PRAYING IN THE PORZIUNCOLA

Introduction

Last week (November 3rd through November 10th), a group of faithful and faith-filled pilgrims traveled with us to Assisi in order to literally walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. For the tenth consecutive year, our pilgrims prayed at some of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Christendom: the Basilica of Saint Francis, the Basilica of Saint Clare, the Sanctuary at San Damiano (where Christ spoke to Francis and hastened his conversion), and the Sanctuary at La Verna (where Francis received the stigmata). Our pilgrims also prayed and celebrated Mass in the Porziuncola or “Little Portion.” This little church, dedicated to Our Lady of Angels, was among the churches repaired by Francis and served as the first permanent home of the Order of Friars Minor. More than eight hundred years later, the Porziuncola is considered the home church of the worldwide Franciscan movement.

The Porziuncola was much loved by Saint Francis and his first followers. Although Francis traveled the known world to preach and give witness to the Gospel, he returned often to this little chapel for prayer and renewal. During his lifetime, the Porziuncola was situated in a dense forest, approximately three miles below Assisi in the Spoleto Valley. It was peaceful, quiet, and far removed from the business and bustle of the walled city. Its floor was pounded dirt. Its roof may have been thatched. Its stone walls were unfinished and unadorned by sacred art. Its doors, left open to allow in the light also allowed in the elements of the seasons. Nevertheless, Francis and his brothers found inspiration within its walls and they shared that inspiration with believers throughout the world.

These days, it is difficult to imagine the Porziuncola as Francis knew it. For several centuries after the death and canonization of Saint Francis, the chapel was enlarged to accommodate growing numbers of both friars and pilgrims. But during the late sixteenth century, those additions were removed by Pope Pius V, who ordered the construction of a new papal basilica to house and protect the little chapel. The Porziuncola is now placed within the cavernous Basilica of Our Lady of Angels. This basilica was first consecrated in 1679, combines various forms of architecture (Baroque, Mannerist, and Neo-classical), and now features numerous side altars, chapels, and points of interest for pilgrims.

Given this grand environment, one can forget the simplicity of the Little Portion that Francis first rented from the Benedictines for an annual bucket of fish. But once one walks into the little chapel, squeezes into a choir stall, or is blessed enough to be invited into the sanctuary, it is possible to appreciate how much Francis loved this little church. One can imagine the peace, the quiet, and the sound of breezes rustling through the leaves outside. One can imagine Francis and his first followers kneeling in prayer on the dirt floor. One can imagine their heads bowed and their arms raised high toward the heavens. One can imagine their voices singing the Lord’s praises and begging for the intercession of Our Lady of Angels. It is in this spirit that we invite you to pray with us for our families, friends, and fellow parishioners, for the Church throughout the world, and for peace in our troubled times.

Prayer to Our Lady of Angels

O Virgin of Angels,
who has for centuries has established
your throne of mercy at the Porziuncola,
hear the prayer of your children
who trust in you.
From this truly holy place,
so dear to the heart of Saint Francis,
you have always invited all people to love.
Your tender eyes assure us
of a never failing motherly help
and a promise of divine help to all people
who humbly have returned to your throne;
or who from afar turn to you and ask for help.
You are indeed our sweet Queen and our hope.
O Lady of Angels,
obtain for us,
through the intercession of Saint Francis,
pardon for our sins.
Help us to avoid sin and indifference,
so that we will be worthy
of calling you our mother forever.
Bless our homes, our work, and our rest,
by giving us the same serenity
that Saint Francis experienced
within the walls of the Porziuncola,
where guilt, hate, and tears
turn into the songs of joy once sung by angels
and by our seraphic father Francis.
Help those who are in need and hungry,
those who are in danger of body and soul,
those who are sad and downhearted,
those who are sick and dying.
Bless us, your beloved children,
and bless also those who are innocent,
together with those who are guilty;
those who are faithful,
together with those who have gone astray;
and those who believe,
together with those who doubt.
Bless all of humanity,
so that all people,
acknowledging that they are God’s children,
would find through love
real peace and real good.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!

__________

About Us

Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that seeks to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Our mission is to serve the Church and to give witness to the Good News of Christ through formation and prayer, pilgrimage and retreat, and educating others about our way of life. In 2017, in celebration of our 10th anniversary year, we will lead our annual fall pilgrimage to Assisi; meet monthly for Mass, faith formation, and faith sharing; and offer adults several opportunities to experience a Franciscan days of prayer and reflection. For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at c.garvey@ymail.com. May the Lord give you peace!

Follow us on Twitter: @_AssisiProject

THE PRAYER OF THE THREE CROWNS

cropped-saint-damiens-assisi11.jpgPraying with Saint Agnes of Assisi

Catherine Offreduccio was born in 1196 in Assisi. At that time, Chiara, her sister, was six years old; Francesco Bernadone, the son of a local merchant was fourteen years old. On Palm Sunday in 1212, Chiara left the family home to join Francesco in an austere life of gospel poverty, chastity, and obedience. Weeks later, Catherine attempted to join them, but in the process, she enraged her male relatives who sought to carry her from the cloister. Chiara prayed for a miracle. Suddenly, Catherine’s body became too heavy to carry or drag. Fearful of both the power of prayer and the threat of excommunication, her family reluctantly surrendered their claim on her.

Chiara would become Saint Clare of Assisi. Francesco would become Saint Francis of Assisi. And Catherine, having lived a devout life, founded several convents, and taken a new name would be canonized as Saint Agnes of Assisi. Her feast is celebrated on November 16th; and she is venerated as a patron of the Order of the Poor Ladies (Poor Clares). Saint Agnes is interred in the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, with a Eucharistic Chapel dedicated in her honor. It is a powerful place of pilgrimage and prayer: a place that speaks to the open heart and invites it to rest in the loving embrace of the Real Presence of Christ. The Prayer of the Three Crowns is a devotion based on an incident in the lives of Agnes and Clare, sisters in life, sisters in discipleship, sisters in sanctity.

Introduction

One time, in the silence of a night kept devotedly for prayer, Blessed Clare remained in the chapel and watched as Agnes, her sister, prayed and was lifted from the ground into the air by angel. That angel then crowned Agnes with three crowns. On the following day, under holy obedience to Blessed Clare, Agnes shared what happened. She said: “First, let us sincerely consider the goodness and patience of God. Each day, God allows himself to be offended by us sinners. And so, I meditated upon this fact with grief and sorrow. Secondly, I mediated upon on the indescribable love that God brings to sinners; and how God suffered his passion and death for our salvation. And thirdly, I pondered on all of the suffering souls in purgatory and their prayers for relief (Source: Chronicle of the Twenty-Four Generals).”

The First Crown: The Goodness of God

Reflection
We behold the goodness of God.
We behold his patience.
Each day, he bears our burdens.
May God allows us to share
in the mystery of grief and suffering
that he takes upon himself for our salvation. Amen.

Prayer
Almighty God and Father,
your loving goodness is boundless and eternal.
Accept me as repentant sinner.
Your patience with us is the patience
that we are called to share with others:
the sign of your peace.
Help us to be channels of patience and goodness
with all our neighbors.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.

Offering
O Lord, into your goodness, I place my failures.
O Lord, into your goodness, I place my intentions for others.
O Lord, into your goodness, I place the Church and its shortcomings.
In your goodness, grant us pardon and peace. Amen.

The Second Crown: The Love of God

Reflection
We behold the indescribably love of God.
He bestows this love as gift to us, sinners.
He suffered, died, and rose to new life for us,
so that we might know the depth of his love. Amen.

Prayer
Almighty God and Father,
your love is free to all.
It is not earned and it will not disappear.
It is a gift that must be unwrapped and revered,
but it cannot be simply set aside;
for if that happens, then it is not revered:
it is only ridiculed and scorned.
Help us to be the love of God made visible.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.

Offering
O Lord, into your love, I place my failures.
O Lord, into your love, I place my intentions for others.
O Lord, into your love, I place the Church and its shortcomings.
In your love, grant us pardon and peace. Amen.

The Third Crown: The Mercy of God

Reflection
We consider in our hearts the mystery of God’s mercy.
God loves every human person.
Each of us is the center of his attention.
We are redeemed during every Mass.
Every second somewhere, the Holy Eucharist is offered,
and the dead enter into the fullness of God’s eternal life.
Likewise in life, God invites us to help each other.
We help each other by our prayers.
When we pray for others,
we become part of one great intercession.
At the end of life, mindful of God’s mercy,
we surrender ourselves into his loving embrace. Amen.

Prayer
Almighty God and Father,
we are called to live as channels of mercy
for the living and the dead.
We can only grow closer to you
by bringing others a little closer to you.
Help us to reflect the Holy Trinity
by our lives of love for God and each other.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.

Offering
O Lord, into your mercy, I place failures.
O Lord, into your mercy, I place my intentions for others.
O Lord, into your mercy, I place the Church and its shortcomings.
In your mercy, grant us pardon and peace.

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Agnes

Almighty God and Father,
Saint Agnes of Assisi did not hesitate
to suffer for love of you.
Grant us the grace
to willingly share whatever comes our way,
and to always seek your will in our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Agnes of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!

__________

About Us

Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that seeks to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. Our mission is to serve the Church and to give witness to the Good News of Christ through formation and prayer, pilgrimage and retreat, and educating others about our way of life. In 2017, in celebration of our 10th anniversary year, we will lead our annual fall pilgrimage to Assisi; meet monthly for Mass, faith formation, and faith sharing; and offer adults several opportunities to experience a Franciscan days of prayer and reflection. For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at c.garvey@ymail.com. May the Lord give you peace!

Follow us on Twitter: @_AssisiProject

Banner Art: “San Damiano” by Vincent Caranchini