My dear friends and fellow workers in Christ:
Oct. 4 is the Feast of St. Francis a man who truly loved God and all of His creation. He gave up a very comfortable life, gave all he had to follow Christ. There is a lot we can learn from St. Francis and in our own way dedicate ourselves to follow Christ. Below is a brief history of his life.
Francis, the son of a prosperous merchant of Assisi, was born in 1182. His early youth was spent in harmless revelry and fruitless attempts to win military glory. Various encounters with beggars and lepers pricked the young man’s conscience, however, and he decided to embrace a life devoted to Lady Poverty. Despite his father’s intense opposition, Francis totally renounced all material values and devoted himself to serve the poor. In 1210 Pope Innocent III confirmed the simple Rule for the Order of Friars Minor, a name Francis chose to emphasize his desire to be numbered among the “least” of God’s servants. The order grew rapidly all over Europe. But, by 1221, Francis had lost control of it since his ideal of strict and absolute poverty, both for the individual friars and for the order as a whole, was found to be too difficult to maintain. His last years were spent in much suffering of body and spirit, but his unconquerable joy never failed. In his later years he was ordained as a deacon, but he resisted all efforts to persuade him to become a priest. Not long before his death, during a retreat on Mount La Verna, on September 14th, Holy Cross Day, Francis received the marks of the Lord’s wounds, the stigmata, in his own hands and feet and side. Pope Gregory IX, a former patron of the Franciscans, canonized Francis in 1228 and began the erection of the great basilica in Assisi where Francis is buried. Of all the saints, Francis is perhaps the most popular and admired but probably the least imitated. Few have attained his total identification with the poverty and suffering of Christ. Francis left few writings but, of these, his spirit of joyous faith in God and love of His creation comes through most truly in the “Canticle of the Sun,” which he composed at Clare’s convent of St. Damian’s. The version in The Hymnal begins (The Hymnal 1982, #406; #407): Most High, omnipotent, good Lord, to thee be ceaseless praise outpoured, and blessing without measure. Let creatures all give thanks to thee and serve in great humility.
God bless you all,
The Rev. Glenn Duffy