Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rik George reads

Ascension Sunday

Three sparrows play musical roost
on a wire across the street.
A robin gathers weeds for a nest
she’s building in the elm. The preacher
says “Glory, Hallelujah!
God’s gone to heaven in glory.”
His shouting scares the birds,
scares them into the heavens.

The Lord Gave Me Brothers -- De Grazia



  1. Ascension celebrates Jesus’ physical rise to Heaven 40 days after his resurrection from death. His remaining 11 disciples witnessed the event and were told by an angel that the advent (second coming) of Jesus would take place in the same manner. Theologically, it implies humanity’s sakvation and became a major part of Christian ritual by the 4th century; the iconography was fully in place by the 6th century: The ascending Jesus is making a blessing gesture with his right hand directed towards the group below him, signifying that he is blessing the entire body of worshippers. “Hallelujah” is an English interjection roughly equivalent to "Praise the Lord!" or "God be praised!" and is often used colloquially to express happiness that some hoped for event has happened. It is a transliteration of the second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hallal (an exhortation to "praise" addressed to several people) and the names of God (Jah or Yah, sometimes rendered by Christians as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah": YHWH was the name Jews used for the creator, who stopped pronouncing it by the 3rd century BCE due to evolving religious beliefs. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible, translated Yah as Kyrios [the LORD], following the Jewish custom of replacing the sacred name with "Adonai" ["the Lord"]). The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches both use the Greek form, "alleluia."

  2. “And after the Lord gave me brothers, no one showed me what I should do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the Holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply and in a few words and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me. And those who came to receive life gave to the poor everything which they were capable of possessing and they were content with one tunic, patched inside and out, with a cord and short trousers. And we had no desire for anything more. We who were clerics used to say the Office as other clerics did; the lay brothers said the Our Father; and we quite willingly stayed in churches. And we were simple and subject to all.” -- San Francesco d'Assisi
    Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone was nicknamed Francesco ("the Frenchman") by his Francophile parents, a silk merchant from Assisi and a noblewoman from Provence. Though subject to visions, he led a privileged life as a youth before serving in a military expedition against Perugia, but was captured and spent a year in captivity. When a beggar asked for alms, he gave him all the money he had in his possession and all of the cloth and velvet he was selling for his father. He became increasingly alienated from his friends and told them he planned to marry Lady Poverty, “a fairer bride than any of you have ever seen." Then he began nursing lepers and begging at the doors of churches in Roma. After beatings from his father, he renounced his patrimony and gave away all of his possessions. The crucifix in the rural chapel of San Damiano told him, “Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins." After renouncing materialism, he founded the Fransican order of monks, the Order of Poor Clares, and the Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance, though he never became ordained as a priest. He advocated praying in one’s own language rather than Latin, and he often wrote in the Umbrian dialect; he is sometimes regarded as the first Italian poet. In his “Canticum Fratris Solis” he spoke of “Brother Sun,” “Sister Moon,” and “Sister Death.” During the 5th Crusade, he preached to “Meledin” al-Malik al-Kamil Naser ad-Din Abu al-Ma'ali Muhammad, the 4th Ayyubid sultan of Egypt but was unable to convert him, even though he voluntarily underwent a trial by fire without getting burned. Perhaps the sultan allowed him to preach in the disputed Holy Land, and the Franciscans were active there almost without interruption to the present. On one occasion he preached to his “sisters the birds;” on another he tamed a man-eating wolf and arranged for the townspeople of Gubbio to feed the wolf regularly if the wolf ceased preying on people or their flocks. A century and a half after his death, someone, probably Ugolino Brunforte, compiled popular accounts of his life in the popular Italian book, “Fioretti di San Francesco” (Little Flowers of St. Francis).


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