Experiencing the Christ

St Francis in Ecstasy by Caravaggio

To really Know Christ. That is our invitation, and the adventure set before us every day, every minute, every breathe. Breathe in…He’s closer than that. Look around you…He fills all in all. But to be convinced I imagine we need to taste and see this. To really know Him in the depths of who we are, we need more than ideas. St. Francis of Assisi was an intimate friend of this Christ. I think some of Francis’s stories can lead us into experiencing this Christ. One such experience with Christ left Francis marked for the rest of His life with the very imitation of the wounds of the crucifixion. These are know as the stigmata. These were ecstatic marks of love.

Reading and hearing of stories around the tribal fire of community serve as a invitation to know the mysterious, wild, untamed one we call Jesus.  Enjoy!

Quoted from St. Bonaventure’s Life of St. Francis,

It was the custom of […] Francis, never to be slothful in good, but rather, like the heavenly spirits on Jacob’s laddder, to be ever ascending toward God, or stopping toward his neighbour. For he had learnt so wisely to apportion the time granted unto him for merit that one part therof he would spend in labouring for the profit of his neighbours, the other he would devote unto the peaceful ecstasies of contemplation […]. He would leave behind the disturbances of throngs, and seek a hidden solitude and a place for silence, wherin, giving himself up more freely unto the Lord, he might brush off any dust that was clinging unto him from his converse with men […].

 

He was brought after many and varied toils unto an high mountain…that is called Mount Alberna. When according unto his wont, he began to keep a Lent there, fasting […] He was filled unto overflowing, and as never before, with the sweetness of heavenly contemplation, and was kindled with yet more burning flame of heavenly longings, and began to feel the gifts of the divine bestowal heaped upon him. He was borne into the heights, not like a curious examiner of the divine majesty that is weighed down by the glory thereof, but even as a faithful and wise servant, searching out the will of God, unto Whom it was ever his fervent and chief desire to conform himself in every way.

 

For in him the all-powerful kindling of love of the good Jesu had increased into coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame, so that many waters could not quench his love, so strong it was.

 

Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Federigo Barocci

Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Giotto Di Bondone

When, therefore, by seraphic glow of longing he had been uplifted toward God, and by his sweet compassion had been transformed […] on a certain morning about the Feast of Exaltation of Holy Cross, while he was praying on the side of the mountain, he beheld a Seraph having six wings, flaming and resplendent, coming down from the heights of heaven. When in his flight most swift he had reached the space of air nigh the man of God, there appeared betwixt the wings the Figure of a man crucified, having His hands and feet stretched forth in the shape of a Cross, and fastened unto a Cross. Two wings were raised above His head, twain (two) were spread forth to fly, while twain (two) hid His whole body. Beholding this, Francis was mightily astonished, and joy, mingled with sorrow, filled his heart.

st. francis vision of jesus

Let’s hold this in light that all experience is subjective, and not a base for forming a doctrine, but let’s also take the invitation to have some subjective encounters with the Creator. Knowing Jesus is all about friendship, as we pursue this friendship, I believe we will continually find ourselves outside of ourselves rapt away with Him in the heavens. Enjoy the journey of knowing Him!

St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata (1767-1769 - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo)

St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata (1767-1769 - Giovanni Battista Tiepolo)

 

Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Giotto Di Bondone

Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Giotto Di Bondone

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