Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
The Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Franciscan Province of which I am a member, was founded in the 19th century by Franciscan missionaries from Germany, alumni of Holy Cross Province. This particular province traced its origins back to the 13th century and was founded by friars who were sent to northern Europe by St. Francis of Assisi himself. As we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, my fellow Franciscan friars will be praying for all of the men who came before us and who were members of our "mutter provinz" (Mother Province).
When a new friary was built in Quincy, Illinois, on the campus of the Franciscan University that stands there, the friars chose to name their home Holy Cross Friary. The cross of Jesus is a potent symbol for us. Indeed, it is a potent symbol for all Christians. It is the instrument of our salvation, the path to resurrection and glory. Who of us has not heard it said that before there could be a resurrection, there had to be a journey to Calvary?
Two years before St. Francis died, he found himself on the top of Mt. Alverna in central Italy. It was his custom to spend forty days of prayer and fasting before many of the major feast days of the liturgical year. It was this feast that drew his attention as he neared the end of his life. He was in pain. His eyesight was failing and caused him blinding headaches. His body, malnourished because of his fasting, was slowly disintegrating. His fervent prayer was that he might experience some of the pain which Jesus endured on the cross, pain brought about by Jesus' intense love for humankind. Three days after the feast, he was visited by a "crucified seraph." Imprinted upon his flesh were five wounds that mirrored the marks of the passion on Jesus' body. For the next two years, St. Francis clung to the cross and the pain which it occasioned.
As we celebrate this great feast, CUSANS have the unique privilege of uniting their pain and frustration with that of the crucified Savior of the world. It is our bond with Jesus and with one another.