A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

St. Francis Countdown: Francis' Conversion


This year's St. Francis Day will be particularly poignant for me, since I am currently the same age as Holy Father Francis was when he began his conversion. I can definitely relate to Francis' initial longings to try to find his place in life. Paradoxically, it was only after he relinquished his self-centred desires that Francis truly "found himself."

Below is an excerpt from Thomas of Celano's account of Francis' conversion:

When the father saw that he could not recall him [Francis] from the journey he had begun, he became obsessed with recovering the money. The man of God [Francis] had desired to spend it on feeding the poor and on the buildings of that place. But the one [Francis] who did not love money could not be deceived even by this appearance of good, and the one who was not bound by any affection for it was not disturbed in any way by its loss. The greatest scorner of the things of earth and the outstanding seeker of heavenly riches had thrown it into the dust on the windowsill. When the money was found, the rage of his angry father was dampened a little and his thirsty greed was quenched a bit by its discovery. Then he led the son to the bishop of the city to make him renounce into the bishop's hands all rights of inheritance and return everything that he [Francis] had. Not only did he not refuse this, but he hastened joyfully and eagerly to do what was demanded.

When he [Francis] was in front of the bishop, he neither delayed nor hesitated, but immediately took off and threw down all his clothes and returned them to his father. He did not even keep his trousers on, and he was completely stripped bare before everyone. The bishop, observing his frame of mind and admiring his fervour and determination, got up and, gathering him in his own arms, covered him with the mantle he was wearing. He clearly understood that this was prompted by God and he knew that the action of the man of God, [Francis] which he had personally observed, contained a mystery. After this he became his helper. Cherishing and comforting him, [Francis] he embraced him in the depths of charity.

When the father saw that he could not recall him [Francis] from the journey he had begun, he became obsessed with recovering the money. The man of God [Francis] had desired to spend it on feeding the poor and on the buildings of that place. But the one [Francis] who did not love money could not be deceived even by this appearance of good, and the one who was not bound by any affection for it was not disturbed in any way by its loss. The greatest scorner of the things of earth and the outstanding seeker of heavenly riches had thrown it into the dust on the windowsill. When the money was found, the rage of his angry father was dampened a little and his thirsty greed was quenched a bit by its discovery. Then he led the son to the bishop of the city to make him renounce into the bishop's hands all rights of inheritance and return everything that he [Francis] had. Not only did he not refuse this, but he hastened joyfully and eagerly to do what was demanded.

When he [Francis] was in front of the bishop, he neither delayed nor hesitated, but immediately took off and threw down all his clothes and returned them to his father. He did not even keep his trousers on, and he was completely stripped bare before everyone. The bishop, observing his frame of mind and admiring his fervour and determination, got up and, gathering him in his own arms, covered him with the mantle he was wearing. He clearly understood that this was prompted by God and he knew that the action of the man of God, [Francis] which he had personally observed, contained a mystery. After this he became his helper. Cherishing and comforting him, [Francis] he embraced him in the depths of charity.
(Celano VI, 14-15)

This famous story of Francis renouncing his father's wealth was captured in the film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon." That particular part of the movie always brings tears to my eyes, as it perfectly captures Francis' affirmation of childlike innocence. Although it is dubbed in Spanish, you can watch this clip from the film on YouTube. Please watch this at your own discretion, since the scene does contain some non-sexual male nudity.

More to come!

1 Comments:

Blogger Charles of New Haven said...

There's so much richness in this story, so many levels. Right away I think about Francis overcoming the nakedness shame that afflicted our first parents after their disobedience. And then I think about how Francis was covered with the bishop's mantle, making him forever a son of the real life Church on earth. Beautiful.

Happy Francis countdown!

8:56 AM  

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