This week, we read and pray with another chapter from the Little Flowers of Saint Francis, a fifty-three part series of legends and stories about the Poor Man of Assisi. This week, please join us and praying with Chapter XVII: Saint Dominic and the Chapter of Mats, in which Saint Dominic doubts a new commandment issued by Saint Francis at a large chapter meeting. Saint Dominic, pray for us! Saint Francis, pray for us! Saint Clare, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, Chapter XVII:
Saint Francis, Saint Dominic, and the Chapter of Mats
Saint Francis, a faithful servant of Christ, summoned his brothers to Saint Mary of the Angels. More than five thousand brothers answered the call to chapter. Among these brothers was Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, who was traveling from Bologna to Rome. Also present was a cardinal bishop who followed Francis because the saint predicted that he would become pope one day. This cardinal celebrated Mass for the friars, preached to them, and found great delight in their holy company.
One day, the cardinal encountered various groupings of the brothers in the plain below Assisi. One group included about forty brothers; another group included about eighty brothers; still another group included more than one hundred brothers. In each case, the cardinal marveled at their holiness and humility. The brothers talked only of the Lord. They prayed together. They shed many tears of faithful joy. Indeed, the cardinal thought to himself: "Truly, these brothers are the knights of our Lord."
Among these camps of brothers, the cardinal noticed not a single idle word or unseemly jest. He saw the brothers praying silently, singing the holy office, speaking about the salvation of souls, or weeping over their sins or the sins of their benefactors. They were separated into camps representing various provinces. The accommodations were simple. The tents were constructed from willow trellis. They used logs or stones for pillows. And their beds were made of rush matting and placed on the bare ground. In fact, the entire community of brothers referred to this large meeting as the 'Chapter of Mats.'
Because of their holiness and simplicity, many people (including some from the Holy Father's court which was then ensconced in Perugia) came to see and learn from the brothers. Among these visitors, most came to catch a glimpse of Saint Francis, who had assembled this devout and holy flock to follow in the footsteps of the one true shepherd, Jesus Christ.
When all of the brothers had arrived, Saint Francis, whom they regarded as their holy father in faith, spoke fervently to them about the gospels. He preached in a loud voice, inspired by the Holy Spirit: "My sons, God promises us great things! Yes, great things are promised to us, if we fulfill what we have promised to God! Brief are the delights of the world! Perpetual is the pain of those who pursue these delights! The pains of this life are small! The glories of the next life are infinite!"
After Francis preached these words, he preached further with great devotion. He comforted the brothers. He persuaded them to obey and revere the Church. He inspired them to show fraternal charity, to praise God, and to have patience for the adversities of this world. He told them to be chaste, modest, and temperate. He exhorted them to live in peace and concord with others and with themselves. He asked them to love and observe holy poverty.
Later, Francis said: "By virtue of obedience, I command all who are assembled here to care only for your souls! Do not be concerned about food, drink, or other necessities of the body. God will provide! Attend only to praying and to praising God!" The brothers received this command with happy hearts and with joyful smiles. When these sermons ended, the brothers prostrated themselves in devout and silent prayer.
Only Dominic was concerned about the saint's new commandment. He considered it irresponsible to think that such a large gathering need not care about its own government or about the basic needs of the body. However, Christ the Good Shepherd, with singular love for his poor, smiled upon the large company. He inspired the good people of Perugia, Foligno, Spoleto, Spello, Assisi, and other communities. Acting in divine concert, these people carried to the brothers all that was need for food and drink. From other communities, there came horses, mules, and carts filled with bread and wine, beans and cheese, and other good things to eat. Besides all of this, the people brought bowls, cups, pots and other utensils necessary for such a large chapter of brothers. Even the barons, knights, and noblemen thought themselves blessed to give humbly of such blessed alms.
Because of these events, Dominic recognized that God's work. He admitted to himself that he had misjudged Francis and his new commandment. Dominic humbly confessed his fault and said: "God has truly special love for these poor little ones! From this hour, I promise to observe holy poverty!" In this way, Saint Dominic learned much from Saint Francis about faith, obedience, and divine providence.
During this same chapter meeting, Saint Francis observed that many brothers wore leather bands or heavy chains with sharp points that pierced their flesh. Because of these acts of penance, many brothers were distracted from their prayer; some were sick; and some were even dying. Under obedience, Francis commanded them to loosen and remove their bands and chains. They were placed before him in a great pile. He counted more than five hundred bands and chains, along with many more painful penitential devices.
At the conclusion of the chapter, Saint Francis, their faithful father, shared with the brothers all he knew about preserving oneself from sin. He blessed them in God's holy name. He dismissed them back to their various provinces. And everyone left with great joy and consolation! Amen! Amen!
Almighty God and Father,
teach us at all time to love and fear your holy name,
for you never withdraw your guiding hand
from those to whom you give your love and care.
for you never withdraw your guiding hand
from those to whom you give your love and care.
We make our prayer through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
For our families & friends, we pray: Hail Mary...
For our parish communities, we pray: Hail Mary...
For our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we pray: Hail Mary...
For our departed brothers & sisters, we pray: Hail Mary...
For our Pope-Emeritus, Benedict XVI, we pray: Hail Mary...
For the Catholic Church throughout the world, we pray: Hail Mary...
For peace in the Holy Land and throughout the world, we pray: Hail Mary...
Saint Francis, pray for us!
Saint Clare, pray for us!
All Saints of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
SEVENTH ANNUAL FALL PILGRIMAGE
FOOTSTEPS of SAINT FRANCIS of ASSISI
Rome | Assisi | Greccio | October 31-November 8, 2014
For the seventh consecutive year, the Assisi Project is sponsoring a week-long, small-group pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, Italy from October 31st through November 8th. Last year, a nearly sold-out group of sixteen pilgrims (ranging in age from 14 to 88 years) from the United States and Canada literally walked in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
This year, we will journey back to these holy pilgrimage sites. Each morning, we will begin with Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass. Masses will be celebrated at the Church of San Damiano, the Carceri, the Porziuncola, and the Basilica of Saint Francis. Each afternoon, all pilgrims will be afforded the free time and guidance to explore the medieval city of Assisi at their own pace and to visit the countless churches, cafes, museums, and shops. Each evening, we will gather for Evening Prayer, followed by a conference and faith sharing.
As a fellowship of pilgrims, we will visit the historic Basilicas of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. Each of the these great basilicas contains the tombs of the saints, holy relics, and priceless works of art. But these baslicas are also pilgrimage sites for prayer, silent meditation, and worship. We will visit the Basilica of Saint Rufino, where Saint francis and Saint Clare were baptized. We will visit the Church of Saint Damian, where the famous crucifix spoke to Francis and hastened his conversion. And we will visit the little chapel known as the Porziuncola, which is considered the home church of the worldwide Franciscan community.
In addition, we will spend leisurely afternoons in and around the Piazza de Commune, Assisi's city center, with its ancient Roman temple (now a Catholic church), sidewalkk cafes, restaurants, and shops. The more adventurous will also have an opportunity to hike to the Rocca Maggiore, the great medieval fortress with its stunning views of Assisis, the Spoleto Valley, and Mount Subasio.
Finally, we will travel to Rome for visits to Vatican City and Saint Peter's Basilica, where we will celebrate Mass and hopefully see and hear Pope Francis deliver the Sunday Angelus Address. We will also visit the Carceri (or hermitage) on Mount Subasio, where Saint Francis and his first followers retreated for prayer and contemplation. And we will offer an optional excursion to Greccio, the little village near Assisi, where Saint Francis introduced the first Christmas creche.
The cost of this extraordinary pilgrimage and retreat is just $3,099 and includes all air and ground transportation (from Boston's Logan Airport only), guest house accommodations (single room) at the Convent of Saint Bridget of Sweden in Assisi, and hotel accommodations (double room; singe room option) at the historic Columbus Hotel (near Vatican City) in Rome. All meals are included. This price does not include recommended travel insurance (approximately $250) or transportation to Greccio (optional excursion). These prices are effective only until June 30, 2014. For more information about this pilgrimage or about any of our upcoming events, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Space is limited! May the Lord give you peace!