There is so much that can be said about Francis of Assisi’s insight and example for us today. Among the many things that we could consider from the life and writings of Francis, it seems fitting to look at an early description of how Francis appeared to the early community as portrayed by his first biographer Thomas of Celano shortly after his death. This description offers us something of a eulogy, while also a goal for those of us who follow after him.

How gloriously he appeared
in innocence of life,
in simplicity of words,
in purity of heart,
in love of God,
in fraternal charity,
in enthusiastic obedience,
in agreeable compliance,
in angelic appearance.

Friendly in behavior,
serene in nature,
affable in speech,
generous in encouragement,
faithful in commitment,
prudent in advice,
efficient in endeavor,
he was gracious in everything!

Tranquil in mind,
pleasant in disposition,
sober in spirit,
lifted in contemplation,
tireless in prayer,
he was fervent in everything!

Firm in intention,
consistent in virtue,
persevering in grace,
he was the same in everything!

Swift to forgive,
slow to grow angry,
free in nature,
remarkable in memory,
subtle in discussing,
careful in choices,
he was simple in everything!

Strict with himself,
kind with others,
he was discerning in everything!
(1 Cel 83)

Oh, if I could be just a tiny fraction of what Francis was as described by Thomas above! Those two last paragraphs seem particularly important for us today, especially in the United States where public discourse, political perspectives, and ecclesiastical discord can be so heated and acute. If only we were swift to forgive, subtle in discussing, careful in choices, strict with ourselves, kind with others, and discerning in everything — what a different society we would have!

Photo: File

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