Sunday, August 1, 2010

Saint Francis

Not too long ago my husband and I went to an event at a Catholic institution and there was a nun there who gave a brief talk about Saint Francis. It seems like I saw alot of blank stares like people were wondering who is this man Saint Francis. Again her talk was brief and that was just because her time was limited. I am sure she would have told more if she would have had the time.

Now most people have heard of him and most people know he was someone who loved animals and was kind to nature but what alot of people, myself included until just recently, don't know there is more to him than that.

Saint Francis lived from 1182 to 1286 AD.  He was born to a wealthy cloth maker. Now Francis was born while his father was away and his mother had him baptized while his father was gone.  When Pietro Bernadone returned from his trip to find his son had been baptized Giovanni, after John the Baptist, he was furious and renamed him Francesco.  This means Frenchman.

Times were very permissive for Francis. He was well liked and easy to get along with. No one really tried to control him.  He seemed to attract to the wrong type of people. He had a large following of youth. All of which were attracted to evil.

He loved France. He was good at business. He had wealth but wanted more. He wanted to be a knight. His chance came when Assisi went to battle with Perugia.

During the battle many troops were killed. The wealthy were taken prisoner with the possibility of being ransomed. Francis now with the nobility was in a dungeon but later he was ransomed.

As he set off for another battle he had a conversion. He saw a painting of Jesus on the cross.
One day while riding through the countryside, Francis came face to face with a leper. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper was gone. He always it was a  test from God...that he had passed.

One day as he passed a ruined church in San Damiono he heard God speak to him to repair his church. Francis thought it meant that particular church. He sold his fathers cloth and used the money to repair the church.  His father was angry and felt this was theft and so took him in front of the Bishop and the whole town and accused him of stealing from him.  The bishop insisted Francis return the money. That is what Francis did, return the money and even the clothes on his back until he was left with nothing but a hair cloth.  After that Francis had nothing but had everything.

He rebuilt the San Damiano church and little by little people began to follow him. He started out with one rule: live by the Gospel.

He also, loved nature. Now many people love nature but Francis had a gift with nature. There is one story where Francis was preaching to the birds in a tree and they all sat still and left only when he told them he could leave. Another story is told of a wolf who would attack the people of the village. Francis talked to the wolf and convinced him to not attack the  people and the people would feed the wolf.

As Francis and his followers went out preaching they would travel in twos as the Gospel  instructs. At first people didn't like these poor men coming around and treated them cruelly. As time went on and people saw that Francis and his followers continued to have joy despite their poverty and cruel treatment people began to welcome them with smiles.

Francis saw his poverty as freedom. No one could steal from him or starve him.

Francis had a meeting with the pope, who just happen to have a dream Francis would help the church.

Once, a very brave move was to visit the sultan of the muslims during the fifth crusade. After listening to Francis the sultan stated he would convert to christianity except they would both be murdered.

Francis' final years were filled with suffering. In his prayers to share in Christ's passion he received the stigmata, the marks of the nails and the lance wound that Christ suffered, in his own body.

As time went on  Francis became ill. When he began to go blind, the pope ordered that his eyes be operated on. This meant cauterizing his face with a hot iron. Francis spoke to "Brother Fire": "Brother Fire, the Most High has made you strong and beautiful and useful. Be courteous to me now in this hour, for I have always loved you, and temper your heat so that I can endure it."  Francis reported that Brother Fire had been so kind that he felt no pain.

After all this with suffering and blindness  he wrote his beautiful Canticle of the Sun that expresses his brotherhood with creation in praising God.

Francis never recovered from this illness. He died on October 4, 1226 at the age of 45.

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Dear Lord help us to educate our family for your glory.

"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs."--Gravissimum Educationis (one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council)

Helping and Loving Our Neighbor

Corporal works of Mercy
Feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner

Instruct the ignorant

Counsel the doubtful

Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently

Forgive all injuries

Pray for the living and the dead

Good Samaritain