Where are you headed? What are you headed toward? Have you any idea of the gifts and graces awaiting those who love God?
A Brief Account of Our Origin
We, Pilgrims of the Holy Leaf, are a new creation, an apostolate, in the Church. We seek constant companionship with Christ the Perfect Pilgrim through the spirituality of our blessed romieu (“Pilgrim of Rome”), Saint Roch, and our seraphic father, Saint Francis of Assisi. As pilgrims, we live and move and have our being by Way of kenosis, Christ’s kenotic humility. We are empowered to do this through the Precious Flesh and Blood of Christ and by trusting in “special signs of predestination” (in philosopher speak: “ostensibly peripheral phenomena”) encountered along the Pilgrim Way, just as our holy pilgrim father Roch did. In Apostolicam Actuositatem, a Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Pope Paul VI neatly and concisely captures the tenor of our vision and charism, in writing:
“In the pilgrimage of this life, hidden with Christ in God and free from enslavement to wealth, [the laity apostolate] aspire to those riches which remain forever and generously dedicate themselves wholly to the advancement of the kingdom of God and to the reform and improvement of the temporal order in a Christian spirit.” (no. 4)
We call ourselves Pilgrims of the Holy Leaf because of a special gift of grace bestowed upon our burgeoning way of life through a Eucharistic miracle, whereby a Holy Leaf fell upon Water containing the True Flesh and Blood of Christ. We attribute this miracle firstly to God and, secondly, to the intercession of Saint Francis. Other intercessors were at work as well. While Roch and Francis are our founding patrons, we would be nowhere without the Blessed Virgin Mary and the prayers of her Immaculate and Sorrowful heart. We have many other dear and holy friends to thank for our mission and calling too, notably our sweet sisters, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Saint Margaret of Cortona, Saint Bona of Pisa, and others; as well as our dear brothers, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Lawrence, Saint John Bosco, and others. We are also very grateful for the intercession of the holy couple, Sts. Priscilla and Aquila. And the list could go on!
Why believe or trust in miracles? At the beginning of his section on miracles in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, the philosopher David Hume writes:
“Our evidence, then, for the truth of the Christian religion is less than the evidence for the truth of our senses, because even in the first authors of our religion it was no greater; and it is evident it must diminish in passing from them to their disciples, nor can anyone rest such confidence in their testimony as in the immediate object of his senses.”
One of the lasting legacies of honest skepticism is being open about supernatural causes while exercising a spirit of careful reserve, sincerity, and deliberative thoughtfulness. At the heart of Hume’s careful skepticism is a need to recognize what the “the miraculous” offers and why it is important. A reasoned defense of the miraculous would have to involve a notion of the miraculous, which would stipulate that if someone is fraught with the banality of the same old imitations and codices, and if they thirst for something beyond the restrictive apparitions of their own worldview and yet, meanwhile, they refuse to offer a bona fide gesture to the idea that miracles are supernatural or suprarational events that shake us free from the cynicism of scientific validation, and by refusing such a gesture, they fail to discern the transfiguration of life and meaning undergone by those who proclaim to have received or undergone the miraculous, then the charge to be reasonable or more discerning rests not so much upon the apologist or receiver of the miracle, but upon the undiscerning and unbelieving heart to reclaim, for the sake of themselves and others, a greater sense of charity because it is they who end up speak evil of things they know not of, not the other. In the end, all people of good will can ascent to the reality of at least three miracles: Just to believe, just to think, and just to be. How miraculous is it to hope for new life beyond mundane existence?
But let us not be too deferential. If the truth of the Christian religion is not merely transubstantiated (that is, God beneath the appearance of things) but just as much transapparated (that is, God in the appearance of things), what then would someone behold as the immediate object of their senses? At first, one would behold an unknown object of faith, but by laboring and growing in wondrous recognition of the grand designs being knitted together in stellar precision and harmony, one comes to apprehend the object of faith by a fully fledged act of consciousness originating from the interior lights of synderesis, the spark of conscience. This spark, a mystical spark of electrum and truth, springs forth in the refulgence of mind and heart to be confected and conjoined to a pure knowledge of faith. And in the pure knowledge of faith, transformation; and in transformation, divine culmination of things. What could ever completely obscure the true presence miraculous interventions have upon those to whom God has entrusted to reveal Himself? Truly, nothing.
The Meaning of the Miracle of the Holy Leaf
We believe that God, in excellent conformity with our seraphic father, Francis, has placed and continues to place a desire among the faithful to grow and confect the human family and the Church in a new way, particular to our time. This means, generally, a new way of life, a new way of community, and a heartfelt return to the ancient yet ever-new presence of Christ in the New Heaven and Earth as professed and proclaimed through His Mystical Body, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. We await canonical status with Rome (updates to come relatively soon!), but in the meantime, one may think of the special oracle God has graced our apostolate with along the following general lines of thought:
- To receive God in the Eucharist of Nature by His True Flesh and Blood, to become thus inflamed and conflagrated in the heart and mind of Franciscan-pilgrim spirituality;
- To empty ourselves and be filled with the power and presence of God so that the grace of devotion may be realized and adhered to in a fuller way as the gospel religion Christ intended through the lives of His holy Apostles and Saints;
- To preach the gospel to, or to share/teach the gospel with, all creatures through kenotic humility–the attainment of which bids that we testify to the truth in love, peace, joy, mortification, and in wisdom and every fruit of the Holy Spirit;
- To be transformed into the very image and likeness of Christ, Who is the Lifeblood and Eucharistic Heart of Nature, by means of the four pillars of pilgrimage, profession, poverty, and prayer.
Pax et bonum.
(Peace and all good.)