Peace! I’ve been quite busy over the last few weeks. I was present at the ‘Vocations Ireland’ stand at the Higher Options Fair in the RDS Dublin on the first day of that event. Sr Eileen Lenihan, a Loreto Sister and President of Vocations Ireland was there too. It was wonderful to have some of the young students male and female, come and visit us displaying an interest in Religious Life. I guess there was the novelty element too as I was wearing my Franciscan habit and of course many of them never saw a Friar before. One young man came to me and asked me if I was a monk and when I said “no I’m a Friar” his response was “I didn’t know there were monks nowadays”. Today most religious orders don’t accept people under twenty but our purpose for going to these events is to present an alternative option for men and women when they complete some form of third level education. Last week I spent the three days at the ‘Vocations Ireland’ tent at the ‘Ploughing Championships’ in Athy, Co Kildare. What a wonderful reception we received from many thousands of the people present. Large numbers visited our tent, prayed there, left their petitions for prayer for the Poor Clare and Carmelite Sisters and took away prayers and literature.
On Monday next we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, our Founder and inspiration in the way we try to follow Jesus. The following is an extract from the beautiful prayer book by Paula Pearce, S.F.O. ‘Prayers From Franciscan Hearts’.
“Death was welcomed by Francis and Clare, who knew they were going straight to their Lord.
The legends tell us of the extreme suffering Francis endured throughout the last two years of his life. Yet Francis praised and thanked God for the consolation he experienced through fulfilling his will by undergoing these tribulations.
It was clear tha Francis was going to die soon and he asked to be taken to the Portiuncula. During the last days he found great solace and comfort from his brothers. He found that he could more easily tolerate his sufferings if some of his companions sang the praises of God. The general minster, Elias, thought this undignified behaviour might cause scandal among the local people, suggesting that it was surely time to prepare for death in a nobler manner. But Francis explained that by the grace of the Holy Spirit he was so united and joined to Christ that he wanted to rejoice with the “Most High Himself.”
Celano tells us that Francis was able to say to the brothers around him: “I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours.”
The legends leave us in no doubt that Francis was very well prepared and truly welcomed Sister Death, while, at the same time, he was eager to give consolation to his brothers.
The glorious nature of his passing was marked by people witnessing his soul ascend into heaven, and larks gathering to rejoice above the place, even though it was already twilight on the even of October 4, 1226.
Here in Galway the Friars will join with the Poor Clare community to celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis. As we celebrate Francis’ passing from this world to the next we ask you to remember us in prayer.
If you are interested in finding out more about St. Francis and the Franciscan Way of Life, please do not hesitate to contact me at: [email protected]
God bless you and have a wonderful ‘Feast Day’ on October 4th.