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Spiritual Communion in Celebration of Saint Francis

Francis Bernardone was born in Assisi in central Italy in 1181 or 1182.

He was baptised Giovanni, but given the name Francesco by his father,

a cloth merchant who traded in France and had married a French wife.

There was an expectation that he would eventually take over his father's

business but Francis had a rebellious youth and a difficult relationship with his

father. Francis grew up to be a privileged young man-about-town, indulging in quite a bit of merrymaking and revelry with his cronies.  

When war broke out between Assisi and Perugia, the idealistic Francis marched off to fight for his city. He was among those captured and held as a prisoner of war for a year. During Francis’s captivity, his compatriots questioned his loyalty to Assisi because he was always so cheerful. After he was released and returned to Assisi, Francis’s behaviour grew strange. He began walking alone all over the hillsides, singing and praying. He spent time in caves. There was talk that he had gone crazy.  

During this time Francis experienced a spiritual visitation.

He heard God’s voice commanding him to “Rebuild my church.” Francis took the command literally to mean that God wanted him to rebuild the dilapidated San Damiano, which is set on a slope outside the south-eastern gate of Assisi.  

In order to purchase the materials for the repairs, Francis sold some cloth from his father’s shop without permission.

The priest at San Damiano thought it best to inform Francis’s father, who became enraged.

On a winter day, Francis’s father arranged for Francis to be called out into the town square in order to lambaste him. After this public humiliation, Francis said to his father something like this: “You are no longer my father. God is my father. I give you back my name, all of my earthly belongings, even the clothes on my back.” With that, he removed all of his clothing. Some accounts say he was wearing a basic loincloth underneath; some say he was wearing a hair shirt; and others say that he was naked. Then Francis walked off barefoot to begin his new life.

He turned his attention to the marginalised, to caring for the poor, particularly those suffering from leprosy. His calling to "Rebuild my Church" was not just for the church of San Damanio, but also was the one to repair the Body of Christ, and to set it on course as the Church called by God to value and care for God's creation.

Others joined him and he prepared a simple, gospel-based Rule for them

all to live by. As the Order grew, it witnessed to Christ through preaching

the gospel of repentance, emphasising the poverty of Christ as an example

for his followers. Two years before his death, his life being so closely linked

ith that of his crucified Saviour, he received the Stigmata, the marks of the wounds of Christ, on his body. By the time of his death on the 4th October, 1226, his Order had already spread throughout western Christendom.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Peace and Goodwill be always with you.

Saint Francis, in his writings, implores us to: “… consider the Good Shepherd

who, to save His sheep, bore the suffering of the Cross.

The sheep followed Him in tribulation and persecution and shame,

in hunger and thirst, in infirmity and temptations and in all other ways.”

When we have failed to listen to the voice of The Shepherd,

let us confess our sins in penitence and faith:

I confess to almighty God

that I have greatly sinned,

in my thoughts and in my words,

in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,

through my fault, through my fault,

through my most grievous fault;

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,

all the Angels and Saints,

to pray for me to the Lord our God.

May almighty God have mercy on us, ✠ forgive us our sins,

and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you, we bless you,

we adore you, we glorify you,

we give you thanks for your great glory,

Lord God, heavenly King,

O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,

Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,

you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us;

you take away the sins of the world,

receive our prayer;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father,

have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.


O God,

by whose gift Saint Francis

was conformed to Christ

in poverty and humility,

grant that, by walking

in Francis’ footsteps,

we may follow your Son,

and, through joyful charity,

come to be united with you.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ,

your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever..

FIRST READING - Galatians 6:14-18

Brothers and sisters: May I never boast except

in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

through which the world has been crucified to me,

and I to the world.

For neither does circumcision mean anything,

nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.

Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule

and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me;

for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,

brothers and sisters. Amen.


You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;

I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”

O LORD, my allotted portion and cup,

you it is who hold fast my lot.

You are my inheritance, O Lord.

I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.

I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. You are my inheritance, O Lord

You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. You are my inheritance, O Lord.


Alleluia, alleluia!

Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,

you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.


GOSPEL - Matthew 11:25-30

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

✠ Glory to you, O Lord.

At that time Jesus exclaimed,

"I give praise to you, Father,

Lord of heaven and earth,

for although you have hidden

these things

from the wise and the learned

you have revealed them to little ones.

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son

and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


St. Francis was truly an ecologist, who rejoiced in God's creative order, and thus the unique relationship between humanity, animals, birds, plants and the universe.

The sun, the moon and the stars he viewed familiarly as his brothers and sisters.

He contemplated the beauty of flowers, and was mesmerised by their fragrance.

When he walked over stones, he did it with reverence, as stones were a reminder to him of Jesus the Rock.

He forbade his friars from chopping down trees,

exhorting that every thing should be allowed to grow.

He never trampled upon worms, instead would pick them up

to prevent them from being crushed underfoot.

During winter he used to give warm wine and honey to the bees,

and built nests for doves to lay eggs and multiply.

The legend of the wolf of Gubbio vouches for his love for a dangerous creature. That particularly - ferocious wolf attacked and devoured anything it could! Francis confronted the worlf, and making the sign of the cross he ordered the beast, “Come here, brother wolf!… In Christ’s name, I forbid you to be vicious!” The wolf obeyed and surrendered at his feet. He exhorted the beast, “Brother wolf…I am very sorry to hear of the dreadful crimes you have committed in these parts, killing creatures created in God’s image… But I want you to reconcile yourself with them…If you agree to make peace, brother wolf, I will tell the people to feed you as long as you live”. The wolf bowed in agreement and sealed the pact by placing its paw in the saint’s hand and wagging its tail.

Francis speaks of a vibrant relationship of interdependence in the universe by which the various elements contribute to sustain the cycle of life.

He addressed brother Sun as the symbol of a life-giver. We cannot stay apart from creation as an onlooker,

exploiting its resources since we came from its dust and shall return to that very dust of the earth (Genesis 3:19).

Today, 4th October, sees the culmination of the ecumenical Season of Creation, dedicated to prayer for the protection of creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles. The season started on 1st September, when Pope Francis called the Church and its members to pray for and care for God's gift of creation. Pope Francis saw this as an opportunity to connect with our Creator and to allow us to "redefine our relationship with the environment".

Let us pray in the words of the Pope’s Encyclical:

"God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you!"


I believe in one God, the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,

the Only Begotten Son of God,

born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,

he suffered death and was buried,

and rose again on the third day

in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory

to judge the living and the dead

and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins

and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead

and the life of the world to come. Amen.


In the words of the Prayer of Saint Francis,

we share our hopes with God, remembering the needy,

and praying for all that God has created.

After each petition of the prayer of St Francis;

make time for quiet prayer.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, let there be pardon.

Where there is discord, let there be union.

Where there is doubt, let there be faith.

Where there is despair, let there be hope.

Where there is darkness, let there be light.

Where there is sadness, let there be joy.

We pray for peace in the world,

for those who are casualties of war;

for unity and harmony amongst peoples of the world

and in the Church;

St Francis, pray for us.

We pray for those who have lost faith in God and in themselves;

we remember those whose lives are desperately difficult;

and we pray that sadness may be turned to joy.

St Francis, pray for us.

Forgive us for the harm we cause your earth,

the heat and drought unleashed by climate change;

the damage we cause, through human thoughtlessness

or through cruel intention.

St Francis, pray for us.

Blessed Francis, you praised God ceaselessly for the wonder

of animal creation. May we learn from your example,

and value and protect all that God has made.

St Francis, pray for us.

Creator God we praise your world

and look with awe on all that is.

May we commit to heal the earth

and share your gifts in faith and trust.

St Francis, pray for us.

Brother Francis, in purity of heart

you gazed upon the world with love.

We ask you joyfully to intercede for us,

As guardians of our common home.

St Francis, pray for us.

Brother Francis, in purity of heart

you gazed upon the world with love.

We ask you joyfully to intercede for us,

As guardians of our common home.

St Francis, pray for us.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much

seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is our joy to give you thanks, always and everywhere,

our Creator and Redeemer, God of love and holiness.

In your image you made us all,

your universe you put into our care;

your creation you entrust to our hands,

with all its wonders and its travail.

You make us partners in your labours

and invite us to share in your peace.

We give you thanks that you so loved the world,

that you gave your only Son,

that everyone who has faith in him

may not die but have eternal life.

Therefore, with all your people in heaven and on earth

we sing the triumphant hymn of your glory

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

At the Saviour’s command

and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come,

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,

graciously grant peace in our days,

that, by the help of your mercy,

we may be always free from sin

and safe from all distress,

as we await the blessed hope

and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

now and for ever.


“Behold I stand at the door and knock;

if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Apocalypse 3

“In God alone my soul in stillness waits; from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my stronghold, so that I shall never be shaken.” Psalm 61 (62)

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11.28

In union, Lord, with the faithful at every altar of your Church where Mass is now being offered this day,

and remembering the community of Holy Trinity, Winchester;

I long to give you praise and thanksgiving for creation

and all the blessings of this life,

for the redemption won for us by your life, death, and resurrection,

for the means of grace and the hope of glory.

I present to you my body and soul as a living sacrifice, with the earnest wish that I may always be united with you. And since I cannot now receive you sacramentally,

I pray that you will come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to you,

and embrace you with all the strength of my soul and the life you have given me.

Let nothing ever separate me from you. May I live and die in your love. Amen.

O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself to the child-like and lowly of heart: grant that, following the example of the blessèd Francis,

we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

The Franciscan Blessing - let us pray for ourselves and for all creation:

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers,

half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you this day, and remain with you always. Amen.


The angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now,

and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word. Hail Mary. Holy Mary.

And the Word was made flesh. And dwelt amongst us. Hail Mary. Holy Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts,

that as we have known the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ

by the message of an angel, so by his Cross and Passion

we may be brought unto the glory of his Resurrection;

through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.

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