The wonderful ways of St. Francis


October 4 is the day that we celebrate the life of st. Francis of Assisi by honouring the animals around us. St. Francis is known as patron saint of the environment.

He also brought a very important other lesson to earth, that of distancing yourself from material goods in order to get closer to God.

In regards to ascended masters, st. Francis is said to have carried the same life energy as Lord Kuthumi, who works with people to understand spiritual truths.

St. Francis lived from around 1182 until 1226, a lifespan of around 44 years seems rather short for the great things he achieved in it.

He grew up as the son of a well-of merchant and a noble woman, a life that brought him riches and joy, an opportunity to be carefree in an age where those that had less material riches had a very hard time surviving. Yet, as still a rather young man, he realized that material riches was not what he craved from life. He craved to be close to God.

Now, in this day and age, more and more people chose the quality of life over material riches. St. Francis however, took it one step further. He denounced everything he had and put his full trust in God that he would be taken care of by the kindness of strangers.

When we think of a monk, we often see them wearing a robe of brown cloth, held together with a rope. This is the outfit that st. Francis choose to illustrate that he needed nothing more than the cloth on his back, and if someone would have approached him and asked for that, he would have given it up too.

Imagine how this would work. You give up your house, your car, your savings, your clothes, everything you possess. You then go out in the street and start preaching the word of God and begging your neighbours for food. This might not go down particularly well with your neighbours, nor did it go down very well with the friends and relatives of st. Francis.

Yet, Francis was determined and everything that crossed his path he saw as an opportunity given by God to get closed to him.

Francis’ attitude to everything that came on his path is likely the cause for him being the founder of a religious order that still continues today. He took every challenge with patience, kindness, and most important, good cheer. True saintly behaviour.

He showed this kindness and wholeheartedness, not just to his fellow humans, but to all beings he encountered, as they are all the creations of God.

Again, it is important that we take this in the context of time. Being kind to all animals in this day and age may not seem as remarkable as it was in at the beginning of the 13th century. Animals in those days did not have tailor-made food, treats, play time, etc. Animals had their place, and it was below the order of humans, humans saw themselves superior and therefor allowed to treat animals in ways that nowadays we would call the ‘cruelty to animals’ helpline for. And, here is Francis, giving kindness to animals, respecting them as if they were his equal.

This great respect for all of nature made him patron saint of the environment.

There is so much inspiration in the teachings about st. Francis. I have a very interesting encounter myself with the spirit of Francis, which, of course, I will share.

At the beginning of the year I found a beautiful book about st. Francis in a local charity shop. I was over the moon, it was a beautiful book, published in 1927, in perfect condition, lovely blue cover with white doves on it, lined with silver. Basically they do not make books like that anymore these days. I placed it next to my bed, so I could read a little every day before going to sleep.

A few days later I hear the puppy upstairs, and then stumbling on the stairs. Wondering what he was up to, I looked up and saw him with the book in his mouth. What I must mention here is that this same dog had not ever touched a book before and has not touched one since, even though he always had plenty of opportunity. Needless to say, I was really, really, really bummed off.

The book was still enough intact for me to read it, however every time I saw it, my heart sank a little. I did enjoy the contents thoroughly, and then one day I came to this part:

‘There were bound to be some alterations in the life of the Order as time went on. The haphazard way of living, which worked well enough when there were only a few brothers, did not do when they numbered many thousands. Gradually it came about that they had more settled places to live in, and they built larger houses. Sometimes it was more convenient to accept money than food as payment for their work. Again, as more and more learned men and students joined the Order it became necessary for them to have books and places for study. S. Francis hated the friars to have books. Once he had wanted to possess books himself, so he understood the scholar’s longing; but he had put away the desire for study, thinking of it as a temptation. He was afraid of learning. He thought it would turn men’s mind away from the following of Christ.’

There are no coincidences in life, and I am sure that my beautiful book was broken for a reason that the spirit of St. Francis has brought to me. I now have the book on display in my practice, it is my personal reminder to see that material possessions are irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

I do not denounce material goods, I do not denounce my shelter and security. I do not denounce study, as the more I learn, the more I develop spiritually. What I do take from the story of st. Francis is that I treat all beings with respect, no matter how big small or human, as everyone plays their part on this planet.

Most of all his core believe that God would look after him is something that I have been striving for in the last year. It is hard to reach that core believe that no matter what, the universe has your back, but I am getting there. My gratefulness for all I receive is growing with every lesson in this I am learning.

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