by Rev. Charlie Dupree
Francis is one of my favorite saints. He is typically associated with animals and creation. Underlying these associations with nature is humility – a stepping aside from the “ways of the world.”
St. Francis was doing his thing in the latter part of the twelfth century. It was a time when the church had drifted away from its Christ-like, humble roots. It’s interesting to note that Francis was born into a very wealthy family. He had dreams of being a chivalrous (and popular) knight. But something happened one day in a small chapel in San Damiano, a small village outside of Assisi. He had a vision. God spoke to him. “Despite his father’s intense opposition,” we read in one commentary, “Francis totally renounced all material values, and devoted himself to serve the poor.”
Francis started a religious community that was dedicated to living into Christ’s call to build a church that was grounded in love of neighbor. In this case, neighbors included beggars and lepers. He wanted to remind the church, through his life and witness, that Christ was sent first and foremost to the lost, the sick, and the suffering.
“The true mark of holiness,” writes one historian about Francis, “is the character of a life that gives to others, that extends beyond the narrow frontiers of itself, its own comfort and concerns – a life that furthers the humanizing process.”
What are the “true marks of holiness” in your own life? What spiritual and personal frontiers is God inviting you to explore?
Here’s the prayer that is prayed before the Cross of San Damiano . . . the place where Francis received his call to change his life and follow Jesus more closely.
Most High glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith, sure hope and perfect charity.
Fill me with understanding and knowledge that I may fulfill your command.
Don’t forget . . . St. Paul’s will host a St. Francis Blessing of the Animals will be held this Saturday, October 3rd at 4:00 p.m. on the Capitol Square. CLICK HERE for details.