Fr Chris on the Franciscan Thanksgiving

Approching thanksgiving may be occasion to focus our attention on franciscan understanding of this family event.  Reading a story of St. Francis we need to realized how much we need to be grateful for our lives. How much more we can do by looking at our life as a gift. St. Francis drawn to God by real people particularly poor, minors of society gave them new hearts, new lips. we can understand a little bit better how great renewal had been taken in the Middle Ages. How much contribution Francis has for the whole humanity.  In the simplicity of imitating Jesus St. Francis was able to transform lives of many.

Life can often send us unwanted sufferings and pain. But if we follow in the footsteps of Jesus as St. Francis understood the Gospel, denying himself and taking up his cross, we experience God’s power in our lives.  In St. Francis life “ Whenever Christ’s crucifixion came to his mind, he could scarcely contain his tears and sight.” BON 1.4(189). It is at those times what we may find it hard to pray and to be in God’s presence. And yet even then – especially then – Christ is right beside us, sharing our suffering and pain. Often he asks us the same question. “What is it you want me to do for you? “And how do we answer? – “Take away my pain? Make me whole again?”

And then we can experience God in the person of Jesus. It was in faith, and love for the Crucified Lord,  that St. Francis experienced God. In such right relationship there is a new way of seeing, new personal way of being with God and God’s creations. Everyone of us, as a person has the dignity of being children of God. God’s love realized in every form of creation. It is especially realized in self-actualization of the human person. This is what comes to our mind while reflecting on “The Life of St. Francis.” One person complies with another person and shares that power of God with his very person. In that context of being responsible for another human being, call him brother. Even talking to the fire as a friend while undergoing the brother doctor’s cauterization: “My brother fire, whose beauty is the envy of all other creatures, the Most High has created you strong, beautiful and useful. Be kind to me in this hour, be courteous! I beseech the great Lord who created you to temper your heat for me so that you will burn gently and I can endure it.” BON 5.9(224-225)

St. Francis for a Christian is a person whose deeds and actions speak the same. He perfects himself and his brothers according to God’s thoughts. Leaving himself without conditions and by being in  relationship with God and to others, drawn into the sacred and the mystery of creation. Francis lived with all forms of creation as  gifts. It a is unique way of being in the world. His lifestyle calls our attention how we treat people around us especially the poor, who are worthy of respect every moment of their being. St. Francis was able to acknowledge God in the silence of God’s transcendence. For him humility is truth, and truth is humility. It is true that God is our God and that everything we have comes from God. But how hard it is to understand for someone who is not spiritually a child. So we need to ask ourselves: does my soul proclaim the greatness of the Lord? His life is the call in the direction of humanization of our relationships. St. Francis treated his brothers with the dignity of children of God. This needs to be realized  in us and through us . And this performing of our free will directed toward God, especially by our actions is the heart of Francis’ teaching.  We are called to live up to our potential. In all of this we have the help of God.  That’s why our process of self-actualization is the process of realizing God’s thoughtfulness in the act of thanksgiving.

Cousins, Ewert, ed. Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God -The Tree of Life – The Life of St. Francis. New York: Paulist, 1978.

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