Did you know? The origin of the Christmas creche is attributed to the very holy man, St. Francis of Assisi.
In the year 1223, St. Francis was visiting the town of Greccio, Italy built on a mountainside. St. Francis realized that the chapel of the Franciscan hermitage would be too small to hold the congregation for Midnight Mass. So he found a niche in the rock near the town square and set up the altar, one unlike anything every created before.
According to St. Bonaventure (d. 1274) in his “Life of St. Francis of Assisi” : It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Greccio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed. The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem. A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Greccio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvelously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth. For example of Francis, if it be considered by the world, is doubtless sufficient to excite all hearts which are negligent in the faith of Christ; and the hay of that manger, being preserved by the people, miraculously cured all diseases of cattle, and many other pestilences; God thus in all things glorifying his servant, and witnessing to the great efficacy of his holy prayers by manifest prodigies and miracles.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!!!
The Fraternity of Brother Francis and Knights of Columbus celebrated a hot dog and treat feast for the little people parishioners of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Newton, NC. Angels and Saints abounded included a mini St. Francis of Assisi!
There are two opportunities for anyone willing to go to TX or FL to help feed hurricane victims. Woody Tucker, a member of the Hickory Soup Kitchen’s board, is looking for people to help with the Manna One Disaster Food RV in Florida (Sept. 28-Oct. 4th) and Texas (Oct. 3-9th). You go down on a bus with volunteers, stay in a Baptist church on a sleeping bag or cot (you bring), your meals are provided, and you work at the Manna One vehicle cooking and dispensing food and water. No home recovery yet. You do not need to be a Baptist or a man. If interested, contact Woody at 828-612-1156. Please share this with all others. You can read more about Manna One at: http://www.bpnews.net/36930/modern-marvel-baptist-disaster-relief-kitchen
There is also a good information video at “Manna One Food Truck” on Youtube that you can check out. Many people have talked about wanting to help these victims. Now is your chance to do so, time to walk the walk and be our Lord’s hands and feet!
The Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis region held the Annual Regional Gathering (ARG) August 11th through 13th at Life Way Conference Center in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Secular Franciscan Order Fraternities from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia were present for this beautiful retreat in the NC Mountains.
This year’s theme: “Be the Joyful Face of Christ to All”
Brother Bill Short, OFM was the guest speaker for the weekend events and all were amazed by his profound messages. A link to his talks is available on our Regions website http://www.bssfsfo.org/2015-annual-regional-gathering/
Today is a big Franciscan feast, that of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula, when, also for all the faithful, according to a certain tradition by the request of St. Francis himself, the Pardon of Assisi or Portiuncula indulgence is available at your local Franciscan church or oratory, or at your parish church, visited to honor Our Lady and the Angels, and according to the normal conditions for the gaining of indulgences, of course.
Today I’m thinking of the little holy card of Our Lady of the Angels, which I’ve had with me since, as best as I can reconstruct the timing, since the morning of Friday, April 23, 1993.
Saint Mary of the Angels/pray for us
How I came to have it is a long story, or at least the beginning of a long story. (Long story here.) I’ve had the holy card in my wallet ever since. In the current wallet:
I can’t think of any physical thing I have had with me continuously for so long. She’s been through the wash a couple of times by accident, but has held up pretty well. The prayer on the back is mostly gone, though.
Thinking on this, I am reminded how Our Lady has always been with me. In the early days of my Catholic life I had reason to turn to her and her rosary, and that was a great grace. Indeed, over the course of my journey in Catholic Christianity, I have come to notice certain ‘barometers’ that reveal how I’m doing; if I’m in a healthy place or if I have gone off track. And one of these is how close I’m sticking with Our Lady and her rosary.
More recently, in my current Roman sojourn, I have found myself drawn and invited into devotion to Our Lady, Salus populi romani (salvation/health–in the sense of ‘protectress’–of the Roman people).
Salus Populi Romani
Her icon is enthroned at Saint Mary Major, and was visited, as everyone will remember, by Pope Francis on the first morning after his election. The image above is without the crowns and jewels that you will see when you visit her at the Basilica.
Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula, pray for us. Salus populi romani, protect and assist us in our journey toward health and salvation.
Virgin made Church, may we take refuge in your motherhood.
May 13th, 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the first time our Blessed Mother Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal. Two of the three children will be canonized by Pope Francis during his visit to Fatima May 12-13th.
The first Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco Marto and 7-year-old Jacinta Marto, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions of Mary continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.
This fascinating event contains secrets which Mary shared with the children as well as the “Miracle of the Sun” witnessed by thousands of spectators.
A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9.
The children’s cousin Lúcia moved to Porto in 1921, and at 14 was admitted as a boarder in the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, on the city’s outskirts. On October 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tui, Spain, just across the northern Portuguese border. Lúcia professed her first vows on October 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on October 3, 1934, receiving the name “Sister María das Dores” (Mary of the Sorrows).
Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican.
Links to some great information and timeline of the apparitions may be found at the following links: EWTN:https://www.ewtn.com/fatima/ , and Catholic News Service:http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2017/fatima-at-100-story-of-apparitions-continues-to-attract-attention.cfm Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for us!!!!
Fraternity of Brother Francis is proud to offer a new Bible Study class based on Jeff Cavins The Bible Timeline series.
First class is Monday April 24th, and will meet each 2nd and 4th Monday evenings each month 6:30pm to 8:00pm at St Josephs Catholic Church in Newton NC.
Parishioners Welcome !!!
Bring your Bible and Catechism to each class. Class workbook $35 and we will try to help those who cannot afford the cost. This is a wonderful study of the Bible Narrative books of the old testament and puts old testament in context of the new testament.
For more info and to register please email Paula Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come join us for fellowship, fraternity snd spiritual growth in God’s Word.
Blessings to you!!
Paula Coleman, OFS
Secular Franciscan Order
Top left: Jo Shirley (Holy Trinity Lutheran) Kathy Wood (First United Methodist) Margo Morganti (First United Methodist) Bottom left: Dalene Garilao, Dr. Carmen Espiritu, Roxy Te, Dr. Lizette Villacorte, Carole Marmorato, OFS and Stephanie Reyes
The World Day of Prayer for Missions began in 1927. In 1928, the name was shortened to World Day of Prayer. Ninety years later – men, women, and children are still being called to prayer. St. Aloysius located in Hickory, North Carolina hosted the World Day of Prayer 2017. There were 15 area churches represented: Bethlehem Lutheran, Christ Lutheran, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Mt. Olive Lutheran, Philadelphia Lutheran, St. Andrews Lutheran, Corinth Reformed Church, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First United Methodist, Hartzell Memorial United Methodist, Highland United Methodist, St. Aloysius Catholic Church, and St. Joseph Catholic Church.
St. Aloysius became part of the ecumenical movement in 1997 when Carole Marmorato, OFS the current Minister of the Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis Secular Franciscan Order and a parishioner of St. Aloysius, responded to an announcement in the church bulletin about planning a meeting at St. Andrews Lutheran Church for the World Day of Prayer. Twenty years later, Carole, is also the President of the Church Women United of Hickory, NC and is still actively involved in this ecumenical ministry.
Carole Marmorato stated, “The Church Women United ministry plans two ecumenical worship services a year. In addition to World Day of Prayer, they commemorate World Community Day in November. There are sixteen area churches represented in the Church Women United ministry but ten to twelve churches actively participate.”
The World Day of Prayer’s motto is “Informed prayer, prayerful action.” This year’s call to prayer was titled “Am I Being Unfair To You?” and it was prepared by the World Day of Prayer Committee of the Philippines. Each year a different country is selected and they write their program, incorporating into the order of worship their mission, issues, justice, and peace, everything that is important to them.
When Carole approached the Filipino community at St. Aloysius about the World Day of Prayer for the Philippines they were receptive. “The Filipino community at St. Al’s, through the leadership of Carmen Gaston and Dr. Carmen Espiritu, embraced this event with much enthusiasm. They were excited about this opportunity to celebrate their culture and a unique opportunity to share it with others.”
February 11th, 2017 our monthly fraternity gathering included a Rite of Admission ceremony for our latest candidate. During the ceremony the new candidate is provided a “Little Red Rule Book” of the Secular Franciscan Order and given a sign of the SFO, a wooden Tau cross worn around the neck.
Formation in the Secular Franciscan Order consists of three periods of prayerful discernment and contemplation called Inquiry, Candidate and Profession. Candidacy is generally a period of 18 months to 36 months after which a temporary or permanent profession into the Secular Franciscan Order is made.