Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Geography plays a large part of how you will spend this day. In the East, many Catholics will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. Throughout most of the country, we will mark Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter. Franciscans will keep the Memorial of St. Paschal Baylon. Because I live in the Midwest and am a Franciscan Friar, I would like to write about St. Paschal today. Tune in on Sunday for my reflections on the Solemnity of the Ascension.
St. Paschal was a Spanish friar who was born in the 16th century, a time noted for many Spanish saints. The Jesuits St. Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and the Franciscans St. Francis Solano, St. Peter of Alcantara, and St. Salvator of Horta were all contemporaries of St. Paschal. St. Paschal spent the first part of his life as a simple shepherd who earned a reputation for scrupulous honesty. When he was twenty-four years old, he petitioned for admission to the Franciscan Order where he spent the next twenty-eight years as a porter answering the door, as a cook for the friars, as a gardener, and as the community's alms seeker or beggar. When he greeted the starving at the door of the friary, he was known for his generosity.
St. Paschal is remembered as a Saint of the Eucharist, a title he earned for his habit of spending his free moments praying before the Eucharist. His devotion to his Savior in the tabernacle became his hallmark and earned him the respect and veneration of the local population. After his death, many sought his intercession and were granted miracles as they prayed by this tomb.
Lord God, you adorned St. Paschal with wondrous love for the sacred mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Son. Grant that we may derive the same spiritual benefits from this sacred banquet which he received. . . Through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Franciscan Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours)