Often, when I think of St. Francis of Assisi, I feel overwhelmed by the legacy of his holiness. At first glance, the heights of his sanctity seem out of reach. His radical charity, his desire for poverty, and his extraordinary joy are difficult to comprehend, let alone live out.
It is easy to think of great Saints like Francis and become disheartened. How can I, a wife and mother, live out Franciscan charity, poverty, and joy?
After prayer and reflection, the answer was pressed upon my heart. St. Francis was charitable because Christ was charitable. St. Francis chose poverty because Christ was poor. He was joyful because of Christ’s joy.St. Francis was charitable because Christ was charitable. St. Francis chose poverty because Christ was poor. He was joyful because of Christ’s joy. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Lovers and Imitators of Christ
No matter what state of life or vocation we’re in, we are called to be lovers and imitators of Christ. When I started thinking of Francis’ life as a beautiful love story instead of a giant list of virtues, I became inspired instead of discouraged. Fall in love with Christ and the charity, poverty, and joy will fruitfully follow. Knowing, loving, and imitating the life of Christ leads to holiness and sanctity. This is true whether we are a Franciscan friar walking the streets of Assisi or a mother walking the halls of her home.
The Communion of Saints
We all have unique gifts that God desires to cultivate and that we in turn are called to share. We have specific talents, strengths, and virtues that help build the Kingdom of God. Yet we cannot do it alone. We are a community of Faith that depends on one another. God gave us the gift of the Saints and we can learn from their example of holiness and imitate them in their outstanding virtues.
The Best Bible Interpreters
The Saints are the best interpreters of the Bible. As they incarnate the Word of God in their own lives, they make it more captivating than ever, so that it really speaks to us.
Pope Benedict continued to proclaim that the witness of St. Francis of Assisi:
who loved poverty as a means to follow Christ with dedication and total freedom, continues to be for us too an invitation to cultivate interior poverty in order to grow in our trust of God, also by adopting a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods.
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St. Francis and Lady Poverty
The poverty of St. Francis of Assisi is often seen as his hallmark virtue. From the time he stripped naked and renounced his father’s riches to the moment of his death bearing the wounds of the Crucified Christ in the stigmata, Lady Poverty reigned supreme in his heart.
Poverty was a virtue St. Francis of Assisi lived both in his interior and exterior life. He had a poverty of spirit, a poverty that, if lived out, has Heaven as a reward (Matthew 5:3). From this poverty of heart sprung exterior signs of poverty. This was not only in the way he dressed, spoke, and looked, but also in his service and love for the poor and sick.
Three Ways to Become Poor Like St. Francis
Sisters, that same poverty that Christ lived and that St. Francis imitated is obtainable for us here and now, no matter what our state of life or vocation. We are called to not just desire poverty, but to delight in it! How?
The life of Saint Francis teaches us how to do this through keeping our eyes fixed on the Crucified Christ, through complete trust in our Creator, and through rejoicing in moments of poverty.
Keep Our Eyes On the Crucified Christ
St. Francis’ great love story began at the Cross. It’s where he was told to rebuild the Church and it’s where he gathered the grace and strength to do so. Francis’ life was completely and wholly Christ-centered. Everything He did was for Christ and to make Him known and loved in this world.
There is no greater poverty than the poverty of the Crucified Christ. Vulnerable, despised, naked, and alone, Jesus hanging on the Cross is poverty embodied. St. Francis fell in love with the poverty of Our Savior on the Cross. When we gaze at a crucifix, let us realize that because of Christ’s great poverty we are able to become poor in turn and rebuild His Church. Let us see that the true riches of this earth are found in love and sacrifice.There is no greater poverty than the poverty of the Crucified Christ. Vulnerable, despised, naked, and alone, Jesus hanging on the Cross is poverty embodied. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Complete Trust in Our Creator
Do we truly, completely, wholly, and fully trust in God, our Creator? I have had small moments of this kind of trust with Him in my life, and they have been the most sanctifying and graces. Yet like St. Peter on the water, my feet (and heart) often fail and fall into the ocean of anxiety, which always leads to distrust.
St. Francis placed all his trust in God. Because he fell so deeply in love with the Crucified Christ, and knew that He lovingly died for him, he found Him trustworthy. Trust is a fruit of love. Christ is worthy of our full and complete trust! Our lives will never be the same if we live out the words, “Jesus, I trust in You!”
Rejoicing in Poverty
Every time I pay bills or a financial “stress” happens, I am tempted to become anxious. St. Francis and his companions rejoiced in these moments. They gladly accepted everything Christ laid before them because they saw it as an opportunity and invitation to trust in their Creator. They cried out, “God will provide!” and He always did. And He always does.
We can do the same thing in our work, with our children, at home, as a religious, or wife. We can delight in these moments of exterior and interior poverty, crying out to our Creator in trust, and watch the miracles unfold.
How do you imitate the poverty of St. Francis within your particular vocation or state in life?Ways to Imitate the Poverty of St. Francis No Matter Your Vocation or State in Life #BISblog // Click To Tweet