Sts. Francis & Clare
Secular Franciscan Order
-~ Ordo Franciscanus Secularis ~
On May 5th, 2012
Formation as a Franciscan, is a life-long endeavor that is not hidden in the pages of a book or manual. Formation does not take place in a seething environment of knowledge or wisdom, rather it subtly makes itself known in the depths of our hearts and is manifested through our actions and world outlook.
Our Fraternity recently devoted themselves to the establishment of a small meditation garden. This small oasis of respite offers an environment for relaxation and meditation. A TAU (over 8’ tall) graces the center spot of the garden. The Franciscan TAU, first mentioned in Ezekiel 9:4, was the mark adopted by Francis as his signature mark on all written documents. How apropos that it is also the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Pope Innocent III, at the Fourth Lateran Council (at which Francis was believed to be present), referenced the TAU as: “The TAU has exactly the same form as the Cross on which our Lord was crucified on Calvary, and only those will be marked with this sign and will obtain mercy who have mortified their flesh and conformed their life to that of the Crucified Savior”. Francis used this symbol to mark places he visited and frequented. The TAU is now our universal Franciscan symbol. The redwood for the gardens’ TAU was repurposed from a salvaged wooden deck. Francis would be overjoyed knowing that this TAU was fashioned from wood that at one time graced the feet of revelers celebrating friendship, camaraderie, events and happy times.
The front of the TAU is graced by a shrine that survived the 1906 San Francisco (the city of Saint Francis) earthquake. This shrine, with the crucified Christ, challenges us to live and witness to the salvific presence of Christ with love, energy and conviction. The added essence of surviving the earthquake symbolizes for us that God will always be there to enfold us in His loving embrace and give us strength to weather any calamities.
The base of the TAU is triangular in shape – the symbol of the Trinity. The point of the triangle points towards the Church and more importantly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, found in the stained glass of our parish hall. Our parish hall is a place of gatherings and celebrations – a Franciscan hallmark.
No Franciscan garden would be replete without a figure of our Seraphic Father Francis. This simple little statue reminds us that we are called to be a part of the charism of our common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.
The rest of the garden is just that - a garden, a symbol of life and vitality. It was placed in a quiet corner of the parish to bring Peace to those who visit. It brings to mind that Paradise awaits us as we sojourn through this valley of tears. The garden will be formed over time (much like on-going formation) through the efforts of all those who participate. Plans are in place to create an herbal garden focusing on the healing qualities of God’s creation and all that is good. Bird feeders have been built to draw our little feathered friends, who participate and remind us of the eternal praises and glory offered by all Creation through all time.
This gift from the Secular Franciscans to our host parish is one which symbolizes hope, faith and love. May it bring all these graces and more to those who meditate in our garden.