[Not that there's anything wrong with a dancing Catholic hippie-it's just that St. Francis has many other characteristics to learn about and celebrate!]
Befriend a Dominican.
As the story goes, in 1215 or 1216, St. Francis and St. Dominic met in Rome while seeking papal approval for their respective orders.
|"St. Dominic and St. Francis" by Angelo Lion. Public Domain.|
So, take a moment today to meet a Dominican, send a note of appreciation to a Dominican, and/or pray for the Dominican order.
Sing like a Franciscan.
St. Francis loved music; this is without question. In his pre-conversion days, he would embrace poetry and love songs, like a medieval troubadour. In fact, St. Francis is now known as "God's troubadour," and Franciscans have carried on a rich musical legacy. On this feast of St. Francis, we can sing St. Francis' composition, "Canticle of Brother Sun," or the "Stabat Mater," which is commonly attributed to Friar Jacoponi da Todi. There's also a gorgeous album by The Rose Ensemble dedicated to St. Francis, which is extremely appropriate to listen to on this feast.
Donate your clothes.
When St. Francis heard God's call to "repair my Church," he thought he should repair the physical church of San Damiano. He needed money to do this, so he sold fabric from his father's shop in order to get funds. As can be expected, his dad was pretty upset about this! Bishop Guido told Francis to return his father's money, and not only did Francis do this, but he stripped off his clothes (since his father had given him those) and renounced all things for God. While I do not recommend that we strip publicly like St. Francis, I think we can imitate his spirit of poverty. Sift through your closet and find at least one article of clothing that you can donate to a business that helps people in need.
Learn about and pray for Christian-Muslim interactions.
In the early 13th century, St. Francis and one of his brother friars traveled to Egypt. At the time, this area was torn with bloodshed and violence between Muslims and Christians. St. Francis marched on into the Muslim camp and was seized by soldiers and taken before the sultan, al-Kamil. What followed was a remarkable exchange of peaceful, respectful dialogue. Inspired by St. Francis' enthusiasm and love, we can make the time to nurture compassionate dialogue between Christians and Muslims and learn about Islam (I found the book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi, incredibly insightful). We can-and should-also pray for peace between Christians and Muslims.
Dress in a Franciscan-inspired outfit.
There are a variety of ways in which we can reflect joy for the feast in our clothes. We can wear clothes that feature animals and nature, since St. Francis spent much time rejoicing in God's creation. Alternatively, we can pull out our favorite gray (or earthen-toned) clothes, since the original Franciscan habits were made from undyed materials (photographs can be seen here). In fact, this is why Franciscans have been called Greyfriars! For a more subtle approach to the Franciscan-inspired outfit, devoutly wear a wood Tau cross.
Get to know Mary.
When Jesus hung on the Cross, he spoke the words, "Behold, your mother" (Jn 19:27) to John the Evangelist-and in this, Jesus gave his mother not only to St. John, but to all. As St. John Paul II writes,
"The reality brought about by Jesus' words, that is, Mary's new motherhood in relation to the disciple, is a further sign of the great love that led Jesus to offer his life for all people. On Calvary this love is shown in the gift of a mother, his mother, who thus becomes our mother too."St. Francis of Assisi was fervent in his devotion to the Blessed Mother, choosing her as patroness of his friars and writing a beautiful Salutation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this feast of St. Francis, we can recall his great Marian devotion and seek to cultivate our relationships with Mary, so that she will draw us ever-closer to her son, Jesus. In fact, you can even pray the Franciscan Crown, which reflects on the joys of Mary.
|From a church in Assisi, Italy.|