Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi believed that anyone could attain spiritual freedom.  He spent his life going far beyond his comfort zone looking for those who had been neglected.  He worked with the poor and the sick, sailed to dangerous lands, and even wrote songs and sermons to animals because he saw holiness in everyone.  His conviction was so extreme that he was often characterized as a zealot or madman until the Pope spoke publically about Francis’ holiness. 

Francis of Assisi understood that some are not drawn to spirituality early in life.  People may build a career, a family, or a place in their community before realizing a desire for freedom.  He knew there needed to be a way for these seekers to focus on their faith without neglecting their responsibilities.  In their service, Francis formed the Brothers and Sisters of Penance and instructed them in ways to increase their inner focus while maintaining their worldly lives.  The order continues today and accepts anyone with a sincere desire to live a spiritual practice. 

Throughout history there have been groups with rules to exclude others.  Some continue to define who can be spiritual, who is right or wrong, and the “correct” way to practice or worship.  Spirituality exists all over the world in millions or billions of forms.  Saint Francis believed fervently that anyone and everyone is welcome to join the party even if he did not always agree with how others practiced their beliefs.  Looking for spirituality in everyone we meet, but not expecting it to take a particular form, can expand and grow our own understanding.  It can teach us lessons we may not otherwise see and is a beautiful way to bring Francis’ message to life. 

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Image created by Suweidario

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