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Friar’s E-Spirations: The Franciscan Coat of Arms

If you go to any of our Franciscan friaries, churches, or convents, you will almost always find the Franciscan Coat of Arms hanging on a wall or visible over a doorway. This holds true around the world as well as through the centuries. The Franciscan Coat of Arms often consists of a cross with two arms crossing each other—with a cross in the background. One arm is that of Christ; the other is that of St. Francis of Assisi. This image is a key identification badge for those who consider themselves followers of St. Francis.

This Franciscan Coat of Arms is an image worthy of our contemplation. The image is a true expression of both Jesus’ and Francis’ fervent style of love. We see in Jesus’ crucified hand, first of all, God’s incredible love for us. In Francis’ wounded hand, in turn, we see the loving response of St. Francis to the burning love of God, who first loved us.

This is indeed something to ponder. All in all, the Franciscan Coat of Arms is a wonderful expression of the Franciscan (or Seraphic) style of love. Though few of us live up to this ideal, it calls us to something rare and splendid!

A Prayer

Lord Jesus, you said, “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Help us to contemplate the amazing intensity of your love, as symbolized by your crucified hand. Help us also to imitate you more fully and to imitate St. Francis, who responded so fervently to the love so lavishly poured out upon him. Amen.

Dear Friar Jim: As a student in high school, there are a lot of moths in my life. Thank you for showing me the harm something so tiny and seemingly insignificant can have on my life. You really opened my eyes to see these invisible deviations from God’s plan. Continue to spread the Lord’s Word. You are doing an important job in the kingdom. Blessings and prayers! Mary

Dear Friar Jim: Many thanks for your thoughtful reflection on Jesus and the moth. Sometimes the simplest, smallest thing can rip us off our paths. You explained that beautifully. Carole

Dear Friar Jim: What a wonderful reflection! I love that you find the most obscure references in the Bible and expand on them. In my loud, crazy life, I needed this quiet moment of prayerful contemplation. Please keep these coming! William

A: Dear Mary, Carole, and William: As always, the Gospel balances what might be thought of as a negative image with a positive one. Granted, moths can ruin a beautiful wool coat. But Jesus also said that a single mustard seed of faith can move mountains in our lives. There is one key principle in Scripture: we must be careful never to use a single quotation to prove a point. We are both saints and sinners. God bless you all! Friar Jim