Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

This week we begin our celebration of Mission and Heritage Week with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Wednesday, October 4. Our theme this year is Reverencing the Other: Fostering a Culture of Encounter. Pope Francis has said, “A Culture of Encounter denounces exclusion and isolation; A Culture of Encounter proclaims relationship; A Culture of Encounter is a journey through mystery.”

St. Francis lived a life of reverencing the other. He regarded each person and each aspect of creation with deep respect. This image below is one of my favorites from the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. In the painting he is preaching to the birds.

The Early Documents in the Franciscan Tradition tell us: “As if he were speaking to people, he called them to come to him, and immediately at his words such a multitude of different birds flocked around him that it is said that never had so many been seen in that area… Those birds, raising their necks, extended their heads and faces toward him, as if they understood him. Then he exhorted them that with their voices and their songs they should praise and glorify God, who created and nourishes them. He spoke to them in this manner for a long time, as if he were the word of God with them as though with rational creatures.”

St. Francis loved all of creation. He saw each aspect of God’s work as the handiwork of the Master. He recognized in each person someone to listen to, someone to see, someone to encounter, and someone whose needs he would seek to meet. May we do the same.

Blessed Angela: “You can see that Jesus is preparing you to receive His graces as He prepared Saint Francis. Be then as responsive to God’s workings as our Holy Father was.”

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