Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis may be the best known and most beloved saint of all time. The order he founded, the Franciscans, is far and away the largest religious order in the world. I had the privilege of visiting Assisi earlier this year and, because I was leading a retreat, I did a bit more studying of St. Francis. I found an even deeper love and respect for this great saint than I had before.
Francis embraced a life of radical poverty. He wanted only to be small and humble, to possess nothing but Christ alone. He learned to let go of everything. Not just material goods, but even his order, his health, his very life. And I think we all know of his great love and respect for everything – every person he encountered, animals, nature – everything.
Since I end each daily reflection with a prayer, I think it very appropriate to end today with the famous Prayer of St. Francis.
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. Amen
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.