Will the REAL St. Francis of Assisi please stand up!
The Catholic News Service came out with a video “Seeking Francis of Assisi.” In the about section on Youtube it reads: “An inter-religious group on retreat in Assisi seeks the spirit of St. Francis.”
The group is kind of delusional. They seem to be an aging group of hippies. It’s that attitude that Francis of Assisi was just some wonderful, loving guy who gave up all his possessions and ran around hugging trees.
I’m sure the people in this video are nice people, but that is not what Jesus Christ calls us to be.
Emphasis in bold, my comments in red.
Here are a few quotes from the video:
On of the gentleman said:
“It’s about connecting with the god within. (That’s not Christian theology, no way Catholic. We don’t seek the “god within,” we seek God who lives in us through sanctifying grace) That inner kingdom that kind of meets everyone at that universal place. It’s about love, (Yes, ultimately, but love leads to commitment, not some illusive journey to nowhere or some kind of nirvana) it’s about the inner journey, open heart – kind of all the things it seems St. Francis was all about. (Really? Is that what Francis of Assisi was?)“
“It’s all about love, and that’s what Francis knew (So he’s going to tell us what Francis knew. Let’s listen!). He knew it wasn’t about religion, (WRONG! Francis’ identity was Roman Catholic) it wasn’t about anything complicated. It was about knowing that were loved and forgiven.” (I dare to disagree. To find love and forgiveness, one must know a moral code, repent and live it!)
“Francis was, I mean his whole life was to imitate Christ. To live the life that Jesus lived. (Yes, it was, but there is a context to that life. He wasn’t a 60’s hippie who ran around bear footed taking acid.)
So who was the real St. Francis of Assisi?
Here is a quote in the video from Pope Francis, in which he clarifies things quite a bit:
“Franciscan peace is not a saccharine sentiment! Please! This St. Francis does not exist. Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with the energy of the cosmos. This is not Franciscan either.”
Here are a few quotes from St. Francis himself:
“Blessed is the servant who has faith in the clergy and who live uprightly according to the norms of the Roman Church.” (Admonitions XXVI – 1)
St. Francis had a strong love for the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, not some pantheistic “god” within.
“Let us be careful, we clerics, to avoid great sin and ignorance which certain people have towards the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His most holy written words which consecrate the [His] body. We know that it cannot become His Body if the bread is not first consecrated by the [His] Word. For we have and see nothing corporally of the Highest One in this world except the [His] Body and Blood, and the words by which we were created and redeemed from death to life (1 John 3:14).
Let all those, then, who administer such holy mysteries – especially those who administer them carefully – consider how base (dirty, unkept & neglected) the cups, the corporal cloths and the altar cloths are until they are used to consecrate the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. And many leave the Body and Blood in unworthy places, (Sounds like some parishes today, where the Blessed Sacrament is hidden in some corner.) carry It through the streets in miserable ways, receive It unworthy and administer It to others without reverence.” (Letter to the Clergy 1-5)
He was also very clear about sin and mercy. It’s not just about knowing your “forgiven and loved,” it’s about repentance and change!
“If any brother, at the instigation of the enemy, sin mortally, let him be bound by obedience to have recourse to his guardian. And let all the brothers who know him to have sinned, not cause him shame or slander him, but let them have great mercy on him and keep very secret the sin of their brother, for they that are healthy need not a physician, but they that are ill. And let them be likewise bound by obedience to send him to his custos with a companion. And let the custos himself care for him mercifully as he himself would wish to be cared for by others if he were in a like situation.
And if he should fall into any venial sin, let him confess to his brother priest, and if there be no priest there let him confess to his brother, until he shall find a priest who shall absolve him canonically, as has been said, and let them have absolutely no power of enjoining other penance save only this: go and sin no more.” (Letter to a Minister 14-20)
Francis was not some freak, hippie nut. His writing demonstrate that the Poverello of Assisi was an obedient son of the Church. He loved the Church, and the Pope, the Sacraments, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Francis of Assisi loved everything it means to be Roman Catholic. It was the grace of the Sacraments and his response to that grace, that transformed him and empowered him to love and serve others in poverty and chastity.
Watch the video.
I said it before and I will say it again that you always have to be aware of the leaders within a group that you have joined. You even have to watch out for the leaders in groups that say they are teaching everything according to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. They are not. Take care. Father Jay Finelli has some great insights into this group.
But didn’t the talk by Pope Francis, at the end, redeem the video? Everything that Pope Francis says is right on the mark about what Franciscan spirituality (and thus St. Francis) is about. The people in the video (“aging hippies”) are human seekers, not quite there but looking and waiting (like all of us). The very fact that the video ends with the words of Pope Francis seems to me that it is on the right track.
Thanks for the comment Beth. Yes, we are all seeking. The Holy Father puts St. Francis in true perspective. He was a man of the Church and on fire with his love for the Sacraments.
St Francis prayer for peace was – Lord make me an instrument of ” YOUR PEACE ” . this is the exact opposite of peace movements who don’t have divine humility to bring about peace .
peaceniks who embrace Francis are embracing the by product and not the source divine . that is why there is no peace .