Thursday, October 2, 2008

Saint Francis and simplicity

This coming Saturday is the official feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the simplicity of his life and his care for all living creatures speaks not just to his own time but our own. Francis is probably the most popular of the saints and his life, not surprisingly, has become the stuff of legend, movies and myth. 

Born in 1182 to a rich Italian merchant, Francis was a soldier who returned to his native city of Assisi and cast off all his worldly possessions. His conflict with his father was horrific and Francis was thought by many to be madman. He found his way to an run-down chapel at San Damiano, and the Holy Spirit told him to repair the church. He took this to mean he was to repair the chapel, which he did. Later he understanding his calling as repairing the whole church. 

Francis ministered to outcasts, lepers, and he gained a following including  Clare of Assisi (who founded the "Poor Clares"). He met Pope Innocent III, and his following was recognized as a monastic order and Francis was ordained a deacon. Francis died in 1226. The Franciscans prospered all over the world, and were responsible for establishing the amazing missions in California (which Lori and I made a pilgrimage to all 21), among many places. The Episcopal Church has a thriving Franciscan order (including Anglican Franciscans who live next door to All Souls Parish in Berkeley); the Anglican Society of St. Francis has a "Third Order" of lay people who take vows to incorporate the Franciscan discipline of prayer and simplicity in their daily life.  There are more than a half-million people world-wide who have joined.

We will celebrate Francis on Sunday Oct. 5 at 4pm with the Blessing of the Animals on the lawn at St. Paul's Church. Please bring your iguanas, frogs, hamsters, dogs and cats!

The Prayer attributed to Saint Francis (Book of Common Prayer p. 833) is among my favorites, and I leave you with this today:

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.

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

1 comment:

Janice said...

Hi, Jim,
Danny and I were at the National Cathedral this past Sunday enjoy worship in the beautiful place and to hear Presiding Bishop Katherine Jeffert Schori preach. The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys sang this prayer, but the bulletin did not state (or at least I didn't notice a statement) that it is attributed to St. Francis. I'm so glad you posted it here for me to recognize!