2 Apr – Memorial for St. Francis of Paola, hermit
Francis’ (1416-1507) parents were childless for many years, but following prayers for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, they had three children; Francis was the oldest. Following a pilgrimage in his teens to Rome and Assisi in Italy, he became a hermit in a cave near Paola.
Before he was 20 years old, he began to attract followers. By the 1450s, the followers had become so numerous that he established a rule for them and sought Church approval. This was the founding of the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, who were approved by the Holy See in 1474. In 1492, they were renamed the Franciscan Order of Minim Friars, which means they count themselves the least of the family of God.
Francis was a prophet and a miracle worker. He was reputed to read minds. In 1464, Francis wanted to cross the Straits of Messina to reach Sicily, but a boatman refused to take him. Francis laid his cloak on the water, tied one end to his staff to make a sail, and sailed across with his companions. Franz Liszt wrote a piece of music inspired by the incident.
He was a defender of the poor and oppressed. He gave unwanted counsel and admonitions to King Ferdinand of Naples and his sons. He travelled to Paris at the request of Pope Sixtus IV to help Louis XI prepare for death. He used this position to influence the course of national politics, helping restore peace between France and Brittany by advising a marriage between the ruling families, and between France and Spain by persuading Louis XI to return some disputed land.
In an old tradition that has certain saints opposing on an equivalent demon, Francis is the adversary of Belial since his simple humility cancels the demon’s raging pride.
- Patron Saint Index
The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’
here was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move. One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.
Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.
Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more
Last year, I had to go through counselling go face my childhood issues. I was fortunate enough to have had a counsellor who is a Catholic as well. I am glad to say that besides receiving emotional care, I also received spiritual care. One of our discussions was on how Jesus cured people first before telling them not to sin any more.
Our woundedness causes us to sin. I once read that hurting people hurt people. Our brokenness, our woundedness causes us to settle for temporary happiness, because it is so difficult for us to do what is right in the sight of God.
Consider, for example, someone who enters an illicit relationship. For most people, it is not evil that makes them choose to enter an illicit relationship. Some are really just looking for love, and they are willing to settle for an illicit relationship because of their need for love. Or maybe we can consider someone who is always angry. Perhaps there is a deep feeling of being taken advantage of, or experiencing unfair treatment. His anger stems from the fact that he feels he did not get what he deserved, and he cannot accept one more instance of being at the losing end.
My counsellor explained to me that because of this deep emotional need, some people are unable to do the right thing. She explained to me that that was probably why Jesus healed first, before asking them not to sin any more.
If we are struggling with a certain sin in our lives, perhaps we should examine what help we are asking God to give us. It’s so easy to ask God for the grace to resist the temptation, after all, our falling into temptation is what we often see. We seldom get to see the woundedness that is the root of our sin. Maybe our prayer should be to ask God to show us where we are wounded, and how our wounds are affecting our actions now. Maybe, it will be better to ask God to heal our souls, to put into place the shattered pieces of our heart.
Perhaps, when God is able to finally heal our woundedness, it will be easier for us to sin no more.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord God, I have been struggling with this particular sin in my life. Please show me my woundedness that fuels this sin. And please cure me from this woundedness.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for giving us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and for continuously allowing us to repent and to come back to your loving arms.