My Longtime Friend Francis

Today is the feast day of a saint that is near and dear to my heart – St. Francis of Assisi.  When I visualize the communion of saints surrounding Jesus in heaven, St. Francis is among those standing front and center.

As many people know, I spent twenty years of my adult life as a Buddhist before returning to Christianity. During those year, I had almost no connections to the Catholic faith in which I had been raised. 

Francis was the exception. As I often tell people, he was my one link to Catholicism during those years. There was something in Francis that resonated deeply with me, even as I rejected most everything else that had to do with Catholicism (including a belief in God). 

During the difficult period of my conversion back to Catholicism, Francis was there for me when I needed him.  As the Spirit started to do its work and I was struggling with what was surfacing, where could I turn? I certainly couldn’t, at the time, have any meaningful conversation with a God I claimed not to believe in.  So I talked with Francis and sat with Francis.  And from Francis I received consolation and companionship as I worked things through.

If Francis is not someone with whom you have great familiarity, I encourage you to read one of the many good books about him, some of which I’ve reviewed on this blog. Try either House’s St. Francis: A Revolutionary Life or Bodo’s Francis: The Journey and the Dream.

Wishing a happy feast day to all of my Franciscan friends.