By: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
One day a curious little kid went rummaging through the stored away treasures in the attic. He came upon some of his father’s military paraphernalia. He picked up a chain with a piece of metal hanging on it. So, the kid strung the chain around his neck and went down the stairs.
Pointing to the piece of metal, he said to his mother, “Mom, what is this?” His mother said, “That’s daddy’s dog tag.” With a sad look on his face the kid asked, “When was daddy a dog?”
This Tuesday we celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assissi. He was born in Italy around 1181. In his early life he was known to life in the fast lane, enjoying the good life of parties. Then, he fought in a battle between Assissi and Perugia. During the battle Francis was captured and tossed into prison. Legend has it that Francis began hearing the voice of god while in prison.
After he was released from prison Francis abandoned his life of luxury and dedicated himself to the spiritual life. In 1209, as he was attending Mass, the words of Jesus in the Gospel (Mat. 10.7-10) bidding his apostles to go forth on their mission struck Francis as a call. So he set out, still a layman, to preach. He was so effective as a lay preacher that a small group of men had gathered about him. They went to Rome to see Pope Innocent III, who gave them oral permission to live in the manner Francis has chosen. Thus began the Franciscan order of friars, an entirely new type of order in the church.
Francis saw animals as his brothers and sisters because they were God’s creatures, just like people. He said of animals: ” Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it.” So Francis prayed that God would work through him to help animals as well as people.
There is a great story about Francis and the wolf. When Francis lived in the town of Gubbio, a wild wolf was terrorizing the area by attacking and killing people and other animals. So Francis decided to go meet with the wolf to try to tame it. He left Gubbio and headed toward the surrounding countryside, with many people watching.
The moment they met, the wolf charged toward Francis with open jaws. But Francis prayed and made the sign of the cross. Francis stepped closer to the wolf. he called out to the wolf: “Come here, brother wolf. I command you in Christ’s name that you do no harm to me or to any other.”
People reported that the wolf instantly obeyed by closing its mouth. It lowered his head, creeping slowly closer to Francis, and then lying calmly on the ground beside Francis’ feet. Francis then continued talking to the wolf saying” “Brother wolf, you do much damage in these parts, and you have committed great crimes, destroying and slaying the creatures of God without his permission. My desire, brother wolf, is to offend them and that they may forgive you all your past offenses.” The wolf promptly obeyed and became a friend of Francis and the people of Gubbio.
Father Alton Carr has a garden between the church and the Parish Center. There he mainly grows tomatoes. Next to his garden there is a statue of St. Francis and the wolf.
Next Tuesday we will bless the animals in the Parish Center courtyard. You may approach the courtyard through the chapel entrance…behind the church. We will pray the novena at 6:00 pm and bless the animals at approximately 6:30 pm.
On Wednesday we celebrate the feast of a fellow Redemptorist, Fr. Francis Seelos. Father Seelos was born on January 11, 1819 in Fussen, Bavaria. He was ordained as a Redemptorist priest and offered himself to minister to the German speaking people in the United States.
His first assignment in the United States was St. Philomena parish in Pittsburgh. Fr. John Neumann, now Saint John Neumann, was the pastor at the time. Father Seelos later became the pastor of the parish along with the assignment of being the novice master for the students aspiring to be Redemptorists.
Father Seelos served in several parishes in the eastern part of the United States. Eventually he was assigned to St. Mary’s parish in New Orleans. Yellow fever was ravaging the people of New Orleans when Father Seelos arrived. He bravely visited the people affliced with the fever. Eventually, Father Seelos contracted the fever and died on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4, 1867 at the age of 48. We celebrate his feast day on October 5. Pope John Paul II declared Francis Xavier Seelos blessed in 2000.
Friday, October 7th is the feast of the Most Holy Rosary. The Holy Rosary is considered a perfect prayer. In saying the rosary we reflect upon the awesome story of our salvation. There are four sets of mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious. In each mystery we reflect upon five events in the lives of Jesus and/or Mary. Whenever we pray the rosary we are approaching Mary the mother of Christ who then leads us to Jesus.
Every Thursday evening, from 6:00 – 7:00, there is a holy hour in the Parish Center chapel. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed. The people attending this Holy Hour normally take 15 minutes to say the rosary together. For many months Jim Clark would lead the rosary. May Jim rest in peace!
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.