qui sibi nomen imposuit Francescum.
Today we give thanks for Pope Francis as I speak his name for the first of hundreds of times in the Eucharistic prayer, asking God to “grant peace to his Church, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world, together with your servant Francis, our Pope and Sean our Bishop, and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith.”
Why did he take the name Francis? Perhaps he will tell us soon, but I have a suspicion.
In an age overcome the complexities of life, Saint Francis is simple.
In an age which fights for riches and power, Saint Francis seeks the last place.
In an age of narcisissm and vainglory, Saint Francis seeks only to wash feet and tend wounds.
In an age of fear and suspicion, Saint Francis trusts completely and gives all.
As the Holy Father prayed with us an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory be, and then bowed and asked for the silent prayers of hundreds of thousands, a tear crept out of the corner of my eye....because of the simplicity of it all, the joy...the truth.
St. Francis Preaches to the Birds
Father Francis and his companions were making a trip through the Spoleto Valley near the town of Bevagna. Suddenly, Francis spotted a great number of birds of all varieties. There were doves, crows and all sorts of birds. Swept up in the moment, Francis left his friends in the road and ran after the birds, who patiently waited for him. He greeted them in his usual way, expecting them to scurry off into the air as he spoke. But they moved not.
Filled with awe, he asked them if they would stay awhile and listen to the Word of God. He said to them: “My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.”
At this the birds began to spread their wings, stretch their necks and gaze at Francis, rejoicing and praising God in a wonderful way according to their nature. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, turned around and came back, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.
Then he gave them his blessing, making the sign of the cross over them. At that they flew off and Francis, rejoicing and giving thanks to God, went on his way.
So preach to the birds, preach to the homeless, preach to the churchless, preach to the loveless, preach to the barren, preach to the hungry, preach to the lost, preach to the forgotten, preach to the stars, and to the ocean, and to the vast horizons.
Preach the wonders of God because he is so wonderful. Make your life a sermon in praise of his merciful love.
Maybe he took the name Francis, because the poverello, the little poor one knew how simple it all really is.
“Keep safe, the shepherds of your Church, we prayed a few moments ago, along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation.”
That’s simple, real simple, like Francis, and Francis.