October is a notably religious month on our yearly calendar. We celebrate several different feast days and celebrations during this holy month. It is the month of the Mother of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and other important feast days; the feasts of the Guardian Angels, St. Teresa, St. Luke, the North American Martyrs and St. Jude. One of the first important feast days of this month is that of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4.
There is a lot we can learn from the life and works of St. Francis. Looking at his life, one would notice that the behavior St. Francis exhibited, as a child was completely different than the behavior of St. Francis when he reached adulthood. St. Francis's childhood was about anything but praising the Lord and living a life of poverty. It is said that no one loved human pleasure more than St. Francis. Divine intervention changed his perspective on life. On two separate occasions, St. Francis dreamt that the Lord had called him to serve Him and His people. St. Francis then chose to give himself entirely to the Lord. This completely turned St. Francis's life upside-down. His turmoil was aggravated by his father's displeasure with his decision. St. Francis, despite his father's disapproval, began leading a religious life and gave up all the possessions he owned, including the clothes he wore. St. Francis realized the way he was living his life was not the way God was calling him to live. He turned away from temptations of sin and lived a new life according to the Law of God.
Reflecting on St. Francis's life inspires us to reflect on our own lives to see if we are living the life God thinks we should be. We, like St. Francis, could be doing things that we think are right at the time, but if we reflect in our daily prayer, they may not be the things that God is really asking us to do. St. Francis challenges us to evaluate ourselves, to look at who we are. He invites us to look at who and what we are to become and to do this always with God in our minds.
One of the most unique things about St. Francis is that he spoke the Word of God to animals as well as humans! St. Francis believed that animals were part of God's creation so they also deserved to hear the Word of God. In St. Francis's "Canticle to Brother Sun", he bids all forms of creation to hear about, and praise the Lord. He even refers to the sun and water as "Brother Sun" and "Sister Water". St. Francis didn't exclude anybody or anything from hearing the Word of God. We can take his example and share our love of God with others. St. Francis showed that everybody deserves to know the Lord, and he asks us all to go spread the Word. He tells us to not be afraid or timid about spreading the Lord's message to others. St. Francis challenges us to be just as evangelistic as he was.
Another thing that St. Francis teaches us is to listen to the Lord. When the Lord called St. Francis to renovate his church in Assisi, he immediately went to do the Lord's will. We should all follow St. Francis's example and follow the Lord whenever He calls upon us. The Lord knows what is best for all of us, and He doesn't want to see us go down the wrong path. We should "drop our bags", so to speak, when the Lord calls upon us to do things for him. This entails being flexible in our own lives, where if God is calling us to change and to follow him in a different way, we should adhere to his wishes and answer his call.
St. Francis wrote a prayer with a very important theme; he wants all of us to do what Jesus would do. It describes exactly how the Golden Rule calls for us to live our lives and is a reminder to people of how the Lord really wants us to act. This simple prayer, especially in these not so simple times, gives us a credo to live by and is a source of strength from which we can draw.
A Simple Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred , let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is error, truth.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Where there is darkness, light.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console.
To be understood,as to understand.
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive.
It is in pardoning , that we are pardoned.
It is in dying, that we are born to Eternal Life.
- Saint Francis of Assisi
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