Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Adoration of the FEAST OF ST. BENEDICT July 11th from a Franciscan

On this his feast day, let us take heed and bend our ear to the heart of Christ as Saint Benedict prescribes.

From the Prologue of Saint Benedict's Rule:

"Let us then rise at length, since the Scripture arouseth us, saying: "It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Rom 13:11); and having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, doth admonish us, saying: "Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Ps 94[95]:8). And again: "He that hath ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" (Rev 2:7). And what doth He say? -- "Come, children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Ps 33[34]:12). "Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not" (Jn 12:35)."

Franciscans have a deep love and appreciation for Benedict. After Francis' conversion and rebuilding of the little church at San Damiano he went on to the little church of St. Mary of the Angles at the Portiuncula that belonged to Benedictine monks of Subasio. As Francis began to develop a following of brothers they needed a place to stay and worship in. Soon the abbot of the Benedictine monastery gave them in perpetuity their beloved Portiuncula chapel and the ground on which it stood. Francis would accept only the use of the property. The spirit of holy poverty must govern their order, if they were to be disciples of Him who had not where to lay His head. In token of this arrangement, the friars sent to the Benedictines every year as rent a basket of fish caught in a neighboring river. In return, the monks gave the friars a barrel of oil. This annual exchange of gifts still goes on between the Benedictines of St. Peter's in Assisi and the Franciscans of the Portiuncula. On the ground around the chapel the friars quickly built themselves some huts of wood and clay, enclosing them by a hedge. This was the first Franciscan monastery.

This portrait of St. Francis is located in Subiaco, Italy, in a Benedictine Monastery called "Sacro Speco". It is believed to be the true portrait of St. Francis, painted when he was still alive, because of the inscription, which is: Fr. Francesco (not St. Francis), and because there is no halo around St. Francis head. Also, St. Francis does not have the stigmata, so the date of this painting should be before 1224, when he received this precious gift. The Sacro Speco is a shrine, built in the site of the hermitage of St. Benedict, who spent three years in a cave in solitude, on the mountains of Umbria. It is built into the side of a spectacular cliff, and comprises two churches, the upper and the lower one, richly ornate by frescoes. The portrait of St. Francis stands in a lateral room named St. Gregory Chapel.

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