What is God saying to you? How do you know what he wants of you? Do you ever stop and think about it, pray about it or evaluate what it is that He wants of you? I’m always asking these questions but a lot of times fall short of stopping to listen, see or hear what God wants.
I have finally figured out the best way God gets my attention is that He speaks to me through repeating Himself in different ways. For instance, I have blogged repeatedly about St. Francis of Assisi because he has popped up in various ways and places for me and I just cannot ignore this Saint. The latest way God has pointed me to him is that my Parish will be getting a new Priest who happens to be a Franciscan. When I heard that I about dropped my jaw.
Along with St. Francis, another repeated theme in my life is the importance of the Priesthood. It is no wonder that God has combined my two themes by sending a Franciscan Priest my way. I continue to be reminded about priests every single day when my three year old insists that I play Church with him. And when we go to daily Mass or Sunday Mass he always wants to give a little hug to the Priest at the end of the service. Literally these desires of my small son have been going on for about six months now. I cannot ignore that he keeps pointing me to priests. It is so repetitive in an amazing way that only God could have designed it so that I take notice.
If you have taken the time to read this than you may want to evaluate the themes in your own life that God keeps repeating to you. And…….if you are a regular reader of this blog maybe God is repeating the same message to you about St. Francis and the Priesthood. If you take the time to read the life of St. Francis of Assisi you will be amazed at the similarities of his age and our own.
Since I have been getting various reminders about St. Francis I decided to read up on him. I have three different books about his life. The last one I read was suggested to me by a friend who has also been getting the same repeated themes pop up in her life. She has read the book twice now and it is called “God’s Fool, The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi.” by Julien Green, Copyright 1985. I would like to share some excerpts from this book and you will understand what I am talking about regarding the similarities of St. Francis’ time and ours: First you will read the condition of the Church in his time, then the condition of the people and finally a little of what he did to turn it all around:
“Francis’s filial love for the Church of Rome remains one of the most striking aspects of his character. From his youth till the day he died, his fidelity to it never wavered. He may have hesitated on the road to his conversion, but he had no doubts about an institution that Christ himself said was on the point of collapsing-an idea the young convert couldn’t understand. Paradoxically, his very faith resisted such a message. That San Damiano (the physical church building) might come crashing down was evident, but not the Church. That was unthinkable. It was there forever, until the end of time. The Church was the Church as permanently as the sky was the sky.
Yet he couldn’t have been blind to the facts. Any picture one draws of the Church in the year 1200 would have to be, by and large, very dark. There is no need to look for proof of this among the Church’s enemies; we have plenty of evidence from within Catholicism, beginning with the many papal bulls issued by Innocent III against the most scandalous abuses. But if the pope was worried about the general decay in Europe, his comminatory bulls could do little to stop the usury, the venality, the gluttony and sexual excesses of many priests, even in the monastaries. Scandal was everywhere. There was unheard of luxury in the Church, luxury and lust. People sang songs mocking lecherous monks. Defrocked clerics gadded about and burst into song, blasting church dignitaries…..
For all it‘s excesses the Church still had the power of the keys, to open the gates of paradise by absolving sins. Francis remained unshakably Catholic all his life.
There were plenty of faithful Christians, to be sure. Francis knew some perfect priests, but he was also aware that the Church was passing through a period of disturbances.”
“We have a hard time imagining the enthusiasm Francis stirred up in a country as spiritually weakened as Italy was in those days. Sensibility was paralyzing the flow of grace. People were often misled by a purely formal, ostentatious piety. The period also felt-thereby resembling our own era-a void that pleasure couldn’t fill, a hunger for something different, a restlessness of the heart. The Church had forgotten how to speak to the soul, because it was bogged down in the material world.
Then in the piazza or at a turn in the road, there appeared a man with bare feet, dressed like a begger and crying in a joyful voice, “Pace e bene!” One listened to him despite oneself. The fellow knew how to talk, and what he said was so simple that everything seemed new in his language, which had no hard words, those words that make thinking a muddle. No need to have studied to follow him-and they did follow him, first of all because he spoke as he went along, and especially because he believed everything he said. He believed it so strongly that they believed as he did and along with him. They felt that all the things they had learned as children and almost forgotten were now beginning to come true in a terrifying fashion.
He said that God was in love with us all. How did he go about turning them from love to uneasiness? By conjuring up before them in a flash the wall of black fire that cut them off from the heavenly garden and eternal bliss. 'Miser, throw your gold in the devil’s face, as if it were the most nauseating ordure, if you want to enter paradise. Libertine, drop all your women and all your pleasures that keep you from seeing death hot on your heels.'
They felt terror from the secret sins their lives were full of, without Francis’s having to tell them. But he told them anyhow, not with the trumpeting of righteous indignation, as the clergy did, or with their threats of fire and torment, but with an inconsolable sorrow and bursts of searing tenderness, as if he were about to lose his beloved children. And, no longer able to find the words, he began to gesture, his face streaming tears. What eloquence could match those hands stretched out to them? They felt like throwing themselves on their knees to comfort him and to promise him they would return to the Lord. There were women who did this at once, un-self-consciously, carried away by love of God, of heaven, of everything, no doubt including the preacher. Some of the men imitated them, the young ones especially; they were all moved.
Priests who happened to be passing by watched in silence.” pg 124-125
How did Francis know to do what he did, “Francis plunged deeply into prayer to ask God what he wanted of him and his followers.”pg 107 In so doing Francis, “Didn’t want to trim the Gospel, to be “reasonable.” (and for which he was persecuted towards the end of his life) He was one of those uncompromising people whom the world sooner or later breaks, so long as they’re on earth, but who win the victory on the other side of the tomb. Saint Francis of Assisi was never more alive than he is today, whereas the great personalities of his age have faded away. He wanted to save the world; in the end he saved hope.” pg 233
Thank God for St. Francis of Assisi!!! Thank God for Priests, may they follow and preach the Gospel as St. Francis did.
"Joy Battista" stands for the Joy of John the Baptist at the presence of Christ.
"And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy." Luke 1:43-44
This blog is dedicated to all who seek the Joy of Christ's presence in their own lives.
This blog is also dedicated to the unborn, for John the Baptist was an unborn when he leapt for joy at the presence of Jesus who was also unborn at the time.