Where are you headed? What are you headed toward? Have you any idea of the gifts and graces awaiting those who love God?
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, Pilgrims of the Holy Leaf, a new creature in the Church, seek perpetual companionship with Christ the Perfect Pilgrim in the spiritual life 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 through Way of kenosis, Christ’s kenotic humility. We do so by the Precious Flesh and Blood of Christ and by placing our trust and hope in “special signs of predestination” encountered along the Pilgrim Way, just as our holy pilgrim father Roch did.
What’s up with the “Holy Leaf” thing?
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 to the intercession of the holy couple, Sts. Priscilla and Aquila. The list could go on!
What about miracles then? Why believe or trust in them? 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.”
Hume offers an intriguing consideration on the virtual absence of scientific validation concerning supernatural causes. One of the lasting legacies of honest skepticism is being open about such things while exercising a spirit of careful reserve, sincerity, and deliberative thoughtfulness. All the same, what Hume addresses is a need to recognize what the “the miraculous” offers and why it is important. So what does it offer? Why is it important? Well, a reasoned defense of the miraculous would have to include a notion of the miraculous, and this notion stipulates 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, all the while, they refuse to offer a bona fide gesture to the idea that miracles are supernatural or suprarational events shaken free from the cynicism of scientific validation, and in so refusing to offer such a gesture, they fail to discern the transfiguration of life and meaning undergone by those who proclaim to have received a miracle by private revelation (but not without having submitted the miraculous matter to the proper channels of established religious authority regarding eyewitness testimony of the miracle in question), 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 speak evil of things they know not of. 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 be, and just to have. 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, beneath the appearance of things) but just as much transapparated (that is, in the appearance of things), what then do we behold as the immediate object of our senses? At first, we behold an unknown object of faith, but by laboring in recognition and by growing in wonder, we come 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 other sensual delights, springs forth in refulgence of mind and heart to be confected and conjoined to the purity of faith. And in purity, efficacy; and in efficacy, truth. Nothing can diminish the deeply felt truth miracles of this sort have upon the recipient to whom God has entrusted to reveal Himself. What does the miracle of the Holy Leaf mean for us?
We believe that God, in excellent conformity with our seraphic father, Francis, has placed, and continues to place, a desire in the Church to grow and confect the human family in a special way. This special way is a new way of life, a new way of community, a heartfelt repentance to return to Christ and the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as His Mystical Body of Christ on Earth. While we await canonical status with Rome (updates to come relatively soon!), one may think of the special oracle God has graced us with along the following general lines of thought:
- To receive God through the Eucharist of Nature and His True Flesh and Blood by the inflamed heart of Franciscan and 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.)