Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Saints Are People, Too

October 4 is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. I didn't pay too much attention to this saint until recent years, but the loss was mine. As I read about him, I'm learning that he's an interesting fellow.

Francis Bernardone came from a wealthy family, had a good education, but squandered his privileges during his wild, wayward youth. He became a soldier and was captured in battle. As a POW, he had a conversion experience in which Christ called him into service. Upon regaining his freedom, Francis renounced worldly possessions, to his father's fury, and embarked upon a religious odyssey that would last the rest of his life.

Francis lived in poverty, wore the rough garments of Our Lord's day, begged for food, and tended the sick. He founded two religious orders, the Franciscans and the Poor Clares. Towards the end of his life, Francis received the stigmata, the wounds of Christ.

St. Francis had great affection for animals and is the patron of animals and animal welfare societies. (My dog wears a St. Francis medal on her collar, along with her license.) One of his most famous prayers, very popular in modern times, appears below.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

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