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FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI
John, Chapter 12, Verse 25
Whoever loves his life--loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.
We are all seeds and a seed that is not buried will not bear fruit. Jesus is mentioning his own self-giving which He joins to that of His disciples. They are called to identical servant roles. This is servant leadership.
The servant leader is servant first…. Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such people, it will be a later choice to serve—after leadership is established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them are the shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature (Greenleaf, 2002, pp. 24-25)
Finding your Voice
The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness is a book written by Stephen R. Covey, published in 2004. It is an upgrade of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989. As such, it clarifies and reinforces Covey's earlier declaration that "Interdependence is a higher value than independence." The eighth habit is "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." Voice is Covey's code for "unique personal significance." Those who inspire others to find theirs are the leaders needed now and for the future, according to Covey. The central idea of the book is the need for steady recovery and application of the whole person paradigm, which holds that persons have four intelligences - physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Denial of any of them reduces persons to things, inviting many problems. The industrial age is assumed to have been a period dependent on such denial. Covey believed the information age and a foreseen "Age of Wisdom" requires "whole" people (in whole jobs). The book talks of "5 Cancerous Behaviors" that inhibit people's greatness:
People can discover their voice because of the three gifts everyone is born with:
· The freedom to choose
· The natural laws or principles – those that dictate the consequences of behavior. Positive consequences come from fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service and contribution
· The four intelligences – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Covey talks about great achievers expressing their voice through the use of their intelligences.
Achievers for example
1. develop their mental energy into vision
2. develop their physical energy into discipline
3. develop their emotional energy into passion
4. develop their spiritual energy into conscience – their inward moral sense of what is right and wrong and their drive towards meaning and contribution.
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
ST. FRANCIS was born at Assisi, in Italy, in the year 1182. His father, a rich merchant, intended him for trade, and Francis applied himself with aptness to this employment, in which, though fond of show, he exhibited, at an early day, a particular love for the poor. Agreeable and amiable, affable and kind to all, he was beloved by all around him, and the world sought to draw him to its side. But, enlightened from above, and by heavenly apparitions rendered attentive to the call he was about to receive, he followed the leadings of grace which drew him on to imitate Christ in poverty and humility. Hearing one day at Mass the words of the Gospel “Do not possess gold, or silver, or money in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff” (Matt. x. 9, 10), he began to regulate the whole manner of his life according to this precept of the Gospel, and at once began to preach penance with such evangelical poverty, and with such power, that all who heard him were moved to tears. Disinherited by his father, who was greatly displeased at his poverty and open-handedness towards the poor, he threw himself altogether upon the providence of his Father in heaven, dividing with the poor the alms he thus received. The extraordinary manner of his life soon brought around him disciples, and as the number of them increased daily, he wrote for them a rule, and then set out for Home, to procure from the Pope a confirmation of it. He came back, rejoicing in the Lord that everything at Rome had gone according to his wish, and established himself about a mile from his native city, at a small church belonging to the Benedictines, which he called Portiuncula (little portion). Here he led a life of the severest penance here he prayed day and night, and here he laid the foundation of that Order which has filled the world with the splendor of its virtues. Here in this church, dedicated to the virgin Mother of Jesus and to the holy angels, he received from Christ Himself the celebrated indulgence known throughout the whole Christian world as the Portiuncula Indulgence, for while the saint was praying there with glowing devotion, on the day of the dedication of the church, in the year 1221, the Lord appeared to him and said “Francis, ask whatever thou wilt for the salvation of the nations.” He answered: “I desire the remission of guilt and punishment, a plenary indulgence for all who shall visit this church with contrite hearts and sincerely confess their sins. The Lord replied, Go then to My representative, the Pope, and ask the indulgence in My name. “Forthwith he went to Pope Honorius III., who first, by word of mouth, and afterwards by a proper bull, confirmed to him the indulgence. The same indulgence was, at a later day, extended to all churches of the Franciscans, and by Pope Pius VII to all parish churches (at least to all in Bavaria), and may be gained on the first Sunday in August of every year. Burning with desire for the salvation of the people, St. Francis with his brethren, whom he sent out two by two to preach penance and the peace of God, labored to establish everywhere the kingdom of heaven. His love for sinners, and his ardent zeal for the salvation of souls, impelled him to visit remote parts of the world to preach the Gospel to unbelievers. For this he was rewarded by God with miraculous graces, among which there is particularly to be mentioned that which was granted him upon Mount Alverno. While he was there engaged, separated from the world, in fasting and praying for forty days, as he was accustomed to do often, the Savior appeared to him in the form of a seraph on the cross, and imprinted the five wounds of His own body on the body of St. Francis. On account of this, and for his ardent love for Jesus crucified, St. Francis received the surname of Seraph. After this event the saint lived two years in manifold bodily distress and sickness, without murmur or complaint, with perfect resignation to the will of God. Sometime before his death he caused his will to be written, in which he left to his brethren poverty as an inheritance in which they should find great treasure for heaven. As the hour of his dissolution drew nigh he had the passion of Christ read to him; he then said the one hundred and forty-first psalms, and at the words, bring my soul out of prison that I may praise Thy name, he expired happy in the Lord, October 4, 1226, in the forty-fifth year of his age. St. Francis founded three Orders, the first and proper Order of Franciscans, or the Order of Friars Minor, then the Order of Franciscan nuns, or Clares, so called from St. Clare, their first superior and lastly, that called the Third Order, for people in the world, of both sexes, who aim at perfection, but do not desire to make the vows of the cloister. This last Order, which has been approved by many Popes, particularly by Gregory IX., Innocent IV., and Nicholas IV., has spread throughout the whole world, and is becoming in our day more and more flourishing.
We must as is sometimes do as attributed to the sayings of St. Francis, “preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”
This is the first premise of leadership. As leaders, especially Christian leaders, we must demonstrate the Be, Know and Do attitudes of Christ. That is we must become an “Alter Christus” or another Christ. We must BE to others as Christ would. We must KNOW spiritual principals as Christ does and we must act or DO in the world as Christ would.
This day emulate our Lord by reflecting and living the prayer of St. Francis.
The Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
Things to Do
· Pray the , which was written by St. Francis.
· For more reading, see the selections from the . This page from the contains links about St. Francis of Assisi, including biographies, articles, writings, Orders & Societies, liturgical texts and art.
· Many parishes have a on this day. See the Prayers column for other alternatives. St. Francis loved all of God's creatures. Find the stories of the Wolf of Gubbio, the Sermon to the Birds, his Canticle of Creatures to see some illustrations of his honoring God's creation.
· St. Francis was influential on our present-day Christmas crib or creche.
· Although St. Francis is one of the most popular saints of the Church, and his feast is a huge celebration in Assisi, there are no particular foods attached to that festival. Tradition has passed on that on his deathbed he requested Frangipane cream or Moastaccioli (almond biscotti). Fire is a symbol of St. Francis, first of all because his heart was on fire with love of God, but there are other stories in Little Flowers of St. Francis that deal with fire, particularly when he prayed, the surrounding areas would become so bright that people thought the areas were on fire. So a flaming dessert or wine would be an appropriate ending of a wonderful feast. One could also try some recipes, or just have "Italian night" at home, even just simple spaghetti or other pasta and sauces.
· Learn more about the . The has a wonderful entry on St. Francis, including his Rule. And from the Catholic Culture Library you can read a detailed summary of the life of St. Francis and his founding of the .
· What does in our state of life mean? How can I follow the Gospels like Francis?
· Learn more about geography and history of the area, and how much Francis has impacted that area.
· Study art and photos of Francis. Find out more about the in Assisi. Although the earthquake in 1997 damaged the basilica, it reopened in 1999.
· Go here for , translated by Fr. Paschal Robinson in 1906.
· Read by Brother Ugolino online or purchase a copy. This is a collection of many stories and legends of the life of St. Francis. Of particular note is his Sermon to the Birds,
"My little sisters the birds, ye owe much to God, your Creator, and ye ought to sing his praise at all times and in all places, because he has given you liberty to fly about into all places; and though ye neither spin nor sew, he has given you a twofold and a threefold clothing for yourselves and for your offspring. Two of all your species he sent into the Ark with Noah that you might not be lost to the world; besides which, he feeds you, though ye neither sow nor reap. He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much, having thus favoured you with such bounties. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God."
St. Francis was a great respecter of life and viewed all creation as a gift of God; he called the animals brothers and the moon sister moon. If we have God’s breath and love in us we must respect and protect all creation starting with the most vulnerable of human life.
35 Promises of God cont.
34. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”-Ps 37:4
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
89. Next to the prayer of priests and of dedicated virgins, the prayer most pleasing to God is the prayer of children and that of the sick.
 The Collegeville Bible Commentary
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
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