Today, 4 Oct 2011, is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to his whole-hearted response to Jesus. Without him there would be no EWTN, no Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, no St Padre Pio, no St Maximillian Kolbe, no music of John Michael Talbot, and so many other wonderful Franciscan gifts to the Church and to the world. I am especially grateful for the work of the Franciscans in looking after the Holy Places in Israel.
How closely St Francis mirrored the life of Jesus! He followed Jesus in His poverty and in His apostolic life, in His prayer and most importantly in the sufferings that configured him so closely to his Beloved Master - particularly blindness and the stigmata.
St Francis of Assisi is my patron saint for 2011, so I have been looking forward to his feast day all year. I am certain that he arranged the start of this blog, so I place it all under his patronage.
Let me explain why I am so certain.
Many years ago now I read 'Medjugorje The 90's' by Sister Emmanuel which was first published 1997 / 1998. One of the chapters is entitled 'A Pal from Heaven'. It speaks about an ancient tradition of writing down the names of saints and putting them into a hat, and a the beginning of the year, praying first and then selecting one of those names as your patron saint for that year. Personally I have received untold blessings from this holy tradition. You can find out more about this at www.childrenofmedjuorje.com by choosing Explore and then Saints, or at www.xt3.com and the group 'Patron Saint for the New Year'. Each of our Patron Saint slips contains the name of the Saint, a quotation related to that Saint and a prayer mission for the year. Mine for 2011 looks like this...
Saint Francis of Assisi
"I know Jesus poor and crucified, and that is enough for me."
Pray that Jesus be loved
So my prayer all year has been to beg of the Lord the grace through the intercession of St Francis of Assisi to love Him more and to help others to love Him.
We didn't get to watch the 26 Sep 2011 broadcast of the Journey Home on EWTN until the weekend. Marcus Grodi was speaking with Brandon Vogt about the need for Catholics to add their voice to balance the myriad of secular voices in the social media.
Today this is more necessary than ever. In recent times I have noticed voices in mainstream media that once upon a time would never have been approved for distribution. There was an opinion piece in a major daily Sydney newspaper extolling adultery to older women. In a major Sydney Sunday newspaper magazine there was a young woman promoting promiscuity. In passing I saw a segment of daytime television encouraging couples to be proud about not having children. Then there was The Pitch on the Gruen Transfer television programme entitled Banning All Religion. I was so pleased that several ad agencies refused to even consider submitting a pitch for this title.
So when out of the blue an email from Catholic Daily arrived yesterday, it was time to act and with God's grace to add a voice for the things of God on the internet waves. Gifts are given on the eve of a feast, and yesterday was the eve of St Francis.
In the Prayer after Communion for today's feast day we read 'Lord... help us to imitate the apostolic love and zeal of St Francis. May we who receive Your love share it for the salvation of all mankind.' May that prayer of the Church be answered in this blog.
St Francis of Assisi, pray for us.