San Damiano Cross

Praying before the San Damiano cross, St. Francis of Assisi heard Jesus call to him: “Go repair my Church, which, as you see, is falling completely into ruin.”

Similar to the call of St. Francis, we, the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago, are called by Jesus Christ to renew His Church. All of us. Not just our bishops.

Not just the pastors and priests. Every one of us – “he who has ears, let him hear.” As a family in faith, we must respond to His call as a family.

At first, St. Francis initially took this to mean he was to repair the church buildings of San Damiano. However, he eventually discerned that Jesus was calling him to rebuild the spiritual life and vitality of the entire earthly Church. Likewise, we must see that the future of the Catholic Church is bigger than any of our parish buildings.

This icon of Jesus helps us remain focused on three very important realities as we renew our faith lives, parishes and Archdiocese:

1. It portrays Jesus speaking to us even though he is dying, which serves as a reminder that we need not be afraid to take up this work even if it costs us something, for Jesus is with us always.

2. Jesus is surrounded by others, highlighting the fact that, as we take up the challenge of renewal, our unity should not be diminished but strengthened.

3. Jesus is also featured as the Risen One at the top of the cross – a sign of hope to us that in this renewal, which will require us to die to ourselves and familiar patterns, Jesus is offering us new life and vitality for the future.

Allow the image of St. Francis hearing Christ call to him from the San Damiano cross to guide your own prayers as we take up the work of renewal together.