Blessed Jacoba of Settesoli, Secular Franciscan

Jacoba of Settesoli was born in the year 1190 into a noble Italian family. She married into a wealthy Roman family, and she and her husband would have children, including two sons. Sadly, her husband passed away.

While managing her household and caring for her children, she began to hear of an itinerant preacher, by the name of Francis. What she heard stirred her heart; and she desired to meet him.

An opportunity came when Francis and his band of brothers came to the city of Rome. Francis was seeking the Pope’s approval of his Rule of Life for his growing community. Lady Jacoba was able to speak to him about how she could live a more spiritual life, following Jesus. Francis advised her to continue caring for her family; that it was possible to live the Gospel life as both a mother and a householder. She followed his advice, although she did turn over management of the family lands to her two sons. She began living a life of prayer and charity. Francis and his brothers would visit her when they were in Rome. She gave a gift of land to the friars so that they could establish a shelter and hospital for local lepers.

During his final illness, he sent word to Jacoba, asking her to come to Assisi, with cloth to make a burial shroud. And he also asked her to bring some of those almond cookies she used to bake for him when he visited her home. She left Rome immediately.

When she reached Assisi; there was an argument among the brothers if it was appropriate for a woman to enter the friary! Francis settled the issue when he commanded them to let “Brother Jacoba” come in. She was present when he died; and mourned with the brothers.

Lady Jacoba remained to Assisi for the rest of her life. She died on February 8, 1273, and is buried in crypt of the Basilica of St Francis; near his tomb.

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Hail, O Lady,
holy Queen,
Mary,holy Mother of God,
who are the virgin made church
and who are the one chosen by the most holy
Father in heaven,
whom he consecrated
with his most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
and in whom there has been and is
all the fullness of grace and every good.
Hail, His Palace!
Hail, His Tabernacle!
Hail, His Home!
Hail, His Robe!
Hail, His Handmaid!
Hail, His Mother!
And all you holy virtues,
who
through the grace and illumination of the
Holy Spirit have been poured into the
hearts of the faithful, so that from their
faithless state, you may make them
faithful to God.


The Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
written by St. Francis of Assisi

Feast of Saint Clare

Illustration by Mark Balma

Saint Clare of Assisi was born in 1194. A daughter of a noble Italian family of the city of Assisi. This young lady, who was not particularly interested in entering a noble marriage, heard Saint Francis preaching, and wanted to live the Gospel life he espoused. Because of the social strictures of her times, she began living the Gospel life behind the walls of a monastery.

From behind those walls, she was still able to inspire people to follow Christ. Women came to be admitted to her community located around the chapel of San Damiano, one of the first churches Francis repaired. They lived a simple life of prayer and work. They claimed nothing for their own, no dowries, no financial endowments. People came from all around Assisi, seeking her advice and guidance.

Her influence could be felt beyond the Italian borders; when a noble woman, Agnes of Prague, inspired by lives of Franciscan friars in Hungary, sought Clare’s advice. Agnes would herself establish a Franciscan monastery. Clare, would advise her in several letters. In her second letter to Agnes, she wrote:

O most noble Queen,
gaze upon Him,
consider Him,
contemplate Him,
as you desire to imitate Him.
If you suffer with Him, you will reign with Him.
If you weep with Him, you shall rejoice with Him;
If you die with Him on the cross of tribulation, you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendor of the saints and,in the Book of Life, your name shall be called glorious among men.

Saint Clare died on August 11,1253.

Over a Cup of Coffee!!

So, going back to an old blog type; If we were sharing a cup of coffee, I would tell how hard it has been to keep up with the blogging! I can give a bunch of excuses; my laptop went on the fritz; it took awhile to get my new IPad up and running. And I could finally admit that I really having a bad dry spell.

But over a cup of coffee, I would share that on this weekend, here on Cape Cod, I am feeling at least a little inspiration. The Franciscan in me has been more aware of the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds me.

“Praise be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
“Praise be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.”
“Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.”
“Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, so very useful and humble, precious and chaste.”
“Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.”

O praise and bless my Lord, thank him and serve humbly and grandly,

Excerpts from The Canticle of the Creatures by Saint Francis of Assisi!

The coffee cup is empty, and time to get ready for the next. May the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

“Hail, O Lady!”

Statue of Madonna and Christ Child. Located in the lobby of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston,MA.

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, Holy Mother of God, who are the virgin made church and who are the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven, whom he consecrated with his most holy beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, and in whom there has been and is all the fullness of grace and every good. Hail, His Palace! Hail, His Tabernacle! Hail, His Home! Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Handmaid! Hail, His Mother!……..And all you holy virtues, who through the grace and illumination of the Holy Spirit have been poured into the hearts of the faithful, so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

This prayer was composed by St. Francis of Assisi.

A Nation In Mourning….Again!

To quote Thomas Paine, “These are times that try men (and women) souls.” We have experienced once again the horrors of mass shootings, in El Paso TX, and Dayton, OH. It should shake everyone’s being down to their souls. No other country, that is not at war or in civil strife, has suffered the casualties we have in the United States, from gun violence. People from around the world cannot understand how a country, so modern, like the United States, can let this bloodletting continue.

The answer is both simple and complicated. There are those in this country who feel they are losing control of it. That immigrants and of other races are taking what was once theirs; jobs, control of local governments. They see government, especially the Federal government taking away their lands, their jobs, for protection of the environment. They see gun ownership as the only means to protect what they see as their rights. This might only express some of the reasons why the country is so full of hate, so divided; and why some feel driven to pick up the gun.

But Jesus has said, “All who take the sword will die by the sword.” (MT 26:52). What is called for are laws to remove or at least control access to military style weapons. There also must be dialogue between peoples, to understand the desires, the needs, and the fears of all sides. We need a responsible government, whose goals are to preserve the general welfare, and not their own political power.

Jesus said that the primary commandment for his followers was to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. The second important commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. The challenge of these two commandments have always been before us. Never before in our society’s history, had meeting that challenge been so important!

From “Old Cape Cod.”

Praise be you, O my Lord, for our Brother Wind, and for air and cloud, calms and all weather by whom you uphold life in all creatures.” Canticle of the Creatures – Francis of Assisi

My wife and I are on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We are at my mother in laws home, for a gathering of the clan. I am sitting on a deck, a copy of Henry Thoreau’s Walden in my hand.

I am looking up into blue sky, with wispy clouds being blown across. And I spot seagulls circling above, held up by winds coming off the ocean. It is a quiet time, it is a holy time. St. Francis wanted his followers to live in simple huts, mostly as a commitment to poverty. But I would speculate that he hoped his community would be outside experiencing the beauty of God’s creation. As I was for a glorious moment. And in that moment, my soul felt renewed.

Most high, almighty, good Lord God, to you belong all praise, glory, honor, and blessing!”

“Praised be You, O my Lord and God”

“Praise the Lord for our Mother Earth, who sustains us and keeps us, and brings forth the grass and all of the fruits and flowers of many colors.”

From the “Canticle of the Creatures;” written by Saint Francis of Assisi, around 1225 AD. Picture is of the first sunflowers I have seen blooming this summer.

“Behold the Wood of the Cross!”

Last Friday, I was coming home from work, going down a walkway from the train platform. I just happened to look down and saw on the ground, two sticks in the form of a cross. I do not know if someone put those sticks together to form a cross; or if the sticks fell together that way. What I can tell you is that the sight stopped me in my tracks.

I must confess that my spiritual life has felt a little dull lately. Practices I have done; have fallen by the wayside. Books I have looked to for spiritual nourishment in the past, have remained unopened. Only at Sunday Mass, do I feel the spark ignite! Yet, at the sight of that little cross, I was inspired to begin to pray. It was only for moment, it was a wonderful moment!

I left the cross as it was; I have no idea if it is still there. I hope it is there for someone else to find.

The following prayer is from St. Francis of Assisi; that he is to have prayed before the San Damiano Cross:

Most high, most glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart. Grant me a right and a perfect charity, feeling, and understanding of you, so that I may be able to accomplish your holy and just commands. Amen!