Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, San Francisco

 The Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi

A worthy rerun from last December

Returning to a holy venue that I first attended in its original role as a parish church. North Beach was a quite different place then in the last years of the nineteen-seventies.
Everything was, of course, very different than today. Local parishioners fall away,

The place was closed by the Diocese for some time. Its steeples cast  a lonely silhouette in the dusk.
Then the relics of St Francis and of St Clare arrived salvifically. The order of St Francis brought the church back as a national shrine with a liturgy and an outstanding music program. A minor miracle.
After a few years of its success, local Italo-American pride kicked in the funds for a precious re-imagining of the small chapel Francis and his followers built so long ago: the Nuova Porziuncola. It is a place for meditation and prayer and, I think perhaps rarely, a Mass.

Masses in the Shrine itself are well-attended and visitors from all over stream though each day.
Regularly scheduled classical and sacred music concerts take place there as well.
It seems visitors are present at the Shrine whenever I'm there; sight-seers respect the prayerful atmosphere and get a spiritual contact high I am certain.

 The approach on bountiful Columbus avenue,
It's a good time to go in and say a prayer.

Measuring the Nuova Porziuncola

 The entrancing goodness of the entrance,
Dig the window
like a Renaissance Magritte

 The inner porziuncola,
Re-enter the sacred
like a spacecraft air-lock

 Kneel and pray in solitude,
Forget about the passing time,
Unburden your circuitry

 Your own true mind may emerge,
A larger self may manifest in you

 The bread of eternity within reach,
A sandwich from Molinari can be good too

Inside the Shrine

The bells had been rung,
Vibration still quivered in the rafters 
Like winter birds come inside


 The boys choir had finished their program,
The buoyancy of it had lifted all vessels,

 A member of the faithful lights a candle
Extends the feeling in her heart,
It illuminates her day after she leaves

 The figures in the manger
await the coming of the Christ child

 Open throughout the day and throughout the year,
All are welcome and all are blessed

 The mystical light of the sun of Solstice,
Reaches through the stained glass,
Onto a mural of the death of Francis

 An old friend of mine, the poet Philip Lamantia had his funeral Mass here,
The tendentious and misleading introduction to his Collected Poems,
Attempts to portray him as a desultory convert who finally said phooey,
It ignored the fact that a funeral Mass with the music of Messiaen
Doesn't just happen for any merely nominal Catholic who passes away,
It is the decedent's last and most profound profession of faith,
After a coke habit and the bug house Philip swore
The Relics and the Franciscan brothers redeemed his soul and his life
Narrow careerists would rob him of his redemption

Once someone has experienced the Sacred Heart
 Through the Blessed Sacrament,
He exists in relationship to it for eternity

22 December 2013

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