Francis was a man born in wealth and privilege, dreamed of glory on the battle field, but who ended up falling in love with God instead. While there is a lot to say about St. Francis, here a few lessons about his life, which he tried to teach the humanity by his very simple life style. Though he is a saint of another epoch his teachings are still relevant in this 21st century.
Saint Francis was a man of determination, strict with himself. He knew how to suffer, for love of Christ, in imitation of Christ our Lord who suffered for the love of mankind. In contradiction to the philosophy of our time, he preached what he practiced. His effort to endurance in self denial puts most of us to shame. Today Saint Francis reminds the world that there is no sanctity without suffering. When we are faced with trials and painful experiences, we should embrace them joyfully as St. Francis did, uniting them to the sufferings of Christ because suffering taken up for Christ will lead us to eternal glory.
Many think that compassion and kindness are signs of weakness. But Francis considered compassion as the characteristics of God. He felt compassion to everyone, from lepers to little worms, he simply recognized the fatherhood of God in everything, living and non-living beings. Compassion is the sentiment of the Heart of Jesus Christ, who out of compassion to the fallen men became man, in order to lift us to the status of God’s children.
Even in this 21st century man pursues his journey in search of happiness. We gather and accumulate but we don’t get what we search, that unending joy and happiness. Many times, we forget that, true happiness is found only in God. Francis of Assisi knew it and he embraced radical poverty to prove it to the world. He shows us that the key to freedom from materialism is gratitude and praise; we should give thanks for the good things God has given us, using them and enjoying them for what they are, all the while keeping our hearts free from selfishness, we should love and serve God and his Children here on earth.
All our communities solemnized St. Francis day with great preparation as well as celebration. The nine days novena was celebrated so as the transitus. In St. Clare community, Vijayawada, the youth and the FMSC Associates enacted the scene of the Passover of St. Francis, giving a real feeling of attending his last moments. Many communities shared the fraternal agape with other religious communities and priests, friends and coworkers. It was really a joyful day.
St Francis shows us, through his teachings and example of courageous faith, not only how to put our trust in God and care for God’s creation with joy, but also that this present suffering will pass. This time of uncertainty and crisis around the world with the Covid-19 pandemic still dragging on, and our present suffering, is but a transition to another better time.
The feast day of St Francis and our new awareness of his Transitus is an invitation to embrace life with all its joys and sorrows and, in faith and hope, to make the prayer of St Francis before the crucifix our own:
Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command. Amen.
Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me,
Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope,
a perfect charity, sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out your holy and true command.