Here is something I just read that I want to share with you:
Francis saw with terrifying insight how human nature was dehumanized by affluence. He saw it among many of the clergy and even in the Bishop of Assisi. He saw it in his own father.
In our day we likewise see some of the worst sins committed by people who have impulsive drives for wealth: sins such as envy, jealousy, revenge, bribery, graft, even murder. Using people as things, valuing possessions over persons; using possessions to make people think we are something more than we really are. And the end result? Might becomes right; fear dominates our relationships and love can gain no entrance; unhappiness, depressions, nervous disorders, but above all violence ensues.
From Francis’ own example in rejecting his father’s materialistic values, he stands before us as a rather awesome sign that all this need not be. A thousand weights can fall from our shoulders, along with finding peace of heart and mind, if we could take the simple steps that Francis took:
- Confront the materialistic mentality of the society that we belong to with a spirit of detachment: “The land is yours, but the landscape is mine” is a real Franciscan attitude.
- Learn to value the sacredness of all being (Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water) but especially and uniquely the sacredness of persons.
- See everything superfluous as belonging to others who are in need.
- Have faith enough to cast one’s care upon the Lord, and have a free, child-like relationship with him.
The famed British historian, Arnold Toynbxee, once said: “Why is it that with the example of the greatest human western civilization has produced clearly before us, the world has chosen to follow Francis’ father instead of Francis?”
(From a 1977 article in The Furrow [28-3] by Donal O’Mahony, OFMCap.)
Today we visited the Sanctuary of La Verna, about a two-hour bus trip to the north. This was a place dear to Frances’ heart. Although he visited here only a few times because of the distance, he spent extended periods of fasting in solitude and prayer. It was here he received the Stigmata after praying to feel in his body the love of Christ on the cross. It was here also that he expressed anxiety about his Order after his death because it was experiencing divisions and conflict, and was told by Jesus, “You have done your part, but remember the Order is Mine, not yours.”