The Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis is a sacred observance that should recall to our minds the heartfelt love and devotion of one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church. St. Francis of Assisi, a humble and gentle man, received a remarkable gift from God—the stigmata, the wounds of Christ on his own body. This gift was both a sign of his holiness as well as a memorable reminder of the central message of the Gospel.

The stigmata, those sacred wounds that appeared on St. Francis’ hands, feet, and side, were not a reward for his piety or his deeds. Instead, they were a visible and tangible connection between him and the suffering of Christ. St. Francis had so deeply imitated Christ in his life, in his love for the poor, and in his total surrender to God’s will, that he was allowed to share in the Lord’s Passion in a deeply memorable and mystical way.

As we reflect on the life and example of St. Francis, we should also examine our own lives and ask ourselves if we are truly imitating Christ as St. Francis did. Are we living lives of humility, simplicity, and poverty of spirit? Are we reaching out to those in need with love and compassion, just as St. Francis did with the lepers and the downtrodden? Are we willing to surrender ourselves completely to God’s will, as St. Francis did when he embraced the life of poverty and service?

The stigmata of St. Francis remind us that our spiritual journey is not meant to be easy or comfortable. It is a path that often involves suffering and sacrifice. But it is also a path that leads to the ultimate union with God, just as it did for St. Francis. Through his own wounds, he was drawn closer to Christ, and it was in the midst of his suffering that he found the greatest joy and peace.

Not everyone is going to receive the stigmata as St. Francis did, but God’s people are called to carry their own crosses and follow Christ. We are called to embrace the challenges and difficulties that come our way with faith and trust in God’s providence. Just as St. Francis found joy in poverty and simplicity, we too can find joy in living lives of faith, hope, and love.

May we strive to imitate St. Francis’ humility and his willingness to embrace the Cross, knowing that it is through our own wounds and trials that we draw closer to our Saviour. And may we, like St. Francis, find true joy and peace in living out the Gospel.

May God bless you +

Fr. Charles