Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Seven Sorrows Devotion

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by saying seven Hail Mary's and meditating on her tears and her sorrows.  The devotion was passed on by Saint Bridget.

The Seven Sorrows
1. The prophecy of Simeon.
2. The flight into Egypt.
3. The los of The Child Jesus in the temple.
4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
5. The Crucifixion.
6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
7. The burial of Jesus.

The Seven Graces
1. I will grant peace in their families.
2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them
in their work.
4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the
adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy
and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they
will see the face of their Mother.
7. I have obtained (this Grace) from my Divine Son, that those
who propagate this devotion to my tears and sorrows, will be taken
directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their
sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal
consolation and joy

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Life is but a Weaving

My Life is but a Weaving

My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.


Not 'til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares,
nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
who leave the choice with Him.
~Author Unknown

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Morning Prayer to Our Lady of Insight

My dear and sweet Mother Mary, Co-redemptrix of the human race, keep me in Your holy protection. Guard my mind, my heart and my senses, that I be not stained by sin.
Sanctify my thoughts, desires, words, and actions, that I may please You and Your Jesus, my God, and gain paradise with You. Jesus and Mary, give me Your most holy blessing. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Perpetual Adoration Prayer

Take away from us our iniquities, we beseech Thee, Oh Lord: that we may
be worthy to enter with pure minds into the Holy of Holies.
Through Christ Our Lord. AMEN.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Confiteor Prayer (English and Latin)

I confess to Almighty God,
To Blessed Mary ever Virgin,
To Blessed Michael, the Archangel,
To Blessed John the Baptist.
To the holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
To all the saints, and to you, Father,
That I have sinned exceedingly
In thought, word, and deed:
Striking his breast three times:
Through my fault, through my fault,
Through my most grievous fault;
Therefore I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin,
The Blessed Michael the Archangel,
The Blessed John the Baptist,
The holy Apostles Peter and Paul
All the saints,
And you Father,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.
Conflteor Deo omnipotenti,
Beatae Mariae, semper Virgini,
Beato Michaeli Archangelo,
Beato Ioanni Baptistae,
Sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo,
Omnibus Sanctis et tibi, Pater,
Quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opera.
Striking his breast three times:
Mea culpa, mea culpa,
Mea maxima culpa.
ldeo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem,
Beatum Michaelem Arch√°ngelum,
Beatum Ioannem Baptistam,
Sanctos Apóstolos, Petrum et Paulum,
Omnes Sanctos, et te Pater,
Orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Professor Julie Ann Brown's - Spiritual Gift Inventory Test


SELF-DISCOVERY


IDENTIFYING YOUR SPIRITUAL TALENT INVENTORY
By each question place a number representing how true the statement is in your life. If it is true a great deal, write 3; if it is somewhat true, write 2; if it is a little bit true, write 1; if it is not at all true, write 0.
______ 1. I easily delegate important responsibilities to others.
______ 2. I am comfortable and effective in projects with people from various cultural groups. I have the ability to explain important ideas and attitudes without feeling intimidated.
______ 3. I am glad to have more time to serve others in both professional and community groups. As a single individual, I am delighted with the added time and focus necessary for the empowerment of others.
______ 4. I easily and accurately recognize what "soul-full" characteristics another individual has or does not have.
______ 5. I continue to seek out both friends and acquaintances. I educate them and invite them to join me in professional and business organizations. Together we will all be enriched.
______ 6. I verbally encourage those who are wavering, troubled or discouraged.
______ 7. I am generally excited about the future. I recognize the reality of the present moment. I release the memories of negative experiences that have occurred in the past.
______ 8. I feel deeply concerned when confronted with the urgent financial needs of others. It is not even necessary for me to know these people, but I recognize a connection exists through similar or different experiences in life themes.
______ 9. When I am "still," or in a" listening" mode, I feel that I am taking care of my mental, physical and spiritual health (perhaps even directing others to do the same).
______ 10. I do not mind last minute requests to help others. I would be willing to substitute for a missing staff member.
______ 11. I would if appropriate and safe in today's culture, graciously provide food and lodging or resources to provide assistance, to those in sincere need.
______ 12. I take the necessary time to engage in contemplation, meditation, petition, or prayer. I engage in this behavior more than most people I know.
______ 13. I have an innate understanding of other people. Their messages are clear, even if we do not speak the same language.
______ 14. I study and read a great deal. I have a belief that there are a myriad of great mysteries in life. It is easy for me to believe in a Being greater and more knowledgeable than myself. I have learned that the search for answers in the real product. . .
______ 15. People follow me. This occurs as a result of offering my talents freely. Others sense an ability and willingness to serve.
______ 16. I have lost friends because of my strength and value convictions.
______ 17. When events lead me to people who are in hospitals, jails, or nursing homes, I am empowered to communicate in a positive and just manner. I gain as much from such experiences as does the receiver.
______ 18. I have felt like an instrument in the hand of an Objective/Empathetic Administrative Being. I have been used to change lives and events in a positive manner.
______ 19. I honor both the heritage and value systems of individuals and groups who are not like me.
______ 20. I go out of my way to be available to someone needing support. I am led to help those who are especially lost. Their suffering can result from the loss of faith in themselves, others, organizations, and The Great EXECUTIVE.
______ 21. I react immediately on my strong intuitive feelings. I do not wait to be validated from others. When I feel it is the appropriate time or place, I act.
______ 22. I am willing to take orders. I do not worry about the loss of power, status, or position.
______ 23. I can help others to understand the history and meaning of basic traditional Western values and moral behavior.
_____ 24. I have an uncanny ability to be both linguistically and culturally sensitive to others not of my same heritage.
_____ 25. I nourish others by helping them identify and clarify alternatives in their lives. I assist others in becoming "fully" conscious and "soul-full."
RESULTS
After answering the above questionnaire, compare your responses with the list of gifts below. If you answered for example 3, the stronger the gift is, 2 gift strongly present, 1 slightly present; 0 not present. For example if you scored a 3 for question number one, then you would strongly have the gift of MANAGEMENT present in you personal gift inventory.
1. MANAGEMENT - The ability to make plans and decisions on behalf of others. These decisions are identified as positive. There is a history of past results. Goals are made and achieved.
2. DIRECTORSHIP - The ability to take some form of "SOUL-FULL" authority over others, both inside and outside of the organization.
3. SINGLESHIP - The ability to remain joyfully unmarried. The recognition that a binding relationship with another person is not necessary. The result is often seen in having more time and energy for serving others.
4. DISCERNMENT - The ability to perceive and evaluate whether what is said or done is "selfish," or "selfless."
5. CHARISMA - The ability to proclaim the positive in oneself, others and the organization. People are attracted by such happiness and joyfulness. There are a multitude of people who tend to follow the advice and actions of those with this gift.
6. EMPATHY - The ability to identify and "walk the walk," with those in emotional, physical, or spiritual pain. Once identification and connection of the conflict are established, the ability to comfort, admonish, or encourage results.
7. FAITH - The ability to believe that impossible circumstances will be overcome, despite seemingly desperate obstacles. There is an ardent desire to listen to the directions or "will" of the Great Heavenly Administrator. This is done in order to receive insight and direction. There is a conscious decision to understand and follow such directions. Acceptance that life will require both ups and down is acknowledged. They are certain that the destination will have been worth the journey.
8. CHARITY - The ability to share an extraordinary amount of one's power, ideas and material resources with others. There are sincerity, joy, and eagerness in the act of the giving.
9. HEALING - The ability to identify pain. The correct diagnosis, encouragement, and finally treatment, will be suggested. This will result in the relief of undue mental, physical or spiritual pain.
10. ASSISTING - The ability to perceive someone's need and then offering the kind of support or encouragement necessary.
11. HOSPITALITY - The ability to welcome strangers and make them feel a sense of belonging.
12. MEDIATOR - The extraordinary ability to represent others rights in an unbiased and open manner. Often uses contemplation, meditation, deep thoughts, or prayers on behalf of others.
13. CULTURAL OPENNESS - The ability to understand the nonverbal and verbal messages of others, not of the same religion, race, culture.
14. KNOWLEDGE - The ability to spend time in research and analysis on behalf of others. Willingness to integrate vast amounts of information into usable material.
15. LEADERSHIP - The ability to provide strength through personality, value history, and the commitment to others. Open efforts are recognized through the empowerment of people. Recipients discover their strengths and weaknesses. With such knowledge, they are aware of their own personal and organizational power.
16. HUMILITY - The ability to disregard the voice of the crowd. A quiet sense of self-worth and self-esteem. They are willing to risk personal pride, status, and sometimes even life, for others.
17. COMPASSION - The ability to have tenderness, empathy and understanding for the underprivileged and suffering. It does not matter whether they know the individual/group on a personal level. They creative solutions to serve such humans when such situations arise.
18. MIRACLES - The ability to conduct amazing feats. They confirm that there are depths of human capabilities and achievement not yet recognized. They are extraordinary communicators and motivators. People come to them looking for a "miracle" to restore faith both in themselves and in their organization.
19. GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN - The ability to integrate with any fellow human. They ignore cultural or physical differences. They adapt enthusiastically with people of different traditions, behavior and language. They reflect the best in humanity. They are the true "global citizens."
20. THERAPIST - The ability to counsel, understand, encourage, shepherd, and inspire others, on the journey of life. They have the added gift of sincerely comforting others. Their embracing and nurturing disposition relieve the anxious, depressed, or ignored soul.
21. VISIONARY - The ability to receive clear and specific "feelings" or "intuitive" messages. They never take credit for such messages. They believe and affirm an interior knowledge, that they are an instrument in the hands of the Greatest Creator.
22. STEWARDSHIP - The ability to serve others with joy, openness, and commitment. They are loving. Their actions in giving time, money, and talent, is without thought of a return payment.
23. TEACHING - The ability to understand and impart knowledge and wisdom to other. They know the correct individual, organization, and tool, that will assist people in the discovery of their hidden talents.
24. SPEECH - The ability to forgo ego. They offer information in a clear and amazing manner. Others listen. They discover the mysterious elements of themselves and events. They tell other "souls," how to convey verbally to themselves and others, needs and situations that were not validated or acknowledged.
25. WISDOM - The ability to integrate all information sources gathered throughout one's life. The amazing ability to understand the "weaving" process necessary for the tapestry of life. They impart the importance of having faced and lived through, both negative and positive experiences. Answers to questions not easily understood or asked, are often found from these individuals.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Glory Be to the Father
and to the Son, and to
The Holy Spirit.

AMEN

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hail Mary - Angelic Salutation Prayer to the Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Christ Blessing Me

Oh, darling Christ...you light my way...
you love my soul...
and I in turn ... love you only for you...and for all you have done for me...and for mankind...I am so sorry that many of your children say hurtful words about you...but I know what you are saying when they do...for you said it when you walked in human form as one of us...which was, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."  
Your mercy reflects the universe...it is limitless...

Morning Consecration to Mary





Morning consecration to Mary

My Queen, My Mother, I offer myself entirely to Thee. And to show my devotion to Thee, I offer Thee this day,
my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve.
Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, guard me as Thy property and possession.
Amen



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Prayer While Cooking

Prayer While Cooking

Dearest Lord, please help me take these special ingredients of food that are before me, and with a special recipe, mix them together to transform them into a healthy and tasty cooking creation.

As the Father of all,  you know how to design perfection. 
Let my little food dish when eaten by others, reflect your love that always
nourishes the heart, body, and soul.

Through Christ Our Lord...Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Memorare Prayer


Prayer to the Holy Christian Saint Cornelius



O God, who by thy Spirit didst call Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles: Grant to thy Church, we beseech thee, such a ready will to go where thou dost send and to do what thou dost command, that under thy guidance it may welcome all who turn to thee in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  AMEN.

Prayer and Chant Art Colorized Public Domain Image of baby Saint Teresa - The Little Flower

Copyright Chant Art - Colorized by Megan O'Meara - Santa Barbara California

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus,
Please pick a rose for me
From the heavenly gardens
And send it to me
As a message of love.

O little flower of Jesus,
Ask God today to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
In your hands.

(Mention your specific requests)

St. Therese,
help me to always believe,
As you did,
In God's great love for me,
So that I might imitate your
"Little Way" each day. Amen

Friday, June 24, 2011

Grace After Meals

Grace After Meals

We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all
Thy benefits. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Grace Before Meals

Grace Before Meals

Bless us, Oh Lord, for these are Thy gifts, 
which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.



Prayer While Clothing Yourself


Oh My God, clothe my soul with the nuptial robe of charity, honesty, and forgiveness.
Grant that I may wear these virtues today in pure and undefiled love.
Let me hear internally, the sound of my guardian angel 
reminding me throughout my day, that my  virtuous robes  shine brightly and happily to others.
Amen.

Importance of Sign of the Cross


It is the token, the memorial of the pains and humiliations which our dear Lord bore for us; and each time we make the Sign of the Cross, thereby we are reminded and show that we too, are willing to take up His Cross, accept it willingly, clasp it to our heart, and unite all we do to His saving Passion.

With this intention, let the Sign of the Cross be your first waking act; dedication your day to Him as a soldier of the Cross, let your last conscious act before sleep be that precious sign, which will banish evil spirits form your bedside and rest upon you as a safeguard till the day returns.

Begin your prayers, your work, with the Sign of the Cross, in token that they are dedicated Him.  Let it sanctify your going out and your coming in.  Let it hallow your conversation and discussion with others, whether social or in the order of business.

Who could be grasping, over reaching, false; who could give way to unkind words, judgments, uncharitable gossip, unholy talk, who had but just stamped the Cross of Christ upon their lips in token that they are pledged to use the gift of speech, like all else, in the service of their God?

Let it consecrate your food, so that eating and drinking instead of the mere indulgence of earthly cravings may be to the glory of God. Let the Sign of the Cross soothe and stay with you in periods of sorrow, when, above all, you are brought near Him who lays it upon you, but who also, bore it for you.  Let it sober and steady your hour of joy or pleasure.


Let it calm your impulse of impatience, of petulance, of intolerance of others, of eager self-assertion, or self-defense.  Let it check the angry expression
Ready to break forth, the unkind word, the unloving sarcasm.
Let it purify the light, or careless, or irreverent utterance and the conventional falsehood, the boastful word of self-seeking.  And be sure that if the Sign of the Cross is thus your companion and safeguard through the day, if in all places and seasons you accustom yourself to  “softly make the sign to “angels know,” it will be as a tower of strength to you and the power of evil over you will become feebler and feebler.
For The Prosperity of Our Holy Religion

Oh my God, make thy holy Church victorious over all her enemies, and preserve all her members in thy heavenly peace and love.

Oh infinite Source of all perfection, attracts all hearts to thyself, and fills them with thy divine charity.

O God of all, have mercy on all. Lift up thy hand over all nations, that they may see thy power; that they may know thee, as we also knave known thee

Crucifix Prayer

At The Sight of A Crucifix

Lord Jesus, by that bitterness thou sufferedst for me on the cross, chiefly when thy blessed soul was separated from thy body, have mercy on my soul, now and at its departure from this world, that it may be admitted to life everlasting.

Or:

To what excess, Oh my Savior, hast thou loved me? Oh Jesus, crucified for my salvation, save me.

Or:

Oh Savior of mankind, have mercy on all sinners, and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out their iniquity.

Or:

I thank thee, Oh my Jesus, for all thy love and mercy to me, and I am sorry for all my ingratitude to thee.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prayers Before and After Reading a Book


When You Take Up A Book
Oh fountain of all light, vouchsafe, I beseech thee, to enlighten my understanding; give me a diligent and docile spirit, and an efficacious desire to apply whatever I read to the glory of God, the sanctification of my soul, and the salvation of others.


After Reading
Oh my God, foster the divine seed which thou hast sown in my soul.
Or:
Grant Oh my Jesus, that like thy Blessed Mother, I may keep all thy words, pondering them in my heart.

Hymn - The life of Saint Francis of Assisi was a Song - Of Brother Moon and Sister Sun

The Little Bedesman of Christ

THIS is the legend of  Saint Francis of Assisi , the Little Bedesman of Christ. Seven hundred years ago was he born in Assisi, the quaint Umbrian town among the rocks; and for twenty years and more he cherished but one thought, and one desire, and one hope; and these were that he might lead the beautiful and holy and sorrowful life which our Lord lived on the earth, and that in every way he might resemble our Lord in the purity and loveliness of His humanity.

Home and wealth and honor he surrendered, and the love of a wife and of little prattlers on his knees; for none of these things were the portion of Christ.

No care he took as to how he should be sheltered by night or wherewith he should be clothed by day; and for meat and drink he looked to the hand of God, for these were to be the daily gift of His giving. So that when he heard the words of the sacred Gospel read in the little church of St. Mary of the Angels—" Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves " —he went out and girt his coarse brown dress with a piece of cord, and cast away his shoes and went barefoot thenceforth.

Even to this day the brethren of the great Order of religious men which he founded are thus clothed, and girt with a cord, and shod with nakedness. And this Order is the Order of the Lesser Brethren, the Fathers Minors; and often they are called Franciscans, or the Friars of St. Francis.

But as to the thought he bestowed on his eating and drinking: once when he and Brother Masseo sat down on a broad stone near a fresh fountain to eat the bread which they had begged in the town, St. Francis rejoiced in their prosperity, saying " Not only are we filled with plenty, but our treasure is of God's own providing; for consider this bread which has come to us like manna, and this noble table of stone fit for the feasting of kings, and this well of bright water which is beverage from heaven; " and he besought God to fill their hearts with an ardent love of the affluence of holy poverty.

Even the quiet and blessed peace of the cloister and the hermitage he denied himself; for he remembered that though the Lord Christ withdrew into the hills and went into the wilderness to refresh His soul with prayer and communion with His Heavenly Father, it was among the sobs of men that He had His dwelling all His days. So he, 'too, the little Bedesman, often tasted great happiness among the rocks and trees of solitary places; and his spirit felt the spell of the lonely hills; and he loved to pray in the woods, and in their shadow he was consoled by the visits of Angels, and was lifted bodily from the earth in ecstasies of joy. But the work which he had set his hands to do was among men, and in villages and the busy streets of cities.

It was not in the first place to save their own souls and to attain to holiness that he and his companions abandoned the common way of life. Long afterwards, when thousands of men had joined his Order of the Lesser Brethren, he said: " God has gathered us into this holy Order for the salvation of the world, and between us and the world He has made this compact, that we shall give the world a good example, and the world shall make provision for our necessities."

Yet, though he preached repentance and sorrow for sin, never was it his wish that men and women who had other duties should abandon those duties and their calling to follow his example. Besides the Order of the lesser Brethren, he had founded an Order of holy women who should pray and praise while the men went forth to teach; but well he knew that all could not do as these had done, that the work of the world must be carried on, the fields ploughed and reaped, and the vines dressed, and the nets cast and drawn, and ships manned at sea, and markets filled, and children reared, and aged people nourished, and the dead laid in their graves; and when people were deeply moved by his preaching and would fain have followed him, he would say: " Nay, be in no unwise haste to leave your homes; there, too, you may serve God and be devout and holy; " and, promising them a rule of life, he founded the Third Order, into which, whatever their age or calling, all who desired to be true followers of Christ Jesus might be admitted.

Even among those who gave themselves up wholly to the life spiritual he discouraged excessive austerity, forbidding them to fast excessively or to wear shirts of mail and bands of iron on their flesh, for these not only injured their health and lessened their usefulness, but hindered them in prayer and meditation and delight in

light in the pinch of hunger, St. Francis rose, and, taking some bread with him, went to the brother's cell, and begged of him that they might eat that frugal fare together. God gave us these bodies of ours, not that we might torture them unwisely, but that we might use their strength and comeliness in His service.

So, with little heed to his own comfort, but full of consideration and gentleness for the weakness of others, he and his companions with him went about, preaching and praising God; cheering and helping the reapers and vintagers in the harvest time, and working with the field olk in the earlier season; supping and praying with them afterwards; sleeping, when day failed, in barns or church porches or leper hospitals, or may be in an old Etruscan tomb or in the shelter of a jutting rock, if no better chance befell; till at last they came to be known and beloved in every village and feudal castle and walled town among the hills between Rome and Florence. At first, indeed, they were mocked and derided and rudely treated, but in a little while it was seen that they were no self seekers crazed with vanity, but messengers of heaven, and pure and great hearted champions of Christ and His poor.

In those days of luxury and rapacity and of wild passions and ruthless bloodshed, it was strange to see these men stripping themselves of wealth and power— for many of the brethren had been rich and noble—and proclaiming the Gospel of the love and gentleness and purity and poverty of Christ. For not only were the
 brethren under vow to possess nothing whatever in the world, and not only were they forbidden to touch money on any account, but the Order itself was bound to poverty. It could not own great estates or noble abbeys and convents, but was as much dependent on charity and God's providing as the humblest of its friars.

Was it a wonderful thing that a great affection grew up in the hearts of the people for these preachers of the Cross, and especially for the most sweet and tender of them all, the Little Bedesman of Christ, with the delicate and kindly face worn by fasting, the black eyes, and the soft and sonorous voice? Greatly the common people loved our Lord, and gladly they listened to Him; and of all men who have lived St. Francis was most like our Lord in the grace and virtue of His humanity. I do not: think that ever at any time did he say or do anything till he had first asked himself, What would my Lord have done or said ?

And certain it seems to me that he must have thought of the Thief in Paradise and of the divine words Christ spoke to him on the cross, when Brother Angelo, the guardian of a hermitage among the mountains, told him how three notorious robbers had come begging; " but I," said the Brother, " quickly drove them away with harsh and bitter words." " Then sorely hast thou sinned against charity," replied the Saint in a stern voice, " and ill hast thou obeyed the holy Gospel of Christ, who wins back sinners by gentleness, and not by cruel reproofs. Go now, and take with thee this wallet of bread and this little flask of wine which I have begged, and get thee over hill and valley till thou hast found these men; and when thou comest up with them, give them the bread and the wine as my gift to them, and beg pardon on thy knees for thy fault, and tell them that I beseech them no longer to do wrong, but to fear and love God; and if this they will do, I will provide for them so that all their days they shall not lack food and drink." Then Brother Angelo did as he was bidden, and the robbers returned with him and became God's bedesmen and died in His service.Not to men alone but to all living things on earth and air and water was St. Francis most gracious and loving. They were all his little brothers and sisters, and he forgot them not, still less scorned or slighted them, but spoke to them often and blessed them, and in return they showed him great love and sought to be of his fellowship. He bade his companions keep plots of ground for their little sisters the flowers, and to these lovely and speechless creatures he spoke, with no great fear that they would not understand his words. And all this was a marvelous thing in a cruel time, when human life was accounted of slight worth by fierce barons and ruffling marauders.

For the bees he set honey and wine in the winter, lest they should feel the nip of the cold too keenly; and bread for the birds, that they all, but especially " my brother Lark," should have joy of Christmastide, and at Rieti a brood of redbreasts were the guests of the house and raided the tables while the brethren were at meals; and when a youth gave St. Francis the turtle doves he had snared, the Saint had nests made for them, and there they laid their eggs and hatched them, and fed from the hands of the brethren.

The Little Bedesman of Christ Out of affection a fisherman once gave him a great tench, but he put it back into the clear water of the lake, bidding it love God; and the fish played about the boat till St. Francis blessed it and bade it go.

" Why cost thou torment my little brothers the Lambs," he asked of a shepherd, " carrying them bound thus and hanging from a staff, so that they cry piteously ? " And in exchange for the lambs he gave the shepherd his cloak. And at another time seeing amid a flock of goats one white lamb feeding, he was concerned that he had nothing but his brown robe to offer for it (for it reminded him of our Lord among the Pharisees); but a merchant came up and paid for it and gave it him, and he took it with him to the city and preached about it so that the hearts of those hearing him were melted. Afterwards the lamb was left in the care of a convent of holy women, and to the Saint's great delight, these wove him a gown of the lamb's innocent wool.

Fain would I tell of the conveys that took refuge in the folds of his habit, and of the swifts which flew screaming in their glee while he was preaching; but now it is time to speak of the sermon which he preached to a great multitude of birds in a field by the roadside, when he was on his way to Bevagno. Down from the trees flew the birds to hear him, and they nestled in the grassy bosom of the field, and listened till he had done. And these were the words he spoke to them:

" Little birds, little sisters mine, much are you holden to God your Creator; and at all times and in every place you ought to praise Him. Freedom He has given you to fly everywhere; and raiment He has given you, double and threefold. More than this, He preserved your kind in the Ark, so that your race might not come to an end. Still more do you owe Him for the element of air, which He has made your portion. Over and above, you sow not, neither do you reap; but God feeds you, and gives you streams and springs for your thirst; the mountains He gives you, and the valleys for your refuge, and the tall trees wherein to build your nests. And because you cannot sew or spin, God takes thought to clothe you, you and your little ones. It must be, then, that your Creator loves you much, since He has granted you so many benefits. Be on your guard then against the sin of ingratitude, and strive always to give God praise."

And when the Saint ceased speaking, the birds made such signs as they might, by spreading their wings and opening their beaks, to show their love and pleasure; and when he had blessed them with the sign of the cross, they sprang up, and singing songs of unspeakable sweetness, away they streamed in a great cross to the four quarters of heaven.

One more story I must tell of the Saint and the wild creatures. On a time when St. Francis was dwelling in the town of Agobio, there appeared in that countryside a monstrous gray wolf, which was so savage a man eater that the people were afraid to go abroad, even when well armed. A pity it was to see folk in such fear and danger; wherefore the Saint, putting his whole trust in God, went out with his companions so far as they dared go, and thence onward all alone to the place where the wolf lay. The wild beast rushed out at him from his lair with open mouth, but St. Franis waited and made over him the sign of the most holy cross, and called him to him, saying, " Come hither, Brother Wolf! In the name of Christ I bid you do no harm, neither to me nor to any one." And when the wolf closed his jaws and stopped running, and came at the Saint's bidding, as gentle as a lamb, and lay down at his feet, St. Francis rebuked him for the slaying of God's creatures, the beasts, and even men made in God's image. " But fain would I make peace," he said, " between you and these townsfolk; so that if you pledge them your faith that you will do no more scathe either to man or beast, they will forgive you all your offences in the past, and neither men nor dogs shall harry you any more. And I will look to it that you shall always have food as long as you abide with the folk of this countryside."

Whereupon Brother Wolf, by movements of body and tail and bowing of head, gave token of his good will to abide by that bargain. And in sign that he plighted his troth to it he gave the Saint his paw, and followed to the marketplace of Agobio, where St. Francis repeated all that he had said, and the people agreed to the bargain, and once more the wolf gave pledge of his faith by putting his paw in the Saint's hand.

For two years thereafter Brother Wolf dwelt in Agobio, going tame and gentle from house to house and in and out at will, doing hurt to none, but much loved of the children and cared for in food and drink anc kindness by the townsfolk, so that no one lifted stone o' stick against him, neither did any dog bark at him. A the end of those years he died of old age, and the people were grieved that no more should they see his gentle coming and going.

Such was the courtesy Francis with the wild creatures and sweet fellowship of the saint. It remains yet to say of him that he was ever gay and joyous as became God's gleeman. Greatly he loved the song of bird and man, and all melody and minstrelsy. Nor was it ill-pleasing to God that he should rejoice in these good gifts; for once lying in his cell faint with fever, to him came the thought that the sound of music might ease his pain; but when the friar whom he asked to play for him was afraid of causing a scandal by his playing, St. Francis, left alone, heard such music that his sullering ceased and his fever left him. And as he lay listening he was aware that the sound kept coming and going; and how could it have been otherwise? for it was the lute-playing of an Angel, far away, walking in Paradise.

Sweet new songs he made in the language of the common people, folk of field and mountain, muleteers and vine dressers, woodmen and hunters, so that they in turn might be light of heart amid their toil and sorrow. One great hymn he composed, and of that I will speak later; but indeed all his sayings and sermons were a sort of divine song, and when he sent his companions from one village to another he bade them say: " We are God's gleemen. For song and sermon we ask largesse, and our largesse shall be that 'you persevere in sorrow for your sins."

Seeing that ladies of the world, great and beautiful, took pleasure in the songs of the troubadours sung at twilight under their windows, he charged all the churches of his Order that at fall of day the bells should be rung to recall the greeting with which Gabriel the Angel saluted the Virgin Mother of the Lord: " Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women." And from that day to this the bells have rung out the Angelus at sunset, and now there is no land under heaven wherein those bells are not heard and wherein devout men hearing them do not pause to repeat that greeting angulus.

In like fashion it was great delight to him (the Pope having given him leave) to make in the churches of the Order a representation of the Crib of Bethlehem on the feast of the Nativity. Of these the first was made at the hermitage of Greccio. Thither the peasants flocked on Christmas Eve, with lanterns and torches, making the forest ring with their carols; and there in the church they found a stable with straw, and an ox and an ass tethered to the manger; and St. Francis spoke to the folk about Bethlehem and the Shepherds in the field, and the birth of the divine Babe, so that all who heard him wept happy tears of compassion and thankfulness.

And as St. Francis stood sighing for joy and gazing at the empty manger, behold! a wondrous thing happened. For the knight Giovanni, who had given the ox and the ass and the stable, saw that on the straw in the manger there lay a beautiful child, which awoke from slumber, as it seemed, and stretched out its little hands to St. Francis as he leaned over it.

Even to this day there is no land in which you may not see, on Christmas Eve, the Crib of Bethlehem; but in those old days of St. Francis many souls were saved by
the sight of that lowly manger from the sin of those heretics who denied that the Word was made flesh and that the Son of God was born as a little child for our salvation.
The joy and gaiety of St. Francis were of two kinds. There was the joy of love, and there was the joy of suffering for love. And of this last he spoke a wonderful rhapsody as he journeyed once with Brother Leo, in the grievous cold of the early spring from Perugia to St. Mary of the Angels. For, as Brother Leo was walking on before, St. Francis called aloud to him:

" O Brother Leo, although throughout the world the Lesser Brethren were mirrors of holiness and edification, nevertheless write it down, and give good heed to it, that not therein is perfect joy."

And again, a little further on, he called aloud:

" O Brother Leo, though the Lesser Brother should give the blind sight, and make the misshapen straight, and cast out devils, and give hearing to the deaf, and make the lame to walk and the dumb to speak; yea, should he even raise the four days' dead to life, write it down that not therein is perfect joy."

And yet a little further on he cried out:

" O Brother Leo, if the Lesser Brother should know all languages, and every science, and all the Scriptures, so that he could foretell not solely the hidden things of the future but also the secrets of the heart, write down that not therein is perfect joy."

A little further yet, and once again he cried aloud:

" O Brother Leo, God's little sheep, though the Lesser Brother were to speak with the tongue of the Angels, and know the courses of the stars and the virtues of herbs, and though the treasures of the earth were discovered to him, and he had craft and knowledge of birds and fishes and of all living creatures, and of men, and of trees and stones, and roots and waters, write it down that not therein is perfect joy."

And once more, having gone a little further, St. Francis called aloud:

" O Brother Leo, even though the Lesser Brother could by his preaching convert all the unbelievers to the faith of Christ, write down that not therein is perfect joy."

And when, after St. Francis had spoken in this manner for the space of two miles, Brother Leo besought him to reveal wherein might perfect joy be found, St. Francis answered him:

" When we are come, drenched with rain and benumbed with cold and bespattered with mud and aching with hunger, to St. Mary of the Angels, and knock at the door, and the porter asks wrathfully, ' Who are you ~ ' and on our answering, 'Two of your brethren are we,' ' Two gangrel rogues,' says he, ' who go about cheating the world and taking the alms of the poor; away with you! ' and whips the door to, leaving us till nightfall, cold and famished, in the snow and rain; if with patience we bear this injury and harshness and rejection, nowise 'ruffled in our mind and making no murmur of complaint, but considering within ourselves, humbly and in charity, that the porter knows well who we are, and that God sets him up to speak against us—O Brother Leo, write down that therein is perfect joy."

And perfect joy, he added, if, knocking a second time, they brought the porter out upon them, fuming, and bidding them betake themselves to the almshouse, for
knaves and thieves, and nevertheless they bore all with patience and with gladness and love. And yet again, he continued, if a third time they knocked and shouted to him, for pity of their hunger and cold and the misery of the night, to let them in, and he tame, fierce with rage, crying, " Ah, bold and sturdy vagabonds, now I will pay you," and caught them by the hood, and hurled them into the snow, and belabored them with a knotty cudgel; and if still, in despite of all pain and contumely, they endured with gladness, thinking of the pains of the blessed Lord Christ, which for love of Him they too should be willing to bear—then might it be truly written down that therein was perfect joy.

This was the perfect joy of the Saint most like to Christ of all the Saints that the world has seen. And of all joys this was the most perfect, seeing that it was by the patient way of tears and tribulation, of bodily pain and anguish of spirit, of humiliation and rejection, that a man might come most nearly to a likeness of Christ.

Through all his gaiety and gladness and benignity he carried in his heart one sorrow, and that was the memory of the Passion of our Lord. Once he was found weeping in the country, and when he was asked whether he was in grievous pain that he wept, " Ah! " he replied, " it is for the Passion of my Lord Jesus that I weep; and for that I should think little shame to go weeping through the whole world."
Two years before his death there befell him that miraculous transfiguration, which, so far as it may be with a sinful son of Adam, made perfect the resemblance

between him and the Savior crucified. And it was after this manner.



In the upper valley of the Arno stream there towers above the pines and giant beeches of the hills a great basalt rock, Alvernia, which looks over Italy, east and west, to the two seas. That rock is accessible by but a single foottrack, and it is gashed and riven by grim chasms, yet withal great oaks and beech-trees flourish atop among the boulders, and there are drifts of fragrant wild flowers, and legions of birds and other wild creatures dwell there; and the lights and colors of heaven play about the rock, and the winds of heaven visit it with wholesome air.



Now a great and wealthy gentleman of Tuscany, Orlando of Chiusi, gave St. Francis that mountain for a hermitage where he could be remote from men, and thither, with three of the brethren most dear to him, the Saint went to spend the forty days of the Fast of St. Michael the Archangel.



Two nights they slept on the way, but on the third day, so worn was St. Francis with fatigue and illness, that his companions were fain to beg a poor peasant to lend them his ass. As they proceeded on their journey the peasant, walking behind the ass, said to St. Francis, " Tell me now, art thou Brother Francis of Assisi ? " and when St. Francis said he was, the peasant rejoined, " Look to it, then, that thou strive to be as good as folk take thee to be, so that those who have faith in thee be not disappointed in what they expect to find in thee." And instantly St. Francis got down from the ass, and, kneeling on the ground, kissed the peasant's feet, and thanked him for his brotherly admonition.



So onward they journeyed up the mountain till they

came to the foot of Alvernia, and there as St. Francis

rested him under an oak, vast flights of birds came

fluttering and blithely singing, and alighted on his

shoulders and arms, and on his lap, and about his feet.

" Not ill-pleased is our Lord, I think," said he, " that we

have come to dwell on this mountain, seeing what glee our

little brothers and sisters the Birds show at our coming."

Under a fair beech on the top of the rock the brethren

built him a cell of branches, and he lived alone in prayer,

apart from the others, for the foreknowledge of his death

had overshadowed him. Once as he stood by the cell,

scanning the shape of the mountain and musing on the

clefts and chasms in the huge rocks, it was borne in upon

him that the mountain had been thus torn and cloven in

the Ninth Hour when our Lord cried with a loud voice,

and the rocks were rent. And beside this beech-tree

St. Francis was many times uplifted into the air in

rapture, and many times Angels came to him, and walked

with him for his consolation.

A while later, the brethren laid a tree across a chasm,

and St. Francis hid himself in a more lonely place, where

no one might hear him when he cried out; and a falcon,

which had its nest hard by his cell, woke him for matins,

and according as he was more weary or sickly at one time

than another, that feathered brother, having compassion

on him, woke him later or sooner, and all the long day

was at hand to give him companionship.

Here in this wild place, in September, on Holy Cross Day, early in the morning, before the dawn whitened,

St. Francis knelt with his face turned to the dark east;

and praying long and with great fervor, he besought the

Lord Christ Jesus for two graces before he died. And the first was this, that, so far as mortal flesh might bear it, he might feel in his body the torture which our Lord suffered in His Passion; and the second, that he might feel in his heart the exceeding great love for which He was willing to bear such torture.



Now even while he was praying in this wise a mighty six winged Seraph, burning with light unspeakable, came flying towards him; and St. Francis saw that the Seraph bore within himself the figure of a cross, and thereon the image of a man crucified. Two of the six wings of the Seraph were lifted up over the head of the crucified; and two were spread for flying; and two veiled the whole of the body on the cross.



Then as the Seraph drew nigh, the eyes of Christ the crucified looked into the eyes of St. Francis, piercing and sweet and terrible; and St. Francis could scarce endure the rapture and the agony with which that look consumed him, and transfigured him, and burned into his body the similitude of Christ's Passion. For straightway his hands and his feet were pierced through and through with nails; and the heads of the nails were round and black, and the points were bent backward and riveted on the further side of hand and foot; and his right side was opened with the deep thrust of the spear; and the gash was red and blood came dropping from it. Terrible to bear was the ache of those wounds; and for the nails in his feet St. Francis scarce could stand and could not walk at all.



Such was the transfiguration of the Little Bedesman of Christ into His visible semblance on the holy rock Alvernia.



'

For two years he sustained the ecstasy and anguish of that likeness, but of his sayings and of the wonders he wrought in that time I will not speak.



In those days he composed the Song of the Sun, and oftentimes sang it, and in many a village and marketplace was it sung by the brethren going two by two in their labor for souls. A mighty hymn of praise to the Lord God most high and omnipotent was this Song of the Sun; for in this manner it was that St. Francis sang:



" Praised be Thou, my Lord; by all Thy creatures praised; and chiefly praised by Brother Sun who gives us light of day.



" Through him Thou shines"; fair is he, brilliant with glittering fire; and he through heaven bears, Most High, symbol and sense of thee.



" Praised by Sister Moon be Thou; and praised by all the Stars. These hast Thou made, and Thou hast made them precious and beautiful and bright.



" Praised by Brother Wind be Thou; by Air, and Cloud that lives in air, and all the Weathers of the world, whereby their keep Thou cost provide for all the creatures Thou hast made.



" Praised by Sister Water, Lord, be Thou; the lowly water, precious, pure the gracious handmaiden.



" Praised by Brother Fire, by whom Thou makest light for us i' the dark; and fair is he and jocund, sturdy and strong.



" Praised by our Sister Mother Earth, which keeps us and sustains, and gives forth plenteous fruit, and grass, and colored flowers.



" Praised be Thou, Lord my God, by those who for

Thy love forgive, and for Thy love endure; blessed in their patience they; by Thee shall they be crowned."



As he drew nigh to his end at St. Mary of the Angels, he cried out, " Welcome, Sister Death! " and when his brethren, as he had bidden them, sang once more the Song of the Sun, he added another verse:



" Praised by our Sister Death be Thou—that bodily death which no man may escape. Alas for those who die in mortal sin, but happy they conforming to Thy will; for these the second death shall nowise hurt."



In the tenth month, on the fourth day of the month, in the forty and fifth year of his age, having recited the Psalm, " I cried unto Thee, O Lord, and said: Thou art my hope and my portion in the land of the living," St. Francis died very joyfully. At the fall of the night he died, and while still the brethren were gazing upon his face there dropped down on the thatch of the cell in which he lay larks innumerable, and most sweetly they sang, as though they rejoiced at the release of their holy kinsman.



He was buried at the great church at Assisi; but though it is thought he lies beneath the high altar, the spot is unknown to any man, and the hill-folk say that St. Francis is not dead at all, but that he lives hidden in a secret crypt far down below the roots of wall and pillar. Standing there, pale and upright, with the blood red in the five wounds of his crucifixion, he waits in a heavenly trance for the sound of the last trumpet, when the nations of the earth shall see in the clouds Him whom they have pierced.

Long after his death it was the custom of the brethren of a certain house of his Order to go chanting in procession at midnight once in the year to his resting place. But the way was long and dark; the weather often bleak and stormy. Little by little devotion cooled, and the friars fell away, till there remained but one old monk willing to go on this pilgrimage. As he went into the dark and the storm, the road among the woods and rocks grew luminous, and in place of the cross and torches and canticles of the former days, great flocks of birds escorted him on his way, singing and keeping him company. The little feathered brothers and sisters had not abated in their love of the Little Bedesman who had caressed and blessed them.

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prayer to a Saint I love


At The Sight of A Picture of Some Saint
Pray for me, O happy Saint! Your time of probation has passed. When shall I, like you, be no longer exposed to the dander of offending my God?

Prayer after Committing a Sin

When You Have Committed Sin
Alas, my God, another fault! Art thou not ready to withdraw thy graces from me? But, my infinitely good God…I repent and offer thee in expiation of this fault, all that my Divine Savior has done to expiate it. I offer thee the sorrow of His sacred heart. My God, be propitious to me for His sake, and because I am a sinner.

Prayer as we Approach Temptation to Cause or Experience Pain to Self or Others


At The Approach of Temptation
My God deliver me from offending thee by hurting myself or others through actions that are not right!  Assist me by thy powerful grace; mercifully preserve me from yielding to this temptation and to others I do not see, and give me a great horror for all things evil at the core.
Lord, save me or I shall fail.

Prayer for Release from the Fire of Guilt


The Fire



Oh my Jesus! Inflame my cold heart with the fire that ever burns in thy sacred heart; and through thy infinite merits, deliver me from the eternal fire, which I deserve on account of my sins.

Prayers For When The Clock Strikes or Prayer of Time Passing



When the Clock Strikes

My God, I offer thee, in expiation of my sins and in atonement, for all that have been committed during this hour, all the acts of love by which with the sacred heart of Jesus glorified thee during this same hour, while on earth.

Or:

Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is heaven.

Or:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
And always say:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Keep those who have passed before you in your prayers...

Prayer to the Heavenly Court


Kneeling By the Bed-Side



Most adorable Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I cast my nothingness into the abyss of thy divine perfection; and, in union with the adoration of Jesus, my divine Savior; I adore thee, as my sovereign Lord, my first beginning and my last end; and in union with his thanksgiving, I thank thee for all thy love and mercies to me. I thank thee for giving me another day to love, praise, and serve thee; and I beseech thee to grant that every moment of it may, according to thy gracious designs, secure to me the blessings of being nearer to thee in heaven; I offer to thee my whole being my soul with all its powers; my heart with all its affections, inclinations, desires, and intentions; my mind with all its faculties; I make this offering in the sacred heart of my Jesus, and under the auspices of my Blessed Virgin Mother, of my Guardian Angel, my special patron Saint_______, blessed St. Joseph,  and St. Vincent, St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Gabriel the Angel of my Redemption Oh, that I could during this day by each action, give as much honor and glory to thee, my God, as the nine choirs of Angels, and all the Saints, and even as much as all possible created beings could render thee. Accept, Oh my God, this my ardent desire, accompanied by the most sincere and humble acknowledgement, that because of  thy grace and mercy, I can do nothing unacceptable to thee that thou can cannot forgive.

Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Prayer Upon Waking

Upon Waking God with your Son, Mary and Joseph and all the angels and saints,  I give you my heart, my spirit, and my life. Then: All for thee, my God, all for thy greater honor, and glory, and pure love. AMEN.

Guardian Angels - Story of Spanish Children

 
  

The piazza or square in front of the Cathedral was the only open space in 
which the children of Spinalunga had room to play. Spinalunga means a Long 
Spine or Ridge of rock, and the castello or little walled town which bore 
that name was built on the highest peak of the ridge, inside strong brown 
stone walls with square towers. So rough and steep was this portion of the 
ridge that the crowded houses, with their red roofs and white gables, were 
piled up one behind another, and many of the streets were narrow staircases, 
climbing up between the houses to the blue sky. 

On the top the hill was flat, and there the Cathedral stood, and from her 
niche above the great west entrance the beautiful statue of the Madonna with 
the Babe in her arms looked across the square, and over the huddled red 
roofs, and far away out to the hills and valleys with their evergreen oaks 
and plantations of gray olives, and bright corn fields and vineyards. 

 On three sides the town was sheltered by hills, but a very deep ravine 
separated them from the ridge, so that on those three sides it was impossible 
for an enemy to attack the town. On the nearest hills great pine woods grew 
far up the slopes, and sheltered it from the east winds which blew over the 
snowy peaks. Now on the southern side of the square stood the houses of the 
Syndic and other wealthy citizens, with open colonnades of carved yellow 
stone; and all about the piazza at intervals there were orange trees and 
pomegranates, growing in huge jars of red earthenware.

This had been the children's playground as long as any one could remember, 
but in the days of the blessed Frate Agnolo the Syndic was a grim, childless, 
irascible old man, terribly plagued with gout, which made him so choleric 
that he could not endure the joyous cries and clatter of the children at 
their play. So at last in his irritation he gave orders that, if the children 
must play at all, it would have to be in their own dull narrow alleys paved 
with hard rock, or outside beyond the walls of the castello. For their part 
the youngsters would have been glad enough to escape into the green country 
among the broom and cypress, the red snapdragon and golden asters and blue 
pimpernels, but these were wild and dangerous times, and at any moment a 
troop of Freelances from Pisa or a band of Luchese raiders might have swept 
down and carried them off into captivity.

They had therefore to sit about their own doors, and the piazza of the 
Cathedral became strangely silent in the summer evenings, and there was a 
feeling of dullness and discontent in the little town. Never a whit better 
off was the Syndic, for he was now angry with the stillness and the deserted 
look of the square.

In the midst of this trouble the blessed Brother Agnolo came down from his 
hermitage among the pine woods, and when he heard of what had taken place, he 
went straightway to the Syndic and took him to task, with soft and gracious 
words.  

" Messer Gianni, pain I know will often take aI1 sweet ness out of the temper 
of a man, but in this you are not doing welt here IS no child in Spinalunga 
but would readily forego all his happy play to give you ease and solace, but 
in this way they cannot help you. By sending them away you do but cloud their 
innocent lives, and you are yourself none the better for their absence. Were 
it not wiser for you to seek to distract yourself in their harmless 
merrymaking ? I may well think that you have never watched them at their 
sports; but if you will bid them come back today, and will but walk a little 
way with me, you shall see that which shall give you content and delight so 
great, that never again will you wish to banish them, but will rather pray to 
have their companionship at all times."

Now the Frate so prevailed on the Syndic that he gave consent, and bade all 
the children, lass and lad, babe and prattler, come to the square for their 
games as they used to do. And leaning with one hand on his staff, and with 
the other on the shoulder of Brother Agnolo, he moved slowly through the 
fruit-trees in the great jars to the steps of the Cathedral.

Suddenly the joy bells began to ring, and the little people came laughing and 
singing and shouting from the steep streets and staircases and alleys, and 
they raced and danced into the piazza like Springtime let loose, and they 
chased each other, and caught hands and played in rings, and swarmed among 
the jars, as many and noisy as swallows when they gather for their flight 
over sea in the autumntide.  

" Look well, Messer Gianni," said the Frate, " and perceive who it is that 
shares their frolics." 

As the Brother spoke the eyes of the Syndic were opened; and there, with each 
little child, was his Angel, clothed in white, and white winged; and as the 
little folk contended together, their Angels contended with each other; and 
as they ran and danced and sang, so ran and danced and sang their Angels. 
Which was the laughter of the children, and which that of the Angels, the 
Syndic could not tell; and when the plump two year olds tottered and tumbled, 
their Angels caught them and saved them from hurt; and even if they did weep 
and make a great outcry, it was because they were frightened, not because 
they were injured, and straightway they had forgotten what ailed them and 
were again merrily trudging about.

In the midst of this wonderful vision of young Angels and bright eyed 
children mingling so riotously together, the Syndic heard an inexpressibly 
joyous laugh behind him. Turning his head, he saw that it was the little 
marble Babe in the arms of the Madonna. He was clapping his hands, and had 
thrown back his head against his mother's bosom in sudden delight.

Did the Syndic truly see this? He was certain he did for a moment; and yet in 
that same moment he knew that the divine Babe was once more a babe of stone, 
with its sweet grave face and unconscious eyes; and when the Syndic turned 
again to watch the children, it was only the children he saw; the Angels were 
no longer visible.

" It is not always given to our sinful eyes to see them," said Brother 
Agnolo, answering the Syndic's thought, " but whether we see them or see them 
not, always they are there."
Now it was in the autumn of the same year that the fierce captain of Free 
lances, the Condottiere Ghino, appeared one moonlight night before the gates 
of Spinalunga, and bade the guard open in the name of Pisa.  

As I have said, the little hilltown could only be attacked on the western 
side, on account of the precipitous ravine which divided it from the hills; 
but the ridge before the gate was crowded with eight hundred horsemen and two 
thousand men at arms clamoring to be admitted. Nothing daunted, the garrison 
on the square towers cried back a defiance; the war bell was sounded; and the 
townspeople, men and women, hurried down to defend the walls. 

After the first flight of arrows and quarrels the Freelances fell back out of 
bowshot, and encamped for the night, but the hill men remained on the watch 
till daybreak. Early in the morning Ghino himself rode up the ascent with a 
white flag, and asked for a parley with the Syndic.  

" We are from Pisa," said the Condottiere; " Florence is against us; this 
castello we must hold for our safety. If with your goodwill, well and good! "  

" We are bound by our loyalty to Florence," replied the Syndic briefly.  

"The sword cuts all bonds," said the Freelance, with a laugh; " but we would 
gladly avoid strife. Throw in your lot with us. All we ask is a pledge that 
in the hour of need you will not join Florence against us."  

" What pledge do you ask  " inquired the Syndic.  

" Let twenty of your children ride back with us to Pisa," said the Free 
lance. " These shall answer for your fidelity. They shall be cherished and 
well cared for during their sojourn." 

Who but Messer Gianni was the angry man on hearing this? 

"Our children!" he cried; "are we, then, slaves, that we must needs send you 
our little ones as hostages I Guards, here! Shoot me down this brigand who 
bids me surrender your children to him! 

Bolts flew whizzing from the crossbows; the Freelance shook his iron gauntlet 
at the Syndic, and galloped down the ridge unharmed. The Syndic forgot his 
gout in his wrath, and bade the hill men hold their own till their roofs 
crumbled about their ears. 

Then began a close siege of the castello; but on the fourth day Frate Agnolo 
passed boldly through the lines of the enemy, and was admitted through the 
massive stone gateway which was too narrow for the entrance of either cart or 
wagon. Great was the joy of the hill men as the Brother appeared among them. 
He, they knew, would give them wise counsel and stout aid in the moment of 
danger.  

When they told him of the pledge for which the besiegers asked, he only 
smiled and shook his head. " Be of good cheer," he said, " God and His Angels 
have us in their keeping."  

Thoughtfully he ascended the steep streets to the piazza, and, entering the 
Cathedral, he remained there for a long while absorbed in prayer. And as he 
prayed his face brightened with the look of one who hears joyful news, and 
when he rose from his knees he went to the house of the Syndic, and spoke 
with him long and seriously.  

At sunset that day a man at arms went forth from the from the gates of the 
castello with a white flag to the beleaguering lines, and demanded to be 
taken into the presence of the captain. To him he delivered this message from 
the Syndic: " Tomorrow in the morning the gate of Spinalunga will be thrown 
open, and all the children of our town who are not halt or blind or ailing 
shall be sent forth. Come and choose the twenty you would have as hostages."

 By the campfires that night the Freelances caroused loud and long; but in 
the little hill town the children slept sound while the men and women prayed 
with pale stern faces. An hour after midnight all the garrison from the 
towers and all the strong young men assembled in the square. They were 
divided into two bands, and were instructed to descend cautiously by rope 
ladders into the ravine on the eastern side of the town. Thence without sound 
of tongue or foot they were to steal through the darkness till they had 
reached certain positions on the flanks of the besiegers, where they were to 
wait for the signal of onset. Frate Agnolo gave each of them his blessing, as 
one by one they slid over the wall on to the rope ladders and disappeared in 
the blackness of the ravine. Noiselessly they marched under the walls of the 
town till they reached their appointed posts, and there they lay hidden in 
the woods till morning.

 The Free lances were early astir. As the first ray of golden light streamed 
over the pine woods on to the ridge and the valley, the bells of the 
Cathedral began to ring; the heavy gate of the castello was flung open, and 
the children trooped out laughing and gay, just as they had burst into the 
square a few months ago, for this, they were told, was to be a great feast 
and holiday. As they issued through the deep stone archway they filed to 
right or left, and drew up in long lines across the width of the ridge. Then 
raising their childish voices in a simple hymn, they all moved together down 
the rough slope to the lines of the besiegers. Brother Agnolo, holding a 
plain wooden cross high above his head, led the way, singing joyously.  

It was a wonderful sight in the clear shining air of the hills, and hundreds 
of women weeping silently on the walls crowded together to watch it; and as 
they watched they held their breath, for suddenly in the golden light of the 
morning they saw that behind each child there was a great white winged Angel 
with a fiery spear.  

Then, as that throng of singing children and shining spirits swept down upon 
the Freelances, a wild cry of panic arose from the camp. The eight hundred 
horsemen turned in dismay, and plunged through the ranks of the men at arms, 
and the mercenaries fell back in terror and confusion, striking each other 
down and trampling the wounded underfoot in their frantic efforts to escape. 
At that moment the hill men who were lying in ambush on each flank bore down 
on the bewildered multitude, and hacked and hewed right and left till the 
boldest and hardiest of the horsemen broke and fled, leaving their dead and 
dying on the field.  

So the little hill town of Spinalunga was saved by the children and their 
Angels, and even to this day the piazza of the Cathedral is their very own