Monday, November 11, 2013
Many of today's veterans who have served in our country's recent conflicts, suffer wounds that are invisible to many of us. Some suffer from depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. In an October, 2019 post, I wanted to recommend a saint, who could be a spiritual companion for veterans. That post is below:
Yesterday, October 4th, was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Now St. Francis has been designated as the patron saint of Italy, Catholic Action, animals, and the environment. A patron saint is considered a special intercessor before God for an either group of people with a specific profession, illness and who work for special causes. I would like to make the suggestion that St. Francis be considered the patron saint of veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Now I say this because Francis was not always the little holy friar, constantly in prayer, communing with the birds and the animals. In his younger days, he was an active, wealthy, young buck; the leader of the Assisi party scene, who longed to be a part of the nobility. Now for a commoner to move into those circles, he had to be knighted. To be knighted, he had to perform some great military service for a local lord. In medieval Italy, it was not hard to find some little war, somewhere. As it turned out, Francis’ home town of Assisi was going to war with their neighbors, the city of Perugia. So Francis had his father spring for armor and weapons, and he joined the other Assisian men of arms as they marched on Perugia. The two armies met at a bridge and a battle ensued. Now in those days, soldiers fought each other with spears, swords, axes and daggers. It was close, in your face, combat. One survived by chopping off an opponents' limbs or gutting him. Blood and gore would have been everywhere. Long story short, the Perugians whipped the men of Assisi butts. Those who survived were either scattered or captured. The captured commoners were sent to hard labor for Perugia, the nobles were cast into dungeons, to await their families ransoming them. Because Francis was so well decked out, he was considered to be a noble and was incarcerated with the others.
Now the dungeons were dark, damp, with little water or food. It is reported that Francis tried to keep his companions’ spirits up by singing songs made famous by French troubadours. But eventually, even he was worn down by the long captivity. Finally, his family was able to pay his ransom, and he was released. Francis was bedridden for a long time with illness when he got back to Assisi. When he recovered, he was able to go out once again amongst the hills and valleys of Umbrian countryside. But nature’s beauty no longer touched him. Parties no longer brought joy to his heart. Feeling empty, he began turning to God for help. He would spend more time in prayer, seeking out caves for solitude. As he opened himself more to the Father’s presence, he began to experience God’s love for him, and the peace that comes with it. It was the beginning of his conversion.
In his book, “My Life with the Saints,” Father James Martin, SJ, writes: “My novice director told me that he thought of the saints as older brothers and sisters to whom one could look for advice and counsel.” I would like to think that veterans can see in Francis, somebody they can identify with, and someone they can turn to for help and encouragement.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
On the Catholic Church's calender, this day is called "Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed." Another common name for it is, "All Souls Day." It is a special day during which Christians offer prayers for departed loved ones, and those who have died without anyone to remember them. We pray that all the souls of the faithful departed are enjoying the peace and joy of Heaven. Today, I remember in prayer, my father, Bill, my mother, Marna, and my uncle, Bill Winrow. We lost Mom and Uncle Bill this past year, Dad we lost in 2011. Earlier today, I went to my parents grave site; brushed the dried pine needles and leaves from their plaque. I left some fresh flowers and offered prayers. For a little while, as I stood there, the area was quiet, very still. When I got back into the car to leave, for a minute or so, I did not want to turn the ignition key. No matter how much time has passed, the feelings of sorrow, of loss, are just underneath the surface; ready to pop back into our consciousness.
This, however, I believe with all my heart and soul, that though separated by death, we are all still one in the Body of Christ. And as I offer prayers for their sakes, I know deep down, that they are offering prayers for my sake, and the sake of all my relatives. And I have the hope that there will be a day, when all of of us will be reunited, and we will find ourselves enfolded in our Father's arms.
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the no torment shall touch them. They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead, and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace." (Book of Wisdom, Chap. 3)
Friday, November 1, 2013
Today, on the Church’s calendar, was the Feast of All Saints. It is a day in which the Church acknowledges, and celebrates the thousands of Christians who are saints. These are individuals who have strived to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom the love of God shines out most brightly. They may be unknown to us, but they are known to God. The Church publicly identifies some persons as saints, holding them up to the rest of us as a source of inspiration. This day reminds us that there are saints in our midst. We should seek them out, learn from them, and be inspired by them.