Updated: Oct 3
"Your God is of your flesh, He lives in your nearest neighbor, in every person." St. Francis
This Sunday we will celebrate one of the most beloved saints, Francis of Assisi
(b. 1181-d.Oct. 1226). Francis was born to a wealthy silk merchant and his French wife in Italy. As a young man he enjoyed all the benefits of wealth, and dressed in expensive clothing, and partied with his rich friends. His call to renounce his wealth and serve God began early though, when he gave all his money to a beggar one day while selling cloth in his father's market. A series of experiences and visions throughout his life confirmed and encouraged his commitment to lead a life of poverty as an itinerant preacher of the Gospel. He is usually depicted in a rough brown habit, in stark contrast to his earlier life of wealth, with a rope around his waist with three knots, symbolizing the three Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He is known for devotion to the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ's Body given for us.
Francis set out to imitate Christ and literally carry out his work. This is important in understanding Francis' character, his affinity for the Eucharist and respect for the priests who carried out the sacrament. He preached: "Your God is of your flesh, He lives in your nearest neighbor, in every man."
He believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his "brothers" and "sisters", and even preached to the birds. The statue in our garden shows birds and rabbits gathered around him as he preached the love of God to them. The beautiful circular stained glass window at the back of our chapel also depicts his deep connection to animals.
Our Book of Common Prayer contains A Prayer attributed to St. Francis. We don't know if he wrote this, but you can clearly see his faith and desire to imitate Christ captured in the words of this prayer:
"Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we 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 pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen." (BCP. 833)
I pray in this season as we watch summer turn to autumn (a particular blessing in New England!), that your heart is moved by the love of God as shown in the life of St. Francis. May we pray his words for all creation and may we follow him in knowing and serving Christ in our nearest neighbor, in every person.
All peace and blessings,
Chapel Chats: Chapel Chats are back! Your clergy love to hear from you and welcome the opportunity to talk on the Chapel Porch, inside, or come to you for a visit. Please reach out to Rev. Nancy or Fr. CJ to set up a conversation.