Category Archives: Franciscan saints & blesseds

Monasteries are true and proper oases for humanity, Benedict XVI reminds us

In Wednesday’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict told the listeners of the Wednesday General Audience that the monastic life is an essential value for humanity and for the Church, today. The Pope’s emphasis on beauty and silence helps us to appreciate and to listen God’s promptings of the desires of the heart is important. Let’s pay attention to what the Pope has to say. You may also want to watch the Rome Reports news video.

The editor writes, “Monasteries are true and proper oases of the spirit in which God speaks to humanity. The Pope said this to faithful at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10 August, that was held in the courtyard of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters! In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer – like monks and nuns – have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be “filled,” so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb – that is, Sinai – experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward the sky.

Tomorrow, dear friends, we will celebrate the memory of St. Clare of Assisi. So I would like to recall one of these “oases” of the spirit which is particularly dear to the Franciscan family and to all Christians: the little convent of San Damiano, situated just beneath the city of Assisi, among the olive groves that slope towards Santa Maria degli Angeli. In that little church, which Francis restored after his conversion, Chiara and her first companions established their community, living off prayer and little works. They were called the “Poor Sisters,” and their “form of life” was the same as the Frati Minori: “To observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule of St. Clare, I, 2), conserving the union of reciprocal charity (cfr ivi, X, 7) and observing in particular the poverty and humility of Jesus and his Most Holy Mother (cfr, ivi, XII, 13).

Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence Benedict XVI at the General Audience stresses the value of monastic spirituality God speaks in silence and beauty of the place in which the monastic community lives – simple and austere beauty – are like a reflection of the spiritual harmony which the community itself attempts to create. The world is filled with these oases of the spirit, some very ancient, particularly in Europe; others are more recent, while still others have been restored by new communities. Looking at things from a spiritual perspective, these places of the spirit are a load-bearing structure of the world! It is no accident that many people, especially in times of rest, visit these places and stop there for some days: even the soul, thanks be to God, has its needs!  The Pope continues:

Let us remember, therefore, St. Clare. But let you also remember other Saints who remind us of the importance of turning our gaze to the “things of heaven,” like St. Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Carmelite, co-patron of Europe, whom we celebrated yesterday. And today, August 10, we cannot forget St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, with a special wish for Romans who have always venerated him as one of their patrons. Finally, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, that she may teach us to love silence and prayer.

Saint Bonaventure


St Bonaventure.JPGGrant, 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.

Pope Benedict gave these 3 addresses on March 3March 10,  and March 17. Read these Wednesday audience addresses if you are serious about Saint Bonaventure!

My friend Father Charles at A Minor Friar has a brief thought on this great Franciscan friar, doctor, bishop of the Church.

Saint Anthony of Padua & the blessing of lilies

Vision of St Anthony VCarducho.jpgThe great saint from Lisbon and Padua, Anthony, was an outstanding preacher and intercessor. He was –and continues to be– a terrific guide to a fuller life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacrament of the Church. There is no shortage of the faithful who visit a shrine of Saint Anthony to ask for his help in a particular need. In my church I am amazed of people’s tender love for Anthony today. The famous Paduan was known for his holy life, his knowledge of sacred Scripture and Theology.

Anthony’s first vocation was lived with the Augustinian Canons and after seeing the bodies of the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order brought through Portugal, he was moved to join the Friars in their mission of preaching for the salvation of souls, especially among the Muslims.

Here’s the traditional blessing of lilies for the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua.

The true story of St Padre Pio: Obedientia et Pax

Oboedientia et Pax.jpg

St Padre Pio is a much beloved, internationally famous and yet not entirely known. That is, until now with Stefano Campanella’s new published book, Oboedientia et Pax: The True Story of a False Prosecution.
The author researches the history of the rocky relationship the Capuchin saint Padre Pio had with the blessed Pope John XXIII. Much misinformation was rampant that soured the Pope’s and other’s, view of Saint Pio who lived with the sacred Stigmata.
Both are icons of holiness and priesthood but there some fragility in human relations…
The author speaks to his work here.

Blessed John of Parma

Blessed John of Parma.jpgBlessed John of Parma (1209-1289) was born at Parma. He studied and taught philosophy and known to be a devoted man to the Lord. Sensing the Lord’s call to serve Him more intensely, John entered the newly founded Friars Minor, the group that followed Saint Francis of Assisi. Completing his theological studies John was ordained priest and taught theology at Bologna, Naples and eventually in Rome. Father John was sent to the Council of Lyons in 1245.

In 1247, Father John was elected the 7th minister general of the Franciscans, an election presided over by Pope Innocent IV, who thought very highly of Father John. John set in motion several initiatives to keep the friars focussed on the mission of Francis and his spirit looking keenly on poverty and humility as hallmarks of the Franciscan way of living the Gospel.
Father John was sent as a papal legate to Constantinople in an attempt healed the schism between Catholics and the Greek Orthodox. He had limited success.
Our peripatetic friar died on March 19, 1289 and his feast is kept on March 20. Father John was beatified in 1777.
More on Blessed John of Parma can be read here.

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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