Monday, October 1, 2012


How could I not commemorate St Francis today?  The "little poor man" of Assisi captures the hearts of the most hardened of anti-Christians (even the long-standing atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell--for whom I have a secret affection and admiration--loved this man's heart). 

I am drawn back to Assisi as a pet dog on a leash (though I grant that such a metaphor is more appropriate for the Dominicans):  the place itself, its evocations of Francis and Clare, its holy sites, all fill me with the most peaceful sense of prayer, and I return there as often as I can (without exaggeration, I have been there well over 40 times).  There is nothing to compare with the friars' Evening Prayer at San Damiano, or quiet time praying before the San Damiano crucifix (now located in the Basilica of Santa Chiara), or the stark and serene atmosphere of the crypt of San Francesso, where he is buried.  And I will go back there again, God willing, twice more in 2013...

Do I want to be like Francis?  Yes and No; could I be like Francis?  No and No.  His level of poverty (even granted the standards of life-style in 11th century Italy) is beyond me.  But his passion for Jesus Christ, for the Church, and for the Eucharist drives me and draws me.  It makes me crave to be a better disciple. 

The recording below is based on a Franciscan translation of an old Latin poem, attributed to the early Franciscan chronicler Thomas of Celano--enjoy the day.

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