Thursday, October 4, 2012

St. Francis of Assisi

Today October 4th we celebrate the feast day St. Francis of Assisi.  St. Francis was a rich young man who the Lord spoke to.  While walking by a broken down chapel, Francis heard a voice coming from a San Damiano crucifix.  The voice told Francis to "repair my church for it is falling in ruin."  Francis at first thought the voice was referring to the chapel he entered; however, the voice was God telling him that the Church as a whole was falling apart.

At the time, some clergy were abusing their position.  Scandals have always plagued the Church.  The Evengelical counsels were being set aside and replaced with comfortable worldly living.

St. Francis began his movement with a simple rule consisting of Gospel verses.  He abandoned his wealth and lived in poverty, chastity and obedience.  He received the stigmata, or the woulds of Christ on his body.  At one point in his life, Satan tempted him as a naked woman.  Francis threw himself on thorn bushes so that the pain would clear his thoughts and to this day those bushes do not grow thorns.   Francis had followers that joined him in trying to live the Gospel.  The movement grew and had a great effect in the renewal of the Church.  

This movement eventually was called the Friars Minor.   After Francis' death, the order had issues with certain personalities which caused it to split into 3 groups, the Friars minor, Conventuals and Capuchins.  These follow the same rule but wear different habits and interpret the rule differently.  There are 3 orders, the:
  1. First which is for men in the Friars minor, Conventuals and Capuchins.
  2. The Second with is for women or the Poor Clares.
  3. The third which is for lay people and other orders that call themselves Franciscan such as the Friars of the Renewal or the Little Brothers of St. Francis.

St. Francis is a popular saint, even among Protestants, Orthodox and non-Christians.  Many love his simple style of Christianity and his love for nature.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen


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