Posts Tagged ‘saints’

On this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, I encourage you to explore the writings of this celebrated exemplar. I invite you to revisit my review of Francis of Assisi in His Own Words, an excellent collection from Paraclete Press. May this review inspire a trip to your local bookstore, and quiet time with the words of Francis.

In honor of Francis teaching love toward all creatures, churches in many communities celebrate a blessing of the animals on this day. It is an opportunity to recognize the special place companion animals have in our lives. I experienced with this special observance at a community fair, a tender and beautiful experience, when a minister gave a vocal blessing and laying of hands to my German Shepherd. May we remember always to extend kindness and mercy to all living creatures, and may this feast day be an occasion to affirm commitment to caring for God’s creation.

© Studio of John the Baptist

When thinking of Francis of Assisi, the song “Make me an instrument of your peace” begins playing in my mind. From childhood, this was my favorite song at church. While this prayer for peace captures the spirit of Francis’ teachings, it was not his composition. This prayer continues to offer comfort and inspiration to many. It is my heartfelt prayer for all of us today.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Déan gléas chun síochána díom, a Thiarna.
Señor, hazme un instrumento de tu paz.


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Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! Saint Patrick’s Day blessings on you. Growing up in an Irish American household in a city full of Irish Catholics, Saint Patrick’s Day always was a big deal. My grandparents, who were from County Kerry (southwest Ireland), lived in the apartment upstairs, and my grandmother and mother would prepare a big family meal. We would put on records of Irish music and gather together.

I have many happy memories of listening to my Grampy tell stories, humorous tales as well as more serious chronicles of history and legend. Grampy could draw a map of Ireland, freehand, that included every bay, river, and inlet. He could trace out the journeys of the great heroes, Saints Patrick and Brigid among them. Those stories, songs, and meals shaped me. Today I am thinking of my grandparents, the joyful times we shared as well as the hardships they endured.

Go n-eírí an bóthar leat.
May the road rise with you.

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© Studio of John the Baptist

Today is the feast day of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). Known as a man who expressed deep reverence for nature and who encouraged simple living, Francis is a beloved role model for people beyond the boundaries of the Christian church. We are fortunate that Francis left behind writings that can help us understand his ways of thinking and living.

Paraclete Press has published a lovely collection, Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The essential writings. Translated, introduced, and annotated by Jon M. Sweeney, these writings are accessible to casual readers while also helpful to religion students. There are many books available on the life and writings of Francis, but this volume truly is a gem.

Several songs and prayers are included in this collection. Among these, I particularly appreciated Francis’ canticle for the women at the convent of San Damiano, the Poor Clares, which expresses simple beauty and heartfelt gratitude. When reading the rule, I appreciated Sweeney’s scripture citations in the margins. The language of the Bible was woven into the thinking of Francis and his contemporaries, while modern readers benefit from this extra help.

It can be easy to romanticize Francis of Assisi, but spending time with his writings provides a glimpse of the prayerful thinking at the foundation of his ministry. Through these writings, Francis continues to offer inspiration and practical advice for spiritual living. Within his words we can see evidence that Francis aimed to live his life in imitation of the gospel ways of Jesus of Nazareth.

I encourage you to support small publishers, and to explore the other titles about Francis of Assisi available from Paraclete Press.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. No fee was received.

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