Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. One of the greatest and beloved saints of the Catholic Church. He is so great in my eyes that I chose him as my confirmation saint, and the name of my dog.
St. Francis was born into wealth. As a rich man, St. Francis can be compared to the rich young man who had many possessions. At a certain period in his youth through several different experiences such as encountering a beggar, making a pilgrimage to Rome and most dramatically hearing the voice of God through the crucifix, Francis renounced his wealth and became a poor beggar.
St. Francis of Assisi died on this day October 3, 1226, known as the Transitus of St. Francis, meaning the passing over from death to eternal life. His life is a testament of God’s grace. We, like St. Francis, can be vessels of love, healing, and peace to others without wanting anything for our own gain. All possible through encountering Christ crucified.
Today his followers, the Franciscans, are one of the largest religious orders of the Catholic Church. Actually, there are several major Franciscan orders such as the Order of Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins and more recently Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
The Franciscans that I have had the most familiarity with is the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR). I had the great joy in having several of these friars as my own classmates in the seminary. They have nothing and yet they have everything. They are poor but they are rich in heart. They have no money, no salary, no tv, no online streaming. They don’t even purchase food, they beg for it and generous people give them food as consistent benefactors.
They serve the poor, the homeless, and the addicted. They live in low income neighborhoods. What they do on a regular basis for the poor is astonishing. They don’t just serve the poor; they live among them as their brothers.
Many find the CFRs to be a very attractive order, they have many vocations. When you spend time with them, you can see why men like them would give up all possessions and even the gift of having a family, for something greater which is to be configured to Jesus Christ crucified and offer one’s life in service to His Church.
In Jesus and Mary,
Fr. Jeff Yildirmaz