The Stigmata of St. Francis

St. Francis receives the Stigmata (fresco attr...Authorized by Pope Paul V, September 17th is the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, a feast day celebrated within the Franciscan communities.

Stigmata, from the Greek word, generically points to a “brand” or a “mark.” It is the common word to describing branding of cattle. In the Christian context it refers to the bodily marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ. St. Francis was the first person, historically recorded, who bore the marks of the crucified Christ in his hands, his feet, and in his side. Continue reading

The Stigmata of St. Francis

St. Francis receives the Stigmata (fresco attr...

Authorized by Pope Paul V, September 17th is the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, a feast day celebrated within the Franciscan communities.

Stigmata, from the Greek word, generically points to a “brand” or a “mark.” It is the common word to describing branding of cattle. In the Christian context it refers to the bodily marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ. St. Francis was the first person, historically recorded, who bore the marks of the crucified Christ in his hands, his feet, and in his side. Continue reading

The Stigmata

stigmata-st-francis-giottoAfter Francis’ withdrawal from active ministerial leadership of the friars, he witnessed an inevitable evolution of the religious order, which had grown to over 5,000 brothers in 1223 from the humble beginnings in 1209 of Francis and four companions. The evolution of the Order, necessary on a number of levels, also began to change the life of the fraternity. Francis worried that the Spirit of prayer was being compromised and that the necessities of ministry were leading the brothers to increasing ties to material possessions. He lived and suffered in a “Time of Doubt,” as described in the previous article. Continue reading

Marks of holiness

Saint Francis of Assisi and scenes of his life...

 

I have to admit that in counseling conversations, pastoral settings, preaching, and a variety of teaching settings (RCIA, Bible study, etc.) I often return to the topic of the formation of moral conscience. I have even written about it here and here in this blog.

 

About two years, ago while preaching on the formation of moral conscience, I mentioned health care reform as a topic about which the bishops were teaching at the moment. The topic of health care per se was in the news, but the primary point of my reference was to indicate how often when our bishops speak and teach, we praise them or criticize them based on our already-held opinion of the topic. And I use the word “opinion” pointedly as it is my experience that most people do not form their conscience as described in the Catechism (§1776-1803). Such formation was the real point of the homily – with the challenge being to operate as Christians, not in the realm of opinion, but in the sphere of the formed moral conscience. We are called to do such, but do we do it? Often all I must do is to ask if they have prayed about it or asked the Holy Spirit for wisdom on the topic/decision. Lingering silence is often the answer. Continue reading