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‘A Memory of Assisi’ - Rev. Steven Kim, Pastor of Setauket United Methodist Church
‘A Memory of Assisi’ Rev. Steven Kim, Pastor of Setauket United Methodist Church
In January 2020, my wife and I made a trip to Italy along with another couple who are my colleagues. We stayed the first two nights in Rome and drove to our second destination in the Tuscany area. On our way to the world-wide famous winery region, we stopped by the medieval town of Assisi. It is built on the slope of a mountain which boasts a picturesque scenery. Especially the sunsets, they were breathtakingly beautiful which was a bonus to us.
Our primary goal in Assisi, however, was to trace the remnants of St. Francis. I guess you are familiar with the life story of the saint. We walked about 10 minutes from the mouth of the old town to the Assisi Monastery or Basilica, which is located at the northwestern corner of the town. It consists of three different sanctuaries on three floors. Unlike many other magnificent cathedrals in the country, the Assisi Monastery is not commercialized. Tourists are not allowed to speak in the sanctuaries. You shall hear the message, ‘Please remain silent’ through the speaker system like every three minutes.
The most memorable scene was preserved in the basement sanctuary also called the crypt. There I could see the blackened remains of St. Francis through the transparent glass of the coffin. It was on display at the middle-tier of the catholic style altar. It was such an inspiring experience for me to seat on a pew and pray for a few minutes while seeing his remains. I normally close my eyes in my prayers but made an exception in this case.
I mediated on the altruistic lifestyle of the saint. He sold all his possessions in outreaching the people in need and helping them out. In my prayers I asked God to empower me to emulate his lifestyle. Also, the famous song known as ‘Prayer of St. Francis’ rang in my heart during my mediation. (Its author is anonymous). It was a perfect place for me to meditate on its lyrics.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union…to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love…”
We left the town at dusk leaving the fascinating sunset behind after staying there through the afternoon. I hope to have an opportunity to revisit the town for a few days in the future in deepening my spiritual experience.
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