WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF ST FRANCIS
We meet on the third Sunday of each month. Sometimes meetings are re-scheduled or cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, please contact the Parish Office 08 8337 3849 to confirm the details.
Secular Franciscan Order
St Francis of Assisi Church
59 Newton Road Newton SA 5074
Phone Parish Office: 08 8337 3849
Mon-Fri 10am – 5pm
This evening we celebrated the Transitus of St. Clare, the eve of her feast day, to commemorate her death and entry into eternal life. This service honored Clare’s life by interweaving readings and songs with the reverencing of symbols of Clare’s religious life.
Franciscan Way Of Life
Francis, Rebuild My Church
“… One day men saw Francis in his hermit robes in the market place in Assisi singing in public like another wandering minstrel. And when he had ended his song, he went around among his auditors and begged. “He who gives me a stone will have his reward in heaven,” said he; “he who gives me two stones will have two rewards; he who gives three stones will receive three rewards.” Many laughed at him, but Francis only laughed back. Others, the legend tells us, “were moved to tears to see him converted from such great worldliness and vanity to such an intoxication of love to God.” Francis actually succeeded in getting together a quantity of stone, which he carried away on his own shoulders. He also did the masonry work, and people who went by used to hear him singing in French as he worked. If anyone stopped to look at him, he would call out to them: “You had better come and help me to build up St. Damian’s church again…”
St Francis, in his simple wisdom, saw poverty and humility as twins. We are absolutely dependent on God for all things: That is humility. And God will provide them: That is poverty. We are nothing without God: That is humility. We want nothing but God: That is poverty. As creatures, we are poor before God: That is both poverty and humility.
Humility means living the truth about oneself, being honest with oneself and others. Humility is a sign of psychological and spiritual maturity, and of interior freedom. Rather than a series of behaviors we must adopt, humility is a way of being and of relating to others. It is characterized by the way a person accepts himself and values himself.
The Spirit of Obedience
Obedience is not merely a necessity of organisation. It possesses two grace-full purposes. First, obedience provides a means of self denial and self-giving. Poverty strives for freedom from greed. Obedience seeks freedom from all stubbornness, selfishness, selfcenteredness. Obedience calls one to exercise self-discipline, to cooperate and obey according to the Rule and Constitutions. This effort will have one great result: release from self-seeking and pride. Obedience means “giving oneself to the cause”. This cause is the Church’s mission to live and preach the gospel.
The Mystery Of Poverty
“… The social struggle in my day was very lively and intense, almost, I should say, as much so as in your own times. Everywhere there arouse groups of men and women professing poverty and preaching poverty in the Church and the renewal of society. But nothing changed, because these people did not change their hearts. When poor persons are agitators, and their agitating succeeds, and they become rich, they grow arrogant like the rest of the rich, and forget their old companions in misery. Revolutionaries battle for the freedom of the working classes. But then they come to power, become wealthy, and shoot down the rest of the working class, who think differently from themselves. And then the others feel exploited, taken advantage of. No, brothers and sisters, it is not enough to change laws. You have to change hearts. Otherwise, when you have completed the journey of your social labours you shall find yourselves right back at the beginning – only this time it is you who will be the arrogant, the rich and the exploiters of the poor…”
Franciscan simplicity frees us from the trappings we’ve built our lives around. We carefully consider “needs” versus “wants” and make our decisions more consciously, more deliberately. Simplifying material needs makes more space in our lives, hearts and souls for God. If we have “Poverty of the Self’, if we become less egocentric – and that’s when God has more freedom to move within us.
How to Live in the Freedom of Simplicity:
- Buy things for their usefulness, not for status.
- Buy things for their necessity, not because you want them
- Reject anything that is addictive in nature
- Learn to enjoy things without owning or possessing them.
- Enjoy God’s Creation. Take a walk outside. Look at God’s artistry
- Let your “Yes” mean yes and your “No” mean no. [Simplicity of Speech – reduce buts and maybes]
- Reject anything that oppresses others.
Simplicity of Living – Simplifying material needs help us to:
- Eliminate our discontent and live in the moment
- Discover our missions and purpose in our lives
- Grow as individuals and experience real freedom
- Create more, consume less, rid ourselves of excess stuff
- Speak with truth
- Lose the lust for status and position
Caring For Creation
“God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” – Genesis 1:31
St Francis of Assisi was named the patron saint of ecology in 1989 for good reason. We might say that Francis saw with the eyes of God… Francis believed that all creation was God’s gift and was therefore to be treated as a treasure. In the “Canticle of the Creatures” Francis praises God for all creation – the sun and moon, the stars and the heavens, the wind and air, water and fire, flowers and fruits and herbs. Francis’s heart overflowed with gratitude for all God’s gifts.
Reflection: To whom does the earth belong? What have you done recently to improve the corner of the earth where you live?
Franciscan Love For Mary
A deep and abiding love for Mary, the mother of Christ and our spiritual mother, is a characteristic mark of Franciscan Order. St Francis’s devotion centred around one fact: Mary gave us our Brother, Christ, and shared his poverty. St Francis himself prayed to her before each hour of the Office: “Holy Virgin Mary, there is none like unto you born in the world among women, daughter and handmaid of the most high King, the heavenly Father! Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us with Saint Michael the Archangel and all the virtues of heaven and all the saints, to your most holy, beloved Son, our Lord and Master. Amen.”
Reflection: What virtue does Mary especially teach you?
Queen Of Wisdom
St Francis sang one of the most beautiful lauds in praise of all the virtues “with which the Blessed Virgin was adorned, and which should be ornaments of all holy souls… ” Hail, Queen of Wisdom … “
“… Holy Wisdom confounds Satan and all his wickedness. Pure holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the flesh. Holy poverty confounds all cupidity and avarice and the cares of this world. Holy humility confounds pride and all men of this world and all things which are in the world. Holy charity confounds all diabolical and carnal temptations and all carnal wishes and keeps the body mortified to the obedience of the spirit and to the obedience of its brother …”
St Clare Of Assisi
To consider Franciscan Life without reflecting on Clare of Assisi is like having one-sided coin, a song without music, a rainbow without sunshine. Clare teaches us that we can be committed faithful followers of Francis and of Jesus while doing it in our own unique way in accord with our circumstances in life.
“She was the first flower in Francis’s garden, and she shone like a radiant star, fragrant as a flower blossoming white and pure in springtime” – St. Bonaventure
Gift Of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is not an “extra” in Christian holiness. Rather, the sending of the Spirit is the completing of the entire beautiful plan of God to share His Life with us. The Spirit makes us alive, really alive, fully alive as God intended us to be. By opening ourselves to God’s offer of himself – our ability to respond is itself his gift – our being is gradually transformed. God’s way of loving becomes our way of loving if we allow the Spirit to possess us…. We move into deeper understanding of God’s ways, greater experience of his loving presence and power in our lives, because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5)
If we are humble before God, we cannot be conceited before others. Humility recognises the great truth: Everything is from God. If everything is God’s, what point is there in comparison? Is God jealous of himself? He gives this man or woman this or that talent, money, honour, status. He has given me perhaps more, perhaps less. What’s the difference? It’s all God’s. Shall I be unhappy because God has given a gift to another “Is thy eye evil because I am good?” To Francis, living the gospel life meant charity, not judging others. He simply wanted to give everybody as much of God’s treasure as possible, If God gives us a gift which he did not give to another, he did it for just one reason: that we produce fruit with it. We are not better or worse than others. We are simply what God made us. A pencil is neither better nor worse that cup or candle. Each has its own work to do.
Come Unto Me
‘Little children, you have promised great things to God; still greater things are promised us by God if we keep to what we have promised Him and firmly expect He has promised us. The lust of the world is short, but the punishment which follows it is endless. The sufferings in this life are short, but the glories in the other life are endless!’ And upon these words he preached with great devotion and encouraged all to obedience to Holy Mother Church, to mutual charity, to patience in adversity, to purity and angelic chastity, to peace and unity with God and man, to humility and mildness to all, to despising the world, to burning zeal for holy poverty, to attention and devotion in prayer and songs of praise, and casting all care, both as concerns the body and the soul, upon the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ the Blessed.”
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
Our whole life is ongoing conversion, an attempt to open us up to God more and more. It is also a turning away from sinfulness – the infectious attitudes in us – over and over again. We do this in prayer, in the Eucharist, and in the sacrament that concentrates on our need for reconciliation and the ever-present willingness of God to give it.
Reflection: Do I think of the confession as a positive celebration of the mercy of God?
Turning To God & Away From Sin
Each of us must look into his own heart and face the reality. Perhaps our whole life has been lived on a superficial level, going through motions. Perhaps – what is more likely – we have been able by the grace of God to enter into the Christian Life with sincerity and faithfulness. In one dramatic moment or over a long period of growth, we have come to love God with our whole heart, mind and spirit.
Grace – refers to the relationship of love between God and his children. Grace is not “something” in the sense of one pancake plopped on top of another. **Our life is graced** It has divine quality put there by God. God always wants to deepen and enrich this quality in us. He is constantly calling us to be open to his presence so that we can more and more be possessed with the vision He has of the world, with the boundless love with which He cares for all his creatures, with the power that no other power can withstand. Everything is grace.
Reflection: What is the best way of describing God’s grace and power in your life?
Poverty, both rightly and wrongly understood, has been a badge of Saint Francis and of his order from the beginning, he is known as the “poor little man of Assisi”. Money is neither good nor bad in itself. The virtue of gospel poverty frees us from an unreasonable or slavish attachment to things. The Holy Spirit has told us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Therefore, detachment from an unreasonable love of money must be the root of all good. It is the enslavement to money that is evil. Money can buy pleasure, prestige, power. These can become insatiable – the more I get, the more I want. So, for all Christians, the virtue of gospel poverty is necessary to curb and control this basic danger in our weakened human nature, the tendency to bow down before mammon.
Reflection: What evidence of slavish attachment to things, arrangements, comforts can you find in your life?
Challenge: Deny yourself something and give it to God through others.
Penance – a change of heart.
Penance means “conversion from human ways of doing things to God’s ways”. There is no way that a human being can make up for sin by his or her own efforts. We cannot put God in our debt…. However once joined to Christ, a Christian can indeed make atonement, but it must never be thought of as something an individual creates by his own power. We are totally in debt to God. God is the source of all goodness. We simply accept God’s own healing of that which he has created.
Penance, then, is conversion, self-discipline and co-atonement with Christ. It’s a lifelong task, never finished. Penance is not a matter of gloom and discouragement, but of hope and confidence and joy tempered by a frank admission of past sins, present and future dangers.
Reflection: What is the area in your life that most needs discipline?
The Virtues of Peacemaking
The peacemaker must be humble. When people are at each others’ throats, they are in no mood to be lectured but they may be melted by the quiet presence of one from whom they have nothing to fear. The peacemaker must be charitable. He is not trying to impose his will on anybody or to gain the reputation of being clever arbiter. He is protecting truth and goodness. He is trying to create a little breathing space for God’s love. The peacemaker must be prudent and patient. St Paul says “If possible have peace with every man.”. One must be ready to be silent when words are futile, forgiving when sarcasm would be the most satisfying, and patient when there is every reason to give up.
Above all graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to his friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvellous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God’s as the Apostle says: What have you that you have not received?
Reflection: What is the greatest suffering you must endure today? What is your greatest personal cross?
The Spirit & Practice of Prayer
Prayer is simply the response of the human person to the personal approach to God. Prayer rises above the temptation to think that God has so many children that He couldn’t possibly be interested in me. Prayer believes – perhaps with difficulty – that God wants a personal relationship with me that is unique, totally different from all other relationships God has.My relationship with God depends on how I manage my relationship with others. But, at the heart of my life is the call to personal intimacy with God, my Father, my other, my Creator. God made me for himself.What then is a prayer? It is two things. Prayer is our uniquely personal response to God’s constant offer of himself. Prayer is a response that is separated from the rest of our lives. Prayer is direct communion with God.
Reflection: What should be the first word spoken in prayer?
Your Will be Done
“…And there apart, in the dark cave, Francis found the secret chamber where he could pray to his Heavenly Father. Day by day the desire to do the will of God increased until he had no peace, until he had clearly determined what it was that God asked of him (…) I did not know God’s will about these things, I took the Book of Gospels and prayed God to let me know his will. And I opened the book and at once found these words: ‘To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables.”
Created By Love & For Love
We are created by love for love. At key turning points of our lives, we may be at a loss on what to do to follow God’s call. We do well, like Francis, to acknowledge the darkness that is in our hearts and to turn to the cross of Christ for light and guidance.
A good thing to remember, God’s ways are not our ways and many surprises await us.
Little Flowers of St Francis
“…When St Francis was drawing nigh to a village which was on the confines of the district of Arezzo, a woman came before him, weeping greatly, and bearing her son in her arms, that was eight years of age; and this child for four years had been sick of the dropsy; and his belly was so swollen and so deformed that when he stood up he could not see his feet; and placing this child before him, this woman besought St Francis to pray for him. And St. Francis first betook himself to prayer, and then, the prayer ended, laid his holy hands on the child’s belly, and straightway all the swelling was down, and he was wholly healed; and St. Francis gave him back to his mother, who received him with the greatest joy, and led him home, giving thanks to God and to St. Francis…”
Become a Spiritual Child Of Padre Pio
“Once I take a soul on, I also take on their entire family as my spiritual children.” – Padre Pio