FRANCIS OF ASSISI (4 OCT 1226)
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Little Rock, Arkansas,12 step Eucharist, 5:30 pm Oct 2, 2019.
On October 4th we will celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was born in 1182, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. His early years were frivolous. He joined the military and was captured early in the Assisi-Pe/rug/ia war. A year’s harsh imprisonment and a lengthy illness, probably malaria, at age 19 lead him to reflect on the purpose of life. Like many people starting 12 step-recovery, he became “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and prayed that he could be guided and helped from returning to his old life. One day, in the church of San Da/mi/ano while looking at its now famous cross, he seemed to hear Christ saying to him, "Francis, repair my falling house." He took the words literally sold a bale of silk from his father's warehouse to pay for repairs to the church of San Da/mi/ano. His father was outraged, and there was a public confrontation at which his father disinherited and disowned him, and Francis in turn renounced his father's wealth. A favorite account says that he not only handed his father his purse, but also took off his expensive clothes, laid them at his father's feet, and walked away naked.
Later after hearing a sermon about Jesus’ command to go out and proclaim the kingdom taking no money or walking stick or shoes, (Matthew 10:9) Francis realized that God was not calling him to rebuild the building of his church but the people of his church, especially the poor, and the rest of his life was spent doing that.
Like people in 12 step-recovery, Francis made a dramatic change in the direction of his life and turned his life over to his higher power. There are so many stories for us to study about Francis, his life of absolute poverty, his love of the Eucharist, love of animals and his love and connection to God in creation and Nature. A now famous quote about the well know saint1 is that “Francis of all the saints, is the most popular and admired, but probably the least imitated!”
To honor St. Francis, our clergy will be here Sunday at 4:00 to bless all and any of your animals.
Tonight, let us concentrate on the prayer that is attributed to him. It is in our Book of Common Prayer on page 833, but there is a copy in your seat. This is a prayer asking God, our Higher Power to change us just as God did for Francis. It could be considered a third step prayer. Let us read it together.
PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS
Lord, make me an instrument of Your 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;
and 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;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. BCP 833
1Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006, p. 404.
Joanna Seibert joannaseibert.com