Franciscan Sisters Share Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi

Transitus of St. Francis – A Candlelight Celebration

Narrator: From the earliest days of the Franciscan Order, the followers of St. Francis

have gathered on the anniversary of his death to celebrate his transitus,

that is St. Francis’ passage from earthly life into everlasting life.

Here in this place, too, we gather to celebrate the light which Francis was to his world.

Readers Theatre format adapted from Thomas of Celano writings- Postulants walk in from front doors two on each side to stand in front of the altar.

1-Blessed Francis, born in the city of Assisi, was raised from his earliest youth to be arrogant. He became a man of business and used up his time with vain and frivilous living until he was 25 years of age.

2-But while he was involved in the goings on of this world with no concern for the right exercise of virtue, the Lord struck him with the whip of illness.

3-And so, at the change of the right hand of the most High, Francis was suddenly transformed into a different man and gave himself over, with full deliberation, to becoming a merchant for the kingdom of heaven by putting aside all the riches of this world.

4-Francis was then rejected by his own fellow citizens who threw mud at him; he was struck by stones, but fixing his mind on God alone…he heard in the Gospel what our Lord had said to his disciples when they were sent to preach.

2-He rose immediately from his place vowing to put into practice all the Lord’s words with all his might.

3-He took the shoes from his feet and kept only the coarse tunic of his life.

1-Francis took great care to fulfill literally all the rest of what he had heard in the Gospel.

4-Meanwhile the Lord opened His hand in blessing to bestow on others His graces.

3-The Lord gave Francis companions and followers whom the blessed father formed with moral values; he taught them to follow the way of evangelical perfection, to take up the title of complete poverty and walk the way of holy simplicity.

2-The affection of dutiful love burned brightly in the holy man of God.

All 4 readers-Francis lived his baptismal call to be another Christ.

Postulants walk to their regular pews and sit down. Lights turned off except for tabernacle light.

Pause

Reader One: Please face the back of chapel.

Cantor sings from a microphone in back of chapel.  Christ candle is lit –simple chant melody.)

Cantor proclaims: Jesus Christ is the Light of the World,

All: (repeat) Jesus Christ is the Light of the World

Cantor proclaims: A Light no darkness can extinguish…

All: (repeat) A Light no darkness can extinguish

Cantor proclaims: We adore you, O Lord Jesus Christ

All: (repeat) We adore you, O Lord Jesus Christ

Cantor: Here and in all your churches throughout the whole world

All: (repeat) Here and in all your churches throughout the whole world

Cantor: And we bless you

All: And we bless you

Cantor: because by Your holy cross

All: because by Your holy cross

Cantor: You have redeemed the world.

All: You have redeemed the world.

 

Side Aisle Reader Two: We light now a candle representing St. Francis of Assisi from the Christ Candle.

Light candle in silence. Fr. Finian hold candle.

Reader Two: (side aisle)

But, this celebration is not only a memorial,

a remembering of our Founder St. Francis who has gone before us.

It is also a celebration of the spirit of Francis in our midst today, in each of us.

For us to ritually revisit the story of Francis’ passing is vital;

without it something significant is missing.

It specifies the living memory of Francis;

it intensifies our commitment to follow Christ in the way of the poor man of Assisi.”

 

Francis candle begins to be carried to the front of chapel. Novices, Sister Natalie and Sister Elaine follow with larger candles unlit.  When the candle is at the front. The five Sisters light their candles from the St. Francis candle and go to particular places throughout the chapel.

Reader One: As a follower of St. Francis today, you, too, are invited to light your taper. Please bring your taper to one of the Sisters standing with a candle lit from the St. Francis candle. After lighting your taper from the lit candle, please place your taper in the ceramic tray filled with sand.

Medieval music played

Reader One: Let us now continue the story beginning at a time before Francis’ death.

Narrator: On October 3, 1226 Francis was staying in the palace of the Bishop of Assisi. He asked the brothers to take him as quickly as possible to the place of St. Mary of the Portiuncula for he wished to give back his soul to God in that place where he first knew the way of truth perfectly.

Then blessed Francis, despite the overpowering burden of his sickness, praised the Lord in a great joyful outburst of body and soul, saying to his companion:

Francis: Since I will soon die, have Brother Angel and Brother Leo come and praise our Sister Death for me.

Narrator: Both arrived and forcing back their tears, sang the Canticle of the Creatures, which the saint had composed during his sickness, for the glory of God and for the consolation of his soul and of that of the others.

Two people assist with singing canticle representing Angelo and Leo.

All creatures of our God and king

Lift up your voice with us and sing

Chorus: Alleluia,  Alleluia!

O burning sun with golden beam

And silver moon with softer gleam

Chorus: O praise him! Oh, praise him!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

O rushing wind and breezes soft

O clouds that ride the winds aloft

Chorus: Alleluia! Alleluia!

O rising morn, in praise rejoice,

O lights of evening, find a voice

Chorus: O praise him! Oh, praise him!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

O flowing waters, pure and clear,

Make music for your Lord to hear

Chorus: Alleluia!  Alleluia!

O fire so masterful and bright

Providing us with warmth and light

Chorus: O praise him! Oh, praise him!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Dear mother earth, who day by day

Unfolds rich blessings on our way

Chorus: Alleluia! Alleluia!

The fruits and flow’rs that verdant grow

Let them his praise abundant show

Chorus: O praise him! Oh, praise him!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

And you, most kind and gentle death,

Waiting to hush our final breath

Chorus: Alleluia! Alleluia!

You lead to heav’n the child of God

Where Christ our Lord the way has trod

Chorus: Oh, praise him! Oh praise him!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Reader One: Next let us hear a Scripture reading that was important to Francis near the end of his life.

(Sister Paul) Reading:  Galatians 6:14-18

May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. All that matters is that one is created anew. Peace and mercy on all who follow this rule of life, and on the Israel of God.

Henceforth, let no man trouble me, for I bear the brand marks of Jesus in my body.

Narrator: St. Francis continued to spend the last few days before his death praising the Lord and teaching his companions whom he loved so much to praise Christ with him. Francis then prayed Psalm 142. (Celano, Second Life.)

 

Chanting of Psalm 142

With a loud voice I cry out to the Lord

My complaint I pour out before him; before him I bare my distress.

When my spirit is faint within me, you know my path

In the way along which I walk they have hid a trap for me.

I look to the right to see, but there is no one who pays me heed.

I have lost all means of escape; there is no one who cares for my life.

With a loud voice I cry out to the Lord

I say, ‘You are my refuge my portion in the land of the living.

Attend to my cry, for I am brought low indeed.

Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me

Lead me forth from this prison, that I may give thanks to your name.

The just shall gather around me when you have been good to me.

Glory to…

With a loud voice I cry out to the Lord

Narrator:

When the hour of his death approached, Francis asked that all of the brothers living with him be called to his death bed and softening his departure with consoling words, he encouraged them with fatherly affection to love God.  He spoke of patience and poverty and of being faithful to the Holy Roman Church, giving precedence to the Holy Gospels before all else.  He then stretched his hands over the brothers in the form of a cross, a symbol that he loved so much, and gave his blessings to all followers, both present and absent, in the power and in the name of the Crucified.  Then he added: 

Francis: “Remain, my sons, in the fear of the Lord and be with him always.  And as temptations and trials beset you, blessed are those who persevere to the end in the life they have chosen.  I am on my way to God and I commend you all to His favor.” 

Narrator: With this sweet admonition, this dearly beloved to God, asked that the book of the Gospels be brought to him and that the passage in the Gospel of St. John, which begins before the Feast of the Passover be read.

 

Father Finian: Gospel of St. John (13:1-17)

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel.  Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.  He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”  Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” 

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.”  Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”

When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you as example, that you also should do as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” 

Reader One: In John’s Gospel we heard Jesus’ words, “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do. St. Francis in turn says to us: “I have done what is mine to do, may Christ teach your what is yours”. What is it that Christ is calling us to do right now in our lives?

Time for Reflection

Narrator: Then Francis said:

Francis: “When you see that I am brought to my last moments, place me naked upon the ground just as you saw me the day before yesterday; and let me lie there after I am dead for the length of time it takes one to walk a mile hurriedly.”

Reader One: Finally, when all God’s mysteries had been accomplished in him, his holy soul was freed from his body and assumed into the abyss of God’s glory, and Francis fell asleep in God.  (Bonaventure, Major Life.)

                Pause

Song: Jesus Remember Me

Sister Louise extinguishes Francis candle

Lights turned on…

Narrator: One of the friars, a disciple of his, saw his soul being born on a white cloud over many waters to heaven, under the appearance of a radiant star. It shone with the brightness of sublime sanctity, full of the abundance of divine wisdom and grace which had earned for him the right to enter the home of light and peace, where he rests with Christ forever.

Song: Behold What I Desire I know See (Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Final Profession Song) or another song of with Easter theme

Father Finian:  O God, on this day you granted the reward of blessed eternity to our blessed Father Francis; mercifully grant that we who celebrate with tender devotion the memory of his death may have the joy of sharing in his eternal glory.  Through Jesus Christ Your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Father:  Blessing+

ALL:  Amen

Reader One: St. Francis asked Lady Jacoba to come visit him near the time of his death and she brought him his favorite cookies. Please join us in the cafeteria for almond cookies and a drink to begin our celebration of the Feast of St. Francis.

(adapted from various Franciscan sources and prayer services)

4 thoughts on “Franciscan Sisters Share Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi”

  1. Dolores Tancinco says:

    Very simple but deeply meaningful! – Franciscan Sisters PIF-Philippines

  2. Edith Smith says:

    Tears flow easily with love for St. Francis’ Way

  3. Rosanne says:

    Beautiful! Pax et Bonum to all

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