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?

One Punch Can Ruin Christmas.

It makes me quite angry when I read stories such as that of Dylan Crawford-Kama, 15, who has been left in a coma following a party in Woodbridge near Logan.   Perhaps more parents need to read the Coroner’s report of Justin Galligan who died in similar circumstances in 2008.  You can read about it here in all of its glory.  A story of parental ignorance and a tragic, painful death.  No one is to blame, of course.  Just a tragic accident.  Four years later, a coroner makes his verdict that Justin’s death by hypoxia could have been avoided.  No kidding.

Just a few kids gathered around for a night of fun times.  Just a few drinks.  Just a few late admissions.  Boys will be boys, girls will be girls.  Time and time again we have to read about another young person who is punched too hard, who falls from a balcony, who is struck by a broken bottle.  And every time we seem shocked.  Why?  Who permits them to be in situations that are characterised by risk-taking and stupidity?

In recent times, there was a pony club on the outskirts of Brisbane that hosted underage parties following graduation events.  “Slickers”, as it is known, catered for unsupervised events for young people where alcohol was able to be brought on to the premises despite strict liquor control laws.  The owner would pocket on average $3,500 per event with impunity and without any moral accountability. It is well-known that no taxi service would drive out to Slickers, 50kms away from Brisbane, so many young people were on the roads in the middle of the night, intoxicated and tired.  It is a dirt-ridden, disgusting wasteland where alcohol-fuelled violence and sexual assault just basically went unreported and the schools were left to pick up the pieces.   The stories surrounding the six events this year were horrific including rape, paralytic drunkenness and appalling cruelty to animals.  Girls in Year 9 would attend these events, showing off their photos on Instagram and Facebook.  What parent in their right mind would allow their son or daughter to attend a party commencing at 11pm in a rural setting without any clear means of transport home?  And we ask ourselves why people like Justin Galligan and Dylan Crawford-Kama are in a coma or deceased.

These two lads will never have an eighteenth birthday the way that they should have.  Justin Galligan will never marry.  He will never have children, He will never graduate from University.  Dylan Crawford-Kama, if he does recover, will be traumatised for the remainder of his life.  He will have an acquired brain injury.  He may never function competently again.   And yet the adults involved say, “It was an accident.”

It is not an accident when you hold an open event for young people without appropriate monitoring.  It is not an accident when you allow your son or daughter to attend a paddock in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.  It is not an accident when you can’t say “no” because you want to be your child’s friend.  And Advent should be the season when we want our kids with us at Christmas and not lying in intensive care or a morgue.

So let us all look after the ones we love most.

Now for something a little more light-hearted …


SUNDAY, 2nd December

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companion” of Saint Francis
Francis was raised in the city of Assisi, which is located in the boundaries of the valley of Spoleto. His mother at first called him John; but when his father, who had been away when he was born, returned from France, he later named him Francis. When he grew up, endowed with clever natural abilities, he pursued his father’s profession: that of a merchant. He was, however, vastly different from his father. He was more good-natured and generous, given over to revelry and song with his friends, roaming day and night throughout the city of Assisi. He was most lavish in spending, so much so that all he could possess and earn was squandered on feasting and other pursuits. Because of this, his parents often reprimanded him, telling him that he spent so much money on himself and others that he seemed to be the son of some great prince rather than their son. But since his parents were wealthy and loved him very much, they tolerated all these things to avoid upsetting him. When neighbours commented on his extravagance, his mother replied, ‘What do you think of my son? He will still be a son of God through grace.’
He was lavish, indeed prodigal, not only in these things, but also in spending more money on expensive clothes than his social position warranted. He was so vain in seeking to stand out that sometimes he had the most expensive material sewed together with the cheapest cloth onto the same garment.

Lord, as we await your great coming at Christmas, may we learn that the gift of ourselves is the best gift we can give.  Amen.

MONDAY, 3rd December Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552) was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain) and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montmartre in 1534.[1] He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, and other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. In these areas, being a pioneer and struggling to learn the local languages in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. It was a goal of Xavier to one day reach China.

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of Saint Francis
Francis was naturally courteous in manner and speech and, following his heart’s intent, never uttered a rude or offensive word to anyone. Moreover, since he was such a light-hearted and undisciplined youth, he proposed to answer back those speaking to him rarely in a brusque manner. His reputation, because of this, became so widespread throughout almost the entire region that many who knew him said that, in the future, he would be something great.  From those stepping stones of natural strengths, he was brought to that grace that prompted him to look within himself, ‘You are generous and courteous to those from whom you receive nothing except passing and worthless approval. Is it not right that, on account of God who repays most generously, you should be courteous and generous to the poor?’ From that day, he looked on poor people generously and provided them affluently with alms. Although a merchant, he was a very flamboyant squanderer of wealth.  One day when he was in the shop where he was selling cloth, totally absorbed in business of this sort, a poor man came in, begging alms for the love of God. Preoccupied with thoughts of wealth and the care of business, he did not give him alms. Touched by divine grace, he accused himself of great rudeness, saying, ‘If that poor man had asked something from you for a great count or baron, you would certainly have granted him his request. How much more should you have done this for the King of kings and the Lord of all!’  Because of this incident, he resolved in his heart, from then on, not to deny a request to anyone asking in the name of so great a Lord.

Lord, may we, like Francis Xavier, turn to the needs of others and put them before our own wants.  Amen.

TUESDAY, 4th December

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of Saint Francis.
At that time [in the year 1202], war broke out between Perugia and Assisi. Together with many of his fellow citizens, Francis was captured and confined in Perugia, yet, because of his noble manners, he was imprisoned with the knights. Once, when his fellow prisoners were depressed, he, who was naturally cheerful and jovial, not only was not dejected but actually seemed to be happy. One of the prisoners rebuked him as insane for being cheerful in prison. Francis replied vigorously, ‘What do you think will become of me? Rest assured, I will be worshipped throughout the whole world.’ One of the knights who was imprisoned with him had injured a fellow prisoner, causing all the others to ostracize him. Francis alone not only acted in a friendly way towards him, but also urged the other prisoners to do the same. After a year, when peace was restored between those cities, Francis and his fellow prisoners returned to Assisi.

Lord, may we pray for peace each of these days of Advent.  We love you and wish a world that you can rejoice in.  Amen.

WEDNESDAY, 5th December

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of Saint Francis.
A few years after Francis had returned to Assisi from prison in Perugia, a nobleman from the city of Assisi was preparing himself with knightly arms to go to Apulia in order to increase his wealth and fame. When Francis learned of this, he yearned to go with him to that same place, and to be knighted by that count, Gentile by name. He prepared clothing as expensive as possible, since even though he was poorer in riches than his fellow citizen, he was far more extravagant.  He was completely preoccupied in carrying this out, and was burning with desire to set out when, one night, the Lord visited him in a dream. Knowing his desire for honours, he enticed and lifted him to the pinnacle of glory by a vision. That night, while he was sleeping, someone appeared to him, a man calling him by name. He led him into a beautiful bride’s elegant palace filled with knightly arms and on its walls hung glittering shields and other armour of knightly splendour. Overjoyed, he wondered what all this meant and asked to whom these brightly shining arms and this beautiful palace belonged. He was told that all these, including the palace, belonged to him and his knights.  Awakening in the morning, he got up with great joy. Since he had not yet fully tasted the Spirit of God, he thought in a worldly way that he must be singled out magnificently, and he considered the vision a portent of future good fortune. He resolved then to undertake the journey to Apulia to be knighted by the count. He was even more cheerful than usual, prompting many people to wonder. When they asked him the reason why he was beaming with joy, he answered, ‘I know that I will become a great prince’

Lord, we know that we will share in your great kingdom.  Welcome us into your life with God!  Amen.

THURSDAY, 6th December

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of Saint Francis.
The day before the vision [of the elegant palace] had occurred, the promise of great chivalry and nobility was so strong in Francis that it may be believed that the vision itself may have provided the motive. On that day, in fact, he donated all the refined and expensive clothes he had recently acquired to a poor knight.  When he set out for Apulia, he reached as far as Spoleto, where he began to feel a little ill. No less anxious about the trip, as he was falling to sleep, yet half awake, he heard someone asking him where he wanted to go. When Francis revealed to him his entire plan, the other said, ‘Who can do more good for you: the lord or the servant?’ When Francis answered him, ‘The lord,’ he again said to him, ‘Then why are you abandoning the lord for the servant, the patron for the client?’ And Francis said, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ ‘Go back to your land,’ he said, ‘and what you are to do will be told to you.’ You must understand in another way the vision which you saw.’  When he woke up, he began to think very carefully about this vision. Just as the first vision had caused him to be almost completely carried away with great joy in a desire for worldly prosperity, the second made him completely introspective, causing him to marvel at and consider its strength, so that he was unable to sleep any more that night.  Therefore when it was morning, buoyant and happy, he quickly returned to Assisi, expecting that the Lord, who had revealed these things to him, would show him his will and give him counsel about salvation. Changed in mind, he now refused to go to Apulia and desired to conform completely to the divine will.

Lord, let us serve one another in the wellsprings of charity.  Let us always be people of service. Amen.

FRIDAY, 7th December

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’of Saint Francis.
A few days after Francis returned to Assisi, one evening his friends chose him to be in charge; so that, according to his whim, he would pay their expenses. He made arrangements for a sumptuous banquet, as he had done so often in the past.  When they left the house, bloated, his friends walked ahead of him, singing throughout the city. Holding in his hand the sceptre of his office as their leader, he fell slightly behind them. He was not singing, but was deeply preoccupied. Suddenly he was visited by the Lord, who filled his heart with so much tenderness that he was unable to speak or move. He could only feel and hear this marvellous tenderness; it left him so estranged from any sensation that, as he himself said later, even if he had been completely cut to pieces, he would not have been able to move. When his companions glanced back and saw him so removed from them, they went back surprised at seeing him already changed into another man. They asked him, ‘What were you thinking about that you did not follow us? Were you perhaps thinking about taking a wife?’ He answered in an unequivocal voice, You are right! I was thinking about taking a wife: more noble, wealthier, and more beautiful than you have ever seen’ They laughed at him For he said this not of his own accord but because he was inspired by God. In fact, the bride was the true religion that he later embraced, a bride more noble, richer and more beautiful because of her poverty.

Lord, true love lies there waiting for us in the most disguised fashions.  may we take the time to see the beauty in all things. Amen.

SATURDAY, 8th December Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church maintaining that from the moment when she was conceived the Blessed Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin and was filled with the sanctifying grace normally conferred during baptism.[2][3] It is one of the four dogmas in Roman Catholic Mariology. Mary is often called the Immaculata (the Immaculate One), particularly in artistic and cultural contexts.[4]

The Immaculate Conception should not be confused with the perpetual virginity of Mary or the virgin birth of Jesus; it refers to the conception of Mary by her mother, Saint Anne. Although the belief was widely held since at least Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not formally proclaimed until December 8, 1854, by Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. It is not formal doctrine except in the Roman Catholic Church.[5] The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed on December 8 in many Catholic countries as a Holy Day of Obligation and in some places as a national or public holiday.

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of Saint Francis
Francis happened to go to Rome on pilgrimage. As he was entering the church of Saint Peter, he noticed the meagre offerings made by some and said to himself, ‘Since the Prince of the Apostles should be greatly honoured, why do they make such meagre offerings in the church where his body rests?’ With great enthusiasm, he took a handful of coins from his money pouch and threw them through a grating of the altar, making such a loud noise that all the bystanders were astonished at his generosity. As he was leaving and passed the doors of the church, where there were many poor people begging alms, he secretly exchanged clothes with one of those poor people and put them on. Standing on the steps of the church with the other poor, he begged for alms in French, because he would speak French spontaneously, although he did not do so correctly. After taking off the beggar’s clothes and putting on his own, he returned to Assisi and began to pray that the Lord would direct his way.  He did not share his secret with anyone; nor did he seek counsel from anyone, except from God alone and, periodically, from the Bishop of Assisi. For at that time, no one possessed the real poverty that he desired more than anything else in this world, in which he yearned to live and die.

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, didst prepare a worthy dwelling place for thy Son, we beseech thee that, as by the foreseen death of this, thy Son, thou didst preserve her from all stain, so too thou wouldst permit us, purified through her intercession, to come unto thee. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.


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