August 2 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Angels – the Portiuncula (Porziuncola) meaning “little portion.” This small chapel which is now situated in a large basilica was dedicated on August 2. It is considered to be the birth place of the Franciscans. It is a chapel which St. Francis repaired, where the Order of the Poor Clares began and where St. Francis died. St. Francis had a love for Mary – the Mother of God and so this chapel had a special place in his heart.
While I was on pilgrimage, I had the opportunity to pray in this small chapel, to pray around the chapel and to pray while sitting in the basilica gazing at this chapel. I pondered St. Francis and his passion and drive to fulfill the “command” he heard from Christ, “Go repair my church.” I considered that his hands had touched these very stones as did the hands of countless Friars, Poor Clares and pilgrimages all seeking to root themselves on the foundation of Christ. I thought of my journey so far as Friar and what will yet unfold and the challenge I hear in “Go repair (rebuild) my church.”
As we celebrate the Feast of the Portiuncula, I also am reminded that four years ago this day I made my first vows vowing to live for the year ahead the Franciscan way. I have renewed these vows three times since. Now in just mere weeks I will profess my solemn vows – making my life time commitment to live as a lesser brother continuing the pilgrimage of life and rebuilding the church in the small ways I can.
As I sat and prayed at the Portiuncula in June, I penned these thoughts.
“Repair my church”
the message given from
the cross at San Damiano,
and here at the Porziuncola
Francis continued the mission.
Each stone, each rock
put properly in place
this home, this haven
this place of sending forth
under the mantel of Mother Mary.
This chapel of hope,
the vision unfolding
doing what was his to do
Francis loved this little chapel.
The little portion
lessons learned and decisions made
brother unfolding the vision
place of prayer, place of rest
this chapel in the Rieti Valley.
This chapel too a place for Clare
here her journey began
she made her commitment
in tune with her Brother Francis
the chapel of light and strength.
Now we the followers of Francis and Clare
we come to this little chapel
we pause in prayer, we gaze in awe
this small mustard seed has given birth
to the way of life for those called little.
Porziuncola, sanctuary of life
your stones call out to us
they remind us of our foundation
in Christ we are built up
as our Brother Francis continues through us
stone by stone by stone.
St. Francis… pray for us.
St. Clare… pray for us.
Holy Angels of God… pray for us.
Holy Mary Mother of God… pray for us.