He sighed for ecstatic peace

This is the peace
proclaimed and given to us
by our Lord Jesus Christ
and preached again and again
by our father Francis.

At the beginning and end of every sermon
he announced peace;
in every greeting
he wished for peace;
in every contemplation
he sighed for ecstatic peace.

~ St. Bonaventure, The Journey of the Mind to God

To be subordinate to every other person for God’s sake

The humility that naturally accompanies such a state of living helped to create a non-threatening space for dialogue. If one is not interested in winning, being correct or ranking above another, then he or she is not a threat. The Sultan had nothing to fear of Francis. The way Francis lived his life demonstrated his willingness to be subordinate to every other person for God’s sake. Francis recognized himself as a sinner and therefore knew of his own need for continued conversion, garnering a great deal of patience for those he encountered. While considering what was so non-threatening about Francis, Franciscan theologian Kenneth Himes said, “It was the fact that no one ever had to fear Francis. Francis never sought to dominate, manipulate, or coerce anyone. No person ever looked into the eyes of Francis and saw a lust for power or control.”

~ Daniel P.Horan, OFM, “Those Going Among the Saracens and Other Nonbelievers”: Thomas Merton and Franciscan Interreligious Dialogue

The disguise of being too busy

As Francis indicated in his Admonitions, the heart must not turn away from God under “pretexts” of occupations. Too often today in our busy world we hear complaints of “I do not have enough time” to pray, or “I am too busy to pray.” We are burdened by appointments, commitments, responsibilities or simply overloaded with the demands of daily life, journeying through life in the fast lane of a complex culture. When we arrive at “burnout” and wonder why life is so empty, we may recall Francis’ admonition that our hearts may turn from God under the disguise of being “too busy.”

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

Saint Francis and the First Christmas Creche: Part 3

A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth.

~St. Bonaventure,  Life of St. Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis and the First Christmas Creche: Part 2

The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.

~St. Bonaventure,  Life of St. Francis of Assisi

 

Saint Francis and the First Christmas Creche: Part 1

It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed.

~St. Bonaventure,  Life of St. Francis of Assisi

 

The most defenseless and innocent among us

Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist, and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. (213)

~ Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

The way of penance

Carried away by the force of his preaching, great numbers of people adopted the new rule of penance according to the form instituted by St. Francis which he called the “Order of the Brothers of Penance.” The way of penance is common to all those who are on the road to heaven and so this way of life includes members of both sexes, clerics and lay folks, married and single. How meritorious it is in the eyes of God is clear from the numerous miracles worked by some of those who followed it.

~ Saint Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, Major Life via Portiuncula: the Little Portion

As scary as it is

Many of us, myself included, seem to think we know what we need but the fact of the matter is, we might not know what we really need, or when something should happen. We must have faith that Jesus has the right answers and the right timing. As scary as it is, we need to trust that our loving God will take care of us, because He knows what’s best for us. As the song lyric goes, some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

~ Joe Reciniello, OH……….. FRANCESCO: “If you wish to fly high, start from the bottom. – Humility is the foundation of the entire spiritual edifice.”.

If we try to mold St. Francis in this way

St. Francis, on the other hand, because of the various labels applied to him, risks being the most difficult saint to know. He loved animals, but he wasn’t an environmentalist. He served Christ in the sick and leprous, but he wasn’t a philanthropist or humanitarian. He wrote songs, and sang of the Lord whenever he could, and slept on the side of the road when he had to, but he wasn’t a flower child. If we try to mold St. Francis in this way, we run the risk of exchanging the determined yet suffering poverello from Assisi for an inoffensive, but pious, garden gnome.

~ Br. Leo Camurati, O.P., The Most Difficult Saint to Know? via Dominicana Blog