23 January 2020

What does it mean to be a child of Saint Francis?

In 1903, Saint Marianne Cope - whose memorial we observe today - expressed the desire of her heart for her Sisters who, with her, dedicated their lives to the service of God in the Sisters of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York: "I wish you all the blessing you may stand in need of to become a perfect child of Saint Francis - that you may say with him in all sincerity - 'My God and my all.'"

This phrase, "My God and my all," has become one of the mottoes of the Franciscan Order and comes to us from one of the early accounts of the life of the Poverello where we find the following passage:
Now St. Francis, as soon as he entered the room, in order to conceal the divine graces which he had, immediately threw himself down on the bed, showing that he wished to sleep. But the Lord Bernard [of Assisi] planned to watch him secretly during the night. And he too soon lay down, and he used such cunning that after he had rested in bed a while, he pretended to be sleeping soundly, and he began to snore loudly.

Therefore St. Francis, who faithfully concealed the secrets of God, when he thought that the Lord Bernard was fast asleep, during the first part of the night, got out of bed and began to pray. Looking up to Heaven and raising his hands, he prayed with intense fervor and devotion, saying: "My God and my all!" And he sobbed out these words with so many tears and kept repeating them with such devout persistence that until matins he said nothing but "My God and my all" (The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, 2).
In wishing for every blessing upon her Sisters to enable them to say with Saint Francis, "My God and my all," Mother Marianne asked that each of her Sisters become Saints by following after him who bore the wounds of Christ on his own body.

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