At the end of every year I fly home to rural Ontario for the holidays. The contrast between the excitement, noise and action of each semester at school with the quiet, simple, disconnectedness of my family home in the country always forces me to reflect on the dualism in my life. It’s amazing how easily I can avoid daily prayer and quiet when I have assignments to finish, projects to complete, meetings to attend, people to visit…and then I come home. My internet access is shoddy at best and my to-do list is empty.
I am confronted with myself.
Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
St. Francis lived from 1181 to 1226 in Assisi, Italy. He was born into a rich merchant family and grew up enjoying all kinds of worldly pleasures but he always felt drawn to a simpler way of life. Although many details of his life are unknown, it is widely thought that a sermon on Matthew 10:9, in which Christ tells his followers to go forth without any money or material goods and proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand was the catalyst that led him to a life of poverty over privilege.
Francis never became a priest, choosing to live a semi-nomadic life in community as a “lesser brother”. Beyond the creation of three distinct orders, he is credited with the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve 1223 and was also the recipient of the first recorded occurrence of stigmata.
Through St. Francis I am re-learning to find God in all creation. I am also slowly discovering who I am when all the things that fill my life, occupying my time and propping up my ego, are no longer present. This morning I went for a walk and it was only me, God, and one lone fox in the forest!
San Francesco, I believe that I’m beginning to discover your allure…
Pray for us.