Who Was St. Francis?
by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.
Francis 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 mite of self-importance.
Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as 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.” (this excerpt taken from www.americancatholic.org)
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace
That where there is hatred, I may bring love,
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,
that where there is error, I may bring truth,
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith,
that where there is despair, I may bring faith,
that where there are shadows, I may bring light,
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
-St. Francis of Assisi