to Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino to express his own affection for the continued witness of Saint Clare.

Saint Clare’s history “also speaks to our generation, and has a particular fascination for the young. All Christian life, and thus also consecrated life is the fruit of the Paschal Mystery and of our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. In the Palm Sunday liturgy pain and glory come together, a theme which will be developed over the following days through the dark night of the Passion up to the ultimate light of Easter. With her choice Clare relived this mystery.

At its most profound level, Clare’s ‘conversion’ is a conversion of love. No longer would she have the refined dress of the Assisan aristocracy, but an elegance of soul expressed  in praise of God and giving of self. Day by day a fraternity came into being within the confines of the monastery of San Damiano, at the school of the Eucharistic Christ, … a fraternity regulated by love of God and prayer, by concern for others and service. It was in this context of profound faith and great humanity that Clare came to interpret the Franciscan ideal, imploring the ‘privilege’ of poverty and renouncing even the shared possession of material goods, something which left even the Supreme Pontiff perplexed, until in the end he too surrendered to the heroism of her sanctity.

How can we not present St. Clare, and St. Francis, to the young people of today? The time dividing us from these two saints has not lessened their allure. Quite the contrary, their contemporary importance is evident in the face of the illusions and delusions which often mark the life of modern youth. Never has a time caused the young to dream so much, with the multiple attractions of a life in which everything seems possible and permissible. And yet, how much dissatisfaction exists, how many times the search for happiness and self realisation follows paths which lead to artificial paradises such as those of drugs and unbridled sensuality. And the current situation, with the difficulty of finding dignified work and forming a united and happy family, adds further clouds to the horizon.

Yet there is no lack of young people who, even in our own times, accept the invitation to entrust themselves to Christ and to face the journey of life courageously, responsibly and hopefully, choosing even to leave everything to follow Him and serve their brethren. The story of Clare, with that of Francis, is an invitation to reflect upon the meaning of life and to seek the secret of true joy in God. It is concrete proof that those who accomplish the will of God and trust in Him not only lose nothing, but discover the real treasure which gives meaning to everything.

Palm Sunday was not an ordinary day for Clare. The founder of the Poor Clares followed Saint Francis’ advice that she attend Palm Sunday Mass dressed in all her finery. Having received the palm from the hands of the bishop as a pledge of her being united to Christ crucified, she then ran from her parents’ house goint to the Porziuncola where Francis and the other friars were waiting. At that point Clare renounced the world, cut her hair and she adopted the black veil and sandals. This became the first habit of the Poor Clares.

Saint Paul Miki and companions



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O God, strength of all the Saints, who through the Cross were pleased to call the Martyrs Saint Paul Miki and companions to life, grant, we pray, that by their intercession we may hold with courage even until death to the faith that we profess.

The question of who was Saint Paul Miki is dealt with on Rome Reports today. The video gives a brief intro the life of the martyr and his companions.

From the cross, Paul said: “The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from
the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true
Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the
doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God
it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before
I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask
Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example I
forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and
I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.”

The 2011 post on Saint Paul Miki and his companions

The 2010 post on Nagasaki martyrs Paul Mike, et al.

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]yahoo.com.
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