Monday, August 25, 2014

NEXT UPDATE: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th

THIS WEEK with SAINT FRANCIS of ASSISI
THE TAU CROSS: A MARK of CHRISTIAN FAITH

Followers of Saint Francis throughout the world wear the "Tau as a sign of their faith and friendship with the poor man from Assisi. Tau is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and means 'mark.' But what are the origins of the Tau as a sign of Christian faith? As a sign or symbol of faith, the Tau first appears in the Old Testament's Book of Ezekiel in the following passages:

"The Lord cried aloud for me to hear: Come, your scourges of the city! With that I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate which faces the north, each with a destroying weapon in his hand. In their midst was a man dressed in linen, with a writer's case at his waist. They entered and stood beside the bronze altar. Then he called to the man dressed in linen with the writer's case at this waist, saying to him: 'Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and mark a 'Tau' on the foreheads of those who moan and groan over all the abominations that are practiced in it." To the others, I heard the Lord say: 'Pass through the city after him and strike! Do not look on them with pity nor show any mercy! Old men, youths and maidens, women and children, wipe them out! But do not touch any marked with the 'Tau'. Begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the men, the elders, who were in front of the temple. 'Defile the temple,' he said to them, 'and fill the courts with the slain; then go out and strike in the city...'

"Then the glory of the Lord left the threshold of the temple and rested upon the cherubim. These lifted their wings, and I saw them rise from the earth, the wheels rising among them. They stood at the entrance of the eastern gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was up above them. Then the cherubim lifted their wings, and the wheels went along with them, while up above them was the glory of the God of Israel (Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22).

Obviously, this scripture passage is frightening! However, it was not so frightening for Saint Francis. In November 1215, while observing the deliberations of the Fourth Lateran Council in Rome, Francis listened as Pope Innocent III raised the Tau as a symbol of Christian faith and fidelity. The pope said: "The Tau has exactly the same form as the Cross upon which our Lord was crucified on Calvary; and only those will be marked with this sign and will obtain mercy who have mortified their flesh and conformed their lives to the Crucified Savior."

From that moment, Francis used the Tau as the sign and symbol of his faith and the faith of his followers. Over the years, he painted it on the walls of the caves and hermitages where he retreated to pray. He signed documents with it. And he traced its form upon the foreheads of those whom he blessed. For more than eight centuries, the Tau has been the 'mark' of the worldwide Franciscan movement. For Franciscans, the Tau represents not just the Passion of Christ, but also their aspiration to live like him in poverty, chastity, and obedience. May the Lord give you peace!

Our Daily Prayers

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 the Catholic Church throughout the world, we pray: Hail Mary...
For peace & justice throughout the world, we pray: Hail Mary...
Our Father...

Most High and Glorious God!
Enlighten the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity.
O Lord, give me insight and wisdom, 
so that I might always discern your holy and true will.
Amen.

If you would like to learn more about the Assisi Project and opportunities for faith formation, prayer, pilgrimage, retreat, and spiritual direction in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at assisiproject@ymail.com. Pax et bonum! May the Lord give you peace!

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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), sidewalk 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 $3,299 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). For more information about this pilgrimage or about any of our upcoming events, please contact Cliff Garvey at assisiproject@ymail.com. May the Lord give you peace!