Feasts and Memorials

 

Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi

 

Today being the 4th of October, the Catholic Church all over the world remembers her gallant son, St. Francis of Assisi. St Francis was born in the year 1182. His father was a cloth merchant in France. Francis grew up learning the trade and leading the life of a prominent young man about town. At twenty, Francis joined the army and set off southward to join the papal forces.

On his way he was struck by a dream in which a voice told him to “follow the master, not the man.” He interpreted this as a call from Christ, turned back to Assisi, and began to care for the poor and the sick, especially lepers.

A further call came in a dream in 1205, when he was praying in the church of San Damiano, outside Assisi, and heard a voice telling him to repair the church, “which as you can see is in ruins.” He applied this literally and sold some of his father’s cloth to raise money for repairs to San Damiano. His father, already disturbed by the course his son’s life was taking, took him to the bishop’s court, where he was ordered to pay back the money. He did so with a dramatic gesture, renouncing his inheritance and handing his fine clothes over as well. Dressed only in a workman’s smock, he left the town and spent the next two years as a hermit, vowed to complete poverty and dedication to God. He begged alms for food and worked manually at restoring three churches.

St. Francis of Assisi soon attracted a group of disciples, whom he called the “lesser brothers” – hence Friars Minor, as they became known. His preaching had attracted a wealthy young woman, Clare, followed by others, who became a second order. In 1220 Francis opened up the practice of his ideals to lay people through the Third Order of Penitents, better known as tertiaries.

St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology and ecologists. He famously tamed a wolf at Gubbio and preached to the birds – symbolic perhaps, of his concern to remove all causes of strife from people’s lives and to preach the unadorned gospel everywhere.

We pray today, that like St. Francis;

  1. We may learn to listen and to follow the voice of God, in the silence of our prayers and meditation of his word.
  2. May we free ourselves of the worries and pleasures of this world. May we place our entire hope and trust in God and not on the earthly passing riches.
  3. May we strive to protect the environment by always keeping it clean.
  4. May we be sensitive to the needs of the others and especially the less fortunate.

Memorial of St. Francis Xavier

Click here for the live of St Francis Xavier

Dear Family of God,

Isaiah continues prophesying good times following the coming of the Messiah. Today he tells us that the Lord will prepare a feast for his people. This points us to the blessings by the Messiah and the final feast in heaven.

In the Gospel Jesus has fulfilled what Isaiah prophesied by healing the sick, the lame, the deaf and the blind.  Jesus literally prepared a feast for the people by multiplying bread and fish and the people ate and were filled.

During this advent we continue thanking God for all the blessings we are enjoying in our lives especially through the sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the sick and the Eucharist. We also continue to cry “Come Lord” and remove all that is weighing us down –  sin, diseases, poverty, insecurity, hatred and selfishness.

While crying to the Lord we also remind ourselves of the duty we have to participate in preparing this feast to our brothers and sisters. “He laid his life for us. We ought to lay our lives for our brethren.”(1Jn 3:16)

We have a good example from St. Francis Xavier whom we are commemorating today. He left his job as a soldier so that he lay his life for others. Francis moved from Spain together with St. Ignatius of Loyola to go to the Holy Land to help the poor Christians who were enslaved by Muslims. Later he went to India, Japan and China spreading the Gospel – trying to call people to the feast which the Lord had prepared. He left everything for sake of others.

Let us pray for such a virtue to relieve others from their suffering and to sacrifice ourselves so that we can make people have good life. Wherever we are, let us make life a feast and invite others to feast at the Mountain of the Lord.

By Fr Achilles Kiwanuka

 

Immaculate Conception

Hail Mary Full of Grace

Dear Family of God,

Today we are celebrating a very important feast in the Church – The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We are celebrating the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin. This means that while all other human beings are born with original sin, Mary was protected from this original sin and was not touched by any sin in her life. She remained with that holiness in which we were created.

We therefore thank God who has showered Mary with such graces as the Angel told her “You are full of Grace.” God did that because from the beginning he chose Mary to be the Mother of God; therefore, God prepared for his Son an Immaculate dwelling here on earth.

One would ask: Since Mary was not touched by original sin did she need salvation? Did the death of Jesus on the Cross and indeed the whole work of salvation have any meaning to her? The answer is Yes. Mary was saved by Jesus’ work of redemption.  While we are saved from sin, she was protected from sin. Therefore, she needed the death of Jesus on the Cross. She actually reaped the fruits of the Cross even before Jesus died on the Cross.  That is why in the second reading St. Paul tells us “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world…and blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” So, in Christ already God had given us blessings and Mary was the beneficiary of the fruits of the Cross by being protected from sin even before Jesus died.

The Virgin Mary is an example of a sinless life. This holiness is what God is struggling to restore in us. In this season of advent, let us together with our Mother Mary cry with the Holy Spirit “Come Lord Jesus” and restore us to that holiness which we had before sin and which the Virgin Mary enjoyed all her life.

St John of the Cross (1542-91) Carmelite, ascetic and mystic


John was born in Fontiveros, a small town between Avila and Salamanca in Spain. His father died when he was about a year old and his mother was left to bring up three children in poverty.  After four years study he became a Carmelite and studied theology at Salamanca. After his ordination to priesthood he joined St. Teresa of Avilla in the reform of the Carmelites. This work of reform brought him many trials and much suffering but his deep faith gave him courage to continue.

By 1591 he was banished as a simple friar to a remote convent, “thrown away like an old dish cloth” and died early on 14th December 1591.

St. John the cross teaches us that renewal is not an easy task; it requires sacrifice and self-denial. When we enter into third week of advent let us pray through St. John of the Cross for such profound faith to be strong in removing or obstacles on the way of the Lord. Let us pray for all those who have offered their lives for the reforms both in the church and the governments so that we may show really that Jesus has come for the first time and we are waiting for his second coming with open hearts.

 

Jesus Christ the Son of David

 

Today 17th December we are starting the second part of the season of Advent. This second part is more about the Nativity of the Lord which we are about to celebrate at Christmas. Today, the Gospel presents to us the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David. This genealogy is meant to show us that really Jesus was a man. He was born like any other human beings and is grounded in the human family.

It is this Jesus whom Jacob announced in the first reading that he would be born from the line of Judah. “Until he comes to whom it (scepter) belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

When we see that Jesus Christ who was God became man, we pray that we may also become like God. As he shared our humanity may he enable us to share his divinity.

By Fr Achilles Kiwanuka

 

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