Solemnity of Our Holy Father Saint Francis 2020 (Part III)
For this grace-filled day, a bit more to meditate upon.
This is the last of a three part series on fraternal charity.
Buona Festa! Happy Festival of Saint Francis! FrP
Finally, lest universal love be relegated to a hopelessly naïve warm feeling, in daily life Christ’s example of forgiveness must be made manifest in our relations with the people whom Francis and Clare refer to in their Testaments as those “whom the Lord has given me” (Test 14, TestCl 25; cf. ER 22.42-50, 2LtFid 56-58). As one of the early helpers of the Franciscan Missionaries was wont to tell the brothers, “We can be a peach with the people and a prune with our brothers.” Growth in love is proven at home. A beautiful manifestation of the fruits of this care is manifest in the blood brother of Saint Francis, whose name was Angelo. At the time of Francis’ conversion, Angelo would taunt him saying that Francis would sell a “penny’s worth of sweat!” (ICel 12) To his chagrin, this made Francis very happy, recognizing that the One labored for was the Lord, whose rewards give joy and gladness (cf. 1LAg 19ff.). Later on, to his credit, Angelo was named seneschal by the city of Assisi to oversee providing for the needs of the Friars at the 1221 Chapter of Mats, where over 3,000 gathered. Angelo was also sent by the city to convince Francis to stop tearing down the house they had built for the Friars at the Portiuncula (cf. AC 56).
Can we love such in such as way that we “consider as grace all that impedes [us] from loving the Lord God and whoever has become an impediment to [us], whether brothers or others, even if they lay hands on [us]” (LtrMin 2)? Do we “love those who persecute, rebuke and find fault with us, because the Lord says: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you” (LR 10.10). And do we “love them in this and do not wish that they be better Christians. And let this be more than a hermitage” (LtrMin 7-8). True, no one should do or say anything evil to another (cf. ER 5.13-15), but even a cursory reading of the Admonitions plays out the difficulties of daily life together.
Without holy charity the world, the flesh and the devil will overcome us. Again, the solution proposed by Francis and Clare is minority, littleness, as Saint Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21; cf. ER 5.13-15, SalVirt 13-14). “For if a mother loves and cares for her child according to the flesh, how much more attentively should a sister love and care for her sister according to the Spirit?” (RegCl 8.16). The example and witness of Clare and Francis incites us to never fall prey to anger or disturbance on account of the sin of another, because it is an obstacle to perseverance, charity, and its growth. Rather our prayer should always be for ourselves and for those whom we see in sin “that the Lord will enlighten her heart to do penance” (RegCl 9.4).
“O how holy and how loving, gratifying, humbling, peace-giving, sweet, worthy of love, and above all things desirable it to have such a Brother and such a Son” (2LtrFid 56) ever present with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament. So often the seed of reconciliation with our brother and sister is planted in adoration. We have such a Brother who has united the two in His own flesh, crucifying it with its vices and sins. His forgiveness has far outweighed any hurt or harm committed, and the opening of His Sacred Heart has poured forth a river of tears for the ages. Here before us is Universal Love, given to feed the hunger of mankind: This is My Body. How sweet He is, turning bitter the delights of the world and of the flesh in the glory of His humble sublimity. “May the Lord always be with you and may you always be with Him.” “Always be lovers of your souls and those of all your sisters” (BlCl 16, 14).
This is the last of a three part series on Saint Francis. If you missed the first two, pray to Saint Anthony to help you find them. : ) Make sure you are following us, or like us, or have subscribed, or whatever the appropriate verb may be, so that you do not miss one again.. Pace e Bene. : )