Written by Barb Spies, OFS, FV Mission Director
Compassion: An empathetic consciousness of others expressed in caring service
St. Francis and his fellow friars were known to limit their food intake pretty seriously. We think of fasting at Lent usually, but they did a lot of fasting at other times as well as part of their expression of a vow of poverty. This story of Compassion is adapted from The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul by Thomas of Celano:
One night while all were sleeping, one of St. Francis’s fellow friars cried out: “Brothers! I’m dying! I’m dying of hunger!” Francis got up, and hurried to treat the sick lamb with the right medicine. He ordered them to set the table. Francis started eating first. Then, he invited the rest of the brothers to do the same, for charity’s sake, so their brother would not be embarrassed.
Francis said, “Dear brothers, realize that, what I just did by eating was not my own choice, but an exception, demanded by fraternal charity. Let the charity, not the food, be an example for you, for the latter feeds the belly while the former feeds the spirit.”
Francis didn’t want the friars to focus on the food, but rather on the act of compassion toward their brother in Christ. Francis wanted to prevent him from suffering and feeling shame at breaking his fast.
Much as Francis cared for the basic needs of his brothers, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska supplied the basic needs for those in want during her day. Her compassion became a model for her Sisters and her surrounding community. Felician Village demonstrates acts of compassion toward residents, their families, and fellow staff daily. The larger community of Manitowoc sees this Felician compassion with our participation in events like the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. May that Compassion feed your spirit!