Formation Seminar on the Stigmata

As we begin Lent 2024, the Franciscan Province gathered in Rabat for a moment of reflection. Br David, a friar from the Province of Tuscany, Italy, shared with us his reflection on the stigmata of St Francis. He held that the Stigmata mark a deep experience in Francis, one that he did not like to share with others, even with close friends. What is clear is that the Stigmata are the fruit of a life of discipleship of Jesus Christ and cannot be comprehended outside of Christ and the cross. Another clear element is that from a wounded heart Francis came down from La Verna as a reconciled man. The Stigmata marked a transformation and from his wounds a new life emerged.

After a short break, Br Marcello Ghirlando ofm reflected on St Paul’s statement: “for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.” (Gal 6, 17). Br Marcello reflected that Paul was conscious that his sufferings for the spread of the Gospel were a continuation of the sufferings of Christ who endeavoured to make know the Father. As Christians we are called to join in the sufferings of Christ, as we endeavour to spread the love for Jesus Christ and God, the Father.

Br Noel Muscat reflected on St Bonaventure’s work Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, inspired during a moment of recollection on mount La Verna. His mystical experience on La Verna led him to elaborate an itinerary of the soul’s journey into God. The journey starts with the contemplation of nature and seeing in it and through it the beauty and greatness of God. At a second stage the soul seeks God with it’s power of intellect. Then it contemplates God in his Unity and Triune nature. Bonaventure concludes that this journey is made possible only through the person of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God.

We concluded the moment of recollection together with lunch at 1pm.