Tag Archives: St Francis of Assisi

The Transitus of Saint Francis of Assisi


Death of St Francis Giotto.jpg

Saint Francis died during the evening of October 3/4. The Church observes the death of Saint Francis on October 4.

As he lay dying, Francis prayed Psalm 142 and during the closing verse he died. This human and liturgical event is solemnly remembered each year by Franciscans to honor their holy
Father’s entrance into the joy of being the Most Blessed Trinity be prayerfully remembering the passage –a transitus– of Francis from life to Life today, October 3.

Alleluia, Alleluia, Francis, poor and humble, enters
heaven rich and is welcomed with celestial hymns. Alleluia.

Psalm 142

I cried to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord did I make my supplication.

I poured out my complaint before him; I showed before him trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then he knew my path.

In the way where I walked have they secretly laid a snare for me.

I looked on right hand, and held, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

I cried to You, O Lord: I said, You are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

Attend to my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.

Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name: the righteous shall compass me about; for You shall deal bountifully with me.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and
will be forever. Amen.

Alleluia, Alleluia, Francis, poor and humble, enters
heaven rich and is welcomed with celestial hymns. Alleluia.

O God, you granted
our blessed Father Francis the reward of everlasting joy: grant that we, who
celebrate the memory of his death, may at last come to the same eternal joy;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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.

Thanks is due to St Francis of Assisi for the Nativity Scene



Just prior to Christmas Pope Benedict XVI reflected on
Saint Francis of Assisi’s gift to the Church in 1223 of the Nativity scene.
Then, as now we see Humility, Jesus, encountering the nihilism of the world, a
people who entranced with violence and anger now faced with the Prince of
Peace, the true king of the universe.


In homes and Churches across the world it is typical to see a Nativity scene prepared. Over the years my family has had a small nativity scene present in our home. It is not a great piece of art and it is not something we’ve done historically, but it is something that is now a regular part of our Christmas decorations. In fact, it is left out throughout the year as I move it around the house as a small reminder of the God becoming one of us.


But let’s not forget that a Nativity scene and Christmas tree is not that old of a tradition for St. Peter’s Square. John Paul II made the Nativity scene in St Peter’s Square a priority in 1982 because he felt the world needed to encounter the image of God made man, Jesus, the Eternal Word of God come into our humanity history. Thinking that the crèche still had relevance for the modern person in 2004, John Paul said of the Nativity scene,

Christmas is upon us and in many places people are setting up a crèche, like here in St Peter’s. Whether big or small, fancy or simple, the crèche is a familiar and expressive representation of Christmas. It is part of our culture and art but a sign of faith in God who, in Bethlehem, ‘made his dwelling among us (Jn 1:14). As I do every year, I shall bless the “Bambinelli,” the statues of Baby Jesus. which will be placed in the crèche on Holy Night, joining Joseph and Mary, who are silent witnesses of a sublime Mystery. With loving eyes, they tell us to wait and pray in order to welcome the Divine Savior who is coming to bring the world the joy of Christmas.


Pope Benedict speaks about Saint Francis’ gift of the Crib

St Francis & crib Giotto.jpg

With St. Francis and his
nativity, the defenseless love of God was shown, his humility and goodness,
which in the incarnation of the Word is manifested to man so as to teach a new
way to live and to love. He saw a little child lying still in a manger; the
child woke up because Francis approached… ‘This vision was not different than
real life, since through the work of his grace acting by way of his holy
servant Francis, the Child Jesus was resurrected in the hearts of many. Thanks
to St. Francis, the Christian people have been able to perceive that at
Christmas, God truly has become Emmanuel, God-with-us, from whom no barrier or
distance can separate us. In this Child, God has come so near to each one of
us, so close, that we can address him with confidence and maintain with him a
trusting relationship of deep affection, as we do with a newborn. In this
Child, in fact, God-Love is manifested: God comes without weapons, without
strength, because he does not aim to conquer, we could say, from without, but
rather wants to be welcomed by man in liberty. God becomes a defenseless Child to
conquer man’s pride, violence and desire to possess. In Jesus, God took up this
poor and defenseless condition to conquer with love and lead us to our true
identity … so that he concedes to our hearts this simplicity that recognizes
the Lord in this Child, precisely as Francis did in Greccio. Then, we too can
experience what […] happened to those present […] ‘Each one returned to his
house filled with an ineffable joy. 


Hymn to Saint Francis of Assisi, friar, deacon, founder

Faithful image of the Savior,
Poor and humble in Christ’s way,
Let us sing of good Saint Francis,
Heartfelt homage let us pay!
Leaving home and wealth behind him,
Francis heard the Savior’s call,
Serving God as poor and needy,
Trusting God to care for all.


St Francis meditating Greco.jpgPreaching Jesus and His mercy,
Francis made the Cross his boast,
Loving Christ within the Manger,
Praised His presence in the Host.
God in mercy gave him brothers
Joined in poverty and grace,
Vowed to serve Christ in obedience,
Freed by chastity’s embrace.

What was hidden from the learned
To the simple has been giv’n:
To the child-like are revealed now
All the truths and joys of heav’n.
Preaching only Jesus’ Gospel,
Francis sang of endless care
Which God, author of creation,
With each person wants to share.

Most high God, all good and mighty,
Father, Son, and Spirit blest,
With Saint Francis we would love You
And with Christ-filled lives attest:
From You, Lord, comes our salvation!
As did Francis, help us live
Lives of peace and true devotion,
That we thanks and praise may give!

87 87 D, suggested tune:  Nettleton
James Michael Thompson, (c) 2009, World Library Publications

Sonnet for Assisi

Blind Francis, waiting to welcome Sister Death,

St Francis4.jpg

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)

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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