Monday, September 17, 2007

Today is a big day in the Franciscan calendar. Today we celebrate St. Francis receiving the Stigmata.

St. Francis of Assisi spent many years trying his best to imitated Christ Jesus and as such, to actually live the Gospel. To this day, Franciscans around the world strive to live the Gospel life.

Francis lived as a poor man, though his family was wealthy. He sometimes wore the clothes of a beggar. But most often, the habit of a penitent. That is a badly patched grey robe with a hood and a rope belt. Even a leather belt was considered "too rich" for Il Poverello – the little poor man.

To him, Christ was: "My God and My All." That is the motto of Franciscans around the world.

Most people believe that St. Francis received the stigmata at the time of his initial conversion. This is not true. It was close to the end of his life.

In the year 1224, two years before his death, Francis traveled to Mt. La Verna to spend 40 days preceding the feast of St. Michael the Archangel in prayer and fasting. Such had been his custom for years. It was at that time that he received the stigmata.

What is the Stigmata? Stigmata are the marks of the Passion. Very often people count each hand and each foot, for four wounds. That's not how they are counted. The "five wounds of the Passion" are as follows: 1) Nails through the hands, 2) Nails through the feet, 3) Spear through the side, 4) Crown of thorns, 5) Scourging at the pillar.

We are most familiar with images of St. Francis having the nail wounds in both hands and both feet. Many reports say St. Francis carried the 5 wounds. Not according to St. Bonaventure. According to St. Bonaventure, he only had three. Not that that's a bad thing. I'd be a whiney baby sitting in a pool of my own tears if I just had ONE!

St. Bonaventure tells the story of St. Francis and the Stigmata: "Francis was raised to God in the ardor of his seraphic love, wholly transformed by sweet compassion into Him, who, of His exceeding charity, was pleased to be crucified for us. On the morning of the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, as he was praying in a secret and solitary place on the mountain, Francis beheld a seraph with six wings all afire, descending to him from the heights of heaven. As the seraph flew with great swiftness towards the man of God, there appeared amid the wings the form of one crucified, with his hands and feet stretched out and fixed to the cross. Two wings rose above the head, two were stretched forth in flight, and two veiled the whole body.

"Francis wondered greatly at the appearance of so novel and marvelous a vision. But knowing that the weakness of suffering could nowise be reconciled with the immortality of the seraphic spirit, he understood the vision as a revelation of the Lord and that it was being presented to his eyes by Divine Providence so that the friend of Christ might be transformed into Christ crucified, not through martyrdom of the flesh, but through a spiritual holocaust.

"The vision, disappearing, left behind it a marvelous fire in the heart of Francis, and no less wonderful token impressed on his flesh. For there began immediately to appear in his hands and in his feet something like nails as he had just seen them in the vision of the Crucified. The heads of the nails in the hands and feet were round and black, and the points were somewhat long and bent, as if they had been turned back. On the right side, as if it had been pierced by a lance, was the mark of a red wound, from which blood often flowed and stained his tunic."

The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was last Friday.

St. Francis tried to hide stigmata for some time. He was unable to keep the wounds secret from the brethren. After his death they were carefully examined, and they were attested by an ecclesiastical decree.

To commemorate the importance of the wounds, Pope Benedict XI instituted a special feast which is celebrated on September 17th, not only by all branches of the Franciscan Order, but throughout the Latin Church.

Many psychologist say that the stigmata is produced through a sort of autohypnosis. An individual spends so much time meditating on the Passion of Christ that they imprint themselves, through the power of their own minds, with the wounds.

Padre Pio, a well known and highly documented stigmatic, laughed at this idea. He told the psychiatrist who suggested this to him that the man should meditate on a bull for several decades to see if he wound end up sprouting horns.

People think that we Christians are so desperate for proof of God that we'll accept any old thing as a miracle. I can tell you with absolute certainty that - in the Catholic Church - any potential miracle is subject to a barrage of tests.

During his lifetime (1818-1912), Dr. Antoine Imbert-Gourbeyre identified over 320 cases of genuine stigmata. There have been plenty of fakers. One of the most well known being Magdalen de la Cruz. She was a Poor Clare who lived in Cordoba, Spain. Many regarded her as a saint. She eventually confessed that her stigmata was false. The work of the devil. She lived the next 14 years in solitude and great piety.

With the "discovery" that the palms of a corpse nailed to a plank couldn't support the body - there came the launch of stigmatics with holes in their wrists. Such as the one played out in the film Stigmata. I actually liked that film quite a bit. Even though the film maker was somewhat clueless...

An even more recent "discovery" was the "oops" we forgot the Romans supported the feet so a corpse can hang indefinitely with nails through the palms.

So. How do Franciscans celebrate this feast day? This Franciscan seems to have a non-stop appetite today. What else does one do on a feast day? FEAST!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

YIPEE! I made it. As of Thursday March 15th I am officially a Franciscan. Boy. Did I just inherit a lot of "inlaws." My first days as a Franciscan have been just delightful. I attended a FABULOUS Divine Mercy conference on Saturday. I am so peaceful and happy I might just levitate!

This photo is of me and one of my Franciscan family members. Another newly professed Franciscan. He's been with me since Inquiry.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Go Veg for Lent!

Come on. Just try it. I'll help you all I can.

There are so many reasons to just give it a try. You'll lower your cholesterol. You'll feel better. You'll save the planet. You'll feed the hungry and give water to the thirst.

Think about it. It takes 22 pounds of grain and 5000 gallons of water to produce ONE pound of edible beef. Cows aren't meant to eat all that grain. Their meant to eat grass. So they're loaded up with steroids to help them gain muscle mass while they stand in tiny stalls doing nothing. You don't want all those drugs do you? Since they are kept in doors in tiny stalls they must constantly be hosed down. Creating lagoons of manure that pollute surrounding rivers and streams. Methane gas produced by these lagoons in the US alone is doing more damage to the planet that all cars combined.

Don't be afraid of the veggies. Veggies love you. They want to nourish you! Yum!

Then there is the protein question. Protein is readily available in veggie form. AND it doesn't cause you to lose calcium. Yes, digesting animal protein forces your bones to excrete calcium. Any wonder why there's an epidemic of osteoporosis in the US? Try "wheat meat" also known as Seitan. It's twice the protein and half the calories of beef.

Think about it. That's all I'm asking. Just think about it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I read an interesting item today.

I took a brochure on vegan advocacy with me to lunch. It stated that even with all the work of animal rights advocates, the number of animals being killed for food in the U.S. is rising. Currently the number of animals killed each year for food is around 1 and 2/3 the entire population of the earth.


I took a look at abortion statistics. They too seem to be rising, regardless of pro-life efforts. Abortion peaked in 1990. Dropped in 1995 and is now slowly climbing.

Forensic psychologists like Robert Ressler and Brent Turvey have stated that murderers often start out killing and torturing animals. Murder is murder. The two are inextricably linked.

Go to the PETA website. Look at footage of men and women abusing animals in factory farms. Do you really think any of those people consider abortion to be murder? No. They don't. The killing and torture of an animal means nothing to them. Life means nothing to them. How do you think they treat their children? Their spouses?

Stop the violence!

Most Catholics assume vegetarians and vegans are pro-abortion liberals. There are a great many of us who are not. I am an old fashion Catholic. But like Pope John Paul II and many before him, I believe animals are gifts from God. Life is breathed into them the same way it's breathed into us. They are our brothers. We must protect them.

Many Animal Liberationists are pro-choice, which on the surface puts them at odds with pro-lifers. I find it difficult to consider that a person who wouldn't eat an egg because it's chicken murder would end the life of a child. While they may want the choice, they may not choose abortion. Murder is murder.

It is long over due for Pro-lifers and Animal Liberationists to come together. There is room in everyone's heart for children and critters. It doesn't have to be either one or the other.

Let's end the slaughter of innocents.