October 4, 2017

Today, we celebrate the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, about whom I could offer no insight that has not already been gifted by God to the Church. He was a singular man, a dramatic figure, a fierce and compassionate knight of Christ. Patron of Italy, patron of the sitting pontiff, and patron of my home parish in Minnesota. Even my son's middle name is Francis.

What a gift from God are the saints! Please take some time to remember his story today, even if you've heard it innumerable times.

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Today, let us give praise to a God who rebuilds.

While God is eternal, human beings are staggeringly the opposite. How many times has our carelessness let the Church, both literally and figuratively, fall into disrepair? How many times in our lives have we seen ourselves, our sisters, and our brothers bring about ruin in the world? 

We saw a gut-wrenching example just this past week in Las Vegas. As Cardinal Dolan said, the nation experienced a "cosmic groan" that day, a sickening turn of the stomach on physical and spiritual levels. Come, Holy Spirit! How often must we see ruin in our lives? The Accuser exploits this horrible examples of brokenness ruthlessly, so we pray for the strength to respond. How can we possibly respond? As we have done for thousands of years, we rebuild.

In the 12th century, Jesus Christ spoke to St. Francis from the Crucifix of San Damiano, commanding the great saint to rebuild his Church. Today, his message to us is the same: Go forth and rebuild! We rebuild with the strength of the Holy Spirit, fixing our hopes on the Cornerstone, the incarnate Jesus Christ. We rebuild following Francis's example, humbling ourselves in the eyes of the world in order to free ourselves to be laborers for the kingdom. We rebuild because we hope. We rebuild because we believe in the Word that tells us "the victory is the Lord's" (Prov 21:31).

We see Francis's humble, saintly example, and know that the Lord can use our small acts, imbued with his divine power, to rebuild the entire Church. We know that ashes return to ashes and dust to dust, but our souls rise to the heavens, for Jesus Christ has conquered death, so that no matter what earthly tribulations befall us, we have an untouchable hope, an irrefutable reason to take up our crosses and rebuild, again and again.

Lord, may your kingdom come. Lord, your kingdom will come.

Today, let us give praise to a God who rebuilds.

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As a closing prayer, here is Psalm 142, which St. Francis requested be read at his deathbed:

A maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A prayer.

 

With my own voice I cry to the LORD;

with my own voice I beseech the LORD.

Before him I pour out my complaint,

tell of my distress in front of him.

 

When my spirit is faint within me,

you know my path.

As I go along this path,

they have hidden a trap for me.

I look to my right hand to seed

that there is no one willing to acknowledge me.

My escape has perished;

no one cares for me.

I cry out to you, LORD,

I say, You are my refuge,

my portion in the land of the living.

Listen to my cry for help,

for I am brought very low.

Rescue me from my pursuers,

for they are too strong for me.

Lead my soul from prison,

that I may give thanks to your name.

Then the righteous shall gather around me

because you have been good to me.

Frassati NY