Fr. David: “Merry Christmas!”
You: “In October? “
Fr. David: “YES! But not just October – EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR!”
The celebration of Christmas for St. Francis took place every day!
Did you ever wonder why Jesus came to us, why he became human? In the Christmas story of Greccio, we see how Francis created the first Christmas nativity. He gathered the Friars and the people of the town together and created a live nativity scene with real animals, hay, a wooden manger, and an altar for Christmas Eve Mass!
The story tells us that, as the Gospel of Christ’s birth was proclaimed, the Saint and all the people gathered there and saw a vision of the Infant Jesus, lying in the manger and reaching up to gently touch the face of St. Francis.
This is the Jesus who became flesh of our flesh and, as a human being and God, shows us that God loves us unconditionally and because of this unbelievable love for us, wants to share our life with all its wonders, work and amazements! You see, now we know that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son so that we would know that God understands all we go through, and that nothing can keep us from this love from God.
St. Francis believed that Jesus became one of us not just because of sin, but more importantly because God loved us so much that He wanted to be one of us. God wanted to share our suffering, pain, joy, love and laughter. God wanted us to know that He understands our human life and all we go through.
That’s why the Franciscan Friars keep the Nativity up all year long – it reminds us of God’s constant and unconditional love that He has for each of us – no matter who we are, or what we have done – nothing can separate us from the love of God!
Then St. Francis took this wonderful idea to the next step – like Jesus did. Since God loves each of us unconditionally, we should love every single person and all creation the same way!
We should love others as God loves us!
We should care for others as God cares for us.
This brings us to the next Franciscan step: We need to put our Love To Work! If we must love others as God loves us, then we must put our love to work – and take action! You may ask – “How can I do that? What should I do?” The Franciscan Friars can help you put that LOVE to work. We are there to feed, clothe, shelter and help the poor and desperate of our world in so many ways. However, like St. Francis did, we must beg for financial help from anyone who can assist us. We love to serve the poor – it’s in our Franciscan genes, but we need you to partner with us for our financial support. We don’t have the money to help, just the will to help the poor.
Over the course of the year, over 2 million people come to us for help. We can’t help them without you. We may have to turn them away without your financial support.
As we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, please help us to continue the great love he had in serving the poor by making a generous gift to the Franciscan Friars of St. Anthony’s Guild as you join us in our Great Novena to St. Francis. Our Great Novena will begin on September 25th and will end on October 4th with the Feast Day Mass at St. Anthony’s Friary Butler, NJ.
Your gift can help change the lives of so many who need to feel God’s unconditional love. They can feel God’s love through your financial support and the gentle hands of the Friars who serve them. Please, won’t you help us help them?
Even in the Fall, as you gaze at this Nativity scene from Greccio, remember how much God loves us and that He sent His only Son so God can share our loves, our suffering and our joy. Help us to show this unconditional love of God to the poor and desperate who come to us for help. Only you can help us help them. Happy Feast Day to all of you, my sisters and brothers in Christ and St. Francis!
Fr. David Convertino, OFM
St. Anthony’s Guild