Tag Archives: Franciscan saints and blesseds

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

St Pio detail.jpg

The Church honors the life and ministry of Saint “Padre” Pio today. Immediate memories of the saint bring me back to my youth when Clara and Joe Tomaso, the backbone of the morning Mass community at Our Lady of Pompeii Church (East Haven, CT), would passionately speak of Pio and gifts. These many years later a devotion to Saint Pio has grown in my heart, and perhaps you can relate. He’s been a true spiritual father.
Earlier this spring I was taken by the recent film on Padre Pio because of the spiritual battle against evil, personally and for the Church. Plus, I’ve always been wonderfully (and sometime fearfully) surprised by his ability to read souls. Imagine going to confession to Padre Pio thinking you’ve made a good examination of conscience and being told that there are even more sins on your soul than you are aware of or even you’ve dismissed as inconsequential. Padre Pio as a servant of the Lord as a priest is keenly aware of how hard our hearts are hardened by sin. NOTHING beats a good and holy confession of sins. Confession of sin is a matter of true humanity and the healthy heart. The mere thought of Padre Pio makes me want to run to confession.
All saints have spiritual fathers who form the heart and mind. Padre Pio was no exception. His spiritual father Father Benedict said this to Pio on the desire for sanctity:
“It is one thing to say ‘I am a saint’ and another to say ‘I want to become a saint.’ You can tell everyone that you want to become a saint without fear of pride because, after all, holiness is nothing else but divine love and the love of God is a sacred, absolute and essential duty ordered to everyone and required from all. Where is pride when protesting to observe a principal and elementary duty? Humility consists in being persuaded that one does not have this love to an eminent degree or even sufficiently, but humility does not prevent one from aspiring to it.”
How much do you think Pio took these words to heart? Probably he lived them with all his strength. What you and me?
Last year’s post –with the Mass prayer– on Saint Pio is still helpful, see it here.
Visit the Padre Pio Foundation of America and the official site for Saint Pio here.

Saint Francis received the stigmata

While the rest of the Church honors the memory of the great Jesuit theologian, bishop and cardinal, Saint Robert Bellarmine, the Franciscans remember Saint Francis of Assisi receiving the gift of the holy stigmata, the 5 visible wounds of Our Lord. The following text is a piece of chant done by the Monks of New Skete (Cambridge, NY):

St Francis receiving the stigmata Fra Angelico.jpg

What gift could you possible offer the Trinity, O holy Father, when you possessed but a tunic, breech and cord? What else could you offer the Lord but the triune gift of yourself: the gold of evangelical poverty, the incense of perfect of 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!
What a terrific piece of liturgical theology to meditate on today. The sentiment is not left to those who live the Franciscan charism but for all of us baptized Christians who take faith in the Word made flesh as salvific.
I am leaving today for Washington and Baltimore to attend the first vow profession of a friend of mine, Gabriel Scasino, as a Conventual Franciscan. Gabriel is from New Haven, went to Notre Dame High School (West Haven, CT) and is now following the Franciscan charism for his salvation in Christ. He will, as the hymn-writer said above, offer himself to God by giving his whole life to the Lord in “the gold of evangelical poverty, the incense of perfect obedience, and the sweet-smelling myrrh of chastity.” Pray for Gabriel and the Conventual Franciscans to follow Christ more closely today and in the years to come.

The Mass prayer for today’s liturgical memorial may be found here.

Saint Maximillian Mary Kolbe

August is truly a Marian month with the recollection and liturgical observances of such feasts Our Lady of the Angels (Aug. 2), the Assumption (Aug. 15) and Our Lady of Czestochowa (Aug. 26). Why does this matter today? Because Saint Maximillian Mary Kolbe was devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and he tirelessly worked to make the Mother of God known to the world. Two of Kolbe’s sentiment are important for us today:

St Maximilian Kolbe3.jpg

1. Let us totally consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate, in order that she may deign to use us as instruments to save and sanctify souls. Let us conquer hearts for her, because wherever she enters, there also penetrates divine grace and from this follows salvation and sanctification (SK, 164).
2. Be calm, love one another, bearing with one another’s defects, so that your interior serenity may draw the souls of the pagans [unbelievers] to the Immaculate. In fact, with the help of the Immaculate, not only can we do all things, but we can also endure all things (SK, 678).
No Christian can claim to be such without following Mary’s lead to Christ!
Saint Maximillian learned from the school of Mary how to be integrated human being, a better priest and to be as Pope John Paul said of him, a martyr of charity.
Raymond Kolbe was born January 8, 1894. In 1910, called by the Holy Spirit, he gained entrance to the Conventual Franciscans where he took the religious name “Maximillian”; besides formation in Poland, he studied in Rome and was ordained priest in 1918. Under the Nazi ideology Kolbe was sent to Auschwitz where he eventually gave up his life for a fellow prisoner on August 14, 1941.
Father Maxmillian’s advanced the Kingdom of God by centering his work around a devotion to the Virgin Mother of God and evangelization projects. In 1917, a year prior to his ordination, he established a Marian movement whose members consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The movement continues today known as the Militia of the Immaculate. By 1927, Kolbe founded the City of the Immaculata, a center of evangelization near Warsaw, where contemporary instruments of communication were utilized to produce and distribute catechetical and devotional materials; the friars had a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a radio program. Records show that in 1939 center numbered 650 friars working to share the gospel with the world.
Historians of theology say that Saint Maximillian Kolbe’s Marian theology pre-dated the Vatican II teachings on the Blessed Virgin, namely, he spoke of Mary as a mediatrix and advocate of all the graces that the Most Holy Trinity uses for our salvation.
 

The post from 2008 can be read here.

Saint Clare of Assisi

St Clare of Assisi3.jpg… for at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, O Father, You mystically espoused Your Son to Your servant Clare, whom Blessed Francis had inspired with the desire of a higher life; You raised her to the summit of seraphic perfection, and chose her to become the mother of a family of virgins … (Franciscan Preface, feast of St Clare)
 

O Light from Light, all splendor’s Source, Whose clear beams shine with heaven’s joy, We give you thanks for Mother Clare, And ev’ry form of praise employ.

Enticed by Francis’ preaching sweet, Christ Crucified became her spouse; She gathered sisters to her side Where poverty would grace their house.

She left behind all earthly gain
That riches true might be her all;
In poverty, obedience,
And chastity she heard Christ’s call.

As mother to her flock, she lived
And modeled Christ to ev’ryone;
In loving service spent herself
In toil from dawn to setting sun.

As she has shown us, Lord, your way,
So give us grace like her to be,
That we may turn from self to you
And in your way be truly free.

Most high, omnipotent, good God,
O Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
With Mother Clare and all your saints
Bring us, your Church, to endless rest.

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, World Library Publications
LM; CREATOR ALME SIDERUM, BRESLAU, O WALY WALY

Saint Bonavenure

San jpgThe feast of the great theologian and Doctor of the Church, Saint Bonaventure, is observed today. A theologian points us toward what is revealed by God, and so a thought of his helpful for us today.

We have been brought to life through Christ. The apostle makes this known in [the] passage when he says: “He has brought us to life together with Christ.” The apostle says this because God brings is to life in Christ, with Christ, through Christ, and according to Christ.

In the first place, God has brought us to life in Christ, because he has shared our mortality of life in his person, according to that passage in John: “As the Father has life in himself, even so he has given to the Son as life in himself” (5:26). Therefore, if the Son has life in himself, while he has taken to himself our mortality, he has joined us to the true and immortal life, and through this he has brought us to life in himself.

He has brought us to life with Christ, while Christ himself, who was life, lived among mortal men… So while he was seen on earth and lived among men (Bar 3:28), God brought us to life with Christ, when he made us live with him.

 He also brought us to life through Christ, when he snatched us from death through his death, according to that passage of the First Epistle of Peter: “Christ also died once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us back to God. Put to death indeed in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit” (3:18). When Christ laid down his life for us, God brought the dead human race to life through him.

Finally, he brought us to life according to Christ when he guided us through the path of life according to his example, according to that passage of the psalmist: “You have known to me the paths of life when he gave us faith, hope, charity, and the gifts of grace. To these he added the commands according to which Christ himself walked and in which the path of life consists. It is according to these that Christ has taught us to walk. God has brought us to life according to Christ because he guides his imitators to life.

Saint Bonaventure (+1274)

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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