Francis of Assisi

Humble Penitent

St. Francis of Assisi imageFrancis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the Gospel literally – not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as a leader of Assisi’s youth. Prayer – lengthy and difficult – led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: “Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy.”

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, “Francis, go out and repair my house, for it is nearly falling down.” At first he took this quite literally, setting about rebuilding old church building. But in time he repaired the Church in a more profound way, recalling for the Church the image of its poor Founder. Attracting followers, he launched a new order, the Friars Minor, who in their strict faithfulness to the Gospel – embracing poverty and nonviolence, seeking out the poor, the sick, and the marginalized – turned the values of
society upside down.

– Deacon Phil Rzewnicki, OFS

Note: What does the OFS after my name stand for? It's the Order of Franciscans Secular, an option for individuals who choose to profess to living their lives according to the example and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, as we follow the teachings of Jesus. To learn more, check out the Padre Pio Fraternity website. You can also send an email message to deacon@holycrossdurham.org or amrzewnicki@gmail.com. Anna and I are both professed Secular Franciscans. 

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