A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds

A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been a blessing to re-enter a relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, I still look fondly upon my time there as a lay minister of praise. One of the great resources that has come to me is Elizabeth Rapley’s The Lord as Their Portion: The story of the Religious Orders and How they shaped our world. I am not done this work so there may still be more musings afoot. But what has come to mind is when I hit the section on the rise of the Mendicants, and more earnestly her snapshot of Francis The Poverello.

She points out his failure as a merchant (more enjoyed spending of the money, than the makin of) and then his less that successful soldiering, where on his first mission he was injured, captured and became a prisoner of war for  seven years. See Francis of Assisi is my patron, and one of the reasons I am attracted to his mysticism and story is that he lives. Meaning that there is no hiding what he truly was.

Rapley raises a new question to show the relevance of the story of saints today (ancient or contemporary as with Dorothy Day or even the 14 year old girl shot by the Taliban). After Francis’ return from captivity he entered a spiral of self-destruction, addiction, partying, thieving, etc… hmmm…a spiral of self-destruction with erratic behaviours…

I am pondering if Francis doesn’t hold another story of redemption and healing for today, with all those that have suffered trauma and now live with the mixed blessing of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Why? Simple, he responded as one returning from war time. Yet in the midst of it, there was a point of clarity where he discoverd a true purpose for life.

A true purpose, the rise of the mendicants that followed him into poverty to care for the world, a reflection of the true life of Christ, the true gospel.

How does this story reflect on those we journey with who may have encountered trauma and are still living through and into the darkness? How can we shine the light? How did Francis leave the darkness?

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