Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

St Francis and The Stigmata

Tonight at Mass, our priest explained why Galatians 6:17 was chosen as the first reading on this Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Paul wrote "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." The Greek word used for "marks" is "stigmata."  The Church has never officially stated whether or not Saint Paul had the stigmata but many have taken his words from the end of his epistle to the Galatians to suggest that he indeed bore the stigmata. By all accounts, Saint Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century was the first stigmatist in the Catholic Church. In the last two years of his life, he began to experience severe pain and had lesions in his hands, feet and side as did Christ. 
   The appearance of stigmata has been over-sensationalized by the secular media and the Church has been extremely careful in methodically researching the facts surrounding those who have claimed to bear the stigmata. The phenomenon is not an article de fide.(we can remain as faithful Catholics without being required to believe this is true).  Over 300 Catholics have been recognized as having the stigmata, with over 90% being women. Two of my favorite saints, St. Rita of Cascia and Saint Faustina bore the marks of Christ as well as Saint Padre Pio.
   This mysterious phenomenon may  be repugnant to non-Catholics, but I find it beautiful and engaging. Scripture encourages us to take up our cross, identify with the sufferings of Christ by entering into the fellowship of his sufferings. For some unique individuals, this resulted in the physical manifestation of this inner process. These were Christians whose lives were so tightly joined to Christ that they were privileged to share in His suffering in this uncommon and profoundly mysterious manner. Faith is a mystery and God uses the "stuff of earth" to show us his grace. Once again, we can see the incarnational nature of the Catholic faith expressed by this phenomenon of the stigmata.

Saint Francis of Assisi, you suffered much in your body with your intense love for Jesus. Pray for us that we could take our daily inconveniences and small sufferings and unite them to Christ, offering them up for the sake of His mystical body, the Church. (Col. 1:24)


Post a Comment