The spirituality of Saint Francis is not so much about the heroic deed as it is about the heroic love with which even the smallest deed is done. That is very clear from the quintessential story of Perfect Joy.
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? Do we stay detached from conflict and simply pray? It's not that simple. "Peace involves some kind ofreconciliation," Murray Bodo, OFM, says. The Franciscan thing to do is to position ourselves between conflict and be living bridges of peace.
“As we forgive those who trespass against us,” and what we do not fully forgive, O Lord, make us fully forgive, so that for your sake, we may truly love our enemies and devoutly intercede for them with you, thereby rendering no evil for evil, but striving in you to do good to all. —Saint Francis, Paraphrase of the Our Father
His name was Francis, the son of Pietro Bernardone, a cloth-merchant, and Lady Pica, who was of French origin. They lived in Assisi, Italy in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. He was a man born of wealth, a leader who dreamed of knighthood and who went to war on a high steed only to be brought low to the earth in defeat and imprisonment that marked him with what has been the fate of countless soldiers and prisoners of war throughout the centuries.
Once, nearly eight decades ago now, when I felt lost and confused in my burgeoning adolescence, Jesus gave me Saint Francis as my brother and friend, and I began to trade my own self-absorption for the adventure of the Holy Quest: the ascent of Mount Subasio on whose eastern side Francis was born and lived his youth in the armed and walled city of Assisi.
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.