Thursday, October 4, 2007

Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi- A model deacon

St. Francis of Assisi, by Michael D. O'Brien

In a recent issue of Traces magazine, published by Communion and Liberation, Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete wrote about that on which the Holy Father's preached on 17 June 2007 during his Apostolic Visit to Assisi in honor of the 800th anniversary of the conversion of Francesco Bernadone.

In his homily, writes Msgr. Albacete, "the Holy Father spoke of the attraction of St. Francis to so many men and women of all religious convictions (and of none at all). St. Francis is the 'patron' of many causes, such as world peace, the environment, religious tolerance, and assistance to the poor. St. Francis is all of this, said the Pope, because of his love for Christ. This is his 'point of departure' for thought and action. 'It is Christ who is the very principle of the cosmos. Christ is the divine truth, the eternal "Logos," in whom each "dialogue" in time finds finds its ultimate foundation. Francis incarnates deeply this "Christological truth" that is at the root of the human existence, of the cosmos, and of history.' Without the Incarnation, all those noble causes will decay and fail. Fidelity to St. Francis will always keep us in touch with the fact of Christ and overcome any temptation to religious indifference, which has nothing to do with authentic dialogue. Fidelity to Christ is our protection from intolerance and the use of violence. 'There cannot be a true evangelical commitment, nor a true Franciscan spirit, that does not bring together our embrace, respect for others, and dialogue with the certainty that each Christian, starting with the Saint of Assisi, has always motivated in us: announcing Christ as the way, the truth, and life of Man, the only Savior of the world'" (Traces, vol. 9, no. 7, 2007, pg. 51).

"Of all the saints," writes Bp. Mark Santer, formerly Anglican bishop of Birmingham, England, "the one whom most people find most Christlike is St. Francis." His Grace continues that he thinks it significant that Francis "was never ordained a priest." Instead, Francis "was an ordained deacon, a servant, to the end of his life." This quote comes courtesy of the book Deacons and the Church, by Deacon Owen Cummings, Regents' Professor of Theology at Mt Angel Seminary, Oregon. Deacon Cummings picks up the thread at the end of the quote by Bp. Santer by observing that Francis' being a deacon, while historically true, comes from one piece of evidence, "Thomas of Celano's account of Christmas Mass at Greccio in 1223" (Deacons and the Church, pgs. 60-61).



St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

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