Francis Mask

CanticleSunHoward Schroeder / Copyright 2010

Howard Schroeder / Copyright 2010
Howard Schroeder / Copyright 2010

Band of Brothers
Francesco had an infectious sense of piety, A fiery passion that took flight
from his heart. When Francesco reached upward, Heaven reached back.
Prayer was the burning bush
that Francesco approached,
He and his band of brothers
approached this tree with great
reverence and contemplation.

They cast their former lives away
like their shoes, Their doubts, fears and confusion fall away like the dust of the earth. The communion of prayer
nested in their hearts.

Heaven’s riches, heaven’s glory visited
their handprints, their foot prints,
everything they touched.
For they became the living words
of the Gospel. They were good news
and blessed deeds.

Their path was simple,
to be living prayers
Flowing to a single center,
always back to God.

Cave of the Heart
You are my hiding place oh Lord,
my protection and my refuge.
You can see all my interior mansions,
the darkest room, the furthest passage,
all the secrets of my soul,
in the cave of my heart.
I sit on the floor of this cave,
my eyes deprived of the world outside,
silence of heart , mind & soul.
With my fingers touching the moist dirt, the humus,
my heart groans in prayer totally turned to you
When I let you in, I see You were already there,
no longer obscured by my dim vision
You light up this cavern in my heart like a cathedralt
he things I desire, passions I wrestle with, the world I hold on to, the sin I would slide back into,
I see the freedom I could ask for. Humility
To see your will in freedom and hold on to it in devotion
I sit on the moist floor of this cave in solitude,
as if it were the potter’s workshop,
I ask Him to look at me and I look at Him
He would take this heart of clay
and breathe new life into it like a burning ember,
like the very first Adam
He would have me emerge from this cave, this humus, this womb, to walk in the light, to be a light, to call me forth like Lazarus, Come Out! Unbind him! Walk with me brother sun!
Howard Schroeder / Copyright 201

WondrousFranciscan Gallery II:
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Howard Schroeder / Copyright 2010

Path of Peace
The path of peace begins at the cross. Not the peace of this world
which makes much of words, but a path that must be walked.
Ears and eyes will not take you there, only your feet given to walking
and your hands stretched out in giving.
For the hands and feet of our Saviour were pierced and nailed
to the tree so that ours would become free to reach out.
The heart of Jesus was pierced so that ours would feel everything.
Francesco’s heart burned like a lantern on the pathway.
His life in God made plain to see. The Holy Spirit nests in the burning hearts of God’s Saints as they walk the way of Love,
Love re-enacted, Love incarnated, Love realized on the path back to the Father’s house.

Canticle of the Sun

He who does well in small matters also does well in great matters.
The little things matter, is there anything more important? Anything more sublime? Francis never missed his chance to see and care
for the small, the simple, the meek, the poor in spirit. To Francis, the wounds of a leper were the wounds of Christ. While the eyes of the world revulsed at their wounds, feared their disease, Francis bathed them in hope causing their hearts to flower like poppy fields,
revealing to them the ocean of God’s crimson love. Do not doubt your beauty, do not fail to see your blessedness, be healed of your broken heartedness. From the crimson throne of Christ, Francis heard Him say
“Rebuild my Church.” Stone by stone, step by step, he built his chapel. This small building became a beacon for very great matters. To rebuild the body of believers. The wounds of Christ and that of the least of his bretheren, were impressed deeply upon his heart. Near the end of his voyage he wore the wounds of Christ in his flesh. The stigmata crowned the life of Francis who had conformed his heart to that of Christ, the true image and radiance of the living God. From the moment Saint Francis’ eyes fell upon the hidden things of God’s kingdom, the sublime beauty of the smallest things, the Sun of Righteousness rose in his heart with healing in his wings.

Clarity & Contemplation

Saint Clare . . . Sister Moon, Contemplation and Clarity
Casting off the glory of this world, a woman’s crown is shorn.
A vessel chaste and prepared for divine love, obedient in all thought and deed. Standing barefoot on the cross of Christ, accepting it’s poverty and humility, her heart, mind and soul is bejeweled
with heavens riches and radiance.

Sister Moon’s secret marriage to the Sun, receiving and reflecting His glorious light. A vessel in enclosure, a spirit steeped in heaven.

Like flowers of the field more splendorous
than Solomon’s kingly robes, she reaches for the sun with a constant gaze. Tracking the sun across the sky, reflecting His light like the shimmer of the moon. The hidden sweetness in labors and burdens,
an abundance of nectar to make honey for heaven’s laborers.
Fragrant prayers gathered for Heaven’s feast.

Saint Clare holds up the mirror of eternity,
Where we look for the indwelling Christ
to appear in our heart, mind and soul.
So we too, can sing the canticle of the Moon,
who receives, holds and bears the light of the Son.

Crucifix of San Damiano
Francis had walked away from his family’s wealth and
position in search of heaven’s true treasure. Having seen
it in the simplest of God’s creatures, he then happened
upon heavens greatest treasure. In the ruins of the San Damiano church was an intricate crucifix rendered in the ancient Byzantine style of icon painting. Liturgical paintings designed to be windows into heaven with their multi layered meaning and rich theology of color, symbol and radiance.

Francis was struck by the eyes of the Christ figure,
noticing that he was not so much penetrating the dense
meaning of the painting as the eyes of Christ were looking into him, searching out his soul. Francis felt the presence of the One who knew us when we were knit together in our mother’s womb, the One who knew our soul before we let the world and our choices mold us into what we have become.

Francis saw Jesus’ choice, who stood before Francis both crucified and transfigured upon the world that he had made his footstool in victory. Francis understood there was not one without the other in pursuing Christ’s kingdom. And Christ spoke to him, “Francis, rebuild my Church, for it has fallen into ruin.” Francis became aware of the foxes that had crept into the Church, spoiling her harvest
and ruining souls with hidden sins, but he also heard the rooster announcing that we have all denied Christ, but there is a new dawn calling us to become a living stone to build up Christ’s Church. Just as the angels themselves were astonished at the humility and sacrifice, Francis realized that heavens riches have already been purchased for us by Love’s astonishing choice, purchased through the suffering and shedding of Christ’s Blood. Love, Life and Light being poured out for us. Therefore Saint Francis went out to bring this gift to the least of his brothers and sisters.


Howard Schroeder / Copyright 2014

Nested In My Heart
The key Franciscan Virtues
The virtues of my Lord are like songbirds nested in my heart.
They take flight when I sing of them.
Charity is a joyful bird dressed in Cardinal Red,
noticed giving generously in service to others
Simplicity is like the Robin who pursues industry and rises early
to greet the need of the new day rather than pursue glamor and attention, a heart, mind and soul freed for life’s true adventure
Wisdom is like the Owl who sees through
the darkness and flies on silent wings of freedomJoy is like the Hummingbird who’s exuberance and energy never
fail, and whose visitation is always a heartening treat
Obedience is noble like the Red Wing Blackbird who wears his colors
on his shoulders like epaulets, signifying the discipline & courage
to stay true and pure
Humility appears small like the Yellow Finch,
yet shines like the sun showing true hidden glory
Poverty is like the Morning Dove which lacks
in outward splendor, yet coos a symphony in my soul
revealing heaven’s treasuresAll this potential in every heart waiting to hatch and take flight.