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Small Success: Perfect Joy!

Thursdays at begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

On Monday, the Secular Franciscans celebrated the Transitus of St. Francis, marking his passage from earthly life to eternal life in heaven. It is a solemn moment with a prayer service that includes readings from a biography of the saint along with the Gospel, Psalms, prayer and music.

Transitus of St. Francis @franciscanmom
Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS. All rights reserved.

I spent the day Monday putting out all kinds of fires, some related to the Transitus and others completely separate from it, but all serving as a distraction from what was about to take place. From missing copies of the readings to sheet music that didn’t include all the verses to a soccer practice that ran late and a request by someone I respect that I do something that would compromise my integrity (I declined), by midafternoon I was DONE and tweeted:

Via @franciscanmom
Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS.

In the end it all turned out fine, at least as far as the Transitus was concerned. We were happy with the turnout and participation. The parts of the song I messed up because I was trying to track lyrics and guitar chords for a song with 7 verses went unnoticed by the assembly, who knew the song so well and sang so enthusiastically that I was basically drowned out.

As we enjoyed light refreshments and conversation after the Transitus, I observed to one of my fellow Franciscans that it had been a crazy day. She said the same (she was on the other end of the missing-readings problem, and had other things happening as well.) Later she emailed me and said that she remembers this happening every year. All The Things seem to go wrong on Transitus day.

Here we are, trying to remember one of the holiest people who ever lived, someone after whose example we wish to model our lives, and things are just a mess.

Maybe that’s what St. Francis meant when he talked about Perfect Joy.

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This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.

Transitus? What’s a Transitus?

Franciscans all over the world observe the Transitus today, on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis. (Technically, for us, it’s a Solemnity, which would be extra cool if it weren’t already Sunday! As it is, the Sunday takes precedence over the Feast. Or Solemnity. St. Francis would probably let someone have it if he heard them complaining that a Sunday canceled out his Feast Day. Actually, there’s no “probably” about it. I’m quite sure he would.)

St. Francis statue at St. Anthony Shrine, Paterson, NJ. Copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.
St. Francis statue at St. Anthony Shrine, Paterson, NJ. Copyright 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Today we observe the Transitus, because today is the day Francis died. “Transitus” celebrates transition: between Francis’ life on earth and his new life in Heaven.

We observe the Transitus by gathering together in prayer. The Transitus is not a Mass, but a prayer service. At the Transitus my Fraternity is hosting, we will sing “All Creatures of Our God and King” because Francis wrote the words. And we will sing all the verses, spread out at different points in the service, because those last two verses concern earthly death–or, as Francis called her, “Sister Death.” We will read from biographies of Francis by St. Bonaventure and Thomas of Celano. We will also read from the Gospel of John and Psalm 142. After the homily, we will pray together and then enjoy some fellowship with our guests.