December 22. The Adams family was interested in learning more about the five wounds of Jesus, the stigmata, that St Francis had received from God. They decided to read the story and consider how they could appreciate more deeply the love that Jesus expressed in his suffering.
The Seventh Teaching: The Joy of Humble Praise and Service of God
Francis learned how to live with all creatures, loving them and serving them, and giving God thanks for them. And now, two years before he will embrace Sister Death, God assures Francis and us that everything belongs to everything else, and everything belongs to God. Everything is thereby holy and worthy of care, and reverence, and a song of God’s praise. “The devil is most happy when he can snatch from a servant of God true joy of spirit. He carries dust with him to throw into the smallest chinks of conscience and thus soil one’s mental candor and purity of life. But if joy of spirit fills the heart, the serpent shoots his deadly venom in vain.”– St. Francis
HOW ST FRANCIS APPEARED, AFTER HIS DEATH, TO BROTHER JOHN OF ALVERNIA, WHILE HE WAS IN PRAYER AND SPOKE OF THE STIGMATA. The Little Flowers of St Francis. St Francis once appeared on Mount Alvernia to Brother John of Alvernia, a man of great sanctity, while he was in prayer, and spoke with him for a long time. Before he departed he said to him: “Ask of me what thou wilt.” Then Brother John asked, “Father, I pray thee, tell me that which I have long desired to know, – what thou was doing, and where thou was, when the seraph appeared to thee.” And St Francis replied: “I was praying in that place and I asked two favours of my Lord Jesus Christ. The first was that he would grant to me in my lifetime to feel, as far as might be possible, both in my soul and body, all that he had suffered in his most bitter Passion. The second favour which I asked was, that I might feel in my heart that exceeding love which enkindled his, and moved him to endure so great a Passion for us sinners. And then God put it into my heart that it was granted to me to feel both, as far as is possible for a mere creature; and this promise was well fulfilled to me by the impression of the stigmata.” Then Brother John asked him whether those sacred words spoken to him by the seraph had been truly related by the brother who affirmed that he had heard them from the mouth of St Francis, in the presence of eight friars. And St Francis made answer, that they were even so. Then Brother John, emboldened to ask, said : “O Father, I beseech thee most earnestly that thou wilt suffer me to see and kiss thy glorious, sacred stigmata; not that I have any doubt upon the matter, but because such has always been my most earnest desire.” And St Francis graciously showing them to him, Brother John plainly saw and touched and kissed them. Lastly he said to him: “Father, grant me, if it be the will of God, to feel in some small measure the consolation which thou didst experience when thou didst behold our dear Lord come down to thee to give thee the stigmata of his most holy Passion.” Then St Francis replied: “Dost thou see these nails?” “Yes, Father,” said Brother John. “Touch once more,” said St Francis, “this nail which is in my hand.” Then Brother John, with great fear and reverence, touched that nail, and as he touched it there issued forth from it a perfume, with as it were a little cloud of incense, which filled both his soul and body with such overpowering sweetness that he was immediately rapt in God: and in that ecstasy he remained. And of that Brother John never spoke to anyone save to his confessor till the day of his death; but on his deathbed he revealed it to several of the brethren.
Pope Francis: It is significant that the harmony which St Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of the rupture of sin. St Bonaventure held that through universal reconciliation with every creature St Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence. LS66