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The Poverty of Saint Francis

The quiet permeated the peaceful streets of Assisi. I was there with my study abroad program learning about Saint Francis of Assisi. Stunning views of the fertile valley below the stone city accompanied us as we followed the steep road outside the walls towards the San Damiano chapel where Jesus told Saint Francis to “rebuild His Church which was falling into ruin.” Taking the Lord’s words literally, he rebuilt the little chapel itself using stones he begged from others. But Christ’s call to him was to rebuild the Body of Christ, to lead members of the Church back to love of God.

Saint Francis did this by literally living like the Apostles whom Jesus is continuing to send out in today’s Gospel. (See Luke 10:13-16.) Christ sent them with no purse, bag, nor sandals to preach repentance. Born to a wealthy merchant and a noble mother, Saint Francis embraced a life of voluntary poverty. He overcame his natural inclinations to pleasure and games by taking joy in nature and living simply in prayerful community with others. He traded his selfish, expensive lifestyle for a life of loving, preaching, and serving others.

In his time, thousands joined his way of life. The Order of the Friars Minor and the women’s order of the Poor Clares still exist today.

His love of poverty in literally following the Gospel stands out. Some of us are called to that, but most of us are called to give up other parts of our lives. We can imitate his love of poverty by finding our own calls to different kinds of poverty. For me, I have found that the closer I draw to Christ, the more He asks of my time. My self-indulgent uses of time, escaping from my daily life, only keep me from loving Him fully. I must give it up. It is my own call to poverty, a poverty of my time.

How much I could do for Him, if I would only give it all up for Him. And like Saint Francis, my greatest weakness could become my greatest strength.

I have found that the closer I draw to Christ, the more He asks of my time. My self-indulgent uses of time, escaping from my daily life, only keep me from loving Him fully. // Susanna Spencer Click To Tweet

What don’t you know about Saint Francis’ life? Find out here.

Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. She is a contributing author to our children’s devotional prayer book, Rise Up and Theological Editor of the Catechism Studies, the Mystery Studies, and the Works of Mercy study. You can find out more about her here.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    October 4, 2019 at 7:39 am

    What great insight, Susanna – a poverty of time! We are enslaved by the very technology that was supposed to free us. I have found that the more time and space I make for Him in my life, the more present He is to me. He’s always been there; I just had to quiet my life in order to recognize it.

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