Reflection On the Stigmata of St. Francis
by Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD, Franciscans of Divine Mercy
As we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi receiving the marks of Christ’s passion I want to reflect on what are supposed to have been amoung his last words, a call to continue the work of renewal in the Catholic Church, "Let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing. May each of us do our share to spread the Gospel, the true Catholic faith!"
From the earliest days of his conversion, Francis enjoyed a devotion to the crucified Christ. He was the first to receive the stigmata or wounds of Our Lord on his body.
In 1224, while immersed in meditation on Monte La Verna, Francis beheld the vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the five wounds.
The work of Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus, a ministry of the Franciscans of Divine Mercy an Old Catholic Franciscan order, is to follow those words of our Seraphic Father and speak out against discrimination and promote equality for ALL God’s children.
Equality would mean that all properly trained and educated individuals who hear God’s call to become His servants should be allowed to become priests, including woman.
Equality would mean that any two individuals who fall in love with each other should be able to make a commitment to love, honor and respect each other before God and have their commitment blessed by the church.
If all that God created was created good and had a purpose in God’s divine plan, why is it that people whom God created with an attraction to members of their own sex considered to be “intrinsically disordered” which simply put, means Bad.
In his day St. Francis was considered a radical and rejected by his family, clergy and even many of the hierarchy of the church because of his rejection of wealth and the splendid trappings that often go with wealth.
Things have not changed much since the 13th century.
Today people look down on the poor, overlook the homeless and constantly seek fame, fortune and power.
As committed followers of St. Francis our ministry tries to encourage people to know how much God loves them and desires them to be full participants in the Mystical Body of Christ, The Church, claiming their rightful place because of Baptism as heirs to the Kingdom of God.
We have faced rejection from family and friends and we try to overcome our difficulties in reaching out to those who need to hear this message of God’s infinite mercy and love because of our own poverty.
We ask all who read this reflection to offer prayers that God will send our ministry more individuals who desire to proclaim the infinite mercy and love of God for All His children as He created them and that God will continue to inspire and guide us providing us with the means to spread the word of His infinite Mercy and Love and to continue the work Christ instructed St. Francis to do when Francis was at prayer in the crumbling chapel at San Damiano and he heard these words; “Francis, go rebuild my church, which is falling down.”
The following is a prayer composed for the feast of The Stigmata of St. Francis.
Prayer Asking God to Transform us.
O God, Fullness of Life, You allowed Francis to experience the depth of Christ's Infinite mercy and love by branding his body with the marks of Christ's passion and death.
Transform us into living images of Christ, so that we may live His teaching as defined in The Sermon On The Mount and seek equality and justice for ALL God’s children. Help us to be worthy to partake of the rewards of His passion, death and Resurrection and join with Francis and all the heavenly elect when our time here on earth is over. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our saving Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN