San Damiano Cross by Craig Nilsson
On Saturday, Sept. 17, Franciscans around the world will celebrate the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis.
You may be wondering what stigmata signifies.
When Jesus was crucified he received markings on his hands and his feet from the nails that held him to the cross, and a wound in his side from a lance thrust into his body after his death. It is a mystery why some are chosen to bear these same, sacred wounds from the Lord’s own body—stigmata—as did St. Francis of Assisi. He prayed for the privilege of stigmata in effort to understand both the intense love and suffering Jesus experienced. St. Francis concealed these signs from others, though, as he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Jesus—not become a spectacle. His desire was to remain humble.
Francis surrendered his body and soul to God. While most of us will not be chosen to carry the physical wounds of Christ on our bodies, Francis offers us a deep lesson as once again he calls us to give all we are to God.
Discernment is about openness in choosing a path that expands one’s life on behalf of others. The world needs religious women and men; healthy marriages and vibrant single individuals. Each vocation, when in harmony with who you are, radiates the light of Christ.
How is your life marked—celebrated—as a follower of Jesus?
Is there room for both love and suffering in your discernment?