“Am I Franciscan?”
Trevor Thompson, Director of Pastoral Ministries
Feast of Francis
27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
This week we celebrate the feast day of our patron St. Francis of Assisi, certainly one of the most popular, compelling, and enigmatic saints of Christian history. I frequently hear members of our parish say that they are here at this particular church because “it is Franciscan.” But what does it really mean to be a Franciscan faith community? What does a Catholic school inspired by Francis of Assisi really look like? How could our ministries be more aligned with the spirit and form of Francis of Assisi? How should being part of this Franciscan parish shape my daily life? Am I Franciscan?
Top Ten thoughts not found in Wikipedia about our patron – St. Francis of Assisi:
- Francis did not intend to found a religious order; rather he wanted to be faithful to the Gospel in his time and place.
- Francis names his encounter with lepers as the key turning point in his life. This was not a single event in his life though. He and his brothers bandaged their wounds, begged for their food, and lived with them.
- Francis did not become a hermit, priest, or a monk, the obvious choices of religious life at his time; rather, Francis was part of a popular lay spiritual renewal going on across Italy and France.
- Francis sought to “rebuild the church” through his way of life with the marginalized and fraternal living with his brothers, not through condemnations, confrontation, or apologetics.
- Francis referred to himself and his brothers as “friar minor,” which translates “lesser brother;” they sought to deemphasize and set limits to power, privilege, and prestige in the community.
- Francis spent half of his year in prayer and solitude in hermitages, usually a hut or cave in the woods or up in the mountains around Assisi.
- Francis and his brothers preached “peace,” especially through reconciliation of warring parties.
- Francis and his brothers were rooted in a “poverty,” or a gift-spirituality, namely that all good gifts come liberally from God and thus to be used and shared not possessed and horded.
- Within just a few years of Francis’ conversation, his way of life attracted thousands of diverse followers all across Europe; every new community lived Francis’ way of life differently.
- Francis loved to sing; in his last days, while sick and blind, he composed the final verses to his most famous song Canticle of Creatures and had his brothers gather around him and sing it.
For a recommended list of books and other resources about Franciscan life and spirituality, contact Trevor Thompson at 919-847-8205×270 or firstname.lastname@example.org or see the parish library in Room 403 of Anthony Hall.