October 4, 2008

Francis of Assisi

Ah, today is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi - what to post? Everyone's heard of him. There's pages and pages on Google of things named after him, including animal rescue centers. There's always garden statues of Francis with birds. And I am tempted to get one. Most people have seen the art piece of him preaching to the birds. I read a novel on Francis, I think by Richard Rohr, that I liked.

San Francisco is named for Francis of Assisi. And as I think of this, we've had some angel remembrance days lately, and California's Los Angeles means 'the angels'. The Franciscans were very instrumental in the beginnings of the United State's southwest.

Therese of Lisieux ("The Little Flower") Day was October 1, and I read her little book, The Story of a Soul. I don't care for her story, she just seems too silly to me, and nothing there for me to hold onto that would help me live better. Many saint stories bug me in their 'literal living'.

I could say that about Francis too, but he does have more depth, and he is the founder (though he wasn't wanting to found anything) of the Franciscan Order of monks. He lived scripture so literally that I get frustrated with him, yet he lived so closely like Jesus, I can't really say anything against him.

I spent some time skimming web sites for a specific story I had read about him and Claire somewhere long ago, but didn't find it. Claire was of Assisi too and inspired by Francis' change in life to follow Christ, she too followed, and lived out the rest of her life cloistered away. But supposedly the two met for a meal and talked on and on and there was such a glow over the building the townspeople came running, thinking there was a fire. There are books and a movie about them called "Brother Sun, Sister Moon".

If you don't know about Francis of Assisi you should read about him. There's lots of web sites. I found a unique one that the guy wrote in a history class using 200 year old books for reference. It really is a good place to read a 'realistic' view, I really like it.

Then too, there's a good site describing the famous painting of Francis and the birds by Giotto. I have this painting. I have an easel that I change the pictures on regularly. I like to become 'friends' with works of art. This site finally explained why so much spiritual art has people with a hand raised, with the last two fingers curled under.

One piece of his story is his love for all creatures, so he's the patron saint of animals, and ecologists like to claim him. The live nativity is attributed to Francis of Assisi - the involvement of all the senses with live animals, and him using the manger as the altar for mass. He did preach to the birds the Matthew 6 text about God caring for flowers and birds - Do not be anxious, because God will take care of us to!

Most people too know
Francis's Prayer/Poem that's even been put to music:
Make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring 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.
Where there is discord, harmony.
Where there is error, truth.
Where there is wrong, the spirit of forgiveness.
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.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

As one who loves the Trinitarian God, s
houldn't I desire to live closely like Jesus too? What would it look like in our culture?

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