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?

KEEP IT SONNY!!!! Ask Whatever You Wish.


It is a modern phrase, along with “sympatico”, “downsizing”, “human resource cohesion” (teamwork).   Connectedness is an important dimension of human existence, I suppose.  We often hear about the pain of isolation – of the elderly who die alone in flats, of the drug addict who sleeps in a doorway, of the teenager who lives a tortured life online in the middle of the night, of the married woman whose husband is never at home.   But, like a lot of social malaise, we are reluctant to see a lack of connectedness in the people we know, the private pain of the ones closest to us.

On Thursday, a boy that I taught took his own life.  He had survived a brain tumor in his senior year and was so loved by everyone.   His mother wrote, “he tried but it just got too hard.”   Last night I attended a fundraiser for Keep It Sonny (see link at the end of this) and ran into so many former students.   At the end of the night, I invited some of the remainder back to the friary for a night-cap (I was ridiculed for drinking my Fronti non-alcoholic champagne!) and it emerged that we had all been friends for almost a decade.   One of our group had been in prison for two years – when I asked, “why didn’t you tell me?”  he said, “I didn’t want people to think you hung around with criminals.”  People could think worse.  And the pain of those I have known for years, those I was supposed to care for, becomes evident and stark.

It is sad that we can trot out the words from John’s Gospel that Jesus is “the vine and we are the branches” but how connected are we to those we love?  It is easy in a busy world to forget each other, to stop wondering about the welfare of those we see even more than occasionally, to never say “how are you?” and to not accept “fine” as an answer.  This is not to say that it will save a soul from suicide or cure depression or even be welcomed by the other, but it can’t hurt.  To re-invigorate the vine and its branches and to say to someone that they can ask whatever they wish in a spirit of hospitality is not going to do any harm.    To show people that we love them has become such an alienated idea as if we are unacceptably intruding on someone’s privacy – it’s a good thing.  Ask me whatever you wish I will try to be there for you – what greater gift can you offer someone?

Perhaps the challenge of St Francis is to be a leaven in the world – to be the one that enables others to rise and the ego to take a back seat.   Francis, in my view, was the ultimate in caring for others.  The writings that have survived for eight centuries tell the tale of a man who knew his brothers intimately, who said that the perfect friar was no one person but a combination of every friar he had ever met.   I wish that we could be like that – that we could see the beauty of the vine in the collection of its individual branches.  Some broken, some whole, some flowering, some dry.  It takes so many imperfections to reflect the perfect and complete face of God.

And, for God’s sake, hug someone this week.  God knows we all need it.

For Nick Dodd and his family and friends.




Sunday, 6th May.  (Happy birthday Frs Steve and Joseph!)

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare’

A woman, admirable by name, Clare, illustrious by designation and in virtue took her origin from a lineage already sufficiently illustrious in the city of Assisi:
at first a fellow citizen with blessd Francis on earth, afterwards reigning with him in heaven. Her father was a knight, as were all her relatives on both sides of the knightly class. Her home was well-endowed and had abundant means following the same fashion of her native place. Her mother, Ortulana, who would give birth to a fruitful plant in the garden of the church, was herself overflowing in no small way with good fruits. Even though she was bound by the bond of marriage and was burdened with the cares of the family, she, nonetheless, devoted herself as much as possible to divine worship and applied herself to works of piety. She, therefore, devoutly travelled with pilgrims beyond the sea and, after surveying those places which the God-Man had consecrated with his sacred footprints, she afterwards returned home filled with joy. She set out again to pray to Saint Michael the Archangel and visited with even more devotion the basilicas of the Apostles. While the pregnant woman, already near delivery, was attentively praying to the Crucified before the cross in a church to bring her safely through the danger of childbirth, she heard a voice saying to her, ‘Do not be afraid, woman, for you will give birth in safety to a light which will give light more clearly than light itself.’ Taught by this oracle, when the child was born and then reborn in sacred baptism, she ordered that she be called Clare, hoping that the brightness of the promised light would in some way be fulfilled according to the divine pleasure.

Lord, we are all destined for you.  Help us to rise above our human weakness and reach to your glory.  Amen.

Monday, 7th May.

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare

Hardly had she been brought into the light, than the little Clare began to shine sufficiently in the darkness of the world and to be resplendent in her tender years through the propriety of her conduct. From the mouth of her mother she first received with a docile heart the fundamentals of the faith and, with the Spirit inflaming and moulding her interiorly, she became known as a most pure vessel, a vessel of graces. She freely stretched out her hand to the poor and satisfied the needs of many out of the abundance of her house. In order that her sacrifice would be more Pleasing to God, she would deprive her own body of delicate foods and, sending them secretly through intermediaries, she would nourish the bodies of the poor. Thus, from her infancy, as mercy was growing with her, she bore a compassionate attitude, merciful towards the miseries of the destitute. She held the pursuit of holy prayer as a friend and after she was frequently sprinkled with its holy fragrance, she gradually entered a celibate life. When she did not have a chaplet with which to count the Our Father’s, she would count her little prayers to the Lord with a pile of pebbles. When she began to feel the first stirrings of holy love, she judged that the passing scene of worldly pride should be condemned, being taught by the unction of the Spirit to place a worthless price upon worthless things. Under her costly and soft clothes she wore a hairshirt, blossoming externally to the world, inwardly putting on Christ. Finally, when her family desired that she be married in a noble way, she would in no way consent, but feigning that she would marry a mortal at a later date, she entrusted her virginity to the Lord.

Lord, make us wed to you in our wills and hearts.  Hold us in your embrace forever.  Amen.

Tuesday, 8th May.

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare’.

Such were the offerings of Clare’s virtue in her paternal home, such the beginnings of the Spirit, such the preludes of her holiness! As a chest of so many perfumes, even though closed, reveals its content by its fragrance, so she unknowingly began to be praised by the mouth of her neighbours and, when the true recognition of her secret deeds appeared, the account of her goodness was spread about among the people. Hearing of the then celebrated name of Francis, who, like a new man, was renewing with new virtues the way of perfection forgotten by the world, she was moved by the Father of the spirits, whose initiatives each one had already accepted although in different ways, and immediately desired to see and hear him. No less did he desire to see and speak with her, impressed by the widespread fame of so gracious a young lady, so that, in some way, he, who was totally longing for spoil and who had come to depopulate the kingdom of the world, would be also able to wrest this noble spoil from the evil world and win her for his Lord. He visited her and she more frequently him, moderating the times of their visits so that this divine pursuit could not be perceived by anyone nor objected to by gossip. For, with only one close companion accompanying her, the young girl, leaving her paternal home, frequented the clandestine meetings with the man of God, whose words seemed to her to be on fire and whose deeds were seen to be beyond the human.

Lord, let us be free to be on fire with words that challenge and inspire us.  Make us your true disciples.  Amen.

Wednesday, 9th May.

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare’.

The Solemnity of the Day of the Palms was at hand when the young girl Clare went with a fervent heart to the man of God, asking him about her conversion and how it should be carried out. The father Francis told her that on the day of the feast, she should go, dressed and adorned, together with the crowd of people, to receive a palm, and, on the following night, leaving the camp she should turn her worldly joy into mourning the Lord’s passion. Therefore, when Sunday came, the young girl, thoroughly radiant with festive splendour among the crowd of women, entered the church with the others. Then something occurred that was a fitting omen: as theothers were going to receive the palms, while Clare remained immobile in her place out of shyness, the bishop, coming down the steps, came to her and placed a palm in her hands. On that night, preparing to obey the command of the saint, she embarked upon her long desired flight with a virtuous companion. Since she was not content to leave by way of the usual door, marvelling at her strength, she broke open – with her own hands – that other door that is customarily blocked by wood and stone. And so she ran to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, leaving behind her home, city, and relatives. There the brothers, who were observing sacred vigils before the little altar of God, received the virgin Clare with torches. There, immediately after rejecting the filth of Babylon, she gave the world ‘a bill of divorce’. There, her hair shorn by the hands of the brothers, she put aside every kind of her fine dress.

Lord, may we recognise the fact that we can always take off our garments of sin and run to you in the clear robes of gladness and completeness.  Amen.

Thursday, 10th May.

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare

After Clare received the insignia of holy penance before the altar of the blessed Virgin and, as if before the throne of this Virgin, the humble servant was married to Christ, Saint Francis immediately led her to the church of San Paolo to remain there until the Most High would provide another place. But after the news reached her relatives, they condemned with a broken heart the deed and proposal of the virgin and, banding together as one, they ran to the place, attempting to obtain what they could not. They employed violent force, poisonous advice, and flattering promises, persuading her to give up such a worthless deed that was unbecoming to her class and without precedence in her family. But, taking hold of the altar cloths, she bared her tonsured head, maintaining that she would in no way be torn away from the service of Christ. With the increasing violence of her relatives, her spirit grew and her love provoked by injuries – provided strength. So, for many days, even though she endured an obstacle in the way of the Lord and her own relatives opposed her proposal of holiness, her spirit did not crumble and her fervour did not diminish. Instead, amid words and deeds of hatred, she moulded her spirit anew in hope until her relatives, turning back, were quiet. After a few days, she went to the church of San Angelo in Panzo, where her mind was not completely at peace, so that, at the advice of Saint Francis, she moved to San Damiano.

Lord, in the face of opposition, may we hold true to our vocati0n with the tenacity shown by St Clare.  Help us to be ever true to you.  Amen.

Friday, 11th May.

A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare’

There [at San Damiano], as if casting the anchor of her soul in a secure site Clare no longer wavered due to further changes of place, nor did she hesitate because of its smallness, nor did she fear its isolation. This is that church for whose repair Francis sweated with remarkable energy and to whose priest he offered money for its  restoration. This is the place where, while Francis was praying, the voice spoke to him from the cross, ‘Francis, go and repair my house, which, as you see, is totally destroyed.’ In this little house of penance the virgin Glare enclosed herself for love of her heavenly spouse. Remaining enclosed Clare began to enlighten the whole world
and her brilliance dazzled it with the honours of her praises. Certainly the wonderful power of her prayer should not be buried in silence, which in the very beginning of her conversion turned one soul to God and then defended her convert. In fact, she had a sister, tender in age, a sister by flesh and by purity. In her desire for her conversion,
among the first prayers that she offered to God with all her heart, she more ardently begged this grace that, just as she had an affinity of spirit with her sister in the world,
she might also have now a unity of will in the service of God. Sixteen days after the conversion of Clare, Agnes, inspired by the divine spirit, ran to her sister, revealed the secret of her will, and told her that she wished to serve God completely. Embracing her with joy, Clare said, ‘I thank God, most sweet sister, that he has heard my concern for you.’ A defence no less marvellous followed this conversion. For while the joyous sisters were clinging to the footprints of Christ in the church of San Angelo in Panzo and she who had heard more from the Lord was teaching her novice sister, new attacks by relatives were quickly flaring up against the young girls.

Lord, we hear your voice crying throughout the ages – “Go – rebuild my House!”  What are we waiting for! Help us to find the strength to renew the kingdom.  Amen.

Saturday, 12th May.

 A reading from ‘The Legend of Saint Clare’

Hearing that Agnes had gone off to Clare, twelve men, burning with anger and hiding outwardly their evil intent, ran to the place and pretended to make a peaceful entrance. Immediately they turned to Agnes -. since they had long ago lost hope of Clare— and said, ‘Why have you come to this place? Get ready to return immediately with us!’ When she responded that she did not want to leave her sister Clare, one of the knights in a fierce mood ran towards her and, without sparing blows and kicks, tried to drag her away by her hair, while the others pushed her and lifted her in their arms. At this, as if she had been captured by lions and been torn from the hands of the Lord, the young girl cried out, ‘Dear sister, help me! Do not let me be taken from Christ the Lord!’ While the violent robbers were dragging the young girl along the slope of the mountain, ripping her clothes and strewing the path with the hair they had torn out, Clare prostrated herself in prayer with tears, begged that her sister would be given constancy of mind and that the strength of humans would be overcome by divine power. Suddenly, in fact, Agnes’ body lying on the ground seemed so heavy that the men, many as there were, exerted all their energy and were not able to carry her beyond a certain stream. Even others, running from their fields and vineyards, attempted to give them some help, but they could in no way lift that body from the earth. When they failed, they shrugged off the miracle by mocking, ‘She has been eating lead all night; no wonder she is so heavy!’
Then Lord Monaldus, her enraged uncle, intended to strike her a lethal blow; but an awful pain suddenly struck the hand he had raised and for a long time the anguish of pain afflicted it.

Lord, with the abuse that follows conviction, may we frind the strength to combat injustice and hold true to the dream that let’s God’s dream be born again in our day.  Amen.


Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: