The Hill

Franciscan Readings for the Christian Year – gladly hosted by the Franciscan Friars (Holy Spirit Province) in Kedron, Australia. Have you seen the view from The Hill?

I Am The Be-All and End-All

Imagine the Resurrection.  It was, according to biblical history, an “event” to end all events.  Nobody really knew who Jesus was after he rose – he was a new creation, just as we will be when we encounter our own resurrection from this life.  But what I think is significant is that  he said, “I am the Resurrection.”

St Francis held no truck with the things of this world – for him they were an encumberance to a greater life of this resurrection so spoken of by the Messiah.  In putting flesh on the gospel, Francis tried to make the Paschal mystery live again in his time by being a physical symbol of the rising of Christ.  How?  With a ridiculous cult following or bestowing upon himself the guise of a new Messiah?  No – by being Christ to those around him and showing that rising again is always possible.

I am the resurrection and the life.  How many times can we be these things to other people?   To recall someone, to remember a kindness or to return a good deed – how hard is that?  We can actually facilitate the resurrection of others by a mere word of kindness and yet that seems to be too hard for us in world that, as St Francis said, has grown cold.   To be bitter and resentful is to be always in the darkness of the tomb and to wait forever for the rock to be rolled away as though it was always someone else’s responsibility.  And yet resurrection and new life beckons just beyond, if only we could get over ourselves enough to see through the barriers to our own happiness.

In so many ways we can be a sign of rising again for those who have made errors in their lives.  My favourite painting is of two hands – one of Jesus dragging Peter out of the water and in the margins are written “non hai fede, ma hai il mio amore per aiutarti a salire” – you have no faith but you have my love to help you rise.  What a beautiful sentiment!  What surrendering appeal – the one that falls is raised by the one who loves.

We are ready to rise, all of us, this Easter.  May we be the one to reach down and grasp the hand of the one who so desperately needs us.  Let us say with Jesus, “I am the Life”  – we can be the one to reach into the murky deep and find the hand that is searching for salvation and grasp it and pull it to the surface.

And be a resurrection.

Don’t you love this Marilla Ness casual hit? Whatever the Temple at Carnack had to do with

the resurrection is an abiding mystery!


Sunday – 25th March

A reading from ‘The Major Legend of Saint Francis’ by Saint Bonaventure.

The man of God, Francis, gathered with his companions in an abandoned hut near the city of Assisi, where they kept themselves alive according to the pattern of holy poverty in much labour and want, drawing their nourishment more from the bread of tears than of delights. They spent their time there praying incessantly, directing their effort mentally rather than vocally to devoted prayers, because they did not yet have liturgical books from which to chant the canonical Hours. In place of these they had the book of Christ’s cross which they studied continually day and night, taught by the example and words of their father who spoke to them constantly about the cross of Christ.  When the brothers asked him to teach them to pray, he said, ‘When you pray, say “Our Father…” and “We adore you, 0 Christ, in all your churches throughout the whole world, and we bless you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”‘ He also taught them to praise God in all and with all creatures, to honour priests with a special reverence, and to believe with certainty and to confess with simplicity the truth of the faith, as the holy Roman Church holds and teaches. They observed the holy father’s teaching in every detail and prostrated themselves humbly before every church and crucifix which they were able to see from a distance, praying the formula he had taught them.

Our Father, who are in heaven, may your name be forever holy.  May we make alive again your reign, may you guide us in the ways of your truth which will last throughout the ages.   Blessed be this new morning, a sun so bright that your grace blinds us and for whatever we receive, make us truly thankful.  And for all of those times when we didn’t remember to love one another, return undeserved love to us, teaching us that forgiveness is not an option but always your way.  Preserve us and our families from the forces that may divide us from you and give us peace forever.  Amen.


MONDAY – 26th March – The Annunciation

A reading from the ‘Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ and the antiphon ‘Holy Virgin Mary’. by Saint Francis.
Hail, 0 Lady
Holy Queen,
Mary, holy Mother of God,
who are the Virgin made Church,
chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven
whom he consecrated with his most holy belovd Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
all fullness of grace and every good.
Hail, his Palace! Hail, his Tabernacle! Hail, his Dwelling!
Hail, his Robe! Hail, his Servant! Hail, his Mother!
And hail all you holy virtues
which are poured into the hearts of the faithful
through grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,
that from being unbelievers,
you may make them faithful to God.
Holy Virgin Mary,
among the women born into the world,
there is no one like you.
Daughter and servant
of the Most High and supreme King
and of the Father in heaven,
Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ,
Spouse of the Holy Spirit;
pray for us
with Saint Michael the Archangel,
all the powers of heaven
and all the saints,
at the side of your most holy beloved Son,
our Lord and Teacher.

TUESDAY – 27th March

A reading from ‘A Mirror of the Perfection of a Lesser Brother’
Intoxicated by love and compassion for Christ, blessed Francis sometimes did this: a sweet melody of the spirit bubbling up inside him would frequently become on the outside a French tune; the thread of a divine whisper which his ears heard secretly would break out in a French song.  At other times, picking up a stick from the ground and putting it over his left arm, he would draw another stick across it with his right hand like a bow on a viola or some other instrument. Performing all the right movements, he would sing in French about the Lord Jesus. All of this dancing often ended in tears, and the cry of joy dissolved into compassion for Christ’s suffering. Then he would sigh without stopping and sob without ceasing. Forgetful of what he was holding in his hands, he was caught up to heaven.

God, my Father,
may I love You in all things and above all things.
May I reach the joy which You have prepared for me in
Nothing is good that is against Your Will,
and all that is good comes from Your Hand.
Place in my heart a desire to please You
and fill my mind with thoughts of Your Love,
so that I may grow in Your Wisdom and enjoy Your Peace.

WEDNESDAY – 28th March

A reading from ‘The Admonitions’, by Saint Francis.
Consider in what great excellence the Lord God has placed you, for he created and formed you to the image of his beloved Son, according to the body and to his likeness according to the Spirit.  And all creatures under heaven serve, know, and obey their Creator, each according to its own nature, better than you. And even the demons did not crucify him, but you, together with them, have crucified him and are still crucifying him by delighting in vices and sins.
In what, then, can you boast? Even if you were so skilful and wise that you possessed all knowledge, knew how to interpret every kind of language, and to scrutinize heavenly matters with skill: you could not boast in these things. For, even though someone may have received from the Lord a special knowledge of the highest wisdom, one demon knew about heavenly matters and now knows more about those of earth than all humanity.  In the same way, even if you were more handsome and richer than everyone else, and even if you worked miracles so that you put demons to flight: all these things are contrary to you; nothing belongs to you; you can boast in none of these things.
But we can boast in our weaknesses and in carrying each day the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, in what can we boast? Only your love for us and a good life.  Nothing comes to us except through you.  Grant us the grace of gratitude.  Amen.


THURSDAY – 29th March

Farewell to Benny, Scott, Father John and our students on their way to Europe for the rugby tour.  We will miss you heaps!!  Come home safely!!

The Travellers Prayer

O my God, as we leave our shores and our lands of safety, protect us always from the winds that may drive us away from our destination.  May you steer us faithfully on the righted course, forever seeking the joy of a creation that lies unknown to us.  Be with us, O Lord, in all of our daily adventures that we may tell of the wonder of life when we return, safe in that journey that begins and ends with you.  Amen.

A reading from ‘The Major Legend of Saint Francis’, by Saint Bonaventure.

The man of God, Francis,
remaining more alone and at peace
would fill the forest with groans,
water the places with tears,
strike his breast with his hand,
and, as if finding a more secret hiding place,
would converse with his Lord.
There he replied to the Judge,
there he entreated the Father,
there he conversed with the Friend.
There too the brothers who were devoutly observing him
heard him on several occasions groan with loud cries,
imploring the divine clemency for sinners,
and weeping over the Lord’s passion
as if it were before him.
There he was seen praying at night,
with his hands outstretched in the form of a cross,
his whole body lifted up from the ground
and surrounded by a sort of shining cloud,
so that the extraordinary illumination around his body
was a witness to the wonderful light that shone within his soul.
There too,
as is proven by certain evidence,
the unknown and hidden secrets of divine wisdom
were opened up to him,
although he never spoke of them outside
except when the love of Christ urged him
and the good of his neighbour demanded.
For he used to say,
‘It happens that one loses something priceless
for the sake of a small reward,
and easily provokes the giver not to give again.’

FRIDAY – 30th March

A reading from ‘The Book of the Blessed Angela of Foligno
Once I was at Vespers and was gazing at the cross. And while I was thus gazing at the cross with the eyes of the body, suddenly my soul was set ablaze with love; and every member of my body felt it with the greatest joy. I saw and felt that Christ was within me, embracing my soul with the very arm with which he was crucified. This took place right at the moment when I was gazing at the cross or shortly afterward. The joy that I experienced to be with him in this way and the sense of security that he gave me were far greater than I had ever been accustomed to.  Henceforth my soul remained in a state of joy in which it understood what this man, namely Christ, is like in heaven, that is to say, how we will see that through him our flesh is made one with God. This was a source of delight for my soul beyond words and description, and it was a joy that was abiding. From it I was left with such security that even if all that we have written were not true, there would not remain any doubt whatever in me that it was God at work in me and that, most certainly, he is responsible for this state. I was so completely certain that God was at work in me that even if everyone in the world were to say that I ought to doubt this, I would not believe them. This is why I am amazed now when I recall how I sought reassurance in the past and relief from my doubts, for now there can be no doubt whatever within me concerning the certainty that it was God at work.  My delight at the present is to see that hand which he shows me with the marks of the nails on it, and to hear him say, ‘Behold what I have suffered for you and for others.’ The joy which seizes my soul in this moment can in no way be spoken of. And in no way whatever can I be sad concerning the passion; on the contrary, my joy is in seeing this man, and to come to him. All my joy now is in this suffering God-man.

Lord, in the great paradigm of life, let suffering be ours in order that we may know your great works of mercy that have been bestowed on us.  Amen.


SATURDAY – 31st March

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare’.

Crying over the Lord’s passion was well known to Clare.  At times she poured out feelings of bitter myrrh at the sacred wounds.  At times she imbibed sweeter joys.
The tears of the suffering Christ made her quite inebriated and her memory continually pictured him whom love had profoundly impressed upon her heart.
She taught the novices to weep over the crucified Christ and, at the same time, what she taught with her words, she expressed with her deeds. For frequently when she would encourage them in private in such matters, a flow of tears would come before the passage of her words.  During the Hours of the day, at Sext and None, she was usually afflicted with a greater sorrow as she was immolated with her immolated Lord. Once, in fact, while she was praying None in her little cell, the devil struck her on the cheek, filled her eye with blood and her cheek with a bruise. She repeated more frequently the Prayer of the Five Wounds of the Lord so that she might nourish her mind on the delights of the Crucified without any interruption. She learned the ‘Office of the Cross’ as Francis, a lover of the cross, had established it and recited it with similar affection. Underneath her habit she girded her flesh with a small cord marked with thirteen knots, a secret reminder of the wounds of the Saviour.

Lord, may we experience some discomfort as you lead us to a life of compassion.  Amen.


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