By JENNIFER BURGIN
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi and the traditional "Blessing of Pets." Saint Francis is well known as the patron saint of animals, the environment, and the country of Italy. Also, we attribute the Stations of the Cross and the nativity to Francis of Assisi, one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, when elected as the new Pontiff in March 2013, stunned the world by choosing the name Pope Francis. Why did he do it? His great mercy and compassion for the poor meshed perfectly with Saint Francis of Assisi's charism. Saint Francis left a life of privilege to live a life of poverty. Likewise, Pope Francis left his promising career as a chemist to enter The Jesuits, attracted to a religious life devoted to simplicity and poverty.
I recently finished reading Andrea Torniella's Fioretta - The Little Flowers of Pope Francis: Heartwarming Stories of the Gospel in Action which details anecdotal stories about Pope Francis. I was intrigued by the story of the Pontiff carrying inside his breviary a final will and testament written by his grandmother Rosa. It reads like a beautiful prayer. Rosa gave her grandson useful advice:
"....if someday sorrow, sickness, or loss of a beloved person should fill them with distress, let them remember the Tabernacle, where the greatest and noblest martyr is, and look at Mary at the foot of the cross, can make a drop of balm fall on the deepest and most painful wounds."
What if Job met Saint Francis of Assisi? As I meditated on the first reading from the Prophet Job, I wondered what if Job met Saint Francis of Assisi. I see Saint Francis as a comforting spiritual adviser, especially in light of Job losing his fortune and family under bad circumstances. Job could use a shoulder to cry on; a pious man like Francis who cared deeply for the impoverished and needy. In some ways Job and Saint Francis were very much alike. They both knew what wealth was like. They both "lost it all" - Job from misfortune and Saint Francis from a personal vow of poverty. "Lost it all" is a relative phrase: They lost it all materially but they gained it all back spiritually. Despite Job's unfortunate life circumstances, he remained faithful. Similarly, St. Francis of Assisi chose a life of strict penance and fasting, deeply devoted to Christ despite discomfort and hunger.
Little Flowers of Rejoice I imagine little flowers of rejoice blooming throughout heaven. The Saints and the Angels celebrate when a new soul enters eternal rest. Our Blessed Mother showers the soul with rose petals. The soul hasn't been captured by Satan and destroyed. The soul has safely arrived at the pearly gates, forever at peace.
We do not have to be a pope or a saint to scatter our own little flowers among our fellow brothers and sisters. Through our personal stories, we communicate how the Holy Spirit has enriched our own lives. When we spread the faith we are one step closer to converting a soul to Christ. This soul may have been on the brink of ruin by the evil ones; serpents and scorpions ready to kill away all hope and faith. However, through our Christ-like witness we can change (and even save) lives.
Smell and pick a few miniature roses from Christ's community garden. Share Christ's message of love and charity with others around you. Rejoice and always fear the Lord!
Saint Francis of Assisi, Pray for Us!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please visit her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality.