June 27, 2013

Building Concessions

One of the benefits of my current assignment in the Order is being under no exterior obligation to be reading anything in particular and so I've been able to go back and read various things I never got to in the past. One of these has been the selections we are given in the Francis of Assisi: Early Documents series from Ubertino da Casale's Arbor vitae crucifixae Jesu Christi, 'The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus Christ.' One gets the feeling that Ubertino is one of those friars about whom one enjoys hearing stories more than one would enjoy actually living with him in community, a not unknown type in the Order.

Here in Italy, the land of shrines to the saints, in which such places form important places of prayer and bases for ministry in ways much more intense than anything we have at home, Jesus' condemnation of the builders of the prophets' tombs and adorners of the monuments of the righteous in Matthew 23:29 has come up once in a while in my examination of conscience, in discerning the purity and doxology, as it were, of my devotions. Anyway, to soothe my conscience, God gave me, through the fraternal concern of Ubertino, a particular consolation in his delightful section on the great Blessed Giles of Assisi:

Here was a man who...said he had procured from the Lord the favor that no ostentatious building be erected to honor his miracles....Because of the evident sanctity of that most blessed holy father Giles, the signs of which were openly witnessed everywhere, many brothers were expecting the same, if not greater, things from him as they were experiencing from the blessed father Francis. Giles, through the activity of the Spirit, was not unaware of this; and that is why, I am told, he responded to it in the way I have just cited. He further said that nothing offensive to the Rule was to be built to honor any good he did, such as an extravagant edifice to acknowledge miracles, which, after all, they obtain from the Lord...Nevertheless, due to the undoubted devotion he had to his holy father, the blessed Francis, he supported the idea of building a noteworthy church over the spot where the Saint's body lay, if only to impress upon people insensitive to the spiritual how eminently holy he was. (FA: ED III, 184)

So from now on I accept the stance that my brother Giles has conceded for me and those like me, and whenever I find myself at the Basilica of St. Francis, or at any other shrine to some saint, I will remember that it has been built so that the glory of God shining so brilliantly in his saints can be impressed even on me, someone so 'insensitive to the spiritual.'


Anonymous said...

I am so excited to have you back Father.i thank God who knows how much i look forward to your blog from when i discovered it(Providence).God bless you.We love you and your role in the new evangelisation.Welcome back Father!

Louis M said...

I am in complete agreement with Brother Anonymous. :)