Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, instilled a spirit that sought to seek peace through understanding and acceptance, rather than combating for tranquility through aggression and war; justice in mercy and forgiveness rather than retribution in violent reprisal, availability to all rather than opinionated distance from those who do not share the same ideas and values. St. Francis even suffered in silence when the opinions of others had eventually changed the simplicity and brotherhood he had instituted when men began to seek to follow the Gospel Way. As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi we have a responsibility to follow the example of our Seraphic Father. Paul, the Apostle, and Matthew, the Evangelist, offer us insights upon which to reflect that we might be elements of reform in our society and be true Advocates of Peace and Proclaimers of God’s Love and Life in the Family of Humanity and in our own families, communities … the Church.
Of course, unless we understand our own sinfulness, unless we understand the urgency of repentance and reconciliation, the Cross makes no sense; the Resurrection makes no sense. Easter joy is the joy of deliverance and new life. If we don’t believe in our bones that we really do desperately need these things, Easter is just another excuse for a holiday sale; and the Sacrament of Penance, and our fasting and almsgiving, are a waste of time.
But in the silence of our own hearts, if we’re honest, we know we hunger for something more than our own selfishness and mistakes. We were made for glory, and we’re empty of that glory until God fills us with his presence. All things are made new in the victory of Jesus Christ – even sinners like you and me. The blood of the Cross washes away death. It purifies us as vessels for God’s new life. The Resurrection fills us with God’s own life.
~ Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, “Three simple questions on the threshold of Lent – Catholic Philly”
Be always patient and well disposed. If one of your brothers offends you in any way, offer to God the pain you experience. By this mark I shall know if you are the true servants of our Divine Master: if you bring back sweetly to God the brother who has wandered from Him, and if you still continue to love one who has rendered himself very guilty.
~ St Francis of Assisi
They must be careful not to be angry or disturbed at the sin of another, for anger and disturbance impede charity in themselves and in others.
~St. Francis of Assisi, The Later Rule
Here’s how you know your life in Christ is bearing fruit:
In spite of your own suffering, loneliness, and pain, you’re welcoming. You’re warm. You’re kind (or you’re at least shooting for those things, and not just toward the people who can “do” something for you, but everyone). You’re in immediate, intimate contact with a few active drunks, someone who’s headed into or has just emerged from a psych ward, an incarcerated felon or two, several porn addicts, a young girl who’s pregnant out of wedlock, several women who have had abortions and are in silent, excruciating mourning, at least one stripper, several people in desperately unhappy marriages, about to be evicted from their apartments, or dying, a minimum-wage worker or two, at least three people who are certifiably insane, at least one U.S. Army chaplain and one peace activist (even better if they’re both priests and the latter is in solitary confinement in a federal prison), several homeless people (the more the better) and a whole TON of gay people, transgender folks, and sex and love addicts of all stripes…
If that’s not part of your circle–in my case, that IS my circle–you’re not getting out enough. If you aren’t sharing your struggles and heart with that circle, at the very least in prayer, something is wrong. Because those are the people Christ hung out with. Because “those people” are us: the people, the only people, suffering, struggling humans. Because if we’re going to be inviting people to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, we sure as hell better be inviting each other into our homes, our tables, our hemorrhaging, conflicted hearts.
If you’re afraid all that is going to “lower your standards,” you’re very much mistaken. There’s no lower standard than self-righteous fear.
Heather King, Shirt of Flame, The Homily I’d Give if I were a Priest
To be forgiven when we know we don’t “deserve” to be forgiven is radically transformative in a way violence can never be. To be forgiven does another kind of violence: to our whole tit-for-tat notion of crime and punishment. To be forgiven makes us realize that, unbelievable as it may seem, God needs us for something. We have a mission.
Heather King, SHIRT OF FLAME: THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
I think forgiveness is one of the surest signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is incredibly difficult, often scandalous, and yet it is the thing God absolutely demands of us if we are to have any hope whatsoever of having our own sins forgiven. Our strategies for avoiding it are numberless and becoming a Christian often only leads people to come up with ingenious theological rationales for explaining why they don’t need to do it. But Jesus is stark and plain-spoken: If you do not forgive you will not be forgiven.
~Mark Shea, Catholic and Enjoying It!
A Franciscan voice will insist on loving one another as God has loved us to an extravagant and foolish degree because it is how, as Francis explains in his Canticle, we give glory back to God. Having been created in the image and likeness of God, unlike trees or flowers or fire or the moon, we are most fully human when we love, forgive, and work toward peace. To be violent, vengeful, or selfish is to be un-human!
~Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith by Daniel Horan OFM