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?

Proclaim a Year of the Lord’s Favour.

Another school year has begun following the storms and floodwaters that afflicted Brisbane over the Australia Day weekend.   What a contrast!  New beginnings and the clearing away of old scrub and debris.   An easy analogy could follow but perhaps it is more challenging to reflect on the blessings we can anticipate this year.

With every year, there is change.  We grow and we learn.  We get older but not necessarily wiser.   We stand to achieve much or to tread water and to realise that life is a combination of both modes of existence.    We will experience the exhiliaration of frantic activity and the joy of relaxation.   In essence, to St Francis, every year is a year of the Lord’s favour – another gift so precious that it could make us weep: the gift of time, the gift of another chance to get it right, the gift that truly keeps giving.

Doomsday prophets are all around us in these times of flood.  “Global warming!”  they shriek.  “Climate change!” they exclaim.  To be honest, I am not an expert on either phenomenon if, in fact, they are in any way distinctly different.   Rather than take the long view on a world on the brink of destruction, why not take your lead from St Francis and see a world that is dangerous and free, our Mother who will not be ruled by us but teaches us in her own way the cost of environmental responsibility.

In Australia, despite our destructive weather, we are truly blessed.  As I see these young blokes starting their first day of high school, all I can see is hope and good fortune.  These lads are so lucky to be in time and place that enables them to make the very best of the advantages they have inherited.

It is truly a time to feel favoured and to rejoice.


Sunday, 27 January

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of St Francis

When blessed Francis and the other brothers arrived in Rome and found the Bishop of the city of Assisi there, they were received with immense joy, for he honoured blessed Francis and all the brothers with special affection.   Not knowing the reason for their arrival, he began to be apprehensive, fearing that they might want to leave their native land, where the Lord had begun to do marvellous things through them.  For he rejoiced to have in his diocese such men whose life and conduct their plan, however, he was overjoyed and promised them his counsel and help.  The Bishop was known to the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God.   The Bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him.  On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers.  Hearing that they were in the city, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love.

Lord, let us always welcome the prophet who proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour.   Amen.

Monday, 28 January – St Thomas Aquinas

Thomas is held in the Roman Catholic Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood, and indeed the highest expression of both natural reason and speculative theology. The study of his works, according to papal and magisterial documents, is a core of the required program of study for those seeking ordination as priests or deacons, as well as for those in religious formation and for other students of the sacred disciplines (Catholic philosophy, theology, history, liturgy, and canon law).[3] The works for which he is best-known are the Summa theologiae and the Summa Contra Gentiles. One of the 35 Doctors of the Church, he is considered the Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. Pope Benedict XV declared: “This (Dominican) Order … acquired new luster when the Church declared the teaching of Thomas to be her own and that Doctor, honored with the special praises of the Pontiffs, the master and patron of Catholic schools.”


A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of St Francis

During the few days that the brothers were staying in Rome with Cardinal John of St Paul, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly, and devoutly to their prayers.  He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers.  Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him thier entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia.   That Cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III, ‘I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the Holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things.   I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy church throughout the world.’   Hearing this, the Lord Pope was greatly amazed and had the Cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. 

Lord, as your servant Thomas Aquinas was inspired by the Holy Spirit and gifted with wisdom for your laws in nature, may we too be subject to the laws that guide our existence.  Amen.

Tuesday, 29th January

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of St Francis

Although the brothers were treated kindly by some, they were often considered good-for-nothings, so that many, the small and the great, abused and harmed them, at times taking away from them even the cheapest clothing they had.   Whenever the servants of God remained naked, because they wore only one tunic, according to the pattern of the gospel, they did not demand back what had been taken from them.  If some, moved by piety, did want to return what was taken from them, they willingly accepted.

They did these and similar things to them, regarding them as so worthless that they brazenly afflicted them as they chose.   In addition, they endured immense hardship and suffering from hunger and thirst, from cold and nakedness.  Suffering all these things steadfastly and patiently, as blessed Francis had admonished them, they did not become dejected or disturbed, nor did they curse those who brought evil upon them.   On the contrary, as perfectly evangelical men, placed at a great advantage, they greatly exulted in the Lord, considering it pure joy when they fell into temptations and trials of this sort.  According to the word of the gospel, they prayed carefully and enthusiastically for their persecutors.

Lord, let our suffering be measured with patience, even when we fall into temptation and trials.  Let us pray for those who persecute us.  Amen.

Wednesday, 30th January

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of Saint Francis

People saw that the brothers rejoiced in their tribulations, persisted in prayer with eagerness and devotion, neither accepted nor carried money and possessed a great love for one another; and through this they were known really to be the Lord’s disciples.  Many came to them with heart-felt sorrow, asking pardon for the offences they had committed against them.   They forgave them from their hearts, saying, ‘May the Lord forgive you,’ and encouraged them soundly about their eternal salvation.   Some asked those brothers to receive them into their company.  And because of the small number of the brothers – all six of them possessed authority from blessed Francis to receive others into the Order – they accepted some of them into their company.   After they were received, they all returned at a predetermined time to Saint Mary of the Portiuncola.  Each day, they loved each other deeply, served one another, and took care of each other as a mother for an only and beloved child.  Charity burned so ardently in them that it seemed easy for them to give their bodies to death, not only for the love of Christ, but also for the salvation of the soul or the body of their confreres.

Lord, let us love one another tenderly and exist only to make each other happy.  Amen.

Thursday, 31st January – St John Bosco

John Bosco (Italian: Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco; 16 August 1815 – 31 January 1888), known as Don Bosco, was an Italian Roman Catholic priest, educator and writer of the 19th century, who put into practice the convictions of his religion, dedicating his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth and employing teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method known as the Salesian Preventive System. A follower of the spirituality and philosophy of Saint Francis de Sales, Bosco dedicated his works to him when he founded the Salesians of Don Bosco

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of St Francis

One day, when two of the brothers were walking along, they came across a simpleton who began to throw rocks at them.  One of them, noticing that stone were being thrown at the other, ran directly in front of him, preferring that the stones striken him rather than his brother.   Because of the mutual charity with which they burned, they were prepared to lay down their life in this way, one for the other.   If it ever happened that one uttered an annoying word to another, his conscience troubled him, so much so that he could not rest until he admitted his fault.   In this way, with the grace of Jesus Christ, anticipating and helping them, they strove to banish all ill will and malice from their midst, to preserve among them always perfect love, and, to combat, as far as possible, each vice by practicing a corresponding virtue.

Lord, may we be ready to forgive every offence.  Amen.

Friday, 1st February

A reading from ‘The Legend of the Three Companions’ of St Francis

The brothers did not appropriate anything as their own, but used books or other items in common according to the pattern handed dwon and observed by the apostles.   Although there was real poverty in and among them, they were generous and openhanded with everything given them for God’s sake.   The alms freely given to them out of his love, they gave all those who begged from them, especially to the poor.  In fact, if they were travelling along the road and found the poor begging from them for the love of God, when they had nothing to offer them, they would give them some of their clothing even though it was shabby.   Sometimes, they gave their capuce, tearing it from the tunic; at other times they gave a sleeve, or tore off a part of their habit, that they might fulfil that gospel passage: ‘Give to all who beg from you.’

Lord, let us give everything we have to alleviate the suffering of the poor.  Amen.

Saturday, 2nd February – Presentation of the Lord.

Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore your majesty that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh, so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   Amen.


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