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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saint Francis of Assisi

Today is the feast day of my favorite saint! St Francis truly heard and responded to the call to leave behind the ways of the world and live completely dependent on the Lord. He is a major model in our Church of voluntary poverty and finding Christ in the poor. Some thought he was crazy but many could not help but be drawn to his apparently contagious joy and his love for all people. This is an excerpt from "St. Francis of Assisi" by Englebert. Here Francis and a few of his first companions are in the beginning stages of formulating what this band of spirit-filled men would be all about.

They opened the missal three times at random. The first time, their eyes fell on these words: "If you will be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor." The second time, they read: "Take nothing for your journey"; and the third time: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
"Here," said Francis, "is what we are going to do, and all those who shall afterwards join us."

Many people when they hear 'St. Francis' think: oh, he's the guy that loved animals. This seems to me like an injustice to the true person of Saint Francis. Loving animals is such a small part of who he was. Here's a little explanation on that from the CFR e-letter:

Saint Francis is universally known as the Saint “who loved animals.” While this is not untrue, it should be understood that the reason he delighted in Creation (not only animals – also plants, the sun, the moon, water, fire, etc…) was because through creatures he contemplated “the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator.” (The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano, Ch. 29)

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