This Week in America: What Would St. Francis Do?

This Week in America: What Would St. Francis Do? May 30, 2020

A Drawing in the Middle of the Night

Last night, I had trouble sleeping, which I normally don’t. For some reason, I felt compelled, perhaps inspired, to do a drawing from a movie I had recently watched. Now, I realize, that drawing  has got much to do with what’s been going on in America this week: a lot of anger, a lot of hurting, and a widespread need for healing. Deep down in our heart of hearts, I believe we all want what the subject of the drawing, St. Francis of Assisi, called Pax et Bonum, “peace and good.”     

What About the Movie?

The movie I had watched was Robert Rosselini’s 1950 classic, The Flowers of St.Francis. Directors Francois Truffaut and Pier Paolo Pasolini both considered it one of the most beautiful films ever made. It’s about a group of outrageous men who  go about the thirteenth century Italian countryside performing crazy acts of love like hugging lepers, stopping wars, and performing all sorts of miracles. 

What Would Francis Do Today?

If Francis were alive today, I could see him walking into the middle of the riots, with no thought for his personal safety. Now I wouldn’t recommend that. But we can be ourselves, and do whatever good we can wherever we are.  

The real miracle of Francis of Assisi’s life isn’t the stigmata he received. It’s the Christ-centered, life-giving, life-changing love he shared with his broken and hurting sisters and brothers. To use the word again, Francis loved outrageously, and fearlessly. He was truly a channel of God’s peace and God’s goodness. We can be that too today if we choose! 

What Should We Do?

When St. Ignatius Loyola was undergoing his conversion experience in 1521, he read about Francis, and he asked himself, “What if I were to do what Francis did?” We don’t to wear brown robes and sandals like Francis, or black robes like Ignatius, but we can nevertheless be channels: healing the broken and the sick, feeding the poor, and overcoming racial hatred one step at a time. 

What I’m going to suggest is less a plan and more of an approach: today in America, there is a desperate need for people who will channel peace and good. Where there is hatred (and we know there’s a lot of it these days), we need to show love. We need to be hope, light and joy to our hurting sisters and brothers, and that means everyone, regardless of skin color or background. 

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us! All of us together!

(The drawing of St. Francis is by Pat McNamara.) 

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