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St Francis Wounded-Winter-Light

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St Francis Wounded-Winter-Light

St Francis Wounded-Winter-Light
“He was always occupied with Jesus: Jesus he bore in his heart, mouth, eyes,ears, and in his entire body: Jesus.”
Blessed Thomas of Celano
“Put yourself out Brother Francis,” I used to cry. “Put yourself out before you burn up the world !”
Nikos Katzanzakis
This was originally a pen and ink illustration I made after returning from Assisi, which I later made into an icon commissioned by St Francis College in Brooklyn.
Francis came very early into my life as my favorite saint. My parents had traveled to his US city, San Francisco, and returned with an 8” porcelain white statue of a beardless young Francis with arms outstretched and a bird on each arm. Later I saw a holy card type version of the Esteban Murillo painting of St Francis beneath the Cross in one of my 4 “Miniature Lives of the Saints “ by Fr Daniel Lord, SJ. There was also a beautiful statue of him near the Franciscan Church of St Elizabeth of Hungary (herself, co-patron, along with St Louis the IX, of the Third Order Franciscans ) in downtown Denver.
To make a long story shorter, I would end up meeting the Third Order Franciscans in the Bronx, New York and being admitted as a member in 1984. After joining, I went on a pilgrimage to Italy to the graves of my patrons, St Ignatius, Francis and (my Confirmation name) Dominic. While Ignatius was convalescing in Loyola at his brothers estate, he had wondered, “What if I should do what St Francis did ? What if I should act like St Dominic ?” It was in March 84 and Assisi was so cold I wore my clothes in bed. For some odd reason I had expected Assisi would be much much warmer. One day I looked out my window and thought, O my God, Francis is outside in the snow barely covered p, and he’s suddenly caught in rapturous love, by the intricate artistry of the Creator, in a falling snowflake. When I was leaving Assisi I wrote this poem of my experiences, to say goodbye...
Reflections from Assisi : “Ciao Francesco”
Ciao Francesco of Assisi
whose bloody footprints in winter
(like carnelians cast upon snow)
can still disrupt Assisi….
Ciao Francesco of the Porziuncola
that blessed door too narrow
for me to enter, but led by you
I ask three things…….
Ciao Francesco of San Damiano
who led me along the same
road of renunciation
(while the silver olive trees wept)
and showed me that we
leave all our fathers…
Ciao Francesco of the Carceri
whose food was to do the
will of God, and when I
saw this—too true—I ran
all the way down Mt. Subasio…
Ciao Francesco of the Chiesa Nuova
your lively friar-son showed me
the prison where your father
tried to keep you and then
sensing my sins he let down his cape for me to walk on
--this still hurts…
Ciao Francesco who fought the devils
and guarded my own room with
Leo’s cherished blessing—while the
shutters rattled from the nightmare
howls, and the dark dreams
threatened to turn me back……
Ciao Francesco of La Verna
(my dearest home)
you climbed those rocks
to bemoan your sins and
left that mountain so transfigured,
so holy, that in that place
I could scarcely breathe…
Ciao Francesco of the Basilica
your body is the Feast of Fools,
parades, endless masses, cameras, dances
songs, candles, and those weeping
because they have put you up so high,
we can’t even touch you
for healing anymore….
Ciao Francesco wounded-winter light
you are stricken with love
by God’s smallest creatures…
Ciao Francesco of the Via Crucis
winter in Assisi is more harsh, silent
and bitter than I ever imagined,
and as I complained and nagged you
for comfort, you walked with me,
(like Jesus at Emmaus wounds aglow)
and taught me the grace of
Ciao Francesco of Assisi,
guide books, tapestries, and paintings
say you are dead,
but you still lead
the angels in song
at the Bronx Little Portion.
“Ciao Chiara”
Ciao Chiara of San Damiano
you led me up stone stairs
to the upper room and unbolted
the door to ancient visions,
and showed me how love
and the Holy Eucharist
put invaders to flight….
Ciao Chiara, Lady Poverty,
you are on display as some venerable mummy;
Your skeleton still observing
Stark humility and holy poverty….
Ciao Chiara who cried the Passion
every day (hope against hope)
and who bathed our father’s
wounds and kissed them when
he went Home…
Ciao Chiara de Favarone
the Spirit hovers in the mist
outside your basilica and
sits like manna on the olive trees
and the Spirit and the Bride say:
“God is enough.”