Saturday, July 16, 2005

A little St. Francis...

I must admit that I never paid much attention to St. Francis of Assisi as an adult (of course as a Catholic youth I read simple popularizations of his life). I understood he was one of the great saints of the Church, but perhaps (and not to my credit) because St. Francis has been in recent years adopted by the New Age Pantheists, I never took the time to examine his life. Now with oldest daughter entering the Franciscans in August, I decided to pursue some knowledge of this long-neglected area in my formation.

Of course, being the man I am, I selected Chesterton's "St. Francis of Assisi". This is no conventional biography as an fan of Chesterton can imagine. In some sense Chesterton writes exactly according to my needs. He anticipates the mistaken interpretations of St. Francis' love of nature so common today and presents St. Francis in the light of the Gospel.

With that introduction, I read this passage this morning:

"Through all his plunging and restless days (specifically regarding his attempt to convert Saladin, but in general all his activities - JC) ran the refrain: I have not suffered enough; I am not yet worthy of even the shadow of the crown of thorns. He wandered about the valleys of the world looking for the hill which has the outline of a skull."

As I read these lines I realized exactly how far I am from St. Francis; that how often I would say of myself by comparison : 'I have already suffered much; I am worthy - as I am not like those other poor slobs, sinners. I wander through the world looking to obtain more comfort........'

I think Jeff at Hallowed Ground mentioned some time ago (yes, I am too lazy to find the link) that he had the discussion with one or more of his children about the strange question: how come as someone becomes holier-closer to God- they understand their own unworthiness, sinfulness more and more.

I don't know if I have mentioned this before on this blog, but I have written somewhere on how St. Catherine of Genoa in her treatise on Purgatory that when we die and are free of our materiealistic/earthly attachments, we then can see ourselves as we truly are - as God sees us. Thus we throw ourselves in to Purgatory (that is if we aren't going to Hell) in horror at our sins and in a pure desire to cleanse ourselves before meeting God.

The saints - and in this case St. Francis - have co-operated with God's grace such that they have freed themselves here on earth from these earthly attachments - and see themselves as God does. Thus they joyfully seek and embrace opportunities here on earth to purge themselves of all those sins that most of us are oblivious to - so wrapped up are we in seeking comfort.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

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