Saint Francis

Above all the grace and the gifts
that Christ gives to his beloved
is that of overcoming self.

Born at Assisi, Italy in 1181, his father, a wealthy cloth merchant, gave him a life of wealth and privilege, anything he wanted. At age twenty in a minor clash with a rival city, Francis was taken prisoner and held for ransom for more than a year. This experience made him more contemplative and when he returned to Assisi, his heart was no longer into carousing with his friends. He gave up his fancy clothes and extravagant ways and began to seek a life of prayer and solitude. During a journey to Rome at the tomb of St. Peter, he changed clothes with a beggar, donated his purse, and spent the remainder of the day fasting. In prayer at a small church in Assisi, he heard a voice which said: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which is falling into ruin." Francis tried to make a large donation to this church which angered his father to such an extent that Francis hid from him for a month. Afterward his father disowned him and Francis declared that God was now his father. Thereafter, he took the Gospels as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. He began attracting followers in 1209 and founded the Franciscans based on a statement of Jesus: "Leave all and follow me." He died seventeen years later in 1226.

the poetry of Francis of Assissi

          translated -

GOD WOULD KNEEL DOWN I think God might be a little prejudiced. For once He asked me to join Him on a walk through this world, and we gazed into every heart on this earth, and I noticed He lingered a bit longer before any face that was weeping, and before any eyes that were laughing. And sometimes when we passed a soul in worship God too would kneel down. I have come to learn: God adores His creation. HE ASKED FOR CHARITY God came to my house and asked for charity. And I fell on my knees and cried, “Beloved, what may I give?” “Just love,” He said. “Just love.” PRAYER 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

The writings of St. Francis have been published in "Opuscula S. P. Francisci Assisiensis" (Quaracchi, 1904); Böhmer, "Analekten zur Geschichte des Franciscus von Assisi" (Tübingen, 1904); U. d'Alençon, "Les Opuscules de S. François d' Assise" (Paris, 1905); Robinson, "The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi" (Philadelphia, 1906).
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