Remembering Francis of Assisi

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Today we remember the man who Pope Francis chose to name himself after. To say that Saint Francis left an imprint on the heart of Christianity would be an understatement.

The Northumbria community remembers Saint Francis on October 4th. The following is a passage out of their “Celtic Daily Prayer”.

John Bernardone was nicknamed Francesco (‘Frenchie’) because his mother was from Provence. His father was a wealthy cloth-merchant. Francis was ill after a year’s imprisonment during a local war. As he recovered he began to care for the poor and the lepers. He began to give away his father’s goods.

The painted crucifix in the derelict church of San Damiano seemed to say to him, ‘Build My Church, which, as you see, is in ruins.’ He began to rebuild the chapel, stone by stone. but the word he had received there also spoke prophetically about a renewal and rebuilding of the larger Church of his day–a rebuilding through a simple loyalty and obedience to Christ and a rejection of all the Church’s clutter, corruption and compromise.

Francis brought conversion by example. Taking off the clothes that his natural father had paid for, he stood naked and asked for the Church’s covering and protection. With some embarrassment it was given. Francis and his order of Brothers Minor in absolute poverty continued to embarrass and energize the Church. Like Jesus, it was said of Francis that the poor ‘heard him gladly’.

Because so many of his followers were clever, well-educated men, many of his sayings and numerous accounts of the incidents of his life have survived. The most famous prayer that is ascribed to him was not in fact his own, but aptly sums up his spirituality: ‘Lord, make me and instrument of Your Peace.’

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