When I first began discerning with the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis, I’ll admit, I knew very, very little about their Franciscan ways: Saint Francis loved animals, our new pontiff is Pope Francis and Saint Francis is frequently referenced in environmental and sustainability concerns; but not much else. Oh, and that they wore brown. (Well, maybe I knew a little bit more, but compared to now, after living with a Franciscan community for nearly a year, I knew NOTHING.)
Really, when I began discerning my religious vocation, it wasn’t till I sat down and did a “vocation quiz” online & communities were matched with my interests and desires, did I start researching the differences between the Benedictines, Dominicans or Franciscans or any other order.
Here’s one of my favorite stories about Saint Francis:
In this story, a fierce wolf was terrorizing the village of Gubbio, in northeastern Italy. Not only would it eat animals, even humans were attacked to satisfy its hunger. One day, while Saint Francis was in the village, the people told them of this ferocious beast and warned him not to leave the town’s walls.
Read more: Why St. Francis is Often Depicted with a Wolf
This past summer, and into the fall, our convent patio received a much-needed renovation, as the edges of it were starting to crumble into the “drop-off” behind the backyard. Included in the repair are new outdoor Stations of the Cross. OSF Chaplain, Father Edward Kopec, blessed the stations for us on November 5.
Before I became a postulant, Stations of the Cross, also called The Way of the Cross, Via Crucis, and Via Dolorosa, were something I prayed only during Lent. Now, as a part of our prayer life, I have increased my devotion to the Passion of Christ. The Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis meditate upon our Lord’s suffering and death by praying the Stations of the Cross at least twice each week. After the Stations, we pray for the Holy Father’s intentions with outstretched arms. In honor of our Lord’s bitter passion and death, we also pray, on Fridays, following Evening Prayer, five Our Fathers, five Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, again, with outstretched arms.
Read more: 2016 Blessing of New Outdoor Stations of the Cross & Saint Leonard of Port Maurice
When you look at most quick bios of Saint Martin de Porres, you don’t see any reason to connect him with animals. However, he is often depicted with a broom, dog, cat and mouse. In most hard copy biographies, the animal stories relay how Martin “devoted himself passionately to taking care of others….If men came to him, he took care of him; if animals came to him, he gave no less attention.” In the majority of cases, Martin did not go in search of animals1. It seemed like instinct would bring wounded animals to his infirmary, where St. Martin would fix them up and allow them to rest in his room until they were cured. From dogs to cats to mice and turkeys & chickens, St. Martin was always welcomed warmly by the animals, as they greeted him with joy, as if grateful for his charity.
From EWTN’s website:St. Martin de Porres, a Dominican MysticFeast Day: November 3Born: December 9, 1579, Lima, PeruDied: November 3, 1639, Lima, PeruBeautified: October 29, 1837 by Pope Gregory XVICanonized: May 6, 1962 by Pope John XXIII
Read more: St. Francis and St. Martin de Porres: Two Saints Shown with Animals: Part 1
Since I attended Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church & School – which my parents are now parishioners – not to mention my baptismal name is “Tracy,” a derivative of the name “Teresa,” it is easy to understand the devotion I carry to this Carmelite Doctor of the Church. From the church’s website, here’s a quick synopsis of this great saint:
Saint Teresa is among the most important figures of all time for Catholic spirituality. Her works - especially the four best known (The Life, The Way of Perfection, The Mansions and The Foundations) - together with her more historical works, contain a doctrine which encompasses the whole of the spiritual life, from the first steps right up to intimacy with God at the center of the Interior Castle.
Read more: 2016 Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus
As we know, Saint Francis had a great love for all of God's creation and out of that has come the "Blessing of Animals" tradition! Here at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Father Small blessed our PAWS therapy dogs:
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Are you thinking about becoming a Sister or a Nun? Would you like to know more, discuss your discernment or arrange to come for a visit?
Contact our Vocation Director: Sister Rose Therese, O.S.F.phone: (309) 655-2645mail: The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis House of Formation 740 NE Glen Oak Avenue Peoria, IL 61603-3100Email
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