"Beloved Jesus, preserve the just; justify sinners; have compassion on all the faithful, living and dead; be merciful to me, although I am nothing more than an unworthy sinner."
Today, April 2, we celebrate the feast of Saint Francis of Paola (1416-1507), hermit, confessor, and founder of the Order of Minims, a branch of the Franciscans. These "Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi" dwelt in small houses, and as "least" brethren (minim translates as “least), endeavored to live a more austere and humble life than the "Fratres Minores." In founding the order, Saint Francis hoped to restore the life and rule of the earliest monks, at a time when the Church was besieged by corruption and political influence. He was a man who deeply loved contemplative solitude and wished only to be the "least in the household of God." Yet, when the Church called him to active service in the world, he became a miracle-worker and influenced the course of nations.
As the order grew in size, the reputation of Saint Francis increased as a holy man, a defender of the poor and the oppressed, and a worker of miracles. Pope Paul II sent a representative to visit Francis, to see the manner in which he lived, and to determine the approval of the rule being established. The papal delegate, upon arrival, tried to kiss his hands. Francis, however, would not let him, stating "It is I, who should kiss the hands of a priest who has celebrated Mass for 30 years." (Of course, the delegate had not mentioned the length of his ordination and was moved by the saint’s ability to read souls). Nevertheless the delegate felt it his duty to warn this prophetic Minim to go easy on the austerities: "They are too severe," he argued, "for human nature to bear." Francis humbly replied that with God's help any austerity could be borne. Reaching down into the fire, he grabbed a handful of red-hot coals and held them for some time. When he dropped them, he showed the visitor the palms of his hands. There was absolutely no evidence of burning.
“Out of love,” which welled up from the depths of his physical and spiritual being. He cured many, and is said to at one point have crossed the sea from the Italian mainland to Sicily without a boat. At first, he asked a local captain for safe passage. "If you pay, monk," the sailor answered sulkily, "I will take you along."
"Out of love," the saint humbly pleaded, "for I have no money with me."
"Then I have no ship for you," came the mocking reply.
"Out of love," was Francis' answer, "forgive me if I go away." He walked to the shore, knelt down, and blessed the sea. Then, to the sailor's great surprise, the saint suddenly stood up, stepped out on the tossing waves, and with firm foot trod over the surging sea.
Francis was enlisted to continue at the French court—a position he viewed as “exile” from his hermitage. From a monastery built for him, he counseled the next two French kings, ushering in new peace within the region. Saint Francis died at Tours, France, at the age of 91, on Good Friday.
“Fix your minds on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Inflamed with love for us, he came down from heaven to redeem us. For our sake he endured every torment of body and soul and shrank from no bodily pain. He himself gave us an example of perfect patience and love. We, then, are to be patient in adversity.
Take pains to refrain from sharp words. Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is itself wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sins and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight.
Be peace-loving. Peace is a precious treasure to be sought with great zeal. You are well aware that our sins arouse God’s anger. You must change your life, therefore, so that God in his mercy will pardon you. What we conceal from men is known to God. Be converted, then, with a sincere heart. Live your life that you may receive the blessing of the Lord. Then the peace of God our Father will be with you always.”
Lord God, by whom the holy are exalted, and Saint Francis was raised to share in the glory of the saints, let his prayer and example bring us the reward you have promised to the humble.
Father of the lowly,
You raised Saint Francis of Paola
in the glory of Your saints.
By his example and prayers,
may we come to the rewards
You have promised the humble.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Year 2: Day 92 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives of balanced charity and penance.
Requested Intentions: For a son fighting a rare immune system disease (R); Freedom from imprisonment (J); Employment and end to depression (H); Successful employment (A); Health for a soon to be delivered baby (T); Financial security (L); Healing of tooth pain (A); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Purification of the souls in Purgatory (A); Guidance in studies (J); Healing and security for a displaced family (C); Healing of high blood pressure; Recovery of brother following surgery (A); For a sister in trouble, that she may make better decisions in the light of Christ (M); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Attainment of funds for surgery (J); Freedom from financial difficulties (E); For employment and college acceptance (E); Recovery and healing of a friend (C); For successful outcome to surgery (C); Healing for brother (M); Successful employment (C); For the victims of the Japanese tsunami/earthquake (J); Healing (E); For a son struggling with depression (B); Successful conception (M); Freedom from social anxiety; confidence in the Lord (J); Improved success in employment and studies (D); Freedom from illness (T); For a wife’s employment (E); Healing of a husband’s knee (M); Freedom from sickness (R); Healing (C); Restoration of marriage (F); Freedom from medical difficulties, employment, successful relationship (D); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."