Transitus – 2019

The transition of St. Francis of Assisi from life to eternal life

Later in the evening of October 3rd 1226, the brothers gathered around Francis near the small chapel of Our Lady of Angels below Assisi. He had requested to be carried there. As he approached his death, he encouraged his brothers: “I am being called by God. I forgive all my brothers present and absent. When you give them this message, bless them for me.”

St. Francis transition from earth to eternal life (this Transitus is celebrated by Franciscans on October 3rd)

Then, as his first biographer continues, Francis “asked that the book of the Gospels be brought in and the Gospel of John be read to him, starting with the passage: Six days before the Passover, Jesus knowing that the hour had come for him to pass out of this world to the Father…” The narrative concludes: “And then his most holy soul was released from the flesh, and as it was absorbed into the abyss of light, his body fell asleep in the Lord.”
Is this not the description of a death any one of us would die for? Note the total trust in God who was calling him, and total embrace of his brothers in forgiveness and blessing? Evident here is his final perseverance in living the Gospel, even as he shares in the Passover of Jesus to the Father, realizing the fullness of Gospel prayer he so frequently prayed: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

For centuries, since that very evening, Franciscans have gathered every year at the hour of his passing, the hour when he entered into the Passover of Jesus. We call this commemoration the Transitus.  We recall his own words near the end of his Canticle of Brother Sun: “Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will.” 

We thereby remember we are also called by God to live for God as children of God, not for false securities nor the death-dealing powers of this world. It is also a way to help us enter more fully into the celebration of the feast of St. Francis the following day, October 4th.

If it is possible for you, would you join, and by your presence support the friars? (I will personally be celebrating at Immaculate Conception Chapel with our own student friars and with those from within the broader Franciscan family in San Antonio at Oblate School of Theology.)

Here are the locations for Transitus celebrations throughout our Province:

  • St. Bonaventure, Bloomington, MN 7:00 pm
  • Mount Carmel Parish, El Paso, TX 7:00 pm
  • Immaculate Conception Chapel, San Antonio, TX 7:00 pm
  • Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM 7:00 pm
  • Our Lady of Consolation Shrine Church, Carey, OH 7:00 pm
  • St. Benedict Parish, Terre Haute, IN 7:00 pm
  • St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Angola, IN 7:00 pm
  • Mount St. Francis Chapel, Mount St. Francis, IN 7:00 pm
  • Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, Louisville, KY 9:00 pm

Thank you. And as Francis himself would conclude: Pace Bene!
(Peace and every good.)
Fr. Wayne