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A SIGN OF HOW GOD APPROVED OF A SAINT'S LIFE

Father Francis's picture
The Stigmata of Saint Francis

Francis loved Jesus. His heart's desire was to be another Christ. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and praying. So Francis in imitation of Christ would make this fast several times a year. Two years before he died as the feast of St. Michael was approaching he took Brother Leo with him to Mount Alverna to begin one of these fasts. Around the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross he was wrapt in contemplating the sufferings of Jesus. I can just imagine him weeping over what Christ endured for us on the cross. Then to his surprise he was given this vision of a seraph nailed to a cross flying towards him. Francis was dumbfounded at the sight and his heart was flooded with a mixture of exceeding joy and sorrow. He was overjoyed at the way Christ regarded him so graciously under the appearance of the seraph, but the fact that he was nailed to a cross pierced his soul with a sword of compassionate sorrow."

I can just imagine him weeping over what Christ endured for us on the Cross. Then to his surprise he was given the vision of a seraph nailed to a cross flying towards him. Francis was dumbfounded at the sight and his heart was flooded with a mixture of exceeding joy and sorrow. He was overjoyed at the way Christ regarded him so graciously under the appearance of the seraph, but the fact that He was nailed to a cross pierced his soul with a sword of compassionate sorrow.

As Francis gradually recovered from this ecstasy, he found that the wounds of the crucified Christ had miraculously appeared on his body. His hands and feet were pierced with nails, the heads of which were in the palms of his hands and on the instep of each foot, while the points stuck out on the opposite side. His right side had been pierced as if with a lance.

Why was Saint Francis given this great privilege? It was to show to the world the Father's approval of his way of life. Since he had modelled his life on Christ, he was allowed to share in His sufferings and carry the very wounds Christ bore on the Cross. He could now say, like St. Paul (Gal 2:20). "I live, no not I, but Christ lives in me."

Our minds cannot imagine the extent of the pain Francis endured every moment for the remainder of his life. He was a visible reminder to all of the seriousness of sin because it was the sins of people like you and me which nailed the Son of God to a cross. This feast is an occasion to remind us of what our sins did to Christ and His generosity in offering Himself to the Father to save us from those sins.

Let us ask our Heavenly Father that whenever we look at the crucifix we will be aware of the great pain our sins caused His Son Jesus and to express our gratitude to Jesus for His boundless love. May the image of our crucified Lord have a prominent and treasured place in our homes.