Letter to St. Francis
October 4, 2020
My Dear Brother Francis,
Here we are at the great festival marking your place in the company of saints. This day full of joy and celebration is also a day of looking inwardly mindful of your words: “I have done what is mine to do, may Christ teach you what is yours to do.” You indeed did do what was yours to do and eight centuries later we are still contemplating your actions, words and you simply being. What you did still impacts us: the friars, the church, and people of good will the world over.
You remind me of relationship. As I ponder your life I learn again and again the importance of our relationships with each other and with creation. The idea of being sibling with one another continues to challenge me to present to the other and be a good brother. It has also challenged me to be aware of my relationship with creation and my possessions. How do I enter into a caring relationship not only with fellow humans but with creation? How do I view and use the possessions that have been entrusted to me for this journey? You remind me that all relationship is about an encounter with Christ. Christ my brother is that close and yet I seem to forget. Continue to awaken me to relationship.
You remind me of simplicity. Our world continually tries to rob me and everyone of this gift. It lures us into things, into busyness, into distractions so that we become complicated and busy. You know the power of letting it all go and encountering Christ in the stillness, peace and solitude. As I reflect on your life I am again to simplify and be present. When I do so I know I encounter Christ our brother; humble and simple. Continue to awaken me to simplicity.
You remind me of poverty. On so many levels you remind me of poverty. I must be aware of those who live in poverty and are seen as outcasts in our world again. How am I in relationship with them? How do I embrace them as sibling? As Christ? Like you did the leper. I must be aware of my poverty and how this calls me to surrender into Christ again and again. I must be aware of the poverty of Christ. In his poverty he emptied himself into the great love of God and knew great freedom. This is how you came to know your freedom again and again and I am called to do the same. Continue to awaken me to the vow poverty.
You remind me of peace and goodness. These fruits of the Spirit are gifts to fill my heart for the journey for they are not only for a few, rather they are gifts for all of each of us. Peace which can transform me and my heart. Goodness which gives me a taste of God’s abundance. Oh, how I try in complicate their message and lose them in the demands I think life is showing me. Yet I know as you do that peace and goodness which reside in my heart were made known to me and all people by Christ in the crib, the cross and gifting of the Holy Spirit. Pure gifts. Peace and goodness do dwell within, I must allow them to consume me so I can be the best brother doing what Christ calls me to do. Continue to awaken me to peace and goodness.
The other day I read that “your life was totally permeated by love; a life filled with love.” This really struck me. This truly was you. Not only your dream and desire, but your journey and way were all permeated by love. Your very life transformed was indeed permeated by love. Your life filled with love is the expression of Christ in your life, God at work in you and the Holy Spirit filling you. It is beautiful because it is depth and it is freedom. It is what attracts so many people to you still today. In truth it is what attracted me to you and this Franciscan way of life. When I began to discover the depth of you, I discovered this love also permeated my life. This love – Christ himself has been at work in me and makes me ponder and discern my living, dreams, desires and journey.
In you I have found a companion, whose ordinary life speaks to my own. Whose encounter with Christ has made me pay more attention to Christ in my life. Whose poverty has challenged me to live simply and be more aware. Whose preaching and living have caused me to consider my words and actions and if they radiate Christ. Whose life of penance has continually guided my rediscovery of reconciliation and peace which has orientated my heart to the fullness of life. The fact is dear brother that you stirred all that up in me years ago and you still do today.
If you as you laid dying and suffering could give praise to God, trust in peace, pray and be aware of the fraternal relationships (that are sometimes ragged), and see the beauty in the “siblingness” of relationship and creation, I too must fix my gaze on the heart of Christ. This love which fills my life. For through the grace and mercy of God my life is also permeated by love. I ask myself: “Am I open to receive the fullness of this gift?” Can I learn from you and surrender my all into love? I place my trust in our awesome God, as I pray:
God, you who are love, you are ever present to, for, with and in me.
Your love permeates my life, as it did St. Francis. May I in turn radiate
this love out to the world by doing what is mine to do in the name of
Christ your son. Amen.
St. Francis – pray for me, pray for us.