Order of Friars Minor in Great Britain

Cross and figure of Christ based on the image of t

A Visit to a Primary School

  A while ago I visited some of the classes of Saint Francis primary school in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. And I asked the children this simple question; “What is the most precious thing you have?” And straight away one boy raised his hand and said that his football shirt was the most precious thing he had. Then another boy said his x-box games console and one girl said her ice-cream making machine. But I said to them that there is something which you possess that is even more precious than all of these things. And then one girl said her pet cat, another said her family, and one boy said love was the most precious thing. But I went one stage further and said to them that there is something even more precious than all these things. Without this one gift we would not be able to enjoy any of our toys, we would not even be able to enjoy the company of our family members and friends. And

La Verna (5)

  And so even though people often find it difficult to accept that the Cross is the will of the Father (Mark 14:36), the Cross really is the ultimate and greatest expression of God’s love for us. If ever we doubt that God loves us then we only have to spend some time gazing upon the Cross, contemplating the God of love. It is there in the midst of that man’s suffering on the Cross that we discover the infinite depth of God’s love for us, and we begin to discover a desire to love God in return; to give our life to the God who has already given His life for us.

The Stigmata

La Verna (1)

  I think that Saint Francis of Assisi wanted to experience this infinite expression of God’s love in the most profound way. Rather than just seeing this love, Saint Francis wanted to actually feel and experience this absolute love. And he seemed to recognise that the only way to do this was to actually embrace Jesus Christ upon the Cross; to meet Christ in the midst of His suffering so as to feel and experience the immeasurable love of Christ. This is what happened in the year 1224 when Saint Francis made his way to the mountain of La Verna. And there on that mountain he received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ’s Passion appearing in his own hands and feet and side. It is there that Saint Francis of Assisi finally realised just how much God loves the whole world.