Saturday, 4 October 2008

Our Holy Father, Francis of Assisi, Deacon, Founder of the Three Orders, Solemnity

San Damiano and Francis on his big day

Altar and Tabernacle

This morning saw me rise far earlier than is really healthy for me; I was up at 5:45 AM. No matter, it was a good day. I drove to the mountains of rural Roane Co., West Virginia to the Franciscan Hermitage for Mass for the Solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi.

I found out upon arrival that I would be serving the Mass, which was no big deal, however it did reinforce my suspicions that I’m a terrible server. I don’t think that I would be terrible if I served more regularly, but there it is. The celebrant for the Mass was the new pastor of the local parish, a diocesan priest. He’s from India, and has been in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston for a couple of years. One of the local women told me that he says both the Roman Rite and the Malankarese Rite, which is pretty awesome. At any rate, it was a wonderful Mass, and Fr. Thomas’ homily was excellent. He read first, simply, a short “life of St. Francis” bit. He then began to talk about Francis, and how significant his gift to the Church was and is. He moved into saying that our problems today are no greater than the problems of Francis’ day, only different. He spoke of the saints: Augustine and Paul, and soon to be Teresa of Calcutta- and how the saints and how other people in the past would come to Mass and experience transcendence. How, when they left, they knew that they had been in God’s presence. And how today many people do not experience the Mass that way. How it’s simply sat through and left till the next week. And how out of control materialism is people attempting to fill a void in their lives, a void that Francis filled with Christ and his Church, and how we as Christians, Franciscans or not, should heed the same call. (I’ve plainly butchered the homily, but please take my word that I was not bothered one bit by its length!)

The chapel at the Hermitage, by the way, was built with straw bale construction, so it looks pretty unique inside and outside. One of the local people, a older Filipino-American man, who came over to the Hermitage for Mass and lunch, a member of the local parish, not a Franciscan, was teasing Sr. J. on the walk to the chapel for Mass that the chapel “looks like a Buddhist temple,” which sent him into convulsions of laughter, and me too.

Please continue to pray for the Church in India, whose members daily leave the Church Militant as martyrs.

A very blessed feast to all of you, and may the poor little man from Assisi continue to point us all to the Love that surrounds us.

Pax et bonum.