Tag Archives: Mercy

When St. Francis and St. Anthony Show Up At Your House

It started a couple of years ago with a medal showing up on my bedroom floor. It had two saints on it. One side was St. Francis. The other side was St. Anthony. I asked my husband and children if it belonged to any of them. They all said, “No.” I asked my friends and relatives who had visited anytime lately if it belonged to them. They all said, “No.” I asked my neighbors, who all said, “No.” Where did this medal come from? I had no idea, but I knew that St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua were going to be with me for a while.

My daughter’s Confirmation was coming up soon. I headed to look for the perfect gift for her. I noticed an entire wall full of Crucifixes. There were probably 100 at least. Suddenly, this one jumped out and said, “Pick me!” I held it in my hands and realized that I really should give her something else as she already had a crucifix. Plus her older brother’s Confirmation gift was quite different from this. I saw exactly what she needed and added that to my basket. I then looked at the price on the Crucifix and thought, “Why am I buying this?” But I bought it anyway.

I immediately hung this Crucifix in our front hall. My husband noticed it and asked me about it. How do you explain this to your very logical, reasonable husband? I just said, “I was supposed to buy it.” He was fine with that but asked who the people were? The Crucifix had Jesus on the Cross along with four people, one on each end of the cross. I told him, “I have no idea.” He said, “Maybe we should find out.” Good idea! So I got online and googled this Crucifix. I discovered it was called the Misericordia Crucifix. Misericordia means “mercy” in Latin, I believe. Anyway, this crucifix was a 14th-century processional cross. It features St. Francis at the top; the Blessed Virgin on the left; St. John the Beloved on the right; and St. Anthony of Padua at the bottom. So here they were, St. Francis and St. Anthony, showing up at my home again.

Then there was the conclave of March 2013. My beloved friend Pope Benedict XVI was resigning and a new pope would be elected. My children and I watched as they announced the white smoke. Such excitement! Who could understand the language of the announcement. I believe it was made in Latin, but our Latin wasn’t up to translating this! Then I said, “Did they just say Francis?” Sure enough. Our new pope chose the name “Francis” after St. Francis of Assisi.

Twenty three years before this, I visited the town of Assisi, Italy. I fell in love with the quaint streets and festival of flowers. Tiny flower petals were placed on the sidewalks, creating entire scenes. One I remember best was DaVinci’s Last Supper replicated with flower petals! When I saw it, all I could think was, “Please, God, don’t let the wind blow!”

The one church I wanted to visit was the Basilica where St. Francis was buried. When I arrived, a notice was posted that an earthquake had made the church unsafe and we would not be allowed to go inside. Such disappointment! I was very saddened because I also had not been able to see the Sistine Chapel because of a major restoration project. It felt like every time I tried to visit a holy place, the doors were closed!

However, St. Francis will not be outdone in mercy. Decades later, he and his buddy St. Anthony showed up at my house and have continued to shower many gifts upon me and my family. During the past two years, so many amazing things have occurred tied to this dear saint that if I listed them all, you would most likely not believe me. Suffice it to say that St. Francis was an instrument of peace, and he brings blessings to all those who are open to God’s grace and mercy. Perhaps that is why his order is 30,000 strong not counting all the orders who share his charism and the lay people who are Third Order Franciscans!

To honor this dear soul, lover of peace and of Jesus Christ, won’t you pray his prayer with me?

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us.

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The One-Two Punch of Forgiveness

I’ve decided that a relationship is like a bank account. You must make deposits to be able to draw anything out. And trust is one of the crucial factors that hold a relationship in tact. When a friend or family member does something which is totally untrustworthy, they bankrupt the account. And “sorry” isn’t enough to fill it back up.

A wise friend of mine counsels married couples. Usually he finds that they are struggling because of an affair or gambling or some behavior which has broken trust entirely. The person who made the offense will say they are sorry to their spouse and expect that their relationship should be back where it was before. This offender does not understand the relationship bank account system! When they broke trust, they bankrupted their account. They are basically starting over as a couple, having to build the trust back up in the account. And that always takes time.

I am amazed when I hear others who know about these type of situations saying things like, “Well, if she had really forgiven him, she wouldn’t be treating him that way.” Or “If you really forgave her, you wouldn’t mind if she came to the family event. Let’s just all get along.” But what they won’t say is the rest of the sentence, “… even if she hasn’t ever acknowledged she stole $100,000 from you or that she did anything wrong.”

People want forgiveness without reparation, especially if they were not the ones who were offended. But forgiveness, although merciful, also requires reparation. For example, if your son breaks the neighbor’s window, marching him over to the neighbor’s house to ask forgiveness is just step one. Step two is the neighbor saying, “You are forgiven.” Step three is having your son mow the lawn for the summer to pay off the cost of replacing that window.

Somehow, in today’s world, we let go of step three. We just expect others to forgive and call on God’s mercy as the reason why. Yes, God is all merciful, but He is all just, too! The justice part is overlooked when we don’t make reparation. Scripture tells us that we are called to forgive our neighbor over and over and over. However, we are also told to pay back any debts owed and right any wrongs. Mercy and justice go hand in hand. They are the one-two punch of forgiveness. Without these two together, I think you end up at that lukewarm notion called tolerance.

 

 

Making All Things New this Easter

I awoke this morning with this thought:  “See, I make all things new.” I knew this was a Bible verse, but I just didn’t know quite what it meant for me. Since God knows I can be a hard-head, these words just kept popping up in my mind all day long–during Easter Mass, at brunch with Grandma, on the porch with the children, and praying tonight as a family. So, I finally pulled out my Bible to see in what context these words were said and found the passage:

The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”He said to me, “They are accomplished. I [am] the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. (Revelations 21: 5-6)

I immediately recognized so many of these words, but not from Revelations. Do you remember what Jesus said from the Cross? I turned to John 19:

28After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” 29There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.30 When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. (John 19:28-30)

32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,34 but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (John 19:32-34)

How amazing and appropriate that St. John would be God’s choice for writing the Book of Revelations. John was the only Apostle who stood at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Mother and heard first hand Christ’s final words and was an eye-witness to all that transpired during these most holy moments of all history.

But what’s even more awe-inspiring is the message of Hope this passage of Revelations gives us all. Only God can make all things new again. New means God can take suffering and defeat and anger and sadness and loneliness (also known as the Cross) and transform it into life and hope and love and laughter and joy and peace (also known as the Resurrection)! And the life-giving water mentioned above comes from the side of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. He spoke of this with the woman at the well:

13Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 13-14)

This Baptism of Water and Blood converted many of the everyday people who were employed at that time to carry out the Crucifixion. Just simply being touched by that precious water and blood from the side of Jesus changed them forever. Today at Mass, we repeated our Baptismal vows and through the “sprinkling rite” received that precious water as a reminder of the Promise of our Baptism.

Tonight, my family prayed the Divine Mercy novena. This is a special devotion started by St. Faustina, who was told to create an image of Jesus which shows the blood and water flowing from him. He “thirsts” to give His mercy and graces to souls, if only they would allow Him. Oh my, such great Hope along with such great Love!

I cannot find the words to express what the Resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday means to our souls. It is a love without limits. It is hope beyond hope. It is an ocean of mercy. Hmmmm, perhaps the Word says it best: “Behold, I make all things new.”