Francis is the one saint whose attraction does not diminish over time but seems to grow with each generation. He is the single saint all generations have agreed in canonizing on their own. Christians and non-Christians have a special place for Francis. He has indeed become all things to all people. He combined a mystical love of God with a mystical love of people. The birdbath image of Francis erases other aspect of his personality. We all know the story of his estrangement from his father. The 1200’s were a bleak time. War was an everyday fact, as were diseases, suffering and immense poverty. Islam was the encroaching movement of that day. Corruption pervade Church circles.
The Franciscan movement was popular among ordinary people. The love of “poverty” enabled them to mix with people, unlike the monastery-bound monks. Through Francis, God saved the medieval Church from disaster. Francis has thousand of followers. In his own lifetime, over 1500 Franciscan friaries (houses) sprang up. He tried to evangelize the Sultan and was fierce in his own asceticism. After a conflict in his order, Francis went to Mount Alverna where he received the stigmata.
Franciscan spirituality is a spirituality that is at home in creation, that has respect for the created world and that through its ideal of poverty disconnects the linkage between personal possessions and personal happiness. Francis was unique. After a painful illness, he died. Legend has it that at that moment there was absolute silence. Only the larks sang.
Prayer: Lord God, You made Saint Francis of Assisi Christ-like in his poverty and humility. Help us so to walk in his ways that, with joy and love, we may follow Christ, and be united to you. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 4 October 2018 [The Day of Saint Francis]
A Christian Pilgrim