I was first introduced to Francis of Assisi when I was in college. The university reflected the life and person of Francis not just in name, but in spirit. It was during my time at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne that I connected with his spirit of love for creation, for all people, and for justice. Early October was also an important time of year on campus. It wasn’t just the football, but the celebration of our saint.
Every year I try to take the time to write a brief reflection on Saint Francis Day, the global church’s celebration of Saint Francis on October 4. As I looked over reflections from previous years, I was surprised how many of them focused on the same thing, the issue of violence and our need for peace. Unfortunately, I suppose this year is the same. This topic is not a new one for our nation or our city.
Perhaps we need another Saint Francis walking our streets again. A man who was willing to walk across the divide and peacefully meet the Sultan. Francis was a person who lived at peace and a sense of oneness with all creation. Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan, wrote in his daily devotional last month, “The root of violence is the illusion of separation—from God, from Being itself, from being one with everyone and everything. When you don’t know you are connected and one, you will invariably resort to some form of violence to get the dignity and power you lack.” Saint Francis knew this connection, this oneness with all of God’s creation. When we find this connection, then we’ll lose our desire for violence.
Francis was one to walk the streets and lift people’s hearts. “Pax et bonum” or “peace and all good!” he would say. He lived out his desire for a world where there were no enemies and where everyone was sister and brother. His desire should be our desire, because it was Jesus’ desire. It’s how they lived their lives. They lived into the Kingdom of God they desired, where they gave up everything to follow.
It feels like we need another Saint Francis. We need someone who can point us to the way again. Yet, as Sister Anne Amaiti, OSF, shared during a service celebrating Francis, “I have done what is mine to do,’ Francis would remind us tonight, ‘may Christ teach you what is yours to do.’”
Maybe we don’t need another Francis. Instead, maybe people of faith should do what we are called to do, following those who have gone before us. Dr. Matt Smith, from the University of Saint Francis wrote recently, “As it did in his time, the world needs more people like Francis.” We don’t need another Francis, we need more people like Francis, like Jesus; peacemakers, justice seekers, nonviolent kingdom workers, who will turn this world upside down with love.
Let’s pray that we’ll share that desire. Let’s live into the desire of God, where the world is filled with love, peace, and joy. That’s what Francis lived for; that’s what he would desire for us today.
Happy Saint Francis Day!
Prayers of Saint Francis:
Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.
Where there is Love and Wisdom, there is neither Fear nor Ignorance,
Where there is Patience and Humility, there is neither Anger nor Annoyance
Where there is Poverty and Joy, there is neither Cupidity nor Avarice
Where there is Peace and Contemplation, there is neither Care nor Restlessness.
Where there is Fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter.
Where there is Mercy and Prudence, there is neither Excess nor Harshness
All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you, through those who endure
Sickness and trials.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.
(Canticle of Brother Sun)