Stigmata of S. Francis of Assisi| S. Robert Bellarmine| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Stigmata of St. Francis
Francis of Assisi lived out the Good News with such generosity and intensity that the stigmata, the marks of Christ's passion, became imprinted on Francis' hands, feet and side.
Known for his poverty, in 1213 Francis accepted from Count Orlando of Chiusi the verbal gift of Mount La Verna, located between the Tiber and Arno rivers in the province of Arezzo, north of Rome. For 12 years this mountain served Francis as a place of prayer and penance; it continues today as a place of pilgrimage and prayer.
Francis had such a great devotion to Saint Michael the Archangel that several times he observed a 40-day fast before the saint's feast on September 29. Near the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14) in 1224, Francis had a vision of a six-winged angel, a seraph, and then realized that his hands, feet and side now bore the marks of Christ's passion.
The fact of the stigmata was known only to a few people in Francis' lifetime because he wanted to avoid any sensationalism about them or himself. Because these wounds caused him pain from time to time, Saint Clare made him a special pair of sandals to make walking easier. After his death in 1226, reliable witnesses, including the future popes Gregory IX and Alexander IV, testified that they had seen the stigmata on Francis' corpse. Many people eventually interpreted the stigmata as a recognition of Francis' radical conformity to Christ.
Pope Benedict XI (1303-04) allowed this feast to be observed within the Franciscan family.
Francis was quite ready to die as a martyr when he visited Egypt in 1220. God obviously wanted him to continue preaching the Good News and supporting that work through prayer as well as penance. The stigmata, which deepened Francis' humble service of God and neighbor, are a rare gift within God's people. Generously living out the Good News of Jesus should characterize all disciples.
"And because he [Francis] always bore and preserved Christ Jesus and him crucified in his heart with a wonderful love, he was marked in a most glorious way above all others with the seal of him whom in a rapture of mind he contemplated, sitting in inexpressible and incomprehensible glory at the right hand of the Father, with whom he, the co-equal and most high Son of the Most High, lives and reigns, conquers and governs in union with the Holy Spirit, God eternally glorious through all ages forever. Amen" (2 Celano, #115).
St. Robert Bellarmine
When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain.
His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V.
Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold."
Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church.
The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible.
Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.
The renewal in the Church sought by Vatican II was difficult for many Catholics. In the course of change, many felt a lack of firm guidance from those in authority. They yearned for the stone columns of orthodoxy and an iron command with clearly defined lines of authority.
Vatican II assures us in The Church in the Modern World, "There are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes, and forever" (#10, quoting Hebrews 13:8).
Robert Bellarmine devoted his life to the study of Scripture and Catholic doctrine. His writings help us understand that not only is the content of our faith important, it is Jesus' living person—as revealed by his life, death and resurrection—that is the source of revelation.
The real source of our faith is not merely a set of doctrines but rather the person of Christ still living in the Church today.
When he left his apostles, Jesus assured them of his living presence: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you to the complete truth" (John 16:30).
"Sharing in solicitude for all the Churches, bishops exercise this episcopal office of theirs, received through episcopal consecration, in communion with and under the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. All are united in a college or body with respect to teaching the universal Church of God and governing her as shepherds" (Vatican II, Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office, 3).
Patron Saint of:
Believe In Yourself:
How am I supposed to believe what you are saying, if you do not believe it yourself? Preach with confidence and conviction, or sit down!
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The false disciple of the Nazarene feels the cross weighing enormously on his heart, and very often he goes in search of the compassionate Cyrenean who relieves and comforts him.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Four: 237-262
We continue to the fourth notebook that Saint Faustina filled with reflections and revelations from Jesus. As we enter into this notebook, allow yourself to seek God in the silence. This chapter begins with Saint Faustina revealing that she was experiencing a “dark night” (Diary #1235). She lacked the sensory feelings of closeness to God. By analogy, it would be as if you were in a dark room filled with treasures and someone told you that all the treasures of this room were yours. You could not see them but you trusted the person who spoke about all that was around you. Knowledge of these treasures filled your mind even though the darkness hid them from your eyes.
So it is with God. Saint Faustina loved our Lord with all her heart and with every beat of her heart. She knew His closeness and love. But it appears that she could not sense this through her human senses. This gift of darkness allowed her to enter into a relationship with God on a spiritual level far deeper.
Seek this depth of relationship with God as you read through this chapter. Move beyond a desire to feel close to God and allow yourself to become close to God. He wants to enter your heart on a much deeper level than you ever knew possible. Be open to the newness of a relationship shrouded in darkness and allow the Lord to communicate His Mercy to you on this new level of love.
Reflection 260: The Enormity of Small Acts of Love
Do you want to do amazing things in this world? Do you sometimes have grandiose ideas and dreams? Sometimes we have more secular dreams of wealth and fame, and sometimes we may have dreams of doing extraordinary things for God and for the Church. But these do not have to be dreams because each and every one of us is called to extraordinary things. The problem is that we often misunderstand what “extraordinary” is all about. So what is it about? It’s especially about doing small things with extraordinary love. Every one of us can do this every day all day. Our lives are filled with opportunities to do “small things.” It may be cooking or cleaning, shuttling kids here or there, caring for the yard, completing tasks at work, or daily casual conversation with others. Every one of these tasks offers us an opportunity to love with extraordinary love. And if you do every small act with great love, then your love will be great and God will do extraordinary things through your life, bestowing His Mercy on many (See Diary #1310).
Think about the small things you have to do today. How can you do these simple tasks with exceptional love? Many things we do are done with distaste or indifference. We can fail to see value in the small monotonous activities of our day. This is a mistake. Look for ways to do everything as an act of love and as an offering to God. Be devout and intentional in each opportunity you have and your dreams of greatness will become a reality on account of the Mercy of God shining through your life.
Lord, I give to You, this day, every small act I perform. Help me to find value and meaning in even the smallest service. I pray that my love for You will increase in countless small ways so that I may be a holy instrument of Your abundant Mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.