National Shrine of
Saint Francis of Assisi

Thursday, August 6

556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus' baptism proclaimed "the mystery of the first regeneration", namely, our Baptism; the Transfiguration "is the sacrament of the second regeneration": our own Resurrection. From now on we share in the Lord's Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ. The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ's glorious coming, when he "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body." But it also recalls that "it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God".


"The dispensation to attend Sunday Mass remains in place, and so those who fear becoming infected may remain at home in good conscience. The usual advisories also remain in place for those who should remain at home and avoid exposure to any public gathering, including worship: the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions making them especially vulnerable to infection, those who have recently had contact with someone tested to be COVID-19 positive, etc. Sunday, of course, is still the Christian Sabbath and so must be kept holy, even if in-person attendance at Mass is not possible. You may attend any livestreamed Mass in the Archdiocese remotely via the Archdiocesan website.

God is our shelter, and God delivers from distress all those who remain true to Him. Let us therefore persevere in faith, hope and charity, trusting that in God's time and in God's way, God will surround us with joyful shouts of deliverance."


Healing of Memories and Historical Accuracy
Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone June 20, 2020

What is happening to our society? A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism. The toppling and defacing of statues in Golden Gate Park, including that of St. Junipero Serra, have become the latest example. The memorialization of historic figures merits an honest and fair discussion as to how and to whom such honor should be given. But here, there was no such rational discussion; it was mob rule, a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself throughout the country.

Everyone who works for justice and equality joins in the outrage of those who have been and continue to be oppressed. It is especially true that followers of Jesus Christ – Christians – are called to work tirelessly for the dignity of all human beings. This is a cornerstone of our faith. Our dear city bears the name of one of history's most iconic figures of peace and goodwill: St. Francis of Assisi. For the past 800 years, the various Franciscan orders of brothers, sisters and priests that trace their inspiration back to him have been exemplary of not only serving, but identifying with, the poor and downtrodden and giving them their rightful dignity as children of God. St. Junipero Serra is no exception.

St. Serra made heroic sacrifices to protect the indigenous people of California from their Spanish conquerors, especially the soldiers. Even with his infirmed leg which caused him such pain, he walked all the way to Mexico City to obtain special faculties of governance from the Viceroy of Spain in order to discipline the military who were abusing the Indians. And then he walked back to California. And lest there be any doubt, we have a physical reminder to this day: everywhere there is a presidio (soldiers' barracks) associated with a mission in the chain of 21 missions that he founded, the presidio is miles away from the mission itself and the school. St. Junipero Serra also offered them the best thing he had: the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, which he and his fellow Franciscan friars did through education, health care, and training in the agrarian arts.

All of this is not to deny that historical wrongs have occurred, even by people of good will, and healing of memories and reparation is much needed. But just as historical wrongs cannot be righted by keeping them hidden, neither can they be righted by re-writing the history. Anger against injustice can be a healthy response when it is that righteous indignation which moves a society forward. But as Christ himself teaches, and St. Francis modeled, love and not rage is the only answer.

It is an ardent goal of the National Shrine to add a devotional statue of St. Junipero in the historic church as part of a collection of canonized Franciscans. We ask for your prayers and financial support in this effort. We also pray for the enlightenment of those who do not understand, or intentionally misrepresent, the life and work of this holy missionary friar.


Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other. We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another. We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society. We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person. Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen.

A PATH well worn:
Pilgrims walking in the footsteps of St. Francis

Message from the Shrine Rector

Years ago, while on pilgrimage to various parts of Europe, I had the opportunity to visit a large Basilica in Burgos, Spain. This huge edifice was almost overwhelming in its scope of size and grandeur of art and architecture. However, in the midst of great religious paintings, statuary and gold covered Altars, I came away most impressed and edified by a well-worn path of ancient stone steps leading to a crypt chapel dedicated to Our Lady. What impressed me was not so much the massive scale nor the engineering of the steps but the pronounce slope worn into the center of each step leading to the Marian chapel. A Docent would note that the worn slope in the steps was caused by the endless flow of Pilgrims who throughout the centuries made their way to the shrine from various parts of Spain and greater Europe.

Along our California coast it is common to see great boulders of rocky cliff that have been reshaped and worn smooth by constant flow of water. The stone steps of the Basilica, were not worn down by a mighty rush of water but by the steady stream of Pilgrims, guided and inspired by faith and devotion. Christians, undeterred by the plight of life, but spurred on by a lively hope and a firm faith in God - they kept coming, persevering, one step at a time.

Today, at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, I can attest to the lively "stream" of pilgrims and searchers who make their way increasingly to the Shrine of the humble poor man of Assisi. Like the pilgrims of centuries past, those who cross the threshold of the Shrine's mighty wooden doors come for many varied reasons. Many times, I witness the seemingly "happen chance" of some who "stumble" upon the Shrine on their walk, or those who come in, perhaps, "only to admire the stained glass windows". Yet soon enough, it becomes evident that a stirring of the Spirit has occurred to reveal a moment of providential design and grace that touches the life and faith of the visitor with the love and mercy of God. My personal encounters and observations of those who come to the Shrine attest to the rich qualities of faith, hope, charity, and humble devotion that draw the pilgrims to the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi.

It is common to encounter those who seek out the sanctuary of the church for expressing gratitude and thankful praise to God for what is good and secure in their lives. Some come humbled and tired with the weight of sorrow or trial yet spurred on by hope in a compassionate Christ and a merciful God. There are those who come searching for peace or direction in their lives amidst a sometimes impersonal world. Others come seeking and searching for any reason for hope when so much else in their lives weighs heavy with anxiety or even despair. My sisters and brothers, there is a very evident spiritual hunger in our world for what heals and enriches. There is a yearning for greater peace, and relief from what burdens. The Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi seeks to be a safe harbor - a sanctuary, of personal encounter and sincere welcome for all who come. We joyfully commit to embrace, support, and sojourn along the pilgrim way of those drawn by the humble witness of St. Francis - as a "channel of God's peace".

Increasingly, many come, to the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, from not only our city and state but also from across our country and many parts of the world. As the path to our Shrine becomes ever more popular and well-trod, there arises new demands and challenges as we seek to welcome, serve, and accommodate the Pilgrim groups coming to be spiritually fed.

We are in need of your support to continue our ministry to the growing stream faithful. The Shrine is graced by the beauty and historicity of its St. Francis church *(built in 1849) and its stunning Porziuncola Nuova chapel, but as a consequence, proper maintenance and repair are on-going and improvements are essential to their preservation. Your financial support is also the "life blood" of our capacity to offer new programs in our ministry to pilgrims and to broaden the scope of our outreach to the poor and needy.

It is my hope that you may be generous in your financial support of our endeavors, and to appreciate how your support creates a bond of collaboration between you and all the work we do, at the Shrine, in the spirit of St. Francis and in the love of God.

The Capuchin Franciscan friars and the staff of the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi include our supporters in our daily prayers and Masses. Please, if you would keep the Shrine in your prayers. May our Easter celebrations of Jesus' victory over sin and death, deepen your knowledge and confidence of His love poured out for us, and enkindle a mighty flame of love in your heart for your neighbor and the greater world.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our resurrection and our life, continue to bless you with His peace. Peace and good,

Fr. John De La Riva, O.F.M. Cap., Shrine Rector