Saint Francis of Assisi had many different dreams in his lifetime. Some of his dreams were fulfilled while others were dashed. As a youth he often dreamed of becoming a knight and finding glory on the battlefield.
Our lives are so easily fragmented between responsibilities to friends, family, employers, neighbors, and the larger human family that we may think we don’t have the time or energy for prayer. That was the experience of Saint Francis of Assisi up until his mid-twenties. Then he discovered that prayer was more real than many of the things he had been considering more important.
Saint Francis of Assisi’s life is a study in contrasts. He is admired the world over, yet he’s a hard one to neatly categorize. Born into great wealth, the young Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone stripped himself, literally, of all material affluence to embrace “lady poverty.”
You could say service is in Katie Sullivan’s DNA. “Our family is one of educators, nurses, lawyers, and vowed religious (two great-aunts who were Dominicans and two aunts who are Daughters of Charity),” says Sullivan.
Some of my Franciscan sisters and brothers will not like what I’m about to write here. And what I’m about to say can easily be misunderstood, so I will try my best to be clear: Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing particularly special about Franciscan beliefs and spirituality!
Q. If God is all-powerful and all-good, why does evil exist? I have heard the theories of human free will, responsibility, and weakness after Adam and Eve’s fall. We simply don’t know why God allows what God allows. Why is there so much unbearable injustice in the world?
For over 50 years, Father Murray Bodo, OFM, and I have been close friends, confreres, and admirers of St. Francis of Assisi. We met as fellow students in 1951 at St. Francis Minor Seminary, located on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio. Murray, whose name was Louis at the time, had boarded a Greyhound Bus in his hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, and headed east some 1,500 miles on a ribbon of highway. He arrived in Cincinnati two days later.
The Chapel of the Stigmata is perched on the edge of the same sheer precipice where Saint Francis stood two years before his death and where he was swept up into the mystery of God’s overwhelming love for him and for humanity.
Deacon Steve Przedpelski, OFS, tells the story of a woman we’ll call Rebecca (in the interest of privacy). A successful professional with a college education and several years in a high-paying job, Rebecca seemed to be living out the American Dream as so many yearn to.
From his birth, Fr. Andre McGrath was dedicated to God. The family never wanted to put pressure on Fr. McGrath, but they were pleased when he entered the seminary. Now, 50 years later, Fr. McGrath is celebrating his jubilee year as a Franciscan priest.