If I pause to think about it, such a declaration is enough to take my breath away. In consecrating ourselves “to service in His Kingdom,” we change our relationship to God’s infinite and eternal creation, which in itself is something that is always changing, always new, always becoming. We are no longer simply along for the ride, as it were. We can no longer live our lives as we have, focused solely on ourselves and our families and our careers and the countless irritations that make up modern life. In making our formal and public professions, we declare that Christ is the center of our lives, the balance point, the focus, the prime mover–our “All.” In consecrating our lives, we make Christ, as He is revealed in the gospels, the measure of all that we do.
Often people are distracted by the miraculous and unusual nature of an experience such as the stigmata, suggesting that what is really important to take away from this part of Francis’s story is the living confirmation of his sanctity, even before his official canonization. While that might be a worthwhile point to consider, I suggest that what is really at stake here is the model of Christian living this particular episode presents to us. It is not about putting Francis on a pedestal in order to laud him as so exceptional that we cannot possibly relate but instead about seeing in his example what it means to so deeply reflect on scripture and the love of God that his whole life, mentally and physically, was transformed by the experience of prayer, solitude, and reflection
The way to the goal of the spiritual journey, therefore, is only through the most burning love. But love demands a price. Insofar as the specific object of St. Francis’s reflection is the crucified Christ, when the religious subject is bound to such an object in the furnace of burning love, it becomes clear why at least the spirit of St. Francis would be deeply marked by the cruciform love of Christ. But because of the intensity of this experience, that which marked the soul poured over into his body as well. As the Journey of the Soul into God puts it: “his spirit shone through his flesh” (JS prol. 3 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][5:295]).
~ Zachary Hayes OFM, Bonaventure: Mystical Writings[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
I feel keenly…the painfulness of the ordeal to which God submits you, and the anguish your hearts must feel at the wounds you receive daily. It is true, I agree, that you would need to be a saint to let such things pass and feel no kind of resentment. But if you cannot yet reach such perfection in such pin-pricking vexations, endeavor at least, first, to banish as far as may be every thought, reflection, and remark that may embitter your heart; secondly, when you cannot rid yourself of them, repeat interiorly in your most intimate soul: “Oh God, you have allowed this to be; may your adorable desires and decrees be accomplished in all things: I make you a sacrifice of this difficulty and all its consequences; it shall take whatever form it pleases you: you are the Master; may you be blessed for all things and in all things. Fiat!
~ Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S. J. via SHIRT OF FLAME
Who we become in God is then his work and not our own success in conforming to some ideal. The self we become in true prayer is seldom the self we envisioned, but it is a new and marvelous self that God fashions out of the gradual redeeming of the false self we now acknowledge as the work of our own misguided idealism. We then know God in what he has done in us to enable us to discover our true face. And in that face only do we see the reflection of God as he really is.
~Murray Bodo, O.F.M. — The Way of St. Francis: The Challenge of Franciscan Spirituality for Everyone