Reflection by: Carissa 

Chronicles of a pilgrim – Day 8 – Assisi

#sequelachristi2023

“Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” 

Today on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I feel extremely blessed to be celebrating it here in Spoleto. We started the day with celebrating the Solemnity mass in Spoleto Cathedral. 

Spoleto is a significant place for Francis as it is here where he had a dream of a voice ordering him to return back to Assisi. Francis was in Spoleto as he had desired to serve as a knight and fight in the Assisi army, however this plan turned out to be unsuccessful. In this dream, the Lord spoke to him and asked him “Who is it better to serve, the Master or the servant”. His reply was “the Master”, and the voice spoke back to him “then why are you obeying the servant instead of the master?” referring to his plan of knighthood in contrast to serving the Lord. It is here in Spoleto that Francis was at a crossroad and made the decision to follow God. 

Aptly, the life of St Francis of Assisi parallels that of Mary, of being in a position to make a difficult decision — to follow God’s will or continue living life in their own ways. The gospel reading for this Solemnity has always been an inspiration and favourite of mine — Mary set a great example of what it truly means to follow God’s will, especially at such a young age. What struck me in particular is how she was also afraid, which is very understandable after encountering angel Gabriel, yet she said “yes” to God anyway.

Being at crossroads is definitely a position of struggle, one in which I too am facing currently in terms of deciding what I would like to pursue in my life after graduation. Moreover, lately I’ve had feelings of not knowing where else to move towards in my own faith journey, and the direction that it’s taking. However, the way that Mary still surrendered to God in spite of being afraid allowed me to look at my own life with a new perspective when facing these crossroads. Both Mary’s and Francis’ perseverance amidst their struggles, be it physical, emotional or mental, have planted a seed of desire in my heart to continuing moving toward the Lord and see what happens next; to see what He has in store for me. As Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have in store for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”

As this pilgrimage journey continues, I pray that the life of St Francis, St Clare and our blessed Mother continue to stir my heart and inspire me, as it has been the past 8 days!