NOTES: The Easter weekend reflections are the final reflections from the Lenten booklet LOVE IS HIS LAW, LOVE IS HIS WAY. They also conclude the focus on St Francis with the April THOUGHTS more focused on aspects of creation. Follow the DAILY THOUGHTS on www.marfam.org.za or request to receive them by email.
2021 THEME: OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES. APRIL THEME: GOD IS FAMILY.
OVERVIEW: God is Family. God, as Trinity is family and every human family, not only as individuals but as a unit, is an image of God and mirrors the relationship of the Trinity. St Francis in his Canticle of the Creatures, praises God in these words: ”Most High, omnipotent good Lord, to thee be praise and glory, honour and blessing. We praise you Lord for all your creatures, for brother sun, sister moon, brother fire, sister water, mother earth and all creation. To you O Lord do they belong, you created them and they bear your likeness.”
These inanimate creations through their being offer their praise. Humankind is especially gifted with the additional power of understanding, to love but to hurt, to forgive, because of love. Through bearing pain, in a unique way we offer honour and gratitude to the Trinity. And yet, how has the image of the Trinity been disfigured as fire, water and wind have now become such destructive forces? How have we contributed to this? Are we ready to repair the damage?
Pope Francis: Within the family which could be called a domestic church (Lumen Gentium 11) individuals enter upon an ecclesial experience of communion among persons which reflects, through grace, the mystery of the Holy Trinity. AL86. The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self-communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit infinite bond of love is intimately at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways. The world was created by the three persons, acting as a single divine principle. The Trinity has left its mark on all creation. LS 238-2
Setting the Scene. The DAILY THOUGHTS are presented through an imaginary parish family team to lead the reflections for parish families with other members of the parish council and the parish priest. They are usually built around a scripture reading for the day.
April 1. Holy Thursday. Bruce introduced the reflection with the 2nd reading from the Mass of the Last Supper which he linked with the spiritual meal shared by St Francis and St Clare.
Scripture. “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the chalice saying “This chalice is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this chalice, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Cor 11:23-26.
From The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi. How St. Clare ate with St Francis and his companions at St Mary of the Angels.
April 2. Good Friday. Bruce introduced the reflection and noted how Christ was the true fulfillment of this passage (read it in full) which also finds an echo in the experience of St Francis.
From the Fourth Song of the Servant of the Lord. “Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high. As many were astonished at him – his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow, yet we esteemed him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that made us whole and with his stripes we are healed.” Is 52:13 – 53:12.
From The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi. The day before the Feast of the most Holy Cross, as St Francis was praying secretly in his cell, an angel of God appeared to him, and spake to him thus from God: “I am come to admonish and encourage thee, that thou prepare thyself to receive in all patience and humility that which God will give and do to thee.” St Francis replied: “I am ready to bear patiently whatsoever my Lord shall be pleased to do to me”; and so the angel departed. On the following day – being the Feast of the Holy Cross – St Francis was praying before daybreak at the entrance of his cell, and turning his face towards the east, he prayed in these words: “O Lord Jesus Christ, two graces do I ask of thee before I die; the first, that in my lifetime I may feel, as far as possible, both in my soul and body, that pain which thou, sweet Lord, didst endure in the hour of thy most bitter Passion; the second, that I may feel in my heart as much as possible of that excess of love by which thou, O Son of God, was inflamed to suffer so cruel a Passion for us sinners.” And continuing a long time in that prayer, he understood that God had heard him, and that, so far as is possible for a mere creature, he should be permitted to feel these things.
St Francis began to contemplate most devoutly the Passion of Jesus Christ and his infinite charity; and so greatly did the fervour of devotion increase within him, that he was all transformed into Jesus by love and compassion. On that same morning he beheld a seraph descending from heaven with six fiery and resplendent wings; and this seraph drew nigh unto St Francis, so that he could plainly perceive that he bore the image of one crucified; And when St Francis beheld it, he was much afraid, and filled at once with joy and grief and wonder. He felt great joy at the gracious presence of Christ, who appeared to him thus familiarly, and looked upon him thus lovingly, but, beholding him thus crucified, he felt exceeding grief and compassion.
It was revealed to him that he might understand that, not by martyrdom of the body, but by a consuming fire of the soul, he was to be transformed into the express image of Christ crucified. Then did all the Mount Alvernia appear wrapped in intense fire, which illumined all the mountains and valleys around and shepherds who were watching their flocks in that country were filled with fear. Christ spoke to him certain high and secret things, “Knowest thou,” said Christ, ”what I have done to thee? I have given thee the stigmata which are the insignia of my Passion, that thou mayest be my standard-bearer; and as on the day of my death I descended into limbo, and delivered all the souls whom I found there, so do I grant to thee that every year on the anniversary of thy death thou mayst go to Purgatory, and take with thee to the glory of Paradise the souls of others whom thou shalt find there, who have been especially devout to thee.”
Then that marvellous vision disappeared, leaving in the heart of St Francis an excessive fire and ardour of divine love, and on his flesh a wonderful trace and image of the Passion of Christ. For upon his hands and feet began immediately to appear the figures of the nails, as he had seen them on the Body of Christ crucified, who had appeared to him in the likeness of a seraph. And thus the hands and feet appeared pierced through the midst by the nails. In like manner, on the right side appeared the image of an unhealed wound, as if made by a lance, and still red and bleeding, from which drops of blood often flowed from the holy breast of St Francis, staining his tunic. Reflect, share, pray. How does this reflection speak to you?
April 3. Holy Saturday. Bruce introduced the reflection from the Liturgy of the Word of the Easter Vigil.
Scripture: “Your maker is your husband, the Lord hosts is his name and the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off. For a brief moment I forsook you but with great compassion I will gather you. With overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting mercy I will have compassion on you says the Lord, your Redeemer.” Is 54: 5-14. From The Little Flowers of St Francis of Assisi
April 4. Easter Sunday. Michelle said, “Francis was only 45 when he died and he did so much.” Jackson added, “and we have heard so much about different parts of his life. His death seems to have been quite joyful. Is that not strange?”
Canticle 9. PRAISED BE YOU, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm. From Care for Creation. At a time, a year before his death, when he was suffering from his painful eye condition as well as effects of the stigmata he was reflecting on his troubles and he prayed to God for help. He heard a voice which told him that his troubles were a great treasure securing his entry into God’s kingdom. After that he felt so close to God that he said he wanted to sing. That is when he composed the major portion of the Canticle of the Creatures. The statement in the Canticle of the Creatures about his death was added shortly before his own death. From Care for Creation (p81)
April 5. Easter Monday, Family Day. Mrs Adams shared, “This last year with all the focus on the coronavirus and life and death has probably made us more aware of our vulnerability and the possibility of death. Fear and anxiety have been common experiences. “I know that we have not had a death in our immediate family, but the reality and possibility of death has certainly become part of life. I think that is a good thing. What do others think?”
The book Care for Creation – a Franciscan spirituality continues to reflect on death and eternal life. “Francis’ praise of death is a return of love for love. In his own way he tells us that the world is not blindly hurtling into extinction but is moved by Christ to Christ that God may be all in all. What happened in the death of Jesus anticipated the future of humanity and the cosmos itself. The death of Jesus was not the annihilation of creation but its radical transformation through the power of God’s life-giving Spirit. Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of the transformation of the world and this includes the world of nature.” This is the ultimate message of the Incarnation.
God, as Trinity is family and every human family, not only as individuals but as a unit, is an image of God and mirrors the relationship of the Trinity. Remembering that OUR WORLD IS A FAMILY OF FAMILIES every family, animal and plant too, mirrors God in their own unique way.
April 6. Tuesday of Easter week. Magdalen shared, “I’m fascinated by the Resurrection story where Mary Magdalene is weeping, and, looking up, sees someone she assumes is the gardener but doesn’t recognize it is Jesus at first. We know God is everywhere, but would you or I recognize him in an ordinary person doing his job? A gardener can be quite symbolic for us right now, with a focus on ecological conversion we can recognize God present in this aspect of creation; God as gardener, planting and tending his creation, resuscitating dying plants maybe.
Supposing him to be the gardener Mary Magdalene said to him, “Sir if you have carried him away tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned to him “Rabboni.” Jesus said, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” John 20:11-18. Pope Francis : Jesus took up the biblical faith in God, the Creator, emphasizing a fundamental truth: God is Father. In talking with his disciples Jesus would invite them to recognize the paternal relationship God has with all his creatures. LS 96 Reflect, share, pray. Let your mind wander a little. Can you think of times when you were conscious of God’s presence around you? Can you cultivate such an awareness more?