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  • Constantina Alexander

A Holy Day- the Stigmata of St Francis

St Francis receiving the stigmata, pencil sketch

Yesterday evening, when I looked in my Franciscan Office, I saw it was the holy day commemorating the stigmata of St Francis. I just knew it was a special day.

When I woke up, I had this feeling of lightness - walking seemed so effortless and during my short period of exercise listening to an old recording of Talvin Singh I had a vision of this great flower in the cosmos opening up. It was very brief and the cynical would suggest I have an overactive imagination. That may be so, but where does our imagination and inspiration come from? It comes from some source and is often unbidden and takes us by surprise. I would rather trust to these moments than the machinations of my mind- which I keep so occupied with maths and physics it has no room to perform much mischief.

Every minute of my day simply flowed. This is not my first experience of such a phenomenon and since being more hermity, I am finding many moments of this connectedness with something greater that is both within and without what I observe in worldly reality. It's very hard to truly describe it without sounding flaky. But mystical experience is, by its very nature, bizarre and past rational explanation. Due to the complete benevolence of the effect - a sense of great balance and harmony - I can only see it as a good thing.

The sketch above came to mind, and I have miraculously found it amongst all my papers, was done on my first ever visit to Hilfield Friary. I judiciously kept myself to myself for the weekend and holed up in the library to make this sketch of St Francis. It has never yet become an icon but now I have found it I think it is high time to make it more solid.

St Francis is floating on a little cloud and going by my experience yesterday I am beginning to se what this might mean.

I do believe on these special class I and class II holy days there is something profound going on in heaven. It is as if the whole experience of the saint is happening now and one is tuned into the 'nowness' of the moment. Once, I had such a deep feeling of the crucifixion whilst my mind was wandering during intercessions in church- I am never very good at paying attention during prayers and sermons - I was reduced to tears and feelings I cannot express adequately. The sense was of being actually present as if it was happening just at that moment, as if I was there on that day. I could even see the perspiration on the feet of Christ and smelll the blood. Indeed, I can recall the whole experience now when writing of it and it is just as real and profound as it was the first time.

I cannot explain what these experiences mean and you don't have to believe what I am saying, it matters not one bit to me. They were my experiences and they are my reality of the moment and from such times I sense a love that is so boundless and so deep it is almost overwhelming and I would rather have such an experience than be cynically rational.

These special days are more than simple remembrances - they are to be lived and experienced within.

As above so below.