Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi

Another who dedicated his life to just the kind of revolution I mentioned yesterday, is St. Francis of Assisi, whose memorial we celebrate today. Without doubt he remains the best-known saint and most loved saint.

Teaching on the life St. Francis is his General Audience on 27 January 2010, Pope Benedict noted "that Francis represents an alter Christus" and noted that this friar "was truly a living icon of Christ." His ideal, the Holy Father continued, was "to be like Jesus, to contemplate Christ in the Gospel, to love him intensely and to imitate his virtues." What Francesco sought above all to attain was both interior and exterior poverty, something he taught those who followed him.

Pope Benedict noted that "[t]he first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Mt 5: 3) found a luminous fulfilment in the life and words of St Francis." So, what does St. Francis teach us? Too much to capture in a blog post certainly, but in this age of rampant consumerism and disregard for creation, Francis taught us that poverty is the best means of following "Christ with dedication and total freedom." Hence, we need to cultivate poverty, which is a means of growing in our trust of God. We do this, Benedict insists, "by adopting a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods."

In his still very remarkable film, The Flowers of St. Francis, Roberto Rossellini filmed a vignette of Brother Ginepro, one of Francis' friars, who grew tired of not being able to join his brothers in preaching because he had to cook. So, he decides to cook all of the food that they have, estimating it will last them two weeks. This ingenious idea would allow him to preach instead of staying behind to cook. Francis gives Ginepro permission to preach, but there is a condition- that Ginepro start each sermon with the words, "I talk and talk yet I accomplish little."

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

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