Reflections on My Assisi Pilgrimage

Friar Jack is on retreat this week. We asked one of Friar Jack’s coworkers, St. Anthony Messenger Assistant Editor, Christopher Heffron, to share some of his own reflections from a recent pilgrimage to Assisi. Enjoy! —Editor

As our pilgrimage group exited the bus in Assisi and I felt the breeze from the Umbrian fields below, I knew the days ahead would galvanize my senses and deepen my faith. I was smitten with the endless cobblestone streets of Assisi where the great saint was born and raised. I was moved by La Verna, the holy hillside where he received the stigmata. I was jolted and captivated by the streets of Rome where Francis sought approval for his beloved Order. The essence and the importance of the Franciscan movement struck a chord within me, and it has not quieted.

When you break bread with Franciscans, share workdays with them and listen to their stories of community, sacrifice and care for the poor, you can see the legacy of Francis in motion.

A Changed Perspective

My understanding of Francis has deepened: Prior to my work at St. Anthony Messenger Press, I would have said St. Francis started a religious order, talked to birds, wore rags, died. I knew he was revered but I didn’t fully know why. Now I think of Francis more as one who started a religious order, of course, radiated holiness, gave himself wholly to God and changed the world.

You can read more about my pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome in the December 2010 issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for your article on keeping things in perspective. I especially like what you wrote about the little things in life that really have significant meaning. Your analogy about your paint brush is a powerful one. Thank you for your work, and God bless you. Marion

Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for a very lovely and thoughtful reflection. As always, I deeply enjoy all your reflections. I am sure that all who read and reflect over them find each of them a great help in our spiritual journey. Frank

Dear Friar Jim: You have been an inspiration for me for some time now and have deepened my commitment, appreciation and understanding of the faith. Your contribution has factored to a significant extent in my family’s decision to convert to Catholicism. Keep up the good work. Don

A: Dear Readers: Thanks for your comments about keeping things in perspective. That is one of the most important reasons for reading and reflecting on the Gospel through the year. It pulls us back and helps us see what is really important in our lives and our relationships with others. Friar Jim