The Common Good

Of Saints and Presidents

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi

O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself
to the child-like and lowly of heart
grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis,
we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness
and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
.
 

Today is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi.

You likely have heard of him. Il Poverello. He's the 13th-century aescetic who founded a religious order.

It was, on one hand, a protest order...protesting how the Church had lost its way in relationship to money and helping the poor. It was on the other hand an opportunity for people to come together and do someting rather remarkable in caring for the poor by joining in solidarity with the poor.

The Friars Minor were formed in 1226. St. Clare of Assisi was co-founder. She has her own feast day, of course, but don't lose this opportunity to get to know her as well. 

(There was also an incredibly trippy movie made about his life titled Brother Son, Sister Moon. Some day, when no one is watching, you should rent that film. Outrageously strange.) 

Francis' prayer is well known, but today I want to offer up this quotation which is similar, but presents a different focus. Less a prayer and more a philosophical edict, these words moved me this morning:

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.”

Charity. Wisdom. Patience. Humility. Poverty. Joy. Peace. Meditation.

It is a challenging list of virtues and practices. 

I spend most days wondering about just such stuff...and how I might shape my life to reflect them a little more every day.

Francis had this epiphany, this moment where he just gave it all away. He was the son of a merchant and just walked away from wealthm comfort, and security. His wasn't an easy life. He died at a young age. He was hungry most of the time. He suffered.

But, if you believe the stories, he was also happy. After yesterday's post and the related essay, I find myself once again wondering where true joy resides and how, in this Presidential Debate Season, we might all find our own way into what Francis, Clare, and so many others, Christian or otherwise, have offered over the centuries.

Last night I found myself vexed. Frustrated and disappointed at the fearful rhetoric and the bombastic posturing of the first Presidential debate, I went to bed soured by the whole thing.

This morning I awoke and these words from St. Francis jarred my memory, brought me back to reality and away from the obligatory spectacle that is Presidential Debate Season. 

Maybe the words of Francis can still be a guide for all of us. 

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.”

Francis' Paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer :

Our Father
Creator, Redeemer, Saviour and Comforter.

In heaven
In the angels and the saints.
You give them light so that they may have knowledge,
because you are light.
You inflame them so that they may love,
because you are love.
You live continually in them
so that they may be happy,
because you are the supreme good,
the eternal good,
and it is from you all good comes
and without you there is no good.

Hallowed be your name
May our knowledge of you become ever clearer,
so that we may realise the breadth of your blessings,
the extent of your promises,
the height of your majesty
and the depth of your judgements.

Your kingdom come
So that you may reign in us by your grace
and bring us to your kingdom,
where we shall see you clearly, love you perfectly,
be happy in your company
and enjoy you for ever.

Your will be done, on earth as in heaven
That we may love you with our whole heart
by always thinking of you;
with our whole mind by directing our whole intention towards you
and seeking your glory in everything;
and with all our strength
by spending all our energies and affections of soul and body
in the service of your love alone.
And may we love our neighbour as ourselves,
encouraging them all to love you as best we can,
rejoicing at the good fortune of others,
just as if it were our own,
and sympathising with their misfortunes,
while giving offence to no one.

Give us today our daily bread
Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
to remind us of the love he showed for us
and to help us to understand and appreciate it
and everything that he did or said or suffered.

And forgive us our sins
In your infinite mercy,
and by the power of the passion of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
together with the merits and the intercession
of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints.

As we forgive those who sin against us
And if we do not forgive perfectly,
make us forgive perfectly,
so that we may truly love our enemies for love of you
and pray fervently to you for them,
returning no one evil for evil,
anxious only to serve everybody in you.

Lead us not into temptation
Hidden or obvious, sudden or unforeseen.

But deliver us from evil
Present, past or future. Amen. 

The prayers this morning are from www.oremus.org.

Tripp Hudgins is a doctoral student in liturgical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., and associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, Calif. You can read more of his writings on his longtime blog, "Conjectural Navel Gazing; Jesus in Lint Form" at AngloBaptist.orgFollow Tripp on Twitter @AngloBaptist.

Photo credit: PerseoMedusa/Shutterstock.

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