Saturday, October 9, 2010

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi - My October Fraternity Newsletter Column

The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi.” (Art. 4a, SFO Rule)

This month we celebrated again the life and work of Saint Francis of Assisi, who has attracted thousands of people from all corners of the earth, from all faiths. What is it about him that makes so many people come after him? He was not a well-educated man; at the very least he had what we would call an elementary school education. He was not an imposing figure, Thomas of Celano, in his description, gives the impression that Francis was a slight, delicate looking man. What is it about him that has attracted so many people?

Part of the attraction has been Francis’s love for God’s creation and the way he related to all God’s creatures. The picture of Francis walking amongst the birds, taming the wolf of Gubbio, has struck a cord with many people. But beyond this image, there is the image of Francis as one who had an intimate relationship with God, who was committed totally to living the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This relationship, this commitment transformed him, he became a man of compassion, a man of love, a man of peace. To see this transformation come about in an ordinary man like us gives all of us hope that we too can experience God’s love as he did, and be transformed as he was.

We should all try to take the time to read the early biographies of Francis’s life, but more importantly, we should try to read and reflect on his own writings. Through his writings, he can inspire us; he can show us how to open our own hearts and minds to the Spirit of God. As he said to his brother friars, he also now says to us: “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do.”

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