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Francis of Assisi

Francis of Assisi is known for giving it all.  His father, a wealthy merchant, demanded Francis relax his zeal for Christ or renounce all claims to his inheritance.  Francis answered by removing his clothes and returning them to his astonished father.  This attitude marked the rest of Francis’s life.

I have always found Francis deeply challenging.  Spiritually speaking, this guy is no sissie.  His commitment to be like Jesus reminds me why I am a Christian and fills me with (I pray) godly jealousy.  What follows are quotes, a story, and a prayer connected with Francis.  Like Francis’s life, these take me to the heart of the gospel and of God.

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“O Lord, I beg of you two graces before I die–to experience in myself in all possible fullness the pains of your cruel passion, and to feel for you the same love that made you sacrifice yourself for us.”

“Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

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One day at Saint Mary, Saint Francis called Brother Leo and said, “Brother Leo, write this down.”  He answered, “I’m ready.”

“Write what true joy is,” he said.  “A messenger comes and says that all the masters of theology in Paris have joined the Order—write: that is not true joy.  Or all the prelates beyond the mountains—archbishops and bishops, or the King of France and the King of England—write: that is not true joy.  Or that my friars have gone to the unbelievers and have converted all of them to the faith; or that I have so much grace from God that I heal the sick and I perform many miracles.  I tell you that true joy is not in all these things.”

“But what is true joy?”

“I am returning from Perugia, and I am coming here at night, in the dark.  It is winter time and wet and muddy and so cold that icicles form at the edges of my habit and keep striking my legs, and blood flows from such wounds.  And I come to the gate, all covered with mud and cold and ice, and after I have knocked and called for a long time, a friar comes and asks, ‘Who are you?’ I answer, ‘Brother Francis.’  And he says, ‘Go away.  This is not a decent time to be going about.  You can’t come in.’

“And when I insist again, he replies, ‘Go away.  You are a simple and uneducated fellow.  From now on don’t stay with us anymore.  We are so many and so important that we don’t need you.’

“But still I stand at the gate and say, ‘For the love of God, let me come in tonight.’  And he answers, ‘I won’t.  Go to the [leper’s hospital] and ask there.’

“I tell you that if I kept patience and was not upset—that is true joy and true virtue and salvation of the soul.”

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Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love,
Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness – only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving to all men that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life

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