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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Francis, a Rich Model for Serving the Poor

Beginning tomorrow, HIA goes on retreat. We resume publishing early next week our daily “blogazine” with its edge on poverty and the homeless in America. However, servants of the poor everywhere join together to celebrate today’s special commemoration, the feast of St. Francis. The legend lives on!

Born in 1182 in Assisi, Italy - Francis was brought up in luxury, considerable wealth and extravagant pleasures. He was well-off in other ways too; he was very good-looking, had many friends and all the noble men's sons were his companions. One day Francis was joking and laughing with his friends. A homeless guy came along crying for spare change. Francis, who was soft-hearted, gave him whatever he had. His friends mocked him for his charity. The sight of the beggar set him thinking about the poverty and misery of the mundane life he had been living. Immediately, he became inspired to give money to the poor. This did not go over very well at home. His father thought that Francis was wasting the family’s money and tried to stop his random acts of philanthropy.

Francis fell seriously ill and was bedridden for many months. He was just about to die when the Lord extended his hand of mercy and revived him. After receiving a new lease on life, Francis changed completely. He began to pray often and soon had a vision and supernatural encounter with the Lord. After the vision, almost instantly Francis gave up his old ways by distributing all of his clothes, goods and money to the poor. He informed his parents of his new life in Christ and his call to serve the poor. His father became progressively angry, upset and once said, "Is this the gratitude you show to me? I labored hard and achieved all this wealth. Now you are lavishly wasting it on these miserable wretches". Even Francis' long-time friends mocked him. They pelted him with stones and mud whenever they ran into him on the streets. But Francis bore all the rejection and disdain with patience.

In serving the poor, Francis became known all around the region as a humble man that loved and freely gave to all of God's creatures. He cherished birds and beasts. He loved the homeless, depressed and the outcasts. Soon others were following with him in his footsteps. Bernard, a very rich man of Assisi joined with him. Together the two brothers placed all their wealth at the altar of God. Others also joined. They distributed all their wealth to the poor. The news of the brothers and their gospel of kindness and love for the poor soon spread all over Europe and earned for him the name of “Saint” Francis. People also called him “the little poor man of Assisi”. For centuries now, the lavish wealth of Francis’ poverty continues to forever endure in the hearts and minds of the rich and poor alike.

8 comments:

CECIL B DEMENTED said...

Inspiring.. I go find out more about St Francis. Have a good trip brother,

Cecil

Raby Savage said...

Thought provoking indeed.

Anonymous said...

It's a perfect time to pause, reflect for a few days and breathe in the Spirit of Francis. May God bless HIA!

ls said...

There is such a universality of St. Francis that people respond too. His preaching is so simple, his respect for God's children is so complete, everyone can find a way to relate to St. Francis. He usually is the first saint people, especially children, respond too. I am so grateful that we have people like St Francis who can still inspire us.

Raby Savage said...

I say something several times a week just as I'm walking or sitting or when somebody aggravates me.
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change. The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." (also known as the Serenity Prayer)It's from St. Francis of Assisi, right?

Anonymous said...

The Serenity Prayer is generally attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr - a theologian who lived from 1892–1971. His writings are most likely where AA discovered the prayer to use in its program. In reality, the prayer is much older. The Anglican publishing house, Mobray of London confirms it as a General or Common Prayer of 14th century England.

Chris S. said...

My favorite prayer of all time is the St. Francis prayer. (in recovery it's suggested as the 11th step prayer) Thank you for the article and it is inspiring. More and more I feel that truly what is the most worth while and spiritually fufilling would be to dedicate myself to be of service to those in the world who poor and in need. I can think of no better ideal to guide ones choices in life. There is so much suffering, to be able to bring joy and comfort to those in need, truly what joy one can experience in following Gods calling to us.

Raby Savage said...

To Anonymous: Thanks for letting me know to whom the Serenity Prayer is attributed. Man,it sure sounds like something St. Francis would concur with, I think.

St. Francis of Assisi was indeed amazing. I want to be more like him.