Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Francis of Assisi - The Friend of Creation!

On October 4, the Catholic Church remembered St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was born to a rich merchant in Assisi in the 12th century. He was given the name Francesco (the French man) by his father in honour of his French business. In Francesco's early youth years he spent his time with rich friends and in worldly pleasure, yet he also showed generosity to beggers. This is the heart that the Crucified opened up. In 1201 Francis joined a military expedition against Perugia and was taken as a prisoner where he spent a year in captivity. When he returned to Assisi he became seriously ill and there had a conversion experience. While praying at the church of St. Damieno, he had a vision of the Crucified Christ speaking to him and asking him to "Rebuild my Church." Francis took this request literally and started rebuilding the church of stone with money from his father's business. While asking God to show him the way, he came to understand Christ's request in a new way - rebuild the Church of souls. This was a turning point in Francis' life. Francis had already spent much time in meditation and came to reject the worldy life that he had experienced in his early youth. The Roman Church was at the peak of its earthly power with Pope Innocent III. Francis requested the pope to allow him to start a beggars order. Innocent III had a vision of the future Church after which he approved Francis' request. All of this is history, but the significant lesson is the way Francis responded to the call of the Crucified. His conversion was probably gradual. However his generosity allowed him to share in the poverty of beggars' life of need and create a huge order with many followers - The Franciscans who grew up to count in thousands only in a few years. Francis was called the Alter Christus (the Other Christ); for he imitated Christ in his tender love of all creatures. Francis taught by example and talked to animals, birds, called the Sun Sister and the moon Brother and seemed at ease with wild animals. He is probably the first humanist in history; for he loved Christ and every other human he encountered. He built the first manger and added real animals to be part of the nativity scene. He insisted on the beauty of creation and was himself a poet. His mission took him to Egypt to preach to the Muslim Khaliph Al-Kamel and then to Acre but without success. Francis received the first known stigmata in history and suffered with Christ in silence "to complete" in his flesh "what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of his body that is the Church" (Col 1:24). On his death bed, Francis was surrounded by his followers singing his hymn "Make me an instrument of your peace." Contrary to us, he was not afraid of death; for he himself considered death "a brother." Since his mission started in the 13th century, he has been beloved by many generations; for like the prostitute whom Christ forgave, he "loved much." (Luke 7: 47)

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


See Links to Websites Below