Tuesday, October 5, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi

Yesterday (October 4) was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.  The Roman Catholic Church I grew up in was the St. Francis of Assisi Parish and I remember asking my mom once, "Mom why are they so mean I don't think that St. Francis was a sissy." 

However St. Francis I think has been playing a part of my spirituality from when I was a child until where I am now.  St. Francis is know for his love of animals; this weekend I was at an animal blessing and I was so happy to see how many people really love their animals.  Now in the urban world of Berkeley there were no chicken, cows, horses etc but I could see how much people really love their animals.  Many of you know that I am a big animal lover, my dogs and cats bring me so much joy and there are so may times I miss having them fall asleep next to me.  Animals offer their owners unconditional love, OK maybe not cats, but generally animals are there to be companions for the lonely, to help the sick and to bring us a good laugh when the day is really bad. 

When I am talking to Matthew or he is talking to me and we are having a bad day we always say, "Go and cuddle with the pugs and they will make it all better."  I can't tell you how true it is.  Personally the dogs give me a feeling that no matter what they are going to love me and they also offer me a place of peace.  My spiritual director (the one in Minnesota who is now in California--I think God was telling me that California is the place to be) has animals and she has a dog named Short.  From my first meeting with her Short was there to help in our spiritual direction meeting.  Short knew when things were getting rough for me to talk about and Short would come up and place her head in my lap and look at me with the eyes saying, "I am here to make it better, and since I am here you can pet me if you like." 

I thank God everyday for the love that my animals provide to me as well as for those animals who help to make other peoples lives better. 

Saint Francis however is not only known as the animal saint but he said an amazing quote that I try to live my life through, "Preach the Gospel at all times...if necessary use words." 

I had someone once tell me well Jason you want to be a priest so you have to be that way.  However, I think that this message is not just for people in religious life but I think this is a call to ALL people.  We are all called to love each other, treat each other with dignity and respect, and to love our God.  This, in my opinion was the message of the Gospel and this is the message that St. Francis is telling us. 

So how can we preach the gospel?  Well I have a few ideas, we need to be advocates for social justice, to help the poor, and to help those in need; however, I think we also need to look closer as well.  Personally for me, I feel that I am preaching the gospel by sitting and listening to someone in need or even just going and helping someone move a box.  To preach the gospel does not mean that we need to do huge things rather it is doing things with love no matter big or small that I think is preaching the Gospel.

Jason Lucas