Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Saint October 5 : St. Faustina Kowalska : Apostle of Divine #Mercy and Patron of World Youth Day

1905 - 1938

Also known as: Elena Kowalska; Faustina Kowalska; Helena Kowalska; Maria Faustina Kowalska; Sister Faustina

Saints Day: October 5
Helena Kowalska was born as the third of ten children on the 25th of August 1905 in a small Polish village called Glogowiec. Her parents were Stanilaus and Marianne Kowalski. They were poor, but happy, because they were with God. At home, prayer was connected with work in harmonious way. Her very real feelings for the Lord were very noticeable just like her care for the poor, even when she was a little girl. She started to go to school when she was twelve and when she was sixteen she went into service in order to earn money for her maintenance and to help her parents.
When she was seventeen years old, she recognized her destiny: she wanted to sacrifice her life for service for God in a convent. As a young girl, she preferred to spend all her free time at the Blessed Sacrament instead of with her friends. Being on service, she reserved for herself a possibility to attend in Holy Mass every day and to visit the persons who were sick or dying.
On 1st August 1925, Helena Kowalska entered the Congregation of Our Blessed Lady of Mercy in Warsaw, at 3/9 ┼╗ytnia Street. This Congregation was founded in Poland by Teresa Potacka in 1862, for breeding the girls and women who needed deep moral change. In an atmosphere of separation from influences of the world, through prayer and work, the Sisters’ foster-children were rebuilding a sensation of own dignity, they studied a profession in order they could come back to life in the society and to earn money for their maintenance in dignified manner.
In 1926, during the ceremony of the taking of the veil, Helena Kowalska received the name: Sister Maria Faustina, and now she is known in the whole world under this name. In 1928 she took her first vows: of chastity, poverty and obedience, which she repeated during 5 years in order to take perpetual vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.
Sister Faustina worked in several different homes of the convent, doing jobs such as a kitchen-help, a gardener and a porter. Outwardly she did not differ from her fellow nuns, she was faithful to the rule of the religious order, in which she saw the will of God, she was full of trust to God and an active love of a neighbour. Under commonness, an intense religious life was hidden that impressed many people. Her contact with the supernatural world – meetings with the Lord Jesus, the Holy Mother, the angels, Saints, the souls who were in purgatory – was such real, simply and ordinary as the world perceived by senses. Already, during her firsts weeks in the Congregation, she had a vision of purgatory, then a vision of Heaven and hell. She received many, extraordinary graces, like apparitions, a gift of the ability of the reading in souls of other people, bi-location (it is an ability to be in two places at the same time), hidden stigmata, or so called mystical engagement and marriage with Jesus. The theologians include her into a circle of the most distinguished mystics in the history of the Church. In her spiritual “Diary”, which she wrote on the order of the Lord Jesus, on order of the priests-confessors and because the superiors agreed, she described not only extraordinary meetings with supernatural reality, but also her grey commonplaceness, which became beautiful and rich because of the fact that it was experienced with union with God.
The God picked out her as a secretary and apostle of the Divine Mercy. Through her, He delivered to the Church and the world, great message about the merciful love of God to every person. This great prophetic mission of Saint Faustina started in Plock, Poland on the 22nd February 1931. “When I was in my cell in the evening – she wrote in “Diary” - I saw Jesus dressed in a white robe. A hand was raised up to blessing, and the second hand touched His robe at the level of His heart. From His robe, which was slightly opened, two beautiful rays of light were visible, one was red and the other pale. Silently, I looked at THE LORD. My soul was afraid and yet full of joy. After a very short time, Our Saviour said to me: “Make a statue of Me, exactly as you see Me now, and under this statue you should place the words: 'Jesus, I trust You!' I want this statue to be worshipped, firstly in your chapel and then throughout the world. I promise that a soul who worships this picture, will not die. I promise also that already here, on the Earth the victory over enemies, and especially during the hour of death. I, personally will protect her as My glory” (Diary 47). Sister Faustina said about this to her confessor and he let her to paint this picture in her soul. But when she was going away from a confessional, the Lord Jesus said: “My picture is already in your soul. I desire that a feast of the Mercy will be. I want that this picture which you will paint by brush, was solemnly consecrated during the first Sunday after the Easter, this Sunday will be the feast of Divine Mercy.” (Diary 49). Sister Faustina did not know to paint, other sisters also did not, so a painting of the picture was delaying. And the Lord Jesus assured Sister Faustina that it was very important matter. “You need to know about it – said to her - that if you neglect the matter of painting this picture and the whole work of mercy, you will answer for a large number of souls during the day of the Judgment” (Diary 154).
In such situation Sister Faustina asked God for help. At first, she asked for it that a priest in the name of the Church confirmed that requests which she had heard from Jesus, were really from the God, and they were not any illusion. Such confirmation she received during retreats in 1932, and then a promise of a priest who would help her to fulfil the wishes of the Lord Jesus. The name of the priest was Michal Sopocko, whom Saint Faustina met in Wilno (Vilnius). He after examination that the matter came from God, engaged himself in an realisation of the mission, which mission the Lord Jesus delivered to Saint Faustina. At first, he arranged to do a painting of Merciful Jesus, by painter Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, who lived in the same tenement-house. Sister Faustina gave advices to the painter and asked the Lord Jesus for explanations concerning meaning of some elements of the picture, which her confessor did not understand.  The Lord Jesus said at this moment that His glance from this picture was like His glance from the cross, that in inscription on the picture should be: “Jesus, I trust You” and the rays: pale and red mean water and blood. “These two rays – explained the Lord Jesus – mean blood and water. The pale ray means water, which clears souls; the red ray means blood, which is the life of souls. These two rays went out from the entrails of My mercy at that time, when My dying heart was opened by a spear on the cross. These rays protect souls from My Father’s angry. Happy is the person, who will live in their shadow, because the just God’s hand will not reach him. I desire that the first Sunday after the Easter, be the feast of Mercy”. (Diary 299).
When the painting was painted, Sister Faustina cried, because Jesus on this picture was not so beautiful as she had seen Him. But Jesus answered that not in the beauty of paint is power of this picture, but in His grace.    
In the first Sunday after the Easter, in the planned feast of Mercy, the picture of Merciful Jesus was for the first time shown publicly in the Sanctuary of the Holy Mother of Mercy in Ostra Brama. Priest Michal Sopocko preached about Divine Mercy and Sister Faustina saw how many people received graces. When she came back from this feast to the convent, she wrote: “The whole multitude of devils blocked my way, who threatened me with terrible tortures – and it could be heard voices: She took away from us everything, what we worked during so many years. – When I asked them: From where there are such multitude of you? – These malicious shapes answered to me: From hearts of people, do not torment us. Seeing their terrible hatred for me, in this moment I asked the Guardian Angel for help. – And in one moment a bright and radiant shape of the Guardian Angel stood, who said to me: Do not be afraid, My Lord’s betrothed, these ghosts will not do anything wrong to you without His permission. These wrong ghosts disappeared immediately and the faithful Guardian Angel accompanied me in visible way to home.” (Diary 418-419).     
In Wilno (Vilnius) the Lord Jesus dictated prayer to Saint Faustina. We know this prayer as Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It was on 13-14 September 1935. Sister Faustina saw an angel who was to punish the Earth for sins. When she saw this sign of God’ anger, she started to ask the angel to suspend for a few minutes and the world will do penance. However, when she stood in front of the majesty of the Holy Trinity, she did not have courage to repeat this imploration. Only, when she felt the Lord Jesus’ power of grace, she started to pray by words which she heard internal and they were words of the Chaplet and she saw that punishment of the Earth was pushed away. On the second day, the Lord Jesus dictated her once again this prayer: At the beginning you will say 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary and 1 the Apostles’ Creed and next, on the beads of Our Father you will say following words: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; on the Hail Mary beads you will say: For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. At the end you will say 3 times these words: Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. (Diary 474). During the next apparitions, the Lord Jesus delivered promises which He connected to saying this prayer. He said that by saying this Chaplet, it was possible to ask everything what was concordant with God’ will and He promised also a grace of happy and peaceful death. This grace can receive only these people who will say this chaplet with trust and also dying people, next to whom other people will say this chaplet. “Even if a sinner was the most obdurate – said the Lord Jesus – if he only once will say this chaplet, he will attaine the grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world will get to know My mercy. I desire to give inconceivable graces to souls who trust My mercy”. (Diary 687).    
Also in Wilno (Vilnius) the Lord Jesus returned to the matter of institution of the feast of Divine Mercy, saying the great promises. “during this day – the Lord Jesus was saying – the entrails of My mercy are opened, I pour out the whole sea of graces for a soul who will approach to a source of My mercy. A soul who will confess and receive the Holy communion, will obtain the complete remission of sins and punishments. During this day, all Divine sluices are opened, through which flow graces; let any soul does not be afraid to approach to Me, even if the sins of this soul were like purple”. (Diary 699). As a preparation to this feast is novena, which we do by saying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, during 9 days, beginning on the Good Friday. In order to benefit from the great graces, one needs to be after well done confession, without any attachment to sin, and should receive the Holy Communion during this day and should experience this feast in the spirit of trust to God (with desire of fulfilling His will) and in the spirit of mercy to the neighbours.
In 1935 Sister Faustina heard also the Lord Jesus’ wish connected to an establishment of such congregation, which will proclaim and obtain by prayer, the mercy for the whole world. At the beginning, she was thinking that she needed to set up only one contemplative religious order, but the Lord Jesus gradually got her to know that it did not concern to only one congregation, but it concerned to great work in the Church, which will be done by many, men’s and women’s congregations, the enclosed religious orders and the active religious orders and by the great number of people living in the whole world. All of them will proclaim merciful God’s love through a testimony of life in the spirit of trust to God and an active love of a neighbour, through acts, words and prayer. Each – as wrote Sister Faustina – can belong to this “congregation” and make the merciful God’s love present in the world.
The basic way of proclaiming the messages of Mercy and the whole devotion to Divine Mercy is the attitude of trust in God, it means- fulfilling His will contained in the ten commandments, the duties of the position, the advices and blessings said in the Gospels or the recognized inspirations of Holy Spirit and an active love of a neighbour. “If I demand through you from people an adoration of Divine Mercy – the Lord Jesus was saying to Sister Faustina – it is you who first should be characterised by trust in My mercy. I demand from you the acts of mercy which originate from love to Me. You need to show mercy always and everywhere to the neighbours, you can not retire from it nor excuse yourself from it, nor exculpate. I am telling you three ways of making mercy to the neighbours: the first – acts, the second – word, the third – prayer; in these three steps, the fullness of mercy is concluded and it is the irrefutable proof of love of Me”. (Diary 742).  The next way of proclaiming the messages of Mercy is an act, then a word and prayer. The task of proclaiming the messages of Mercy was gifted a great promise by the Lord Jesus. “souls who propagate the worship of My mercy – He said – I protect them through the whole life, as a tender mother her new-born baby and during the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but I will be the merciful Redeemer.” (Diary 1075). The Lord Jesus gave a special promise to the priests, as He said that when they would say about the merciful God’s love to a person, He would cause that the souls of the obdurate sinners would crush under their words, coming back to life in friendship with Him.
The Hour of Mercy – 15.00. In 1936 Sister Faustina came back to Krakow to spend there the last years of her life. The Lord Jesus appeared to her a next new form of worship of Divine Mercy, which we call the Hour of Mercy. It does not mean that we need to pray during the whole hour, but we need to honour the moment of the Lord Jesus’ death on the cross. The Lord Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “I remind you, My daughter that how many times you will hear as a clock repeats the third hour, dip the whole yourself in My mercy, admiring and praising it; call its omnipotence for the whole world, and especially for the poor sinners, because in this moment mercy is opened broadly for every soul. During this hour you will obtain by prayer everything for yourself and for others; at this hour, the grace for the whole world happened – mercy won justice. My daughter, try to do the way of cross, if your duty will allow you to do it; if you can not do the way of cross, go at least to a chapel for a few minutes and worship My heart, which is full of mercy in the Most Holy Sacrament; and if you can not go to the chapel, sunk in prayer there where you are through few minutes”. (Diary 1572). Prayer at that time (15.00) should be directed to the Lord Jesus and in implorations we need to appeal to the value and merits of His sorrowful Passion. It is the privileged time of each day, during which, by connecting with the Lord Jesus dying on the cross, we can obtain by prayer everything if it is concordant with God’s will and if we ask for it with trust, attaching to prayer the acts of mercy done for our neighbours.                    
The Lord Jesus not only delivered the new forms of worship of Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina (a picture with inscription: Jesus, I trust You, the Feast of Mercy, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Hour of Mercy, a propagation of worship of Mercy) to which He attached the great promises, under the condition of solicitude for attitude of trust (performing the God’s will) and the active love of a neighbour, but also He allowed to know the depth of mystery of the Divine Mercy. Her “Diary” was called by Pope John Paul II: a “Gospel of mercy written in XX century”, as the message is such wonderful way shows the merciful love of God for a person during the whole perspective of the history of the world: since the moment of creating, through incarnation and birth of God’s Son, His life and teaching, Passion, death and Resurrection by the union of the Church, who is the Mystical Body of Christ and invitation to the Glory of Heaven. A cognition of the mystery of Divine Mercy, led Saint Faustina to a discovery of God in her own soul. That is why, she did not look for a God somewhere far, but in the depth of her heart, in order to experience together with Him her commonplaceness. She wrote that she went with Jesus to work, she took a rest with Him, she prayed with Him and suffered with Him. Jesus always kept her company and from a human soul He was driven out only by a mortal sin. “Diary” of Saint Faustina allows to know better the true face of the God and the true faith of a person, created from love and destined to the union of life with God already here on the Earth and through the whole eternity.      
Sister Faustina was also a faithful daughter of the Holy Mother of Mercy. Mary was for her not only the Mother of God’s Son, but also her Mother and the Mistress of spiritual life. She taught her a contemplation of God in her own soul, an attitude of trust in relation to Him, it means- fulfilling His will in a perfect way, cherishing the cross, a love of a neighbour and also a practise of virtues which condition such attitude. A vision of the Holy Mother and Her instructions harmonized with the mission, which the Lord Jesus gave to Saint Faustina. The Most Holy Mother enlightened her, how a great role in God’s plans, the messages of Mercy will play, messages which she received from the Lord Jesus. Holy Mother strengthened her in fulfilling her mission. She said to Sister Faustina: “I gave the Redeemer for the world and you are to say to the world about His great mercy and to prepare the world for His repeated (91) coming, who will come not as the merciful Redeemer, but as just the Judge. O, this day is terrible. It is decided the day of justice, the day of God’s anger, the angels tremble before of this day. Say to souls about this great mercy, by the time of mercy; if you are silent now, you will answer during that terrible day for a great number of souls. Do not be afraid of anything, be faithful by the end, I sympathize with you”. (Diary 635).
In February 1938, several months before her death, Sister Faustina had a vision of The Blessed Virgin Mary: “In a great light, I saw the Holy Mother in white dress, with a golden belt, the stars, also golden ones were on the whole Her garment and the sleeves were covered with gold. The overcoat was sapphire, lightly flung, on the head She had flung a transparent veil, hair were flowing, beautifully arranged and a crown of gold, which had small crosses at the ends. On the left hand She held the Infant Jesus. Such Holy Mother I did not see yet. Suddenly, she looked at me graciously and said:
I am the Priests’ Mother
Then She laid Her child on the ground, raised her right hand to Heaven and said:
God, Bless Poland, bless the priests
And She said again to me:
Tell to the priests what you have just seen.
decided to say about it, at the first opportunity of seeing with a father, but I personally can not understand this vision”. (Diary 1585). 
Sister Faustina in her life left to us the pattern of complete trust to God, about whom she talked that He was Love and Mercy. When she suffered very much, she came in a front of the tabernacle and said: “The Lord, even if you kill me, I will trust You”. In another place she wrote that even if the earth would disappeared under her foot, she will not stop trust Him, because she understood that He was only kindness. She admired of God’s merciful love so much that she wanted to change her life into mercy. During prayer she asked the Lord Jesus to change her eyes, ears, tongue, hands, legs and the first of all the heart in such way, as they could render Him love in other person. She wanted that Divine Mercy would pour out on the whole world, through her life. She prayed and did sacrifices not only for people who were around of her, but also for the whole world and especially for sinners, because they need mercy the most. On the request of the Lord Jesus she gave her life as sacrifice for them, that is she promised to receive all fears and torments which the sinners feel and to give them all her consolations which came from the close communion with God, in order to obtain for them a grace of conversion and to save for eternal life.    
Sister Faustina, exhausted by illness (she was sick on tuberculosis), by sufferings which were connected to a prophetic mission of Mercy and the sacrifices done for the sinners, died in the convent in Krakow-Lagiewniki, on 5th October 1938, being only 33 years old. The informative process was started in Krakow Diocese by cardinal Karol Wojtylla in 1965. One year later, worldly remains of Sister Faustina were moved to a convent chapel. After the ending of process in diocese, the documents were sent to Rome and there since 1968 the process of beatification was continued. They investigated a heroism of virtues and miracle attributed to her intercession. On the first Sunday after Easter, on 18th April 1993, Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Faustina and on 30th April 2000 he canonised her and he proclaimed the first Sunday after Easter as the feast of Divine Mercy. At that time, the gift of messages of Mercy he gave to the Church for third millennium.
The convent of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, where Sister Faustina lived and died, became the world capital of worship of Divine Mercy. There, in the convent chapel are her worldly remains and there is the miraculous painting of Merciful Jesus, famous in the whole world, on which the words of the Lord Jesus, said to Sister Faustina, were fulfilled: “I desire that this picture be worshipped at the beginning in your chapel and then in the whole world”. People from the whole world pilgrimage to this place, among of them was Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. From this place, the messages of Mercy are spread on the whole world in order to give people a light of hope and to prepare them to the repeated coming of Christ. Only in Divine Mercy – as Pope John Paul II said – “the world will find peace and a person – happiness”.     

The mission of Sister Faustina is proclamation of messages about the merciful love of the God to people, by a testimony of life, in the spirit of trust to God and mercy in relation to the neighbours, through acts, words and prayers, especially through a practice of Devotion of the Divine Mercy in forms handed down by her (the picture of Merciful Jesus, the feast of Divine Mercy, Chaplet of Divine Mercy and prayer at the hour of dying the Lord Jesus on the Cross, called the Hour of Mercy). To each of these forms as well as to a proclamation of the Divine Mercy, the Lord Jesus attached the great promises, under the condition that they will be practised well, it means it will be solicitude for an attitude of trust (fulfilling the God’s will) and mercy in relation to the neighbours. 
Text from the Marypages 

#PopeFrancis "That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth..." Prayer Intention for October

 Pope Francis
Universal: Journalists
That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.
Evangelization: World Mission Day
That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.
The text of the video message reads:
“I often wonder: How can media be put to the service of a culture of encounter?
We need information leading to compromise for the good of humanity and the planet.
Join me in this prayer request.
That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics. 
Can you help me spread this prayer request?

#Novena to St. Francis of Assisi - #Litany and #Prayers - SHARE

Novena to St. Francis of Assisi

Say once a day for nine days. 

Glorious Saint Francis, who voluntarily renounced all the comforts and riches of thy home to follow more perfectly the life of poverty and abnegation of Jesus Christ: Obtain for us, we pray, a generous contempt of all things in this world, that we may secure the true and eternal things of heaven. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

O glorious Saint Francis, who during the whole course of thy life continually wept over the passion of the Redeemer, and labored most zealously for the salvation of souls: Obtain for us, we pray, the grace of weeping continually over those sins by which we have crucified afresh Our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may attain to be of the number of those who shall eternally bless His supreme mercy. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

O glorious Saint Francis, who, loving above all things suffering and the Cross, merited to bear in thy body the miraculous stigmata, by which thou becamest a living image of Jesus Christ crucified: Obtain for us, we pray, the grace to bear in our bodies the mortifications of Christ, that we may merit one day to receive the consolations which are infallibly promised to all those who now weep. 

"If we be dead with Christ Jesus, we shall live also with Him," says the Apostle; "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." 

Pray for us, Saint Francis, that we may obtain the graces and favors we ask for in this novena; pray for us, especially, that we may obtain the grace of perseverance; of a holy death and a happy eternity. 

Pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be five times


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.  Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, conceived without sin, 
Pray for us.

Holy Mary, special patroness of the three Orders of Saint Francis, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, seraphic patriarch,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, most prudent father,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, despiser of the world,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, model of penance,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, conqueror of vices,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, imitator of the Saviour,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, bearer of the marks of Christ,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, sealed with the character of Jesus,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, example of purity,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, image of humility,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, abounding in grace,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, reformer of the erring,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, healer of the sick,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, pillar of the Church,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, defender of the Faith,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, champion of Christ,
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, defender of thy children, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, invulnerable shield, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, confounder of the heretics, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, converter of the pagans, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, supporter of the lame, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, raiser of the dead, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, healer of the lepers, 
Pray for us.

Saint Francis, our advocate, 
Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, 
Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, O blessed father Francis,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let Us Pray

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, 
when the world was growing cold, 
in order to renew in our hearts 
the flame of love, 
imprinted the sacred marks of Thy Passion 
on the body of our blessed father Francis, 
mercifully grant that by his merits and prayers 
we may persevere in bearing the cross 
and may bring forth fruits worthy of penance, 
Thou Who livest and reignest, 
world without end.

Lord make me  an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, Let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, Joy.
O Divine Master grant that I may Not so much seek to be consoled As to console; To be understood, As to understand; To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are Born to eternal life.

Free Catholic Movie : Francis of Assisi - Stars Dolores Hart #StFrancis

Francis of Assisi (1961) 105 min - Biography | Drama | History - 12 July 1961 (USA) Francis Bernardone (Bradford Dillman) is the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, who gives up all his worldly goods to dedicate himself to God. Clare (Dolores Hart) is a young maiden. Director: Michael Curtiz Writers: Ludwig von Wohl (novel), Eugene Vale (screenplay), Stars: Bradford Dillman, Dolores Hart, Stuart Whitman
For Breaking News, Prayers,  Inspirational Stories, and Free Catholic Movies LIKE http://fb.com/catholicnewsworld  

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Tuesday October 4, 2016 - #Eucharist

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lectionary: 462

Reading 1GAL 1:13-24

Brothers and sisters:
You heard of my former way of life in Judaism,
how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure
and tried to destroy it, 
and progressed in Judaism
beyond many of my contemporaries among my race,
since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions.
But when he, who from my mother’s womb had set me apart
and called me through his grace,
was pleased to reveal his Son to me,
so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles,
I did not immediately consult flesh and blood,
nor did I go up to Jerusalem
to those who were Apostles before me;
rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas
and remained with him for fifteen days.
But I did not see any other of the Apostles,
only James the brother of the Lord.
(As to what I am writing to you, behold,
before God, I am not lying.)
Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea
that are in Christ;
they only kept hearing that “the one who once was persecuting us
is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”
So they glorified God because of me.

Responsorial PsalmPS 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15

R. (24b) Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

AlleluiaLK 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village 
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? 
Tell her to help me.” 
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 
There is need of only one thing. 
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Saint October 4 : St. Francis of Assisi : Patron of #Animals, #Ecology, #Environment, Franciscans, Peace

Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182 — the exact year is uncertain; died there, 3 October, 1226. His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy Assisian cloth merchant. Of his mother, Pica, little is known, but she is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence. Francis was one of several children. The legend that he was born in a stable dates from the fifteenth century only, and appears to have originated in the desire of certain writers to make his life resemble that of Christ. At baptism the saint received the name of Giovanni, which his father afterwards altered to Francesco, through fondness it would seem for France, whither business had led him at the time of his son's birth. In any case, since the child was renamed in infancy, the change can hardly have had anything to do with his aptitude for learning French, as some have thought.
Francis received some elementary instruction from the priests of St. George's at Assisi, though he learned more perhaps in the school of the Troubadours, who were just then making for refinement in Italy. However this may be, he was not very studious, and his literary education remained incomplete. Although associated with his father in trade, he showed little liking for a merchant's career, and his parents seemed to have indulged his every whim. Thomas of Celano, his first biographer, speaks in very severe terms of Francis's youth. Certain it is that the saint's early life gave no presage of the golden years that were to come. No one loved pleasure more than Francis; he had a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Handsome, gay, gallant, and courteous, he soon became the prime favourite among the young nobles of Assisi, the foremost in every feat of arms, the leader of the civil revels, the very king of frolic. But even at this time Francis showed an instinctive sympathy with the poor, and though he spent money lavishly, it still flowed in such channels as to attest a princely magnanimity of spirit.
When about twenty, Francis went out with the townsmen to fight the Perugians in one of the petty skirmishes so frequent at that time between the rival cities. The Assisians were defeated on this occasion, and Francis, being among those taken prisoners, was held captive for more than a year in Perugia. A low fever which he there contracted appears to have turned his thoughts to the things of eternity; at least the emptiness of the life he had been leading came to him during that long illness. With returning health, however, Francis's eagerness after glory reawakened and his fancy wandered in search of victories; at length he resolved to embrace a military career, and circumstances seemed to favour his aspirations. A knight of Assisi was about to join "the gentle count", Walter of Brienne, who was then in arms in the Neapolitan States against the emperor, and Francis arranged to accompany him. His biographers tell us that the night before Francis set forth he had a strange dream, in which he saw a vast hall hung with armour all marked with the Cross. "These", said a voice, "are for you and your soldiers." "I know I shall be a great prince", exclaimed Francis exultingly, as he started for Apulia. But a second illness arrested his course at Spoleto. There, we are told, Francis had another dream in which the same voice bade him turn back to Assisi. He did so at once. This was in 1205. Although Francis still joined at times in the noisy revels of his former comrades, his changed demeanour plainly showed that his heart was no longer with them; a yearning for the life of the spirit had already possessed it. His companions twitted Francis on his absent-mindedness and asked if he were minded to be married. "Yes", he replied, "I am about to take a wife of surpassing fairness." She was no other than Lady Poverty whom Dante and Giotto have wedded to his name, and whom even now he had begun to love. After a short period of uncertainty he began to seek in prayer and solitude the answer to his call; he had already given up his gay attire and wasteful ways. One day, while crossing the Umbrian plain on horseback, Francis unexpectedly drew near a poor leper. The sudden appearance of this repulsive object filled him with disgust and he instinctively retreated, but presently controlling his natural aversion he dismounted, embraced the unfortunate man, and gave him all the money he had. About the same time Francis made a pilgrimage to Rome. Pained at the miserly offerings he saw at the tomb of St. Peter, he emptied his purse thereon. Then, as if to put his fastidious nature to the test, he exchanged clothes with a tattered mendicant and stood for the rest of the day fasting among the horde of beggars at the door of the basilica. Not long after his return to Assisi, whilst Francis was praying before an ancient crucifix in the forsaken wayside chapel of St. Damian's below the town, he heard a voice saying: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin." Taking this behest literally, as referring to the ruinous church wherein he knelt, Francis went to his father's shop, impulsively bundled together a load of coloured drapery, and mounting his horse hastened to Foligno, then a mart of some importance, and there sold both horse and stuff to procure the money needful for the restoration of St. Damian's. When, however, the poor priest who officiated there refused to receive the gold thus gotten, Francis flung it from him disdainfully. The elder Bernardone, a most niggardly man, was incensed beyond measure at his son's conduct, and Francis, to avert his father's wrath, hid himself in a cave near St. Damian's for a whole month. When he emerged from this place of concealment and returned to the town, emaciated with hunger and squalid with dirt, Francis was followed by a hooting rabble, pelted with mud and stones, and otherwise mocked as a madman. Finally, he was dragged home by his father, beaten, bound, and locked in a dark closet.
Freed by his mother during Bernardone's absence, Francis returned at once to St. Damian's, where he found a shelter with the officiating priest, but he was soon cited before the city consuls by his father. The latter, not content with having recovered the scattered gold from St. Damian's, sought also to force his son to forego his inheritance. This Francis was only too eager to do; he declared, however, that since he had entered the service of God he was no longer under civil jurisdiction. Having therefore been taken before the bishop, Francis stripped himself of the very clothes he wore, and gave them to his father, saying: "Hitherto I have called you my father on earth; henceforth I desire to say only 'Our Father who art in Heaven'." Then and there, as Dante sings, were solemnized Francis's nuptials with his beloved spouse, the Lady Poverty, under which name, in the mystical language afterwards so familiar to him, he comprehended the total surrender of all worldly goods, honours, and privileges. And now Francis wandered forth into the hills behind Assisi, improvising hymns of praise as he went. "I am the herald of the great King", he declared in answer to some robbers, who thereupon despoiled him of all he had and threw him scornfully in a snow drift. Naked and half frozen, Francis crawled to a neighbouring monastery and there worked for a time as a scullion. At Gubbio, whither he went next, Francis obtained from a friend the cloak, girdle, and staff of a pilgrim as an alms. Returning to Assisi, he traversed the city begging stones for the restoration of St. Damian's. These he carried to the old chapel, set in place himself, and so at length rebuilt it. In the same way Francis afterwards restored two other deserted chapels, St. Peter's, some distance from the city, and St. Mary of the Angels, in the plain below it, at a spot called the Porziuncola. Meantime he redoubled his zeal in works of charity, more especially in nursing the lepers.
On a certain morning in 1208, probably 24 February, Francis was hearing Mass in the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, near which he had then built himself a hut; the Gospel of the day told how the disciples of Christ were to possess neither gold nor silver, nor scrip for their journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff, and that they were to exhort sinners to repentance and announce the Kingdom of God. Francis took these words as if spoken directly to himself, and so soon as Mass was over threw away the poor fragment left him of the world's goods, his shoes, cloak, pilgrim staff, and empty wallet. At last he had found his vocation. Having obtained a coarse woolen tunic of "beast colour", the dress then worn by the poorest Umbrian peasants, and tied it round him with a knotted rope, Francis went forth at once exhorting the people of the country-side to penance, brotherly love, and peace. The Assisians had already ceased to scoff at Francis; they now paused in wonderment; his example even drew others to him. Bernard of Quintavalle, a magnate of the town, was the first to join Francis, and he was soon followed by Peter of Cattaneo, a well-known canon of the cathedral. In true spirit of religious enthusiasm, Francis repaired to the church of St. Nicholas and sought to learn God's will in their regard by thrice opening at random the book of the Gospels on the altar. Each time it opened at passages where Christ told His disciples to leave all things and follow Him. "This shall be our rule of life", exclaimed Francis, and led his companions to the public square, where they forthwith gave away all their belongings to the poor. After this they procured rough habits like that of Francis, and built themselves small huts near his at the Porziuncola. A few days later Giles, afterwards the great ecstatic and sayer of "good words", became the third follower of Francis. The little band divided and went about, two and two, making such an impression by their words and behaviour that before long several other disciples grouped themselves round Francis eager to share his poverty, among them being Sabatinus, vir bonus et justus, Moricus, who had belonged to the Crucigeri, John of Capella, who afterwards fell away, Philip "the Long", and four others of whom we know only the names. When the number of his companions had increased to eleven, Francis found it expedient to draw up a written rule for them. This first rule, as it is called, of the Friars Minor has not come down to us in its original form, but it appears to have been very short and simple, a mere adaptation of the Gospel precepts already selected by Francis for the guidance of his first companions, and which he desired to practice in all their perfection. When this rule was ready the Penitents of Assisi, as Francis and his followers styled themselves, set out for Rome to seek the approval of the Holy See, although as yet no such approbation was obligatory. There are differing accounts of Francis's reception by Innocent III. It seems, however, that Guido, Bishop of Assisi, who was then in Rome, commended Francis to Cardinal John of St. Paul, and that at the instance of the latter, the pope recalled the saint whose first overtures he had, as it appears, somewhat rudely rejected. Moreover, in site of the sinister predictions of others in the Sacred College, who regarded the mode of life proposed by Francis as unsafe and impracticable, Innocent, moved it is said by a dream in which he beheld the Poor Man of Assisi upholding the tottering Lateran, gave a verbal sanction to the rule submitted by Francis and granted the saint and his companions leave to preach repentance everywhere. Before leaving Rome they all received the ecclesiastical tonsure, Francis himself being ordained deacon later on.
After their return to Assisi, the Friars Minor — for thus Francis had named his brethren, either after the minores, or lower classes, as some think, or as others believe, with reference to the Gospel (Matthew 25:40-45), and as a perpetual reminder of their humility — found shelter in a deserted hut at Rivo Torto in the plain below the city, but were forced to abandon this poor abode by a rough peasant who drove in his ass upon them. About 1211 they obtained a permanent foothold near Assisi, through the generosity of the Benedictines of Monte Subasio, who gave them the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels or the Porziuncola. Adjoining this humble sanctuary, already dear to Francis, the first Franciscan convent was formed by the erection of a few small huts or cells of wattle, straw, and mud, and enclosed by a hedge. From this settlement, which became the cradle of the Franciscan Order (Caput et Mater Ordinis) and the central spot in the life of St. Francis, the Friars Minor went forth two by two exhorting the people of the surrounding country. Like children "careless of the day", they wandered from place to place singing in their joy, and calling themselves the Lord's minstrels. The wide world was their cloister; sleeping in haylofts, grottos, or church porches, they toiled with the labourers in the fields, and when none gave them work they would beg. In a short while Francis and his companions gained an immense influence, and men of different grades of life and ways of thought flocked to the order. Among the new recruits made about this time by Francis were the famous Three Companions, who afterwards wrote his life, namely: Angelus Tancredi, a noble cavalier; Leo, the saint's secretary and confessor; and Rufinus, a cousin of St. Clare; besides Juniper, "the renowned jester of the Lord".
During the Lent of 1212, a new joy, great as it was unexpected, came to Francis. Clare, a young heiress of Assisi, moved by the saint's preaching at the church of St. George, sought him out, and begged to be allowed to embrace the new manner of life he had founded. By his advice, Clare, who was then but eighteen, secretly left her father's house on the night following Palm Sunday, and with two companions went to the Porziuncola, where the friars met her in procession, carrying lighted torches. Then Francis, having cut off her hair, clothed her in the Minorite habit and thus received her to a life of poverty, penance, and seclusion. Clare stayed provisionally with some Benedictine nuns near Assisi, until Francis could provide a suitable retreat for her, and for St. Agnes, her sister, and the other pious maidens who had joined her. He eventually established them at St. Damian's, in a dwelling adjoining the chapel he had rebuilt with his own hands, which was now given to the saint by the Benedictines as domicile for his spiritual daughters, and which thus became the first monastery of the Second Franciscan Order of Poor Ladies, now known as Poor Clares.
In the autumn of the same year (1212) Francis's burning desire for the conversion of the Saracens led him to embark for Syria, but having been shipwrecked on the coast of Slavonia, he had to return to Ancona. The following spring he devoted himself to evangelizing Central Italy. About this time (1213) Francis received from Count Orlando of Chiusi the mountain of La Verna, an isolated peak among the Tuscan Apennines, rising some 4000 feet above the valley of the Casentino, as a retreat, "especially favourable for contemplation", to which he might retire from time to time for prayer and rest. For Francis never altogether separated the contemplative from the active life, as the several hermitages associated with his memory, and the quaint regulations he wrote for those living in them bear witness. At one time, indeed, a strong desire to give himself wholly to a life of contemplation seems to have possessed the saint. During the next year (1214) Francis set out for Morocco, in another attempt to reach the infidels and, if needs be, to shed his blood for the Gospel, but while yet in Spain was overtaken by so severe an illness that he was compelled to turn back to Italy once more.
Authentic details are unfortunately lacking of Francis's journey to Spain and sojourn there. It probably took place in the winter of 1214-1215. After his return to Umbria he received several noble and learned men into his order, including his future biographer Thomas of Celano. The next eighteen months comprise, perhaps, the most obscure period of the saint's life. That he took part in the Lateran Council of 1215 may well be, but it is not certain; we know from Eccleston, however, that Francis was present at the death of Innocent III, which took place at Perugia, in July 1216. Shortly afterwards, i.e. very early in the pontificate of Honorius III, is placed the concession of the famous Porziuncola Indulgence. It is related that once, while Francis was praying at the Porziuncola, Christ appeared to him and offered him whatever favour he might desire. The salvation of souls was ever the burden of Francis's prayers, and wishing moreover, to make his beloved Porziuncola a sanctuary where many might be saved, he begged a plenary Indulgence for all who, having confessed their sins, should visit the little chapel. Our Lord acceded to this request on condition that the pope should ratify the Indulgence. Francis thereupon set out for Perugia, with Brother Masseo, to find Honorius III. The latter, notwithstanding some opposition from the Curia at such an unheard-of favour, granted the Indulgence, restricting it, however, to one day yearly. He subsequently fixed 2 August in perpetuity, as the day for gaining this Porziuncola Indulgence, commonly known in Italy as il perdono d'Assisi.
Such is the traditional account. The fact that there is no record of this Indulgence in either the papal or diocesan archives and no allusion to it in the earliest biographies of Francis or other contemporary documents has led some writers to reject the whole story. This argumentum ex silentio has, however, been met by M. Paul Sabatier, who in his critical edition of the "Tractatus de Indulgentia" of Fra Bartholi has adduced all the really credible evidence in its favour. But even those who regard the granting of this Indulgence as traditionally believed to be an established fact of history, admit that its early history is uncertain. (See PORTIUNCULA.) The first general chapter of the Friars Minor was held in May, 1217, at Porziuncola, the order being divided into provinces, and an apportionment made of the Christian world into so many Franciscan missions. Tuscany, Lombardy, Provence, Spain, and Germany were assigned to five of Francis's principal followers; for himself the saint reserved France, and he actually set out for that kingdom, but on arriving at Florence, was dissuaded from going further by Cardinal Ugolino, who had been made protector of the order in 1216. He therefore sent in his stead Brother Pacificus, who in the world had been renowned as a poet, together with Brother Agnellus, who later on established the Friars Minor in England. Although success came indeed to Francis and his friars, with it came also opposition, and it was with a view to allaying any prejudices the Curia might have imbibed against their methods that Francis, at the instance of Cardinal Ugolino, went to Rome and preached before the pope and cardinals in the Lateran. This visit to the Eternal City, which took place 1217-18, was apparently the occasion of Francis's memorable meeting with St. Dominic. The year 1218 Francis devoted to missionary tours in Italy, which were a continual triumph for him. He usually preached out of doors, in the market-places, from church steps, from the walls of castle court-yards. Allured by the magic spell of his presence, admiring crowds, unused for the rest to anything like popular preaching in the vernacular, followed Francis from place to place hanging on his lips; church bells rang at his approach; processions of clergy and people advanced to meet him with music and singing; they brought the sick to him to bless and heal, and kissed the very ground on which he trod, and even sought to cut away pieces of his tunic. The extraordinary enthusiasm with which the saint was everywhere welcomed was equalled only by the immediate and visible result of his preaching. His exhortations of the people, for sermons they can hardly be called, short, homely, affectionate, and pathetic, touched even the hardest and most frivolous, and Francis became in sooth a very conqueror of souls. Thus it happened, on one occasion, while the saint was preaching at Camara, a small village near Assisi, that the whole congregation were so moved by his "words of spirit and life" that they presented themselves to him in a body and begged to be admitted into his order. It was to accede, so far as might be, to like requests that Francis devised his Third Order, as it is now called, of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, which he intended as a sort of middle state between the world and the cloister for those who could not leave their home or desert their wonted avocations in order to enter either the First Order of Friars Minor or the Second Order of Poor Ladies. That Francis prescribed particular duties for these tertiaries is beyond question. They were not to carry arms, or take oaths, or engage in lawsuits, etc. It is also said that he drew up a formal rule for them, but it is clear that the rule, confirmed by Nicholas IV in 1289, does not, at least in the form in which it has come down to us, represent the original rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. In any event, it is customary to assign 1221 as the year of the foundation of this third order, but the date is not certain.
At the second general chapter (May, 1219) Francis, bent on realizing his project of evangelizing the infidels, assigned a separate mission to each of his foremost disciples, himself selecting the seat of war between the crusaders and the Saracens. With eleven companions, including Brother Illuminato and Peter of Cattaneo, Francis set sail from Ancona on 21 June, for Saint-Jean d'Acre, and he was present at the siege and taking of Damietta. After preaching there to the assembled Christian forces, Francis fearlessly passed over to the infidel camp, where he was taken prisoner and led before the sultan. According to the testimony of Jacques de Vitry, who was with the crusaders at Damietta, the sultan received Francis with courtesy, but beyond obtaining a promise from this ruler of more indulgent treatment for the Christian captives, the saint's preaching seems to have effected little.
Before returning to Europe, the saint is believed to have visited Palestine and there obtained for the friars the foothold they still retain as guardians of the holy places. What is certain is that Francis was compelled to hasten back to Italy because of various troubles that had arisen there during his absence. News had reached him in the East that Matthew of Narni and Gregory of Naples, the two vicars-general whom he had left in charge of the order, had summoned a chapter which, among other innovations, sought to impose new fasts upon the friars, more severe than the rule required. Moreover, Cardinal Ugolino had conferred on the Poor Ladies a written rule which was practically that of the Benedictine nuns, and Brother Philip, whom Francis had charged with their interests, had accepted it. To make matters worse, John of Capella, one of the saint's first companions, had assembled a large number of lepers, both men and women, with a view to forming them into a new religious order, and had set out for Rome to seek approval for the rule he had drawn up for these unfortunates. Finally a rumour had been spread abroad that Francis was dead, so that when the saint returned to Italy with Brother Elias — he appeared to have arrived at Venice in July, 1220 — a general feeling of unrest prevailed among the friars.
Apart from these difficulties, the order was then passing through a period of transition. It had become evident that the simple, familiar, and unceremonious ways which had marked the Franciscan movement at its beginning were gradually disappearing, and that the heroic poverty practiced by Francis and his companions at the outset became less easy as the friars with amazing rapidity increased in number. And this Francis could not help seeing on his return. Cardinal Ugolino had already undertaken the task "of reconciling inspirations so unstudied and so free with an order of things they had outgrown." This remarkable man, who afterwards ascended the papal throne as Gregory IX, was deeply attached to Francis, whom he venerated as a saint and also, some writers tell us, managed as an enthusiast.
That Cardinal Ugolino had no small share in bringing Francis's lofty ideals "within range and compass" seems beyond dispute, and it is not difficult to recognize his hand in the important changes made in the organization of the order in the so-called Chapter of Mats. At this famous assembly, held at Porziuncola at Whitsuntide, 1220 or 1221 (there is seemingly much room for doubt as to the exact date and number of the early chapters), about 5000 friars are said to have been present, besides some 500 applicants for admission to the order. Huts of wattle and mud afforded shelter for this multitude. Francis had purposely made no provision for them, but the charity of the neighbouring towns supplied them with food, while knights and nobles waited upon them gladly. It was on this occasion that Francis, harassed no doubt and disheartened at the tendency betrayed by a large number of the friars to relax the rigours of the rule, according to the promptings of human prudence, and feeling, perhaps unfitted for a place which now called largely for organizing abilities, relinquished his position as general of the order in favour of Peter of Cattaneo. But the latter died in less than a year, being succeeded as vicar-general by the unhappy Brother Elias, who continued in that office until the death of Francis.
The saint, meanwhile, during the few years that remained in him, sought to impress on the friars by the silent teaching of personal example of what sort he would fain have them to be. Already, while passing through Bologna on his return from the East, Francis had refused to enter the convent there because he had heard it called the "House of the Friars" and because a studium had been instituted there. He moreover bade all the friars, even those who were ill, quit it at once, and it was only some time after, when Cardinal Ugolino had publicly declared the house to be his own property, that Francis suffered his brethren to re-enter it. Yet strong and definite as the saint's convictions were, and determinedly as his line was taken, he was never a slave to a theory in regard to the observances of poverty or anything else; about him indeed, there was nothing narrow or fanatical. As for his attitude towards study, Francis desiderated for his friars only such theological knowledge as was conformable to the mission of the order, which was before all else a mission of example. Hence he regarded the accumulation of books as being at variance with the poverty his friars professed, and he resisted the eager desire for mere book-learning, so prevalent in his time, in so far as it struck at the roots of that simplicity which entered so largely into the essence of his life and ideal and threatened to stifle the spirit of prayer, which he accounted preferable to all the rest.
In 1221, so some writers tell us, Francis drew up a new rule for the Friars Minor. Others regard this so-called Rule of 1221 not as a new rule, but as the first one which Innocent had orally approved; not, indeed, its original form, which we do not possess, but with such additions and modifications as it has suffered during the course of twelve years. However this may be, the composition called by some the Rule of 1221 is very unlike any conventional rule ever made. It was too lengthy and unprecise to become a formal rule, and two years later Francis retired to Fonte Colombo, a hermitage near Rieti, and rewrote the rule in more compendious form. This revised draft he entrusted to Brother Elias, who not long after declared he had lost it through negligence. Francis thereupon returned to the solitude of Fonte Colombo, and recast the rule on the same lines as before, its twenty-three chapters being reduced to twelve and some of its precepts being modified in certain details at the instance of Cardinal Ugolino. In this form the rule was solemnly approved by Honorius III, 29 November, 1223 (Litt. "Solet annuere"). This Second Rule, as it is usually called or Regula Bullata of the Friars Minor, is the one ever since professed throughout the First Order of St. Francis (see RULE OF SAINT FRANCIS). It is based on the three vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, special stress however being laid on poverty, which Francis sought to make the special characteristic of his order, and which became the sign to be contradicted. This vow of absolute poverty in the first and second orders and the reconciliation of the religious with the secular state in the Third Order of Penance are the chief novelties introduced by Francis in monastic regulation.
It was during Christmastide of this year (1223) that the saint conceived the idea of celebrating the Nativity "in a new manner", by reproducing in a church at Greccio the praesepio of Bethlehem, and he has thus come to be regarded as having inaugurated the popular devotion of the Crib. Christmas appears indeed to have been the favourite feast of Francis, and he wished to persuade the emperor to make a special law that men should then provide well for the birds and the beasts, as well as for the poor, so that all might have occasion to rejoice in the Lord. Early in August, 1224, Francis retired with three companions to "that rugged rock 'twixt Tiber and Arno", as Dante called La Verna, there to keep a forty days fast in preparation for Michaelmas. During this retreat the sufferings of Christ became more than ever the burden of his meditations; into few souls, perhaps, had the full meaning of the Passion so deeply entered. It was on or about the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) while praying on the mountainside, that he beheld the marvellous vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the visible marks of the five wounds of the Crucified which, says an early writer, had long since been impressed upon his heart. Brother Leo, who was with St. Francis when he received the stigmata, has left us in his note to the saint's autograph blessing, preserved at Assisi, a clear and simple account of the miracle, which for the rest is better attested than many another historical fact. The saint's right side is described as bearing on open wound which looked as if made by a lance, while through his hands and feet were black nails of flesh, the points of which were bent backward. After the reception of the stigmata, Francis suffered increasing pains throughout his frail body, already broken by continual mortification. For, condescending as the saint always was to the weaknesses of others, he was ever so unsparing towards himself that at the last he felt constrained to ask pardon of "Brother Ass", as he called his body, for having treated it so harshly. Worn out, moreover, as Francis now was by eighteen years of unremitting toil, his strength gave way completely, and at times his eyesight so far failed him that he was almost wholly blind. During an excess of anguish, Francis paid a last visit to St. Clare at St. Damian's, and it was in a little hut of reeds, made for him in the garden there, that the saint composed that "Canticle of the Sun", in which his poetic genius expands itself so gloriously. This was in September, 1225. Not long afterwards Francis, at the urgent instance of Brother Elias, underwent an unsuccessful operation for the eyes, at Rieti. He seems to have passed the winter 1225-26 at Siena, whither he had been taken for further medical treatment. In April, 1226, during an interval of improvement, Francis was moved to Cortona, and it is believed to have been while resting at the hermitage of the Celle there, that the saint dictated his testament, which he describes as a "reminder, a warning, and an exhortation". In this touching document Francis, writing from the fullness of his heart, urges anew with the simple eloquence, the few, but clearly defined, principles that were to guide his followers, implicit obedience to superiors as holding the place of God, literal observance of the rule "without gloss", especially as regards poverty, and the duty of manual labor, being solemnly enjoined on all the friars.
Meanwhile alarming dropsical symptoms had developed, and it was in a dying condition that Francis set out for Assisi. A roundabout route was taken by the little caravan that escorted him, for it was feared to follow the direct road lest the saucy Perugians should attempt to carry Francis off by force so that he might die in their city, which would thus enter into possession of his coveted relics. It was therefore under a strong guard that Francis, in July, 1226, was finally borne in safety to the bishop's palace in his native city amid the enthusiastic rejoicings of the entire populace. In the early autumn Francis, feeling the hand of death upon him, was carried to his beloved Porziuncola, that he might breathe his last sigh where his vocation had been revealed to him and whence his order had struggled into sight. On the way thither he asked to be set down, and with painful effort he invoked a beautiful blessing on Assisi, which, however, his eyes could no longer discern. The saint's last days were passed at the Porziuncola in a tiny hut, near the chapel, that served as an infirmary. The arrival there about this time of the Lady Jacoba of Settesoli, who had come with her two sons and a great retinue to bid Francis farewell, caused some consternation, since women were forbidden to enter the friary. But Francis in his tender gratitude to this Roman noblewoman, made an exception in her favour, and "Brother Jacoba", as Francis had named her on account of her fortitude, remained to the last.
On the eve of his death, the saint, in imitation of his Divine Master, had bread brought to him and broken. This he distributed among those present, blessing Bernard of Quintaville, his first companion, Elias, his vicar, and all the others in order. "I have done my part," he said next, "may Christ teach you to do yours." Then wishing to give a last token of detachment and to show he no longer had anything in common with the world, Francis removed his poor habit and lay down on the bare ground, covered with a borrowed cloth, rejoicing that he was able to keep faith with his Lady Poverty to the end. After a while he asked to have read to him the Passion according to St. John, and then in faltering tones he himself intoned Psalm 141. At the concluding verse, "Bring my soul out of prison", Francis was led away from earth by "Sister Death", in whose praise he had shortly before added a new strophe to his "Canticle of the Sun". It was Saturday evening, 3 October, 1226, Francis being then in the forty-fifth year of his age, and the twentieth from his perfect conversion to Christ. Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia

#BreakingNews Rockets in Aleppo, Syria Kill Christians - Please PRAY for Peace

Aleppo’s Armenian Christian neighbourhoods targeted by jihadi (and Turkish) rockets

Rockets from the city’s eastern sector hit Christian areas for days, fired by the al Nusra Front on Turkish orders.  At least five Armenian Christians have been killed over the weekend, and a dozen wounded. Aleppo’s Armenian community calls for help from all the Churches of the world.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – Fighting and dying continue not only in eastern Aleppo, where the Syrian army is pursuing its offensive backed by Russian air strikes, but also in the government-controlled western districts.
Local sources said that over the weekend the Russian-Syrian airstrikes hit a hospital in the eastern sector. At the same time, the Armenian districts in the western sector of northern Syria’s economic hub came under fire from the city’s jihadi-controlled eastern sector.
This attack began last Friday (30 September). Local sources said that the predominantly Armenian areas of Nor Kiugh and Villa were especially targeted. Al Nusra forces are thought to be behind it acting on Turkish order, local witnesses said. In fact, Ankara appears to be directing the bombing of Armenian civilians.
Four people are known to have died: Dzila Jabaghcourian, Arman Hindoyan, Hasmig Ghiragossian, and Mireille Hindoyan.
According to Aleppo Kantzasar, the local Armenian language newspaper, Turkey is the instigator of the massacres of innocents through "its local agents", which is how it describes the al Nusra Front, Turkmen groups, and the El Nur Eddin Zanki movement.
The death of these four people came right after the death of 47-year-old Sevan Haddadian, who was killed in the bombing in Suleymaniye, another Armenian area in western Aleppo.
Two other Armenian Christians seriously injured in the bombings are currently fighting for their life.  Seven others reported minor injuries.
Also last Friday, students at an Armenian school in Aleppo, founded by missionary Karen Jeppe for orphans who survived the Turkish genocide of 1915, were moved to underground shelters. They were unable to reach their families until late evening.
Between 23 and 30 September rocket attacks from eastern Aleppo, especially Bustan el Pasha, Madrassat al Hikme, al Rashidin 4, Project 1070 and the financial district, hit in particular Christian neighbourhoods, claiming 57 lives (20 children, 14 women and 23 men) and injuring another 167, including 37 children and 53 women.
The districts in western Aleppo subject to rocket attacks and sniper fire include predominantly Christian Suleymaniye and al Maydan, as well as al Jabiriya, al Hamadaniya and Jamiyaat.
Rockets also hit a group of Sunni worshipers as they left the mosque in al Zahra'a at the end of Friday prayers. The al Nusra Front, an extremist Islamic group that describes itself as the protector of Sunnis, was responsible for the attack.
Aleppo’s Armenian community has appealed for help from all the Churches of the world through Kantzasar, calling for "an end to the bombings against innocent civilians on both sides of the city."
Aleppo’s Armenian newspaper also thanked "His Holiness the pope for not forgetting Aleppo’s tragedy during his pastoral visit to Georgia."
The Armenian foreign minister, who expressed his "deep concern" over the escalation of violence, also announced that Armenian President Serj Sarkissian ordered that two planes with urgent humanitarian aid be sent to Syria.
"Aleppo is dying before the eyes of the world amid extreme indifference,” said a presenter on the first channel of Armenian State television, “just like 101 years ago when our nation was exterminated as a whole." (PB)
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