1) For starters, the cross was crucial for St. Francis. . . The cross was (and is) sometimes seen as a sign of judgment and sin and suffering... The sheer joy and hope—the well of love—that Clare and Francis see in the Crucifix is a contrast to other holy men and women, particularly of their time. The cross for Clare and Francis has us turn out toward a suffering world rather than turn in and berate ourselves over our own sins.
2) St. Francis had a deep sense of “home” in himself.As Luke suggests in his wonderful Gospel, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” This was so striking for St. Francis that he repeated it regularly. Especially for Americans, or “type A” people who are always “on the go,” it takes conscious work to taste our arrival, to sense that we are already at home. . . Rich hospitality flows from someone who is “at home” in themselves.
3) Francis wasn't bound by the rules of his time. Francis and his followers became theologians for the marketplace, for the poor, for the lepers, not because they were learned in what we call “book knowledge” but because their faith took them to the first and always essential encounter of Christ in the other.
4) Did you know St. Francis crossed over “enemy lines” during the Crusades? He went there to preach the gospel and likely become a martyr. However, Francis was eventually ushered into the company of the Sultan, and the rapport that developed between the two was quite striking. It is said that their dialogue went on for days. And he left the situation with peace, goodwill, and respect.
5) St. Francis’s redeeming message can change our world today—in our relationships with one another and the natural world around us. We are living in a world that needs us to proclaim and live according to the Word.
In all times, in different branches of the Christian family, there are people who have written or sung or spoken things that encouraged us to give our lives to God and to listen to His voice. At Paraclete Press, we gather and share these treasures.