Monday, October 22, 2018

October 22 2018 - St. John Paul II - Totus Tuus

In 1929, just 17 days short of his 9th birthday, the young Karol Wojtyla — the future Blessed Pope John Paul II — entered his house during the afternoon. His parents were very pious, and young Karol was accustomed to see his father — a strong soldier in the Polish army — praying on his knees on their parlor’s hardwood floor. That day, when the young Karol saw his father praying, he saw his dad’s knees bathing in a pool of tears.

“What’s wrong, Papa” the young future Pope asked his father. “Karol, your mother has died!” was his father’s answer. His mother had Emilia died in childbirth.

The eight year old ran out of his home to the local parish Church, which was actually right across the street from the Wojtyla apartment home. He entered the Church and ran up the aisle of the Church to a kneeler in front of a statue of Mary.  Tearfully, he said to her: “Blessed Lady, I don’t know why God took my mother home at the time he did. But I do know one thing: YOU are my mother now!”

Blessed Pope John Paul’s devotion to the Blessed Mother deeply impacted his life, his priesthood, and his papacy.  When he was made bishop of Krakow, he took as his episcopal motto the words: Totus Tuus ego sum, which is latin for “I am completely yours.”  The motto “Totus tuus” was taken from a prayer by Saint Louis Marie de Montfordt: "Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria." "I am completely yours, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart"

Jesus, from the cross, told us to Behold his mother. We seek to “do whatever he tells us” and so this is why we turn to Mary’s guidance and holy example, that our hearts may become more like hers in her love of Jesus and faithfulness to God’s Divine Will.

[Maggie’s Place Mass:] In this place dedicated to motherhood, all mothers and all those who assist them in the care of their children do well to place themselves under the guidance and protection of the Mother of Jesus. Mary is the mother who has endured the greatest of sufferings, and she will always help mothers who turn to Her to endure their own sufferings in union with Jesus. She will always help mothers who turn to her to raise their children to know Jesus and to follow his teachings.

[Nursing Home Mass:] Mary stood at the cross as her son suffered and died for our salvation. She was the instrument through which God brought Christ Our Salvation into the world. So any grace, any healing we need, we do well to turn to Mary. She will always help us to experience the healing of God in our illnesses, and the peace of God in our suffering.

During this month of October especially, we do well to take up her Holy Rosary, as Saint John Paul II did so many times in his life, to pray the rosary for peace, for healing, for the conversion so many souls are desperately in need of.

Through the intercession of Saint John Paul who entrusted himself, his priesthood, his papacy and the Church to Mary, may we place that same trust in her, who bore the Christ child, who nurtured Him through childhood, who at the Wedding at Cana told the servants to “do whatever he tells you.” Mary, Mother of the Church, Mother of all Christians, pray for us, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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That through the teaching, preaching, and pastoral care of the Church all Christians will grow in their devotion to and imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We pray to the Lord.

That through Immaculate Mary, Queen of Peace, hatred, violence, and cruelty will cease in the world.  We pray to the Lord.

For those trapped in the downward spiral of sin, that the hope offered through the Incarnation of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin will bring them new life in the Spirit.  We pray to the Lord.

That Mary’s maternal care and heavenly intercession will raise us to the moral greatness befitting true children of God.  We pray to the Lord.

For blessings on all expectant mothers, newborn infants, and young families.  We pray to the Lord.

That from the moment of conception all children will be preserved from bodily harm; for the overturning of unjust laws that permit the destruction of innocent life; and that the minds of all may be enlightened to know the dignity of every human life.  We pray to the Lord.

For all those who have died, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, for all who have fought and died for our country’s freedom, and for [intention below], for whom this Mass is offered.  We pray to the Lord.

We pray, O Lord our God, that the Virgin Mary, who merited to bear God and man in her chaste womb, may commend the prayers of your faithful in your sight. Through Christ our Lord.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

October 18 2018 - St. Luke - Christian ministry to the sick

During the month of October, many parishes offer extra opportunities for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Next weekend (Oct 28) at our 11:30am Sunday mass, for example, we will celebrate anointing for those whose illnesses are severe and for the elderly who have grown weak under the burden of years. Fr. Evans, Fr. Schwet, and I have also been anointing all of the Catholics  in the seven nursing homes in our parish boundaries. This is a good time of year to celebrate anointing as the weather turns to chill and winter looms near. Yet, it is also traditional to celebrate the anointing of the sick because of today’s saint, Saint Luke, who was not only the author of the third Gospel, but also a physician.

Each of the Gospel writers has a particular insight into the personality of Jesus, and Luke presents Our Lord as the Great Physician, healer of bodies and souls.  This emphasis was perhaps natural to Luke because of his own medical expertise.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of the Lord sending out disciples to expel demons and to cure the sick. The Lord’s commission to go and to heal the sick is certainly continued in the priest’s ministry to anoint the sick, and certainly in our prayers and care for sick family members, by doctors and nurses, in the many who visit the sick and bring holy communion and simply visit the sick in their loneliness and suffering. I know our local hospital has many good Catholic volunteers who visit the sick daily, who are such a source of comfort, who bring Christ to the sick in the Blessed Sacrament and also in their kind words.

Illness is often anguishing, and can also lead to despair, a sense that God has abandoned the sick. So Christians have a special care for those who are sick, to bring God’s healing word to them.

St. Luke, Physician and Evangelist, brought Christ’s healing through his medical care and also through his writing of the Gospel. For those who read and meditate on the Gospel open themselves to the Divine Physicians healing graces.

Medical science has made rapid advancements in recent decades, yet society seems to be spiritually sick as ever. And so, we renew our commitment to pray and to be open to bring Christ’s healing to the physically sick and the spiritually sick, those who have fallen away from God and have been diseased by the values and errors of the world. By meditating on the words of Luke's Gospel and his holy example and by heavenly intercession, may St. Luke aid us in our great commission for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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For healing of all sin and division in the Church. We pray to the Lord.

That all those who suffer may be filled with strength and hope. We pray to the Lord.

For all those dedicated to the care of the sick, especially all doctors. We pray to the Lord.

In thanksgiving for all those who visit the sick, bringing them the Sacraments and the consolation of the Word of God. We pray to the Lord.

For all those in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice care, for all those who will die today, for their consolation and that of their families.

For the repose of the souls of our beloved dead, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, for the deceased members of our family, friends, and parish, for the deceased clergy and religious of our diocese, and for those who have fought and died for our freedom.

God of mercy, hear our prayers, ease the sufferings and comfort the weakness of your servants, and bring us to eternal life, through Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October 16 2018 - St. Margaret Mary - Circumcision of Hearts

In ancient Israel, circumcision was a sign of one’s membership in the community. The uncircumcised was seen as less of a man, who had not fulfilled the prescriptions of the law proscribed by God, and therefore unreceptive of the blessing of God.

Israel, however, would be tempted to consider circumcision sufficient to gain a share in the blessings of God. This led Jeremiah the prophet would go so far as to say that physical circumcision had no value in itself, what mattered was the circumcision of the heart. If the greatest command in the Law was to love God with your whole heart and to love your neighbor as yourselves, to circumcise the heart meant to remove all obstacles, all hardness, which kept one from the love which was to characterize God’s people.

St. Paul develops the teaching of the prophets in our first reading today, when he says, “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” What makes one an heir to the kingdom of heaven, is not circumcision, but faith in Jesus Christ which strips the heart of all selfishness, which seeks to imitate Christ’s outpouring of love in his self-sacrifice to the Father. To be a Christian is to seek to make one’s heart like the heart of Christ.
In 1677, Our Blessed Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun in France and revealed his Sacred Heart.

She said, “I could plainly see His heart, pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns around it. He told me to behold His heart which so loved humanity.”

The Lord lamented to St. Margaret Mary that he found so few souls on earth who truly loved him. So many lukewarm hearts, so many slothful hearts, so many divided hearts, so many ungrateful hearts, so many hearts indifferent to his sacrifice, hearts that could not care less that the Son of God became man and suffered and died for them. The Lord particularly lamented the irreverence and coldness of his people for the Eucharist, the sacrament of his love.

“Behold this Heart,” the Lord said to Margaret Mary, “which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love. In return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt they have for me in this sacrament of love....”

In order to circumcise our hearts, to strip our hearts of indifference, ingratitude, lukewarmness, and irreverence for the Eucharist, we do well to ponder and behold, like St. Margaret Mary, the Lord’s Sacred Heart, to contemplate his love for us and his suffering for us, to repent of our sins and to engage in the prayer and fasting and penances and works of charity that will enkindle the fire of love for God, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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In reparation to the Sacred Heart for all sin and blasphemy, ingratitude and indifference, we pray to the Lord.
For an increase in faith, hope, and love for all Christians, for a renewed reverence for the Holy Eucharist, we pray to the Lord.
That our children and young people may be kept safe from the poisonous errors of our culture, and that their families may be places where the faith is practiced and cherished.
For all those whose love for God has grown cold, who have fallen into moral laxity or despair of the mercy of God, for all souls in danger of hell, for their conversion and the conversion of all hearts.
For all the needs of the sick and the suffering, the homebound, those in nursing homes and hospitals, the underemployed and unemployed, victims of natural disaster, war, and terrorism, for all those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and those who will die today, for their comfort, and the consolation of their families.
For the repose of the souls of our beloved dead, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, for the deceased members of our families, friends, and parish, for the deceased clergy and religious of the diocese of Cleveland, and for those who have fought and died for our freedom.
Holy Father, hear our prayers, and enkindle in our hearts the fire of your love, circumcise our hearts to make them evermore like the Sacred Heart of Your Son, who is our Lord forever and ever.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

28th Sunday in OT 2018 - Joylessness and the Rich Young Man

This weekend, Pope Francis is celebrating in Rome the Canonization of six new saints. Three of them were founders of new religious orders, one of them was a humble diocesan priest, one is the great and courageous Archbishop Oscar Romero who denounced the violence of the civil war in El Salvador in 1980 and was assassinated offering mass in a hospital chapel. The sixth is Pope Paul VI, whose Papacy from 1963-1978 was marked by his deep sense of prayerfulness, as he led the Church to become a greater instrument for evangelization and conversion to the modern world.

The temperaments and lives of these new saints could not have been any different. Yet, their commonality, is certainly their love and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Like the young man in the Gospel today, they each approached the Lord, fell to their knees and asked the question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” For three of them it was founding a religious order for ordinary men and women like you and me to live a life of prayer and penance that points to God. For Archbishop Romero, it was standing up to a corrupt government. For Paul VI it was leading the Church in a time of social and cultural upheaval. But, “what must I do to find joy, to find eternal life?” That is probably the most important question anyone could ask.

One concern I know many priests and many of you have is that so many of our young people and so many of our family members do not consider this question important.  One of the symptoms of the secularism of our age is an indifference to eternity. Plenty of young men and women ask questions like, “what must I do to get into Harvard, what must I do to be a famous athlete, what must I do to make my first million by the age of 30, what must I do to have as much pleasure as I can?”  These are all valid questions if one is merely concerned with earthly happiness and temporal success.  But these are not concerns about ultimate reality.  So this young man in the Gospel is in a much better place than many of our contemporaries.

How did the Lord answer this young man’s questions? He first begins to list off the commandments of God’s law.

Rules are important. We have rules for good health—you can’t eat a bag of pork rinds every day if you want to be physically fit; we have rules for good finances—don’t spend more than you make. So, too, if you want to have good mental health, there are some rules—learn to let go of anger and grudges, read a book once and a while to keep your brain active, maintain supportive relationships, develop a sense of gratitude for life’s blessings.

Every relationship has rules; rules which prescribe what is good and prohibit what is bad. When a bride and groom stand up in front of the Church and their families and recite their wedding vows, they are agreeing to the rules of their covenant relationship: we are going to be faithful even when we are tempted to be unfaithful, we are going to care for each other in times of sickness, in times of economic hardship, when physical beauty fades, we are going to raise our children to be good Christians.

Families have rules which support the harmony and happiness of the family. Don’t talk back to mom and dad, don’t fight with your siblings. When I was growing up, we had a lot of rules about keeping the house tidy: make your bed, clean your room, dirty plates and dishes weren’t to be left lying around, they were to be placed not just in the kitchen sink, but the dishwasher, and they had to be rinsed off first.

The spiritual life has rules, too. If you want to spiritually fit, if you want your relationship with God to be healthy—if you want this earthly journey to lead to eternal life with God, we must follow spiritual rules. And the commandments of God are the basic rules for that end.

Now of course, we all fail to keep these commandments for a variety of reasons. And the Christian recognizes the necessity of repentance, of confessing the serious violations of our covenant relationship with God. We admit to God even our smaller, venial sins, as well as we can, so that they do not pave the way for graver violations.

The young man in the Gospel, seems like he was doing pretty well. "Teacher,” he says “all of these commandments I have observed from my youth." Okay, good. Jesus recognizes that in this young man, the fundamental are in place, the aspirations are right, but the Lord sensed a restlessness in the young man. “You are lacking in one thing”, the Lord said. What was he lacking?

Despite his fidelity to the law, the young man was unwilling to detach himself from his possessions and follow the Lord radically.

“Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." The Lord knew that the man’s possessions had become a stumbling block to his salvation, so he illuminated this fact, and showed him what he had to do. This does not mean every single one of us has to get rid of all of our earthly possessions to follow Christ, but it certainly means that we must be spiritually detatched from them and dedicate them to God's purpose rather than our own selfish ends.

At that statement we then hear one of the saddest lines in all of the Gospels. “his face fell, and he went away sad.” The encounter with the Lord is meant to bring us conversion, joy, and life, but the young man walked away from that which would have brought him joy and that is always a sad story.

Last week in our parish youth group, we talked about joy, how following the commands of God leads to joy, how prayer and service bring us a joy that nothing else in the world can possibly give. Joy, is very different from happiness. Happiness is satisfaction with temporary things. I’m happy when the browns win, I’m happy when my chicken wings are at the perfect level of crispiness, I’m happy when the traffic light turns green at just the right time.

Joy, however, comes from our relationship with the eternal things of God: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Our hearts are filled not just with happiness, but joy, when we learn the Truth that comes from God, when we engage in truly good acts, caring for the poor, caring for a sick family member, feeding the hungry, forgiving those who hurt us. And we are filled with joy at the sight of beauty, true beauty, beautiful and timeless Christian art and architecture, the beauty of God’s creation.

The young man turns his heart away from joy because he chooses to value passing, temporary, earthly things, his possessions, over the truth, and goodness, and beauty of Jesus Christ.

I guarantee, that each of the saints being canonized this weekend, knew this secret to joy. Now, that doesn’t mean their lives were easy. Each faced tremendous suffering, but that did not diminish their joy. Because authentic joy does not diminish in the face of suffering, but can intensify it, when that suffering is embraced for the good of the Church and the spread of the Gospel.

As we celebrate the Eucharist today, may the Holy Spirit help us identify those attitudes or habits that we need to turn away from in order to experience the joy and eternal life God wants for us, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Columbus Day 2018 - Bringing Christ to the Unknown (School Mass)

Today our nation celebrates Columbus Day, remembering when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas on October 12, 1492.

For Columbus, his voyage of discovery was a work of evangelization. On board his ships were Catholic missionaries; his first act upon landing in the New World was to plant the cross, claim the new lands for Christ and His Church.
Missionary priests then offered mass. In fact, upon first sighting land, he and his crew prayed together the Hail Holy Queen.

Columbus is celebrated as a national hero and also an example for Christians because he plunged willingly into the unknown in order to spread the saving faith. He willingly endured the violent storms of the Atlantic, as St. Paul and the Apostles did, braving great dangers in fidelity to Christ’s great commission, to spread salvation to the ends of the earth.

Columbus used his Italian genius, his excitement and energy, to bravely venture into the unknown to fulfill the will of God. We challenged to ask ourselves if we are doing the same: not to be lukewarm about our faith, or treat the spread of the Gospel as someone else’s job. God wants to use all of us as his instruments to spread the kingdom of his goodness, love, and truth. All Christians need to be willing to go beyond our comfort zones, go into the unknown to share God’s goodness. Just like in the Gospel today…the good Samaritan reached out to someone he didn’t know, someone who likely had no way of paying him back. When we are very young, our parents tell us not to talk to strangers, but as we grow up, and grow mature in the faith, I think today’s Gospel challenges us to reach out more and more to the stranger, the foreigner, the weirdo, the neglected, to befriend them, to go into the unknown to be instruments of God.

Christopher Columbus is celebrated not simply because of his great navigational accomplishment. He is celebrated for his Catholic faith, an act flowing from what he believed to be the purpose of life, the purpose of all life, to make God known, to make God’s mercy known through Jesus Christ.

On what fantastic voyage of discovery, faith, and evangelization does God wish to lead you? Pray every day, that you may love the Lord enough, to be open to the voice of God enough, to be willing to go where God wishes to send you, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

27th Sunday in OT 2018 - Marriage & Divorce and the good of children

In the school and PSR this week, I visited the fifth through eighth grades, inviting our young people to consider becoming altar servers. We talked about how serving at the altar is one of the opportunities for service that God gives to young Catholics; serving at the altar is truly a service to God, to the parish, for a reverent celebration of Holy Mass.

I remember a few years ago at a previous assignment, a young man approached me and confessed that he would like to be an altar server, but his father would not allow it because his father did not want to bring him to church. This is a Catholic child, in a catholic school, saddened and confused because his family refused to go to Church. We have young people in this parish who carry a similar sadness.

Catholic spouses, on the day of their wedding, exchange vows to each other, but they also make promises to God about their future children. The priest explicitly asks the bride and groom: do you promise to raise your children according to the law of Christ and His Church. That promise is repeated several times in the ritual for baptism: In bringing your children to be baptized, you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?

The role of parents is paramount. Parents who take their role seriously raise their children to love Jesus to know and follow His commands. St Paul even talks about this responsibility in his letter  to the Ephesians: “Fathers… bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

I bring up this topic of the role of parents in light of our scripture readings this weekend. In the first reading, we hear of the origin of marriage—how God, responding to Adam’s desire for a wife, creates Eve to be lifelong companion and mother. The passage uses poetic language to describe a spiritual reality. “The two become one” Genesis says. The future of two individual souls become intertwined for a unified purpose: the salvation of their souls and the procreation of children.

This passage is so important that it is one of very few times that Jesus, in his ministry, quotes word-for-word a passage from the Old Testament; I think it’s the longest passage he quotes in all of the Gospels.

In a lawful, sacramental marriage, the Lord teaches, the two have become one—they are a new creation, they are joined together by God and cannot be separated by any human power.  What God has joined man cannot separate.

And then, immediately after this teaching about marriage, St. Mark tells us that parents were bringing their children to be blessed by the Lord. These are very good parents who recognize Jesus’ authentic teaching. At this point in the Gospel, Jesus’ disciples do not understand how good this is, for when they tell the parents to go away—that Jesus has more important things to do—Jesus rebukes his disciples: never, ever, do anything, to keep a child from knowing, and loving, and being blessed by the Lord Jesus.

The psychological and spiritual good of children is one reason why God has forbidden divorce. Our Catechism says that divorce is a “grave offense” that causes “grave harm” and leaves children traumatized.

The book, “Primal Loss” contains heartbreaking descriptions of the trauma of divorce upon children. One adult child of divorce wrote: “I was devastated as a child when my dad drove away, and I will never forget standing in our front yard literally screaming: “Come back!” I didn’t understand what was happening, and my three-year-old sister certainly didn’t understand. I remember my maternal grandma grabbing me, telling me he loved other women and to stop screaming…I “survived” the divorce, but the fallout wasn’t pretty: lots of acting out and “unsettled” behavior”. It really skewed the way I looked at guys and what I thought “love” was. If marriage wasn’t forever, why should anything else be?”

The “foreverness” of marriage, the indissolubility of it, is for the good of the spouses and the good of children. This is something we cover very seriously with engaged couples preparing for Christian marriage, to work on healthy communication and healthy faith lives, not only for their good, but the good of their children.

Divorce lawyers and our throw-away culture incentivize divorce, and have virtually normalized it. This makes Catholic teaching counter-cultural. But trust not in popular opinion but in the Lord, and commit to doing everything we can to promote happy, healthy, holy marriage. For as marriage goes, there goes the culture. If healthy, Christian marriage is promoted in a culture, the culture will endure, the future will have hope. The fate of the world, in a sense, is bound to our faithfulness to these very passages today.

If your marriage is going through a rocky time, don’t give up. Marriage is resilient. The Church is here to help you develop the skills you need to endure the rockiness. Often enduring rockiness entails developing healthier communication and conflict resolution skills, and for couples to learn to pray for and with one another.

If you, like me, are a child of divorce, renew your trust in the Lord, go to Him for healing, pray for the ability to forgive your fallible parents, and to learn from their mistakes.

If you are a divorced Catholic, I urge you, don’t give up on the faith. Turn to the Lord for healing. There is a support group for divorced Catholics in our district.

If you are a widow or widower: thank God for the good times, and don’t be afraid to share your wisdom with the younger generations.

If you are divorced and remarried outside the Church…well, that’s a whole other topic. Best to review the Church’s teaching on this matter, and plan on setting up a meeting with your parish clergy to discuss it.

And if you are a Christian married couple: pray daily for faithfulness to those marriage vows: to love, honor, and serve your spouse, to be examples of faith for your children, a signs of the Lord’s ever-faithful love to your fellow Christians and to the world

May each of us, celibate, married, or single, commit to setting good example for the younger generation to whom we pass the faith, that they may never be hindered by our poor example from coming to the Lord, loving him, finding the meaning of their lives in Him for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

October 04 2018 - St. Francis- Widely Admired, Greatly Misunderstood

St. Francis is probably the most popular, widely recognized saint in the history of Church. Yet that has also come with great misunderstanding of the real man and his real values and sanctity. He is known as a great lover of animals, so his likeness is placed on birdbaths and garden statues. His respect for God’s creation has led him to be co-opted as a patron of climate change initiatives, even vegetarianism. Yet, Francis once berated a friar for wanting to abstain from meat on a feast day and said that on Christmas he would “smear the wall with meat.” Some invoke Francis’ poverty to condemn ornate liturgical furnishings. The real Francis, however, was meticulous in the ceremonials of the Mass, insisting that every sacred vessel and vestment be the best. Sometimes, Francis is invoked to condemn the institutional aspects of the Church. But the real Francis wrote in the Franciscan Rule that any friar who parted from the Pope on the slightest article of Faith was to be dismissed from the Order.

St. Francis and the Sultan of Egypt
A recent author wrote: Selective hagiography (biographies of saints) has reduced St. Francis to a sandal-wearing, animal-loving pacifist, but the real man was a stern defender of the faith, preaching obedience to God through His Church. Far from an aversion to active proselytism—forthrightly calling non-Catholics to convert—St. Francis traveled to Egypt to confront the Muslim sultan and preach the name of Christ at the risk of martyrdom. At the same time his letters attest to his insistence on honoring God in the liturgy with precious and beautiful altar furnishings (Marcantonio Colonna).”
On this, his Feast Day, we should seek to love what Francis loved: poverty, chastity, obedience to Church teaching, beautiful liturgy, his prayer for the authentic reform of the Church, and most deeply his ardent love for Christ.

Saint Francis had a deep interior life, who meditated upon the wounds of Christ constantly, who pushed himself to offer his own life for the spread of the Gospel. For this, he was given the gift of the holy stigmata, bearing the wounds of Christ in his hands and feet. His stigmata was a sign of his holiness—a willingness to suffer for the spread of the Gospel and the good of souls.

Here is a man whom the world called a fool, in whom we, however, recognize great courage, great zeal, and great faith.  Francis reflected the self-offering of Christ to the Father through his own embrace of poverty and humility. May the prayers and example of St. Francis help us to conform our lives to Christ for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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For Pope Francis, on this his patronal feast day: that he may know that constant assistance of the angels and saints in his ministry.

That the work and ministry of all Franciscan organizations and charitable institutions may bear fruit for the spread of the Gospel.

For the purification of our minds and hearts from the errors of the culture and from the lure of worldly attachments.

For all the needs of the sick and the suffering, the homebound, those in nursing homes and hospitals, the underemployed and unemployed, immigrants and refugees, victims of natural disaster, war, and terrorism, for all those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and those who will die today, for their comfort, and the consolation of their families.

For all who have died, and for all the poor souls in purgatory, and for X. for whom this Mass is offered.

Incline your merciful ear to our prayers, we ask, O Lord, and listen in kindness to the supplications of those who call on you. Through Christ our Lord