When I was young and very young I was told to pick a saint for my confirmation. I picked St. Francis of Assisi because he was the patron saint of animals (did I mention I was young?).
They say that when one picks a confirmation saint, not only are you inspired by that saint, but they pray for you in a special way.
Now, years removed from my confirmation, I’m consistently touched by how often I see the hand of St. Francis in my daily life. I love my New Year’s Retreat—run by Franciscans. I attend mass at a parish staffed by Franciscans, I confess to a Franciscan. Last year I was able to visit Assisi, St. Francis’ grave, and the streets he walked so many years ago. There are times when I realize these random Francisan-ties and I smile internally because I feel that he, my confirmation sponsor, must be watching out for me, praying for me, and pulling strings for me. It’s kind of incredible.
I love so many things about St. Francis of Assisi… mostly, I think, because I wish I was more of what he is.
There is the image of St. Francis ripping off his clothes and departing from the comfortable life he knew, all so that he could follow Jesus more closely. Once St. Francis encountered Jesus he was ready to do all the things that Jesus demands of us:
- If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.
- Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
Francis heard those words… really heard them. And, what’s more, he acted on them. He gave up what he had, he brought the news of Jesus to the world, he embraced poverty, suffering, and joy.
I wish I was better at being his confirmation-kid. I wish I could follow like he does, but I don’t know how.
I live in a world with a broken system for meat processing, I know this is not right.
I have friends in developing countries who don’t make fair wages, but I don’t know how to address that.
I, too, know the words of Jesus, but I am afraid to follow them as closely.
My culture is so counter-Francis. We’re taught to accumulate, to impress, to take. We’re taught that things are disposable, but even our things are more important than the people around us.
I still love his love of the natural world—-I, too, want to be good to our animal brethren.
I am so inspired by his total, authentic dedication to the words of Jesus.
When I hear stories of his kind heart I hold my breath for a second… this is what I want my heart to look like, too.
I wish that I had his total faith in the words that Jesus spoke. I pretend like I do, but I know that I don’t.
So today, St. Francis, pray for me in a special way.
Dear St. Francis,
You are so much what I wish I was
I want your heart for Jesus
Your compassion for the church
Your understanding of peace in the deep places of our hearts
Your love for those confused
Your healing hands for those wounded
Your care for creation
Please help me do a better job at this.
Thank you for your constant prayers
They mean a lot to my distracted heart
Make me a channel of your peace
BTW, I read a part of this article and thought it was interesting. FYI.