SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI'S LEGACY OF COMPASSION AND TRANSFORMATION
Erie - St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) is well loved because of his gentle spirit, affinity for creation and his fondness for animals. His feast day celebrated on October 4 often includes pet blessings and community gatherings. Statues featuring his likeness are common fixtures in backyard gardens. They remind us that he is a symbol of compassion and caring, virtues so needed in our complicated world. Other virtues so well embodied by St. Francis may seem less gentle. They include openness to God’s call, commitment and perseverance.
St. Francis was unconventional and a bit of a rebel. He walked away from the family merchant business, defied social convention and accepted God’s mission to “rebuild my house.” In Francis’ case God’s house was a church. He was instrumental in repairing several physical churches. In doing so he and his followers rebuilt the spirit of the Church. Together they formed the order of Friars Minor.
Throughout its history, the Church has faced conflict and turmoil both from within and without. The time in which Francis lived was no exception. Francis and many of his followers behaved in ways that were perceived as radical so they could focus on what they believed to be the mission of Jesus. They accepted the mission of prayer and care for the poor and for creation. Even though he did not likely write what has come to be known as the Prayer of St. Francis, it aptly suits what we know of him.
“Make me a channel of your peace ...where there’s despair in life let me bring hope ... and where there’s doubt, true faith in you.”
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