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St. Francis Calls for Richness & Ceremony
for the Blessed Sacrament

We have seen in these post-conciliar times an increasingly casual attitude taken by priests and Bishops toward the Blessed Sacrament. The censurable practice of giving Communion in the hand is just one example of this position.
Also, with the liturgical reform of Vatican II, everywhere we have seen priests replacing the gold chalices and patens with cups and plates made of common materials. Often this lack of decorum and sacrality is praised as a need to make the Church poor following ‘the spirit of poverty’ of St. Francis of Assisi, as Pope Francis I is now asserting.
We find the exact opposite direction of this progressivist tendency in the following excerpts from two letters by St. Francis of Assisi to the clergy. In them he strongly condemned such a lack of sacrality and insisted on precious metals to hold the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ and on the deepest reverence for His presence.

St. Francis of Assisi - Letter to the Clergy

All of us who are clerics should be aware of the great sin and ignorance which some people have toward the most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy written words which consecrate His Body. We know that it cannot become His Body without first being consecrated by His word. …

But let all who administer such holy mysteries — especially those who administer them carelessly — consider the sad state of the chalices, the corporals, and the altar-linens upon which the Body and Blood of Our Lord are sacrificed. And the Body and Blood of the Lord is left by many in dirty places, carried about in a miserable manner, received unworthily, and administered to others without discretion. Even His sacred written words are sometimes left to be trampled underfoot, for the person who does not have the [Catholic] spirit does not perceive the things of God (1 Cor 2:14).

Are we not moved by a sense of piety concerning all these things, since the good Lord offers Himself into our hands and we handle Him and receive Him daily with our mouth? Or do we forget that we must come into His hands (cf. Hebr 10:31)?

Well then, let us quickly and firmly amend our ways in these and other matters. And wherever the most holy Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ has been inappropriately housed and neglected, let it be removed from that place and deposited and locked in a precious location.

Likewise, wherever the written words of the Lord may be found in unbecoming places, they are to be collected and kept in a place that is becoming.

And we know that we are bound to observe all of these matters above all else according to the precepts of the Lord and the constitutions of Holy Mother Church. And whoever has not done so, let him know that he will be bound to give an account before Our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of judgment (Mt 12:36).

Those who make copies of this writing so that it may be better observed should know that they will be blessed by the Lord God.


First Letter to the Custodians

I beg you, with all that is in me and more, that, when it is appropriate and you judge it profitable, you humbly beseech the clergy to revere above everything else the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy written words which consecrate [His] Body.

The chalices, corporals, appointments of the altar, and everything that pertains to the sacrifice must be of precious material. And if the most holy Body of the Lord is very poorly reserved in any place, it should be placed in a precious location under lock and kept according to the mandate of the Church and carried about with great reverence and administered to others with discretion. …

And in every sermon which you give, admonish the people concerning the need of penance, and tell them that no one can be saved unless he receives the Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. Jn 6:54). And when It is sacrificed upon the altar by the priest and carried to any place, let all the people, on bended knee, praise, glorify, and honor the Lord God living and true.

St. Francis of Assisi, Epistola ad custodies,
Writings of St. Francis: Letters
Posted on April 6, 2013

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