October 4, 2021
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
“If you are who you are meant to be, you will set the world ablaze.”
~ St. Catherine of Siena
Today we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi. He is one of the first saints whom we learn about in school. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in Roman Catholic history. He founded the Franciscan Order of friars and the women’s Order of the Poor Ladies, now known as the Poor Clares. He and St. Catherine of Siena are the patron saints of Italy. He is also known for his love of nature and animals and is also known as the patron saint of ecology and of animals. In many of our parishes and elementary schools, the Feast of St. Francis is synonymous with the Blessing of the Animals.
St. Francis of Assisi was a Catholic friar with a unique spiritual personality who gave up a life of wealth and social position to live a life of poverty. Francis heard God tell him to “repair my church, which is falling in ruins.” With this, Francis gave all his money to the church. This did not sit well with his father, who became angry with him. Afterwards he lived a life of poverty and preached to people about the life of Jesus Christ.
Upon beginning this life of poverty, in service to others, Francis travel to the Holy Lands during the Crusades, hoping to conquer the Muslims with love rather than with war. His legacy lives on in many ways that one wouldn’t know about. In 1220, Francis set up the first known Nativity scene to celebrate Christmas. He believed that actions speak better than words, telling his followers to, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
St. Francis’ life and message were uncompromising and simple. He dedicated his life to Jesus and the essential teachings of the Gospels. He is held up as an inspiring example of someone who most closely imitated the life of Christ in words, deeds, and spirit. He died on October 3, 1226, singing Psalm 141. He was pronounced a Saint by Pope Gregory IX, a personal friend of Francis, two years after his death.
Together we pray the Prayer for Peace
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;
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.
- Picture reference: St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds (oil on panel) by Giotto di Bondone (c.1266-1337)