St. Francis of Assisi

Each year we offer to our community a simple Blessing of the Animals ceremony on a date close to 4 October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the traditional patron saint of animals. (The blessing has been postponed until Saturday October 8 from 9-11 AM.)

I think it's fair to say that Francis is one of the most popular saints in America and probably the most popular non-Biblical saint among Protestants and non-Christians. He is perceived as humble, gentle, charitable, a lover of nature and animals, and a man who rejected the violence and materialism of his own place and time, Italy in the thirteenth century. He truly did live a life of heroic self-denial, labor, and devotion, and his influence on the Church was undeniably great. But the popular image of Francis is critically deficient in one overwhelmingly important aspect, an aspect that is almost totally absent in most people's knowledge of him. That unacknowledged factor is that Francis himself saw the Mass, not charity, poverty, or simplicity, or anything else as the single most significant aid to living a spiritually healthy Christian life.

In the last year of his life Francis wrote two documents that are essential to a full understanding of his mind and heart. They are his “Letter to the Entire Order,” and an untitled document also consisting of advice and instruction to all Franciscans that is known as “The Testament of Saint Francis.” They represent his final recorded teaching on how those who seek to follow him should live, and there is no word in them about animals, reverence for creation, politics, or injustice. Their major focus is instead on the Eucharist and the necessity of reverence for it.

Francis saw in the elements of the Mass the continuing presence and self-revelation of Christ in the world. It was also to him a constant reminder of Christ's humility in the fact of His Incarnation, as explained in Philippians Chapter 2, verses 5-8: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Although he insists on the necessity of a life of poverty and simplicity for the members of his order, he also insists that the linens, chalices, and patens used for the celebration must be clean and of high quality and that the consecrated host of the Reserved Sacrament should be kept in a dignified and precious receptacle. Although The Letter to the Entire Order is written in simple, straightforward Latin prose, some of Francis' words on the Eucharist are positively lyrical: “Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest! O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! The lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles himself that for our salvation he hides himself under an ordinary piece of bread! Brothers, look at the humility of God, and pour out your hearts before him! Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by him! Hold nothing back of yourselves for yourselves, that he who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally!”

He repeats his teaching regarding reverence for the Eucharist in his Testament, where he says, “ … in this world, I see nothing materially of the most high Son of God except His most holy Body and Blood ... I want to have these most holy mysteries honoured and venerated above all things and I want to reserve them in precious places.”

There has probably always been an unfortunate tendency to recast both religious and secular historical figures to suit either current standards or the aspirations of some group or interest. This treatment of Francis is only one example; some treatments of Jesus Himself are far more dangerous ones. Those who are serious about having Jesus as Lord must do all in our power to see Him as he chose to show Himself rather than as we would like him to be. The two great resources for that effort are the Scriptures, especially the Gospels, and the Mass. Neither should be neglected.

--Father Bragg+

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Sunday Services, 7:45, 9:00 & 11:15 AM nursery care provided during 9 & 11:15 AM services  (for online participation for the services go to: )

Sunday, 10:30 AM, Sunday School

Monday September 26, 7:30 PM, Vestry Meeting,  church undercroft

Wednesday at Noon – Holy Communion

Saturday, October 8, 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, Blessing of the Animals (annual pet blessing -- please bring your pet and also invite family, neighbors and friends to bring their pets too; setup 8:30 AM)

Saturday, October 15, 8:30 AM, Men's Group, Breakfast & Bible Study, come enjoy a great breakfast, fellowship, and an interesting and thought provoking Bible study

Monday, October 24, 7:30 PM, Vestry Meeting, church undercroft

Ordination of Deacon Anton Yoe to the Priesthood– Saturday, November 19, at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow the ordination service.
Bishop’s Annual Visitation – Sunday, November 20 – If you wish to be received or confirmed by Bishop Lerow during his visitation with our Parish, or if you are unsure of your status, please contact Fr. Roddy as soon as possible.

SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, November 30, 7:00 PM, St. Andrew's Day -- Kirkin of the Tartans with bagpiper and Scottish music followed by festive reception with Scottish foods and beverages
Please pray for everyone on the parish's prayer list that is in the attached bulletins.
Donations to the Food Bank and Marih Center are greatly needed.  Across the country, crisis pregnancy centers have been attacked or vandalized.  The needs are great.  Please help with either a goods donation or a monetary donation.  You can give through the donation button in this newsletter and use the drop down menu to choose "Charity & Mercy."   Thank you.
Food Donations 
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar).  Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• jelly
• tuna
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar 
 Updated List of Needs for MaRIH Center (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need.  If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)

Especially Needed
Baby wipes (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1, 4, 5, & 6)

Clothing for boys and girls (0-6 months)
Sleep Sacks: Girls 0-6 mos.
Socks: Boy/Girl 2T

Diaper rash ointment
Baby shampoo

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Alexandria, VA 22301-1625