BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
October 4th is the feast day of the great saint we call “Little Poor Man of Assisi” — Saint Francis. I am offering today some lessons we can learn from this famous saint that the Capuchin Franciscans have published in one of their articles.
We acknowledge Francis’ love of nature in countless outdoor statues decorating our gardens and today he is known as the patron of the environment. We often refer to him as the lover of animals; however, his biographers and the Church tell us that he was more in love with the Crucified Christ. Carrying in his body the wounds of Jesus and dealing with many serious ailments, he suffered greatly throughout his life and experienced deeply how God works through suffering. Similarly, we encounter suffering in our walk with Christ, but Francis teaches us to love, trust and face our fears and burdens with humility and patience as he did.
Francis believed that his own preferences had to be sacrificed for the good of another. Concern for the poor was a central theme in his life. Needs were evident all around him and the poor and helpless were in his midst each day. Francis only thought about helping them, not his own convenience or sacrifice. He is truly a saint for our time because he stands in a tradition of powerful demands for social justice. He affirms a vision of a different world, where we share more equally the abundant wealth of goods and even life itself as we focus on the right relations to the earth and with our brothers and sisters everywhere. How often there are circumstances when the Lord is calling us to look at the needs of others before our own. Sometimes we must do those things required and sometimes we are called to go beyond the required. Both may be at an expense to our own time and energy, but Francis, our mentor, did not count the cost.
In summary we can clearly say that Francis is a strong lesson in God’s love despite our past, God’s concern for us in the midst of suffering, God’s grace when we are challenged to go beyond our own comforts and are asked to sacrifice for another. Let us look at St. Francis’ life and message which were uncompromising and simple. Let us pray for the gifts he, himself, lived in his prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of peace, love, pardon, faith, hope, light and a giver of consolation, understanding and joy.” Amen.