Has anyone seen her?


#1

Our holy Father St. Francis climbed a mountain one day and asked if anyone had seen her for whom his heart yearned. When asked who she was he responded that she was the fairest maiden in all the land, fit to be the bride of a king. His listeners urged him to divulge her name. When he could no longer withhold it he responded that her name was Lady Poverty.

But Lady Poverty had already found her spouse, Jesus Christ. They were betrothed in a manger in Bethlehem and married on a hill named Golgotha, in Jerusalem. From that day forward, their fate was sealed.

Francis discovered that to be a disciple of the master, one must also embrace the most noble Lady Poverty, for “you cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.” This is the mission and the glory that Francis proclaimed to the universal Church, which changed the history of the Church for all time.

Now mind you, Francis was not the first to discover Lady Poverty. Over a thousand years before him the Apostles and the Desert Fathers had embraced her as their spouse as they embraced Jesus. But as time passed she became relegated to the silence and the solitude of the cloister. So much so, that many Christian men and women believed that she was the exclusive privilege of those who lived the monastic life.

But Francis was a layman. He was neither a monk nor a priest. He was the son of a merchant, the richest merchant in the City of Assisi, Peter Bernadone. As a child he had been baptized John Baptist Bernadone. But his father had a love affair with France. And since Francis’ mother was French, upon returning from one of his trips to Paris, his father discovered that his young son, John, spoke fluent French. Thus he nicknamed him Frenchy or in Italian, Francesco. He was the first known person in history to bear this name.

The name Francesco suited his father’s high dreams for his son. It gave him an air of class among the other working people of the city. The set him apart from the medieval society in which he lived. He was rich, he was not bad looking and he was half French. He had everything that a man could want for happiness, except a wife, a young maiden to be his prize, who would stand at his side as the trophy wife.

So, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Francesco set out to find his trophy wife. To his great surprise she had nothing to offer but sacrifice. But not only did she have nothing to offer, she was a demanding wife. She demanded total dependence on the Providence of the King. She demanded that Francesco not only let go of his material attachments, but that he also let go of his attachments to his own will, his plans and his desires. If he wanted to follow the master, he must do so on the Master’s terms, not his own. He had to live one day at a time, awaiting his Master’s direction. This was total poverty. This was total surrender to the bride of Christ. And it was only through total surrender to Christ’s bride, that he would have access to Christ himself.

Desiring nothing more than to have complete communion with Christ, he obeyed Lady Poverty. He stripped himself not only of his fancy clothing, his property, his inheritance, his plans for the future and his dreams, but he also stripped himself of his old self. He became a penitent. As he took off more layers and threw them away he was left with only one garment that he could not easily dispose of, his humanity. He was sinful and that could only be wiped clean by the King.

Fortunately for Francesco, the King was merciful and he loved Francesco very much. Not only did he forgive him his sins and replaced his sinful coat with the robe of a penitent, but he gave Francesco many brothers and sisters. On day, the King and Lady Poverty called Francesco into their presence. As he knelt there in great expectation, they said only one thing to him. The words that they spoke, resonated with Francis. He had read them in the scriptures and heard them at mass. They were the same words that God had spoken to Abraham. The King stretched out his hand and put Francesco into a deep sleep. And while he was asleep he saw himself at the head of a long ling of men and women wearing the same penitential robe with a rope around their waists. The line stretched to the end of time. And in the dream Francesco heard the Lady’s voice saying, “These are your sons and daughters whom you shall lead to the King’s throne and they will not cease coming until my Lord and God returns again.”
Today, more than 1.7 million men and women, celibate and married, walk on the line that follows in Francesco’s footsteps leading to the King’s throne with only one Lady to protect them. That royal lady to protect and shelter them. She is Lady Poverty, the spouse of the King, Jesus Christ.

Comments and questions are welcome.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#2

I wish I had a holier spirit. Heaven has such treasures, freely offered to anyone that will take of them (i.e. Poverty). Yet we hold our distance and treat them with disdain because our flesh still holds us.


#3

You do have a holy spirit. God created your soul for love. Anything that is created for love is holy. He created it to reach for the perfection of charity. But you must remember, my brother, that we do not conquer heaven in a day or even a lifetime. We are addicts. We are addicted to our own way of doing things, to the things that we own, to our desires and our plans, even to our sins. Like Alcoholics Anonymous teaches its members. You must first admit that you have a problem. Then you must admit that you are helpless without the help of God. Then you must make a resolve to take one day at a time. It is better if you do so with brothers who are on the same journey.

This also applies to the spiritual journey. One day at a time, walk with brothers.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#4

I’m reading a book on St Francis at present and I love so much about his life but to be honest the concept of Lady Poverty and some other important aspects of his life really scare me.

I feel that by feeling that way I insult the great saint. I’ve even apologise to him. I pray about this matter almost every day lately. I am far from even ‘well off’ and I’ve always worked hard for the money, I live modestly and I don’t spend carelessly at all.

I’m beyond the age to join a regular order though, I live a life of chastity like a good Catholic boy should. But to live a life of true poverty in the outside world just seems a practical impossibility. I imagine carting out everything I own to St Vinnies, distributing the family things to relatives and going to live in a spartan white-washed room.

I thought I’d jot down these thoughts. I know I am going through a process as I discover more of St Francis. Before I had a very sentimental picture of St Francis preaching to the birdies and being good to the poor and preaching BUT now, in contrast, I’m reading the ‘strong meat’ about the man and I’m a bit shocked.

There you go.

Rove


#5

I believe that many people think of St. Francis as you did, before you began your indepth study of the man. I think that most people see him as a very gentle, almost boyish like figure who is very non threatening to their comfort zone.

The truth is that St. Francis is really a hard core Evangelical Theologian and practitioner. He understands the Gospels at a much deeper level than most Catholics. Even Aquinas commented on his own inability to understand the Gospels as Francis did. Bonaventure tried to do so and came close. Some scholars have said that Francis has captured elements in the Gospel that even Paul missed. Others have said that only another Paul would be able to understand Francis. Regardless of all these opinions, one thing is very certain. Francis understood the messages hidden between the lines of the Gospels and he intended to see to it that he lived them and that everyone who heard him also did the same.

What is interesting about the man is that he was a forceful character. He was not afraid. He took Jesus Christ at his word and held Christ accountable. This has to be explained so that it does not lead to misundersanding. Put in other words, Francis knew what Christ taught, how Christ lived and how Christ wanted his followers to live. But he also knew what Christ had promised. Christ had prommised that he would never leave us alone and that our Father in heaven took greater care of us than he did the lilies of the field. In his personal relationship with Christ he submitted to Christ’s wishes and imitated Christ’s way of life, but he also reminded Christ of his promise.

If you read the Canticle of the Creatures, Francis writes an indepth theological statement that says “you created everything. Everything reflects your glory. Therefore, you are present through your creation.” Francis reminds man that God’s creation is a sign of God’s presence. But he also reminds God that man is dependent on him. Then he goes back to reminding man that he must depend on God. It’s a spirical type of theology where you keep coming back to the same point. God created us; therefore he will care for us. Nonetheless, God’s care does not relieve us of our responsibility to live according to the Gospel.

There is more to this man than beautiful words. He is brilliant, courageous, and strong. That’s why I joined his order. He’s astonishing. I can’t think of a better teacher to help me learn how to live the Gospel.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#6

wow great thread :slight_smile:

have you ever read the book “little flowers of St Francis”? if so, is it a good book? I saw it at my library.

I love St Francis and I want to learn more about him. I have a medal of him… perhaps I can ask for his intercession with some things. I need to learn how to be less attached to possession and the world in general. I agree St Francis must have understood the Gospels so well.

God bless


#7

The Little Flowers of St. Francis are part of the Franciscan treasury of literature and theology. They are a collection of legends based on the spirituality of our holy Father. They were not written as history or as biographical material. They were written in metaphorical for the purpose of teaching Francis’ spirituality and theology to the lay people who came after him. When you read them, do not read them as biography. Read them as theology. Each story contains a theological message taught by St. Francis. Their message is very profound, but narrated in very humorous style and easy to remember.

Needless to say that you can ask Francis to pray for your intentions and needs at any time. Our holy Father is generous with his prayers and heavenly favors. I would be more than happy to answer as many questions as possible about the man, his legacy and his theology. It is profound and inspiring. To paraphrase the words of St. Bonaventure, our best scholar on St. Francis, St. Francis is tough act to follow.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#8

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