Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Singing Friar

Today I was listening to the BBC Radio arts and culture program, The Strand, when I heard this story about a Franciscan friar who is gaining fame as a tenor singer.  His name is Friar Alessandro Brustenghi.  The British newspaper, the Telegraph.also wrote a story about this talented friar in May.  He has signed a record deal with Decca Records, with his cut of the sales proceeds to go to the Franciscan Order.  Keep your eyes and ears open for this CD.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi - October 4th

Today was the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.  Following is a 2007 column I wrote about St. Francis for my Secular Franciscan fraternity.

“The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this:  to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.”  (Art. 4, SFO Rule)

A story in The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi has Brother Masseo asking St. Francis, “Say, why it is that all the world comes after you, and everybody desires to see you, and to hear you, and to obey you?”  Almost 800 years later, the question still has relevance.  Why is it that the world is still attracted to the figure of St. Francis?  For many, they attracted to the image of St. Francis, the man who was connected to nature, to whom animals and birds came to readily.  For others, it is the image of Francis, the servant of the poor, the forgotten.  And there are those who see in Francis, a perfect person of prayer and contemplation.

Why are we attracted to this little poor man of Assisi?  For me, Francis shows me how an ordinary person can live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by being a person of prayer, by giving up those things that distract me from loving God, and emptying myself in the service of others.  Francis provides the inspiration for me, and for many others, to find the path that Jesus wishes each of us to take to the Kingdom.

We can all still learn from Francis what it means to live the Gospel life.  It means that we need to learn more about him, read and reflect on his words.  Each of us should try to read the early biographies of his life, written by authors who were still close to him or to those who knew him.  Feel the excitement and the power of his presence that those early biographers felt, and open our hearts and our minds to feel it also.  Then we will come to know the answer to Brother Masseo’s question, “Why after you?”

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi

“All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
            From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
            Happy those She finds doing your will!
            The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
            And serve him with great humility.”
                                                (The Canticle of Brother Sun – St. Francis of Assisi)

“and may whoever observes all this be filled in heaven with the blessing of the most high Father, and on earth with that of his beloved Son, together with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and all the powers of heaven and all the saints.  And I, Brother Francis, your poor worthless servant, add my share internally and externally to that most holy blessing.  Amen.”    (Conclusion of the Testament of St. Francis of Assisi)

O-Day Plus Ten

It has been ten days since my ordination.  Things are different, yet the same.  The Sunday following Ordination Saturday, I assisted at the celebration of Mass at the parish I am assigned to in Beverly, MA.  The Monsignor and I had to quickly go over the parts of the Liturgy that the Deacon has a role in.  Needless to say, I forgot some parts and needed a little nudge.  The biggest challenge I find is being present to the moment in the Liturgy; and not letting my mind race ahead to what I have to do next, or what to say.

Come Monday, (O-Day + 2), I got up, barely made it to my bus, and went to work.  Everything was the same, the same monotony, the same worries, and the same strains that one experiences in daily life.  The beauty, the inspiration, the power one experiences at an ordination, now seems like a dream, a very brief moment in time. 

Now I am still working with the Monsignor to discern what my role in the parish will be, he has the first draft of the “contract” to look over.  I still have to get in touch with the Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education, to discern what my role will be there. 

Last Sunday, after assisting at Mass, I went with one of my brothers to visit my mother at her nursing home.  Now at the Ordination, I forgot about offering a blessing to people who came to me to offer their congratulations.  So at the nursing home, I gave my mother my first blessing as a deacon.  It was a small thing, but also a powerful moment!