Tag Archives: Saint Francis

February 13: Favela!

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As well as fantasy, the BOing! Festival at the University of Kent tried to provide a contrasting awareness of the hurtful and distressing reality of severe overcrowding. This installation in the foyer of the Gulbenkian Theatre was called ‘Favela’ which is the name for large concentrations of slum dwellings in shanty town conditions around the cities of South America. The impression of thousands of families barely housed at all, piled on top of one another, given here for the teenagers and pre-teens to wonder at, was very striking. Poverty, even when represented in a cardboard imitation, is overwhelming.

The Brazilian Catholic Franciscan theologian Leonardo Boff writes about the way in which Francis of Assisi “brought great liberation to the poor,” even without the advantages of a social services structure. “That which makes poverty inhuman is not solely (though it is principally) the non-satisfaction of basic life needs. It is the denigration, exclusion from human community, the introjections into the poor of a negative image of themselves, an image produced by the dominating classes. The poor person begins to believe he is low and despicable.”

In St. Francis, “the ferment of the Gospel breaks forth in all its questioning, challenging reality. We realize how lazy we are, how strong the old man still remains within us. [Francis] is more than an ideal; he is a way of being, an experience of identification with all that is simplest, fraternization with all that is lowliest, enabling the emergence of the best that is hidden within each human being.” [From L. Boff & W. Buehlmann eds., Build Up my Church.]

CD, January 2017

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5 January: On the way and already there.

 

Saint Francis is known for his Christmas Crib, among many other things. All sorts of additions have been made to the Nativity scene since then, often reflecting the way of life around where a crib is set.

Our family crib too has extras for our delight. The West Highland Terrier is a rescue dog; he has attached himself to the Magi on the way to the stable of Bethlehem in our living room, where he was found wedged under the skirting when the floor was sanded and polished.

As for the little black cat who has taken up residence in the stable already, making friends with the gentle cow: she is another foundling. When our daughters were little I would bring home these tiny toy animals, each in its own tiny bag from a tiny shop in Broadstairs; unwrapping them on Friday evening started the weekend. There was delight when this one was unearthed in the garden; she was gone but not forgotten. In gratitude for those happy days, she will sit in the stable for years to come.

We are on the way to meet the Lord, but we may be surprised to see who is ready to greet us when we get there!

MMB.

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Further Notes from a Pilgrimage

3rd October Assisi

from .casa papa giovanni.foursquare

After siesta we had our own Transitus service for Francis. Michael, one of the pilgrims, was Francis, with others taking the part of Leo, Rufino and Lady Jacoba and a narrator. Very moving and they did it well. (The Transitus remembers St Francis’s transition from this life to the next, drawing on the memories of those who were present.)

Soon after that they all went down to Porziuncola for the Transitus there with the Minister General giving a blessing with the relic. that makes it sound short but of course it wasn’t, there were speeches of welcome etc from everyone to everyone, and especially from Assisi to Piedmont which is the district bringing the oil for the tomb of Francis this year. Then there was Evening Prayer and a long homily and finally the Blessing and more speeches and acceptance of the oil and more speeches! No corners are cut as a rule and this year seems to have been the same. I did not go as I went last year and think that will do, especially as I have now been through six holy doors and been to confession. No need to overdo things! The six doors are St John Lateran, St Peter’s, Rieti Cathedral, San Rufino, Porziuncola and San Francesco. I hope you are impressed!

This evening the people of Piedmont were given a free supper in the piazza by the comune. Tables and chairs filled half of it and on the other half the young men in mediaeval costume with their banners ready for the display, were hanging around. Some of them were really little boys but obviously proud of being there in the period costumes and with smaller banners. It is a smart move on the part of the Comune to bring them in so young and get them enthused, it secures the major tourist attraction for the future apart from keeping a tradition alive! Drums started up at about 10.00 but I think we were all in bed by then, pilgrimaging is tiring and by now it begins to show. Almost everyone goes to bed soon after supper which is about 8.30/9.00 by the time it is finished.

4 October
Today was The Feast so we began with Morning Prayer in the chapel here at Casa Papa Giovanni, a nice morning prayer based in the Canticle of Creation and honouring the five elements though at this moment I can’t recall what the fifth is!
After that we had a festive breakfast, which means that the pilgrims were offered bacon and scrambled eggs though this member of staff did not participate! Kumi, the nice Korean woman ate mine. She is the one who shocked us all by arriving off the plane in a wheelchair! In fact she has turned out to be a lovely, reflective woman, though walking a lot is not easy for her, she is very small boned and frail looking and has neuropathy in her feet. But she said the other day that she is much stronger for all the walking as at home she simply walks from the front door to the car. But she is going to go home with good resolutions! Breakfast once survived, we went down to the piazza to see the procession to the Basilica.

See photos here: 

This was only ten minutes late when the trumpeters blew their trumpets and the drums drummed, ear splittingly resonant in the enclosed piazza as there were about 20 drummers with big drums like oil drums! When the procession came, it was lovely, preceded by all the school children of Assisi schools who had made symbols of the Canticle of Creation and all came through waving suns and moons and stars and flowers and rain drop etc, made of coloured card and mounted on drinking straws. They stole the show as you can imagine. Then all the guilds, led by those of Piedmont and closed by those of Assisi, came with banners and coloured scarfs though only Assisi wears mediaeval clothes. They look heavy and the women’s dresses all drag on the ground and have trains which drag even more but would keep the mosquitoes out. That’s for sure. The procession made its way down the hill to San Francesco for the Grand Mass with whichever grandees of the church were around and some of the pilgrims joined in, on fact I think they all did. Una, an Irish sister, was right in the middle with the guilds who either did not care or thought she belonged to somebody else. The upshot was that she got into the basilica and had a seat while the rest were asked for tickets which they did not have!!!

At 12.00 we had a festive Mass at the Casa, homily from ft, and then a very festive pranzo, beginning with a mouthful of salmon on a thin slice of bread with lemon and another tiny slice with some sort of fish paste, a superior sort of fish paste actually. This was followed by manicotti which is a thin lasagna rolled around mozzarella cheese mixed with spinach. Then came either slices of veal, chips and veg and, as they have done each day, they made me a vegetarian dish, which I have never asked for but much appreciated. Usually it is some variant on aubergines and cheese and this was too, but very tasty. Finally we wound up with a kind of ice cream saturated in something or other very nice, with enough thin slices of cake around the edge to hold it up! Wine flowed of course and afterwards the house was very quiet!

After a little riposo I went down to San Francesco to look at the frescoes as I do a presentation on those in the lower basilica. Every year it gets easier and I feel more confident and could do it without my notes but I take them for the dates. Then I came back, about 4pm, nothing until 7.30 so I sat in the shade on the roof garden and read. What a treat! About 6.30 it began to get chilly and I came in and wrote a bit of this journal.

The pilgrims were out on their own for cena and we had ours with two friends of André who are joining us for these few days, two nice people, both of Italian extraction, here to celebrate their fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. Then about 7pm Murray invited me into his room for a pre-cena drink, then we went to supper with the couple and drank some wine. Then Antonella, the lady, produced some Alverna, a herbal digestivo. So the conversation got better and better as you can imagine, also louder and louder in true Italian style.

On that rather disedifying note, I will leave you for this posting and do more later. Love and prayers to all.

La Verna from Wikipedia

Dear All,

News from Rome

I know I said nothing about the wonderful day we had at La Verna where the weather was beautiful, and the Australian pilgrim and the two Poor Clares (not this one) climbed the mountain and came back with stunning photos of the mountain panorama all round them. Coming back in the bus we read to the pilgrims the letter which is read on the refectory on 30 September each year. This letter is Brother Masseo’s account of Francis leaving for the last time and saying farewell to the mountain and the falcon, thanking them, and to the rocks which had sheltered him. It is a very moving letter which I just managed to read aloud without getting choked up. Having had only cestini, bread and cheese or salami for the meat eaters, and water to drink, we were all glad of a very nice pasta supper when we got back to Casa Papa Giovanni.

One day we went down to San Rufino d’Arce, the church of the young Rufino, martyred because he would not lie. This is cared for by some Franciscan sisters, who welcomed us warmly as always, we had Mass there and then a short ritual in honour of St Mary Anne Cope who worked among the lepers at Molokai with Damian. She is one of the first canonised saints of USA and so especially dear to the Americans. Then on to the even smaller church of La Maddalena where it is probable that Clare and her sisters came to work with the lepers in the early days. This is not only a tradition in Assisi but also we know that Francis sent all those who joined him in the early days to spend time among the lepers, and that for a while this counted as a novitiate.

 

We know that he did nothing to make anything easier for Clare and it seems most probable that he would have insisted that she, Agnes, Pacifica and Filippa learnt in that same school. If so, this is the logical place, the chapel of the women lepers and just down the hill from San Damiano. There we had a ritual replicating the ‘funeral’ service which was said over any poor wretch diagnosed with leprosy, when they were given their begging bowl, bell and clapper to warn people, told always to stand downwind of anyone, not to approach anyone. It was a real death sentence, but a living death that could go on for years. Down at that actual place and looking up the hill towards Assisi, you can imagine how terrible that must have been to know that your family, friends, home and everything were there but unattainable. Actually when I looked at my choice collection of mosquito bites, in spite of anti-zanzare spray, I wondered how many of them had other things than leprosy. Each year there was a new podestà and one of his first duties was to go through the town and seek out any new lepers and remove them.

On the 6th the day began with Mass at the tomb of Francis followed by a presentation on the art of the upper basilica (André) and then the lower basilica (me – it went OK). At the end of all that they were all pretty bombed out. I went off and had an espresso then felt up to climbing the hill. Towards the top I met Luisa and Isabel, the two USA Poor Clares so we had yet another photocall. We also met in the afternoon and had a gelato together and a good chat as a result of which I forgot there was a lecture at 5.00 on finding the tombs, and that I was supposed to be there to do finding Clare’s tomb. By the grace of God and my two guardian angels, I arrived on time to do my half.

The day after St Francis was the Fair in Assisi. It began with Morning Prayer and then a festive breakfast. The next day too was festive food as it was our last meal together. The kitchen pulled put all the stops and gave us a  festive pranzo, which started with an antipasto of truffles on a thin slice of bread and some little round rusk like biscuits with mozarella and an olive, very tasty!  It closed as it should, with Tiramisù and champagne! One of these days, maybe the day of the feast, Murray went out and bought porchetta for himself and André and two friends. Porchetta is a slice of young pig which is roasted whole with traditional herbs then eaten cold with good local bread. Since I don’ t eat meat I too went shopping at the stalls and bought a huge slice of Piedmontese focaccia bread with olives and tomatoes in, also some pecorello (sheep or goat’s milk)  cheese and a small jar of honey to go with it, some olives and coils of liquorice which I treated myself to. I also stocked up on striped socks!  So lunch was a light hearted affair and everyone tucked into the focaccia as well as their own porchetta.

I also managed to call in at the art shop where the work of several artists is represented, and Allesandro was offering me, thanks to Murray’s introduction, a couple of pictures which I might like for the cover of volume four part two. We shall see. The deal is that he and his brother who is the artist, have a copy each which they display in shop or studio and I have the picture for free. Sounds good me.

Then finally we arrived at the closing ritual. They had gelled into such a lovely group. After some readings and prayer, each of us said a little something and then we gave each pilgrim a Tau cross and sent them off to be ‘champions of the Tau’ in the words of Innocent III.

Next morning it was up early and on the bus by 4.30 to head for Rome and the first flight out for USA. That was this morning, though it seems like a lifetime away but as the evening moves on, it feels like I have not been to bed for a very long time, so that is all I am going to write tonight!

Love and prayers to one and all
ft

 

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: Bastia San Paolo and San Damiano

 

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This morning we went to San Paolo in Bastia, where Clare went, accompanied by some of the friars, after they had received her into their fraternity at the Porziuncola. History does not record what the Benedictines felt or thought when she turned up at 2 or 3 in the morning with a bunch of scruffy young men, and in fact they did not take her into the enclosure but possibly into the guest house, or even the servants’ quarters. This becomes quite clear when you are there as the chapel with the altar which scholars seem certain is the one to which she clung when the family accosted her, is obviously not a big monastic choir and would never have had rooms for all the nuns. So it must have been some sort of outside chapel. It is quite little, perhaps three times as big as our chapel in Hollington.

The sister who always used to bring over the Mass things for us from their monastery in Bastia was called Sister Noemi. But about two years ago she was elected abbess so we have not seen her. So it was a lovely aurprise when she came over herself together with the previous abbess, Madre Cecilia, who had been abbess when we had the Poor Clare pilgrimage and had gone to their monastery as they are the descendants of San Paolo. We had a nice chat, she told me that they had a profession last week but have also taken in six elderly sisters from two monasteries which have had to close. The protomonastery have done the same, so it looks as if there have been several closures over the last year or so. I asked her if there was really nothing in their archives (which is what they had told me earlier) about the incident with Clare and her family, and she replied that she had been thinking about it too and thinks it possible that there is something on the archives of San Giuseppe in Assisi. When the monastery was invaded, the sisters grabbed what they could and fled, but went back late to collect other stuff. Some sisters went to Bastia but some also went into Assisi to the monastery of San Giuseppe. So I will write to them (sometime) and see if there is anything there.

We had a beautiful Mass and we three Poor Clares renewed our vows. The other two are both from the Philippines originally but now in different monasteries in USA. They are having a wonderful time, bowled over almost every day! They will go home exhausted but topped up for a long while to come.

So back to the Casa for pranzo and a minimal reposo since we were back in taxis at 3.45 to go to San Damiano for Clare, These are the Clare days. There were crowds of people there and since nobody is allowed to talk inside the monastery, I had to do all the input outside. Murray is on good terms with the Irish friars there, and asked the reason for this new prohibition which makes things very difficult. He said that there had been some incidents and friars leading groups had been very confrontational with the resident friars so the whole community in chapter had decided to insist on silence throughout the monastery. Understandable since it is not only their home but also their novitiate but hard on those who come for a once in a lifetime visit. One our way back through the Piazza Commune, there was a concert going on to raise money for those whose homes were damaged in the earthquake. This includes some of the Poor Clares, mainly those in Camerino as you probably know. I had a couple of letters to translate about it which Cortona were going to circulate.

We closed our visit to San Damiano by going into their small conference room where we had a Ritual of Healing. Murray had found a little bottle of nard so we used that, the scent was wonderful and lingered. It was especially appropriate as at Bastia we had used the gospel about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly ointment, pure nard. People really gave themselves to the ceremony and it was very moving. As it is a small group we both anointed everyone and then Murray and I anointed each other. Then we hopped back into taxis and up to the Casa where their day was not finished since they had a lecture at 6 on the Office of the Passion in preparation to La Verna tomorrow and after supper Murray had a poetry reading. Everyone was tired but as he got into his stride they all got caught up in it and woke up and entered into the poems. He does it so well and the poems he uses are very accessible and he introduces them well, so it is always a good experience.

A long day but a good one. Tomorrow off to the mountain, two hours nearly each way by bus; early start, 6.45 breakfast, never my favourite moment, watch this space.

Love to all and prayers in each place ft

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4 October: Being a Follower of St Francis Today.

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Saint Francis at the Holy Family Sanctuary, Zakopane, Poland, MMB

What does it mean – being a follower of St Francis today?

Francis of Assisi, born in 1182 – died in 1226 – and people are today still following him.  But what does that mean? Being a follower of Francis?

Francis always, always points us away from himself and towards Christ.  We could say then that to be a follower of St Francis is to be first and foremost a follower of Christ after the example of Francis.

What does that mean?  What was the example of Francis?  A few examples might help.

Francis was a man who fell hopelessly and totally in love with God, with Christ.  This did not happen overnight.   He had many struggles on the way as all of us will have who seek to love Christ totally.  It all came to a head in 1224, two years before he died, when he received the Sacred Stigmata on Mount Alverna. The sign of Francis’ love for Christ and the seal of Christ’s love for Francis.  Another sign then of a being a follower of Francis is a constant falling in love with Christ.

Francis had a tremendous love for nature, for creation.  He saw creation, creatures, all creatures, all created things as coming from the same source – the Fatherhood of God. Therefore all things were his brothers and sisters.  Because of this all creation, all his brothers and sisters were to be treated with the greatest respect and dignity.   To Franciscans today what does that say to them with regard to the refugees, the hate crimes, the spoiling of our earth?

What other characteristics of Francis do we find that followers of Francis would wish to emulate? The list is never ending and I am sure you can add to it but who can forget his love for the Infant Child.

Francis could never get over the fact that God became a human being just like us.  That he was born just like any other person as a tiny baby with human needs.  To bring that fact home to the men and women of his day he had the first crib built in Greccio.  Through this he teaches us the humility of God.  If God shows such humility how, he asks us, can we dare to show any pride when all that we have and are come from God.

MMcG

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October 3: Saint Francis’ Eve.

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My friends, it’s Monday, and the working week starts for many of us. Work, politics, social life, all can seem at odds with our calling and mission as Christians, but here’s another view from David Yorke, a secular Franciscan in California. And of course tonight we will celebrate the Transitus of St Francis, and tomorrow the Feast of the Poverello.  Read on and be encouraged! 

Will Turnstone.

Over the years, and in various ways, I continually hear others among our Order who tend to shy away from the word “Secular” in reference to our Franciscan way of life. As for me, this is something that I hope to continually embrace. When I introduce myself as being in Religious Orders, invariably, the follow up questions all stem from the words, “But, how?” My response to them is unequivocal, “I’m a Secular.” Every day I am further reminded by all that is around me – I am a Religious Man in a Secular World.

Those I have talked to across my State and Nation all seem to be experiencing a universal uprising in both angst and vexation. I can not help but think this has spawned the polarising political movements that are dominating the mass media outlets across the United States. Pure vitriol. Yesterday I came across a car that had two bumper stickers. A “Tolerance” sticker on one side of the car, yet some very damning words directed towards a minority political group were displayed on the other. Many people today are angry, incensed, and hurt to the point of blindness and loss of rational thought. All things you might commonly find in a Secular World.

In the book of John, Christ offers up one of the most amazing prayers for his disciples. If we focus more specifically on the few verses around Chapter 17 Verse 15, we find some pertinent words from our Saviour for us “today”. Our Lord asked that you and I remain in this world. He knew we would be exposed to evil, so He provided us with Truth as our sanctification.

Recently, my superior shared this important lesson: ‘ As Franciscans we are supposed to come together in Joy and take that Joy out into the World. Sometimes we get this reversed and we bring the World into the Franciscans.’

This is the challenge put before us all. Clergy, Religious, or Laity, we are are in this World but not of it. When we come together, let us share God’s Love. When we leave, let us take that Truth out in to the World.

I will leave you with a paraphrase of a quote by John Kennedy that frequently inspires me: “… We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And this is why I am a “Secular” Franciscan, and will remain…..
Your most unworthy,

David A. York, ofs Minister ~ San Luis Rey

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: VII.

San Damiano, by Gunnar Bach Petersen

More news from Sister Frances Teresa in Assisi

27 September
Our adventures have not been as exciting as those of another group here, school children, 15 or 16, from two Catholic Colleges in USA. These run a senior programme in Franciscan studies and bring them here at the end of the year for a week in Assisi. The week before coming away, one of the girls kicked the football and her Achilles Tendon snapped, extremely painful. Then during the week, another child fell and broke her ankle and two of the staff spent most of the night at Perugia Hospital. Neither child wanted to go home and miss anything, so both hobbled round on crutches which must have been challenging for the team leaders. Fortunately they were six, the number relevant to student numbers that USA schools require. One was the head of the school, an ex-military man from Afghanistan who had them all exactly where he wanted them, no nonsense although he was so friendly with them and a nice bloke. But when he said ‘6.00pm’ they were there!!

On Tuesday we had our first visit to San Damiano, for Francis this time, so they were warned not to ask about Clare! San Damiano’s new guardian has forbidden any talking in the building so it all has to be done outside before you go in, when it doesn’t really make much sense! However we had a lovely Mass with Murray who preached about stones and had earlier given them his wonderful talk about Troubadours and the Canticle of Creation. After dinner, came some riposo and they had a bit of space until Andre’s lecture on the document on solitude, the preferred name for the rule for hermitages.

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Wednesday was the day for Cortona and Lake Trasimeno. The talk on solitude is a preparation for the day when we give them a doggy bag of two panini and two bottles of water and after getting there, send them off in silence for three hours. Getting there means a drive of about an hour to Tuscany in the rush hour. Then we went to the sanctuary of St Margaret of Cortona for which I had been detailed to do the historical input, starting from knowing nothing! I read a couple of pamphlets and put the talk and people seemed happy. The sister who ran the place were so nice and friendly and know the Poor Clares in Cortona. I would love to have visited them, but there is simply no time as after Mass we bundled back into the coach to go and catch the ferry to the island.

Once on the boat, we watched a nice couple with their black labrador dog, they had to put a muzzle on him to come on the boat and he did not like it. They were near us on the boat, the man was a cabin crew worker and spoke good English though they were Belgian. They clearly loved their dog and said he always went on holidays with them. When we came to leave, some hours later, the man came up in a rush to speak to the captain, then we saw him walk away and join his wife, but no sign of the dog though his wife was there. He put his arm round her and they hurried off. Clearly they had lost him, perhaps he had rushed off after a pheasant, of which there are lots on the island, though one pilgrim insisted they were peacocks. Alas.  However we will never know if they found their much loved dog, I hope they did. One comfort is that it is an island and another is that they clearly loved him so won’t abandon him, I keep praying to know they have met up but can’t see how even God can work that one!

It was lovely on the island though when Francis was there for Lent it may have been a lot tougher. The tradition is that he went on Shrove Tuesday with two loaves and returned on Maundy Thursday with one and a half. I had eaten mine by 2pm!! Apart from the anxiety about the dog, it was a lovely afternoon and clearly had been for all the pilgrims. They all slept on the coach coming back, saturated with sun and solitude! Maybe they were really relaxed too.

Love to one and all ft

29 September

Today was the feast of one of the pilgrims, Michael, a nice Australian bloke (or cobber?!) and also the day we went to Santa Chiara. Big day for me. We began with Mass at the tomb, which they only allow on two days a week, always a lovely Mass though I have big reservations about the tomb! After that we had a historical visit and they let us into the railed off transept to see the dossal and also to have prayer ritual in the San Damiano chapel. We think these favours are helped along by the fact that each year we carry all the coins collected in various boxes around the basilica, and change them into euros which the Italian banks will collect. This year I had nearly €400 worth of sterling. It is not so much the money as the weight. When we collected the box it weighed a ton and Andre struggled along with his bad back. I offed to take a turn but he said it weighed more than I do. If only! Finally we put it in a knapsack and carried a handle each. They should have a nice little consignment when US and Australian dollars are all collected. Michael, our Aussie component checked the exchange rate for me and I was dismayed to find a pound is almost down to a euro, £10 is €11.5 all because of Brexit they hasten to tell me on many occasions. Clearly the rest of the world thinks we went mad and hope it is temporary.
More anon with love to one and all.

I heard last night that Andrea Williams had just died, she was a longstanding friend and so lovely. Please pray for her and her children and grandchildren and all her friends.
ft

 

 

 

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: VI – Tranfer to Assisi

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Assisi by Roberto Ferrari 


 

22 September 2016

This morning we went to the fourth sanctuary in this Rieti Valley, that of La Foresta, a place where Francis often came. In fact he came so much that the people used to come out of Rieti to see him and one autumn, they ate all the grapes from the vineyard of the parish priest. He was upset because that was his wine supply for the year. But Francis promised him that he would have as much wine as usual and maybe more if he did not grumble or give out to the people but shared what he had with them. The priest did this and Francis’ promise came true.

La Foresta is run by the group of young men called Mondo X, a movement started by one of the friars, now 85 but still very much with his hand on the tiller. His belief was that the Franciscan Rule offered immense potential for healing and gradually over the years it has become a way of life for young people in trouble, whether with drugs, alcohol, sex or whatever, They live a very simple life, growing all their own food as far as possible, and the ‘programme’ is basically that sharing and fraternity are healing. They have a lot of sharing, and a lot of work and also pray together. When a young person comes, they mercy.carving. (328x640)commit themselves for three years and after that they can either leave to a more ordinary life or if they wish stay as long as they want. The basic philosophy is that as they create beauty outside in their environment, they also create beauty within themselves and that beauty is healing. To the visitor, the place is certainly beautiful and well cared for. As always, we asked if one of them would come and explain their lives to the pilgrims, which they did. It is a good example of Franciscan principles in action today. They also said that the whole place was badly shaken during the earthquake and that they all slept out in the garden for ten days until the quakes stopped and the place was considered safe to return to.

So after Mass in the pre-Francis chapel of San Fabiano, and the talk from the young man, the pilgrims had a quick historical visit and then some time on their own. We returned to the Villa Cabrini for an early lunch and just after 2 we were on the road to Assisi. By half past four we were unloading all the cases from the coach onto the pavement. Marcello who runs the taxi firm and his son Massimo were waiting and put everything into taxis as you can’t take a coach into the city of Assisi, the streets are too narrow. As it was we had to turn back at one point and come into Assisi from a different angle than usual as the bus was five centimetres too high to go under an arch. So we turned back and went another way which was much nicer since we went along the valley towards the Porziuncola with some beautiful views of Assisi up on its hill.

Once the baggage was loaded Murray and I started walking the pilgrims through the town, encouraging the inveterate photo takers and shoppers that they have 15 days to come back! Finally we got all of them to Casa Papa Giovanni and the rooms allocated and luggage off to the right room. Fortunately there seem among our 13 a number of strong ones who are very happy to carry cases and help the less strong. So in no time all was sorted. They then had space until 5 when we all met and they all were given maps and told various bits and pieces of info which I suspect most forget and then have to rediscover from themselves. Hopefully they will remember things like that the house is locked at 10.30!! After that Murray took them on an introductory tour of the city and I joined later, and took them on to S Chiara to pay our respects to the Lady. I was very touched that Sr Fidelis, the extern sister who was on duty in the church, remembered me and greeted me very warmly. I promised to arrange for the two Poor Clares in the group to visit the Protomonastery.

Sr Fidelis has reason to remember me because annually she gives us the coins which pilgrims and tourists have put in their candle box, as the banks won’t accept the foreign coins. So we exchange them for paper money euros and then talk the pilgrim into carrying the coins home. Fortunately there is a nice FMDM on the pilgrimage so she will help me with the sterling, as last year my case weighed a ton with a big bag of coppers and 10p bits!

Soon after that we had supper, pretty noisy as there is a group of USA college students. At one of the Catholic schools in USA they do a senior programme in Franciscan studies at the end of which they bring the students to Assisi for a week or so. They are a very impressive bunch of young people and all the teachers in our own group are impressed by how well behaved they seem to be. But the dining room was full and the noise level high!

So that brings that day to an end, more anon! Tomorrow we go the the reputed birthplace of Francis and in the afternoon climb up to the Rocca and have a peace service. Love to one and all and please keep praying. I am remembering everyone everywhere, often in a large sort of way like that but God has you all sorted out OK as do Francis and Clare for sure.

Lots of love ft

 

 

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Notes from a Pilgrimage: V.

This stone outside the main South Porch of Canterbury Cathedral marks the start of the ancient  Via Francigena through France to Rome.

More from Sister Frances Teresa as she makes her way through Italy

 
19 September

Posted: 20 Sep 2016 07:15 AM PDT

Today we went to Poggio Bustone, the place of pardon, also the place where Francis went very early on with a bunch of brothers. The locals thought they were scruffy and disreputable and shunned them. So to break the atmosphere, Francis went up to them and said Buon giorno, buona gente, Good morning good people, and the ice began to break. Today on his feast a friar goes round the village knocking on all their doors and saying Buon  giorno buona gente!

When we arrived we found a French Mass already in progress, but the nice guardian said they would not be long and they weren’t. This is the sanctuary where Francis finally found a sense of having been forgiven by God and the friars make it a centre of forgiveness, schools bring children here for first confessions too. So those who wanted had the chance of confession. André began by speaking about his niece who had had twins, and towards the end of her pregnancy, she was so big she felt there was no room in her for anything else! Sin is like that, he said, it fills us up till there is less and less room for Christ. So everyone went to confession!! After that there was some prayer space, the energetic ones, about eleven of them, climbed the mountain up to the top where there is a chapel and a cave where Francis used to stay with Brother Elias. Once there they rang a bell as the tradition requires! Then they came down very pleased with themselves! I sat on a bench and thought some thoughts and wrote a bit more of the essay on solitude I am writing for the book Andre is producing. I keep writing little bits but when I get home I shall have to see how to cobble them together!

Then back into the bus and back to the Cabrini Centre for pranzo. André had a guest, the 5times great niece of Fr Pamphilo who was the Italian friar sent to USA in the late 1800s to minister to the Italian immigrants. Pamphilo or perhaps Pamfilo then went on to be the founder  of the Province, and of St Bonaventure’s University in Washington and of two religious congregations, two because he founded one then the bishop of another diocese wanted the sisters but their own bishop would not let them leave so Pamphilo founded another lot. Great man!

With the help of Margaret Carney when she was President of the University, they wanted to bring his body to USA but it could not be found. This is because in Italy they put the bodies in the grave or, more likely as in this case, into a sort of little house, then after some years, when the shelf fills up, they shovel the bones to the back and put the new body in front. All very well but who knows now which bones are whose? However the latest is that they are thinking of a way, possibly through DNA testing. He had seven siblings all of whom had seven or eight children, so there are millions of descendants from whom to get DNA. Pamfilo’s niece, called Laura, is about late 40s, lovely girl.

As I have never seen the city of Rieti, she took me in during siesta time, very noble of her. She showed me the city which is small, the cathedral and the old part, very picturesque. We were just passing the church door of the Poor Clares when the portiere epened it so we said hullo, and she turned out to be a very friendly and chatty Sicilian.  She was very pleased to meet another PC especially from England where she thought mercy.carving. (328x640)everyone was a Protestant! We had a great chat, she told me the monastery is built on the foundations of the house of Angelo Trancredi, a former knight who joined Francis and that they still have a room which goes back to that time. The monastery was founded on 1230s, within the life-time of Clare. It housed 34 when she entered and now they are eight and all old. Every day they run what she called Mensa Santa Chiara, the table of St Clare, with the help of local lay people, and feed over 100 poor people every day.

Laura, my guide, told me that their abbess, who was younger, got worn out and transferred to the monastery of Camerino. As it happened, I had recently translated a letter from the sisters in Camerino appealing for help because their monastery is 3/4 destroyed in the earthquake, including the church. There are five or six Poor Clare monasteries damaged n the earthquake. Even Cortona told me they had felt the shocks though had no damage. You wonder what will happen to all these monasteries, even more so when less than 50 yards up the road I found another Poor Clare monastery but nobody was around. In fact the place looks deserted, I hate to think what it is like inside. So sad. Then Laura took me home, having thoroughly practised my Italian and somewhat tired!
More anon, love to one and all ft

 

 

 

 

 

20 September

 

This morning we went to Fonte Colombo where Francis wrote the Rule, had his eyes cauterised and lived at various times before that very peacefuly in a lovely spot.

After Mass we had the historical visit. This is one of the friaries which go back to Francis’ time, though not the church we see today, chapel really. Because this is such a small group, only fourteen, we didn’t divide them as we usually do, half coming to me for a recommitment ceremony and half going to Murray to visit the Magdalen chapel and see the Tau on the wall almost certainly painted by Francis himself. Instead they all came as one which was nicer when possible. I had lit the candles and was waiting until they came, watching a lizard running up a tree branch but I did not have a chance to find out what he would do when he reached the end because the pilgrims arrived! Because of the steep slope of the land, he would have a long long drop if he dropped. But I guess he has more sense.

The recommitment is always moving, very simple a short scripture reading, a psalm which we said altogether, then they have a lit candle each from the ones standing on the small stone altar amid the mouse droppings! They read a statement of commitment all together, and we give them a card each signed by the three staff. It means as much  as each one invests in it, but nearly always they do invest greatly. You don’t come on a pilgrimage like this and then fool around.

Then they had some free time, photograph time, prayer time, gazing into space time, some beautiful space to gaze into and the sky was as clear as can be, almost every rock of the mountains opposite could be seen. The temperature last night went down to 11C so a big change from the temperature in Rome. It was quite a shock to wake up in the morning and hear a cock crow, some rooks, a distant dog and a cow mooing, instead of two hundred cars and seven hundred motor bikes, all honking and hooting! Out of my window which overlooks the front drive, I can see pine trees and grass and hear the permanently cross squirrel in the trees. The little cat Rocchi who was a small kitten last year, seemed to remember me and jumped up on my lap purring like a train.

All for the moment as it is almost time for the talk. I know I have heard it before but each time I rehear it, I seem to find something else good.

All for now, love to one and all
Ft

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A Franciscan sort of day: October 8th in Bexhill.

mariesposter

Dear Friends and Followers,

My Friend Marie asked me to  publicise this event in Bexhill-on-Sea over in Sussex. I am happy to do so. Laudato Si! A Franciscan sort of day, just after his feast.

A chance to learn a little about how our individual efforts can help care for our God-given Mother Earth.

If you are over that way, why not drop in and see what they are up to!

God Bless,

Will.

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