Posted by: frburke23 | October 3, 2014

Thought for October 4 – St. Francis of Assisi

Luke 10:17-24

The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”


We began today with Deacon Paul Solomon’s Mass of Thanksgiving in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  This is a magnificent church that was rebuilt after a fire destroyed most of it in 1823.  Paul’s remains are found below the main altar of the church.   Paul had been sentenced to death, so as a Roman citizen they took him outside the walls of Rome, beheaded him, and then buried him. 

Deacon Paul’s first homily today was brilliant as he talked about the conversion of St. Paul.  He said that Paul’s story is like the story for me and you.  We have all gone astray and yet the Lord calls each one of us to holiness and conversion of life.  Our prayers are with Deacon Paul that he be a good and holy deacon and priest.  If his first homily is any indication of the homilies to come, the Church of Joliet is in for a real treat with Deacon Paul!

Then we had a tour of the Catacombs of St. Calistus, one of the oldest and biggest catacombs in Rome.  The tombs that were found there range from the 2nd to 5th century.  Several popes were buried there along with St. Cecelia.  She was martyred around 230 BC and her body was found incorrupt, meaning that it had not decomposed, in 1599.

We then went on a walking tour and saw the Spanish Stairs and two of Caravaggio’s famous paintings in Santa Maria del Populo Church near the Piazza del Populo.  I find that I really love Caravaggio’s works as he has a way of portraying the heart of people in his paintings.

We finished the day with a nice dinner at a local restaurant and, of course, gelato.

Today the Church remembers the great St. Francis of Assisi, the great medieval saint who brought peace and joy to a world in such need.  We just had the opportunity to visit his home town on Tuesday.

As a young man, Francis could have received his family’s fortune and lived a life of luxury.  However, the Gospel of Jesus Christ grasped him and he turned away from the riches of this world to focus on building up treasures in heaven.

We are not all called, like St. Francis, to live radical poverty.  However, we can follow Jesus unreservedly right in our own families, homes, and work places.  Where is my heart today?  Is Jesus my top priority?  Is Jesus and the Gospel the guiding principle for every decision that I make for myself and my family and in my work?

If not, it is time to reevaluate my life and my priorities.  What excuses am I offering the Lord today to keep from following Him?  St. Francis left everything behind and found great joy, the pearl of great price.  I have to say, I feel the same way following the Lord as a priest.  Where is the Lord calling you?

Deacon Paul Solomon, may your heart always be on fire for the Gospel like your name-sake St. Paul.

Have a blessed day!
Fr. Burke



  1. It is amazing that you mentioned three things of important to me, today. (1) I have been reading about the life of Saint Paul. I often think if it had not been for Saint Paul, none of us (non Jews) would be Christians. (2) Just today I had taken out a special rosary and contemplated giving it to a family who prays the rosary together regularly. A co-worked while visiting Rome many years ago visited the Catacomb of Saint Callixtus and bought a rosary there. She had the rosary blessed by Pope John Paul II and upon return to work she gave me this rosary. I will give it to this family. (3) I have been reading also about Saint Francis of Assisi and also watching features on EWTN about his life this week. I believe this is also the evening of Yom Kippur, the day that the JEWS celebrate – when God seals the Book of Life – deciding on who lives for the coming year – and a strict fast begins until tomorrow sunset. I pray that I am included this year. Bless you Father Burke. Buz

  2. Hi Fr. Burke. Your comments are bringing me back to when I was in Italy 2 years ago. Thank you! I urge you to make a side trip to the shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy. It’s about 2 hours from Rome in Abruzzo. A year after I went there, I gave a talk at Marquette on the Holy Face and met the vocations director for Green Bay at Marquette when he came to my talk.
    God’s peace and blessings to you. Carol Surowiec, St. Elizabeth Seton, Naperville, IL

  3. Absolutely beautiful. I feel so connected to your writings because of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you that writes these beautiful things for you. I am praying for you as you are in Rome. I look forward to seeing you in a little bit more than a month. I love you brother.

    God’s Blessings, + Mike Sweeney 2 Tim 4:6-8


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