The Transitus of St. Francis

In Western Christianity, the Transitus (translation from Ecclesiastical Latin: crossing or passing over) refers to “the time of passage through death to life”. The Christian theologian German Martinez writes that: “The idea of death in the Latin transitus … represents a unique Christian terminology linked to the paschal mystery. It consecrates the passage of the dying to eternal life. Offering the sacrifice of his or her personal life, the believer shares in the paschal transitus of Christ himself.

Each year on the evening of October 3rd the Franciscan family throughout the world pauses to celebrate the solemnity of our Holy Father Francis’s Transitus, passing over from this life to the next. In his famous Canticle of the Creatures, the saint from Assisi wrote “Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.” That line, written near Francis’s own embrace of Sister Bodily Death, reflects the importance and natural character of death in the life of all creation. Francis was not afraid of what would come at the end of his earthly life, choosing instead to recognize in that experience, not an end, but a transition from one way of living to another. Br. Thomas of Celano recorded an account of that transition, that transitus: Continue reading

God and St Francis on Lawn Care

In cleaning up files from my computer, I ran across this classic bit of saintly humor. Enjoy!

GOD:   Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles. Continue reading

Moving Fences

In Bible Study, we are blessed to have a participant who teaches biblical Hebrew at the college and graduate level. She always brings interesting insights into the origin of Hebrew words and expressions. For example, there a root word in Hebrew that is used to form the words for “neighbor”, “friend,” and “enemy.”  Suddenly the expression, “Hold your friends close and your enemies closer” has a bit more depth – and in either case, they are neighbors. So, when Jesus responds to the questions, “…and who is my neighbor?” Then the we see the challenge – to cross over to embrace the other. That challenge is even in the very word “Hebrew” which comes from the Semitic word “a’piru” – those who cross over. Continue reading