August 11th marks the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), a woman of outstanding virtue such that she was canonized only two years after her death. Her name is forever linked with that of the man she called “our Blessed Father Francis,” the beloved saint of Assisi who paved the way for Clare and her Sisters.
Legends abound surrounding the life and times of Francis, the saintly little poor man of Assisi (1182 – 1226): his affinity for all of nature, preaching to the birds, taming the ravenous wolf, recreating the Christmas crèche, receiving the sacred stigmata. What is not so well known is the role Saint Francis played in the bestowal of an amazing gift from a gracious God to His creatures.
“Now as they went on their way, [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Lk 10:38-42, NRSV).
The story of Maria Teresa Goretti, the saint whose feast we celebrate each July 6th, has been made known to many since her untimely death on that date in 1902. The 11-year old peasant girl died as a result of injuries inflicted by Alessandro Serenelli, a young man determined to force her to submit to his inappropriate advances. When she resisted, crying, “No! No! It is a sin!” he stabbed her repeatedly, a total of fourteen times. Maria underwent unsuccessful surgery without benefit of anesthesia and died the following day, after receiving her greatly-desired First Communion.
Sometimes, when it is most needed, the Holy Spirit inspires a new book just brimming with the capacity to effect great positive change, not only in the Catholic world, but even more important, in the world at large. The recently released Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, by Father Donald Calloway, MIC, is just such a book. In circulation only since January 2020, it has produced a ripple effect for good, much needed for this troubled time in our Church and our world.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
“When they entered the city, they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:13 – 14).
It’s probably safe to say that many Americans have been experiencing trouble sleeping in recent weeks, given the unprecedented circumstances we’ve been facing for quite some time. For anyone waking suddenly out of a deep sleep, a sensation of fear – that powerful emotion so very prominent in our national consciousness of late – would not be at all unusual.
Reflections and meditations written around the May 1st Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker generally tend to focus on the many sterling qualities of the carpenter of Nazareth. His closeness to God, upright character, and masculine strength as husband to Mary and foster father to Jesus often provide the lead-in to the main point of the writing as appropriate to the feast: Joseph’s role as breadwinner. As the sole support of the Holy Family, surely he worked diligently at his craft, passing it on to Jesus, father to son.