On October 4, the Church commemorates the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis, we know, is a very popular and beloved figure worldwide.
He has inspired the hearts and minds of so many people, both religious and non-religious alike. Founder of the Franciscan Orders of the Friars Minor, this thirteenth century man from Assisi and son of a merchant abandoned a life of luxury for a life devoted to Christ after reportedly hearing the voice of God, who commanded him to rebuild the Christian church and live in poverty.
What does Saint Francis’s witness tell us today? Pope Francis says that his first and most essential witness is this: “that being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to him.” Pope Francis acknowledged that Francis’ journey of faith began with a personal encounter with the crucified Lord.
It began with Christ’s gaze — “With letting Jesus look at us at the very moment that he gives his life for us and draws us to himself”. Francis, we know, experienced this in the Church of San Damiano at prayer and it transformed his life. It made him “new”. Everything else starts with this, Pope Francis says. The experience of transforming grace, “the experience of being loved for no merits of our own, in spite of our being sinners.”
The second witness of Francis according to Pope Francis is this: peace. True peace. The peace of Christ. The peace that Christ alone can give. Not “saccharine” peace. Not ‘oneness with the forces of the universe’ peace.
But peace that is born of the greatest love of all, “the love of the cross”. As Pope Francis says, “The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ, and it is found by those who "take up" their "yoke", namely, Christ's commandment: Love one another as I have loved you" (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12).
I don’t know about you, but I have always loved the peace prayer of Saint Francis. Perhaps, as we commemorate the life of Saint Francis and remember his witness of peace born from the Love of Christ, we ask the Lord to lovingly gaze upon us anew and teach us once more to be instruments of His peace…
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;
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.
Thank you for your continued prayers for our seminarians and all who, like Saint Francis, seek to discern their calling.
-Father Jonathan Ficara,
Director of Vocations