Fire for a World Grown Cold

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Never underestimate the effect of an image on the memory and imagination of a child. The image of the stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi profoundly marked my childhood. Shining with jewel-like colors, a window depicting Saint Francis receiving the stigmata illuminated the south transept of my parish church. Later on, in my missal, I discovered the Collect for the Commemoration of the Holy Stigmata (formerly celebrated on September 17th). It remains, to this day, a prayer that speaks to my heart. My long association with the Poor Clares of Bethlehem Monastery in Barhamsville, Virginia, inspired me to share it with you:
Lord Jesus Christ,
who didst reproduce,
in the flesh of the most blessed Francis,
the sacred marks of thy own sufferings,
so that in a world grown cold
our hearts might be filled with burning love of thee,
graciously enable us by his merits and prayers
to bear the cross without faltering
and to bring forth worthy fruits of penitence:
Thou who art God,
living and reigning with God the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.

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