I can’t believe I’ve taken so long to blog about this story – it involves St. Francis (my favorite saint), Pope Benedict (my favorite pope), and Jesus Christ (my favorite incarnate God).
The Franciscans recently celebrated the 800th anniversary of the founding of their order, and Pope Benedict reminded them of the process in which Francis renewed the Church – he first renewed himself, then his order, then the Church:
“Like St. Francis, always begin with yourselves. If you prove capable of renewing yourselves in the spirit of the Gospel, you will continue to help the pastors of the Church to make her face, as the bride of Christ, ever more beautiful.”
What I have always loved about St. Francis is his intense desire to be molded into the likeness of Christ. As Pope Benedict said, “the ‘Poverello’ became a living Gospel, capable of attracting men and women of all times to Christ, especially the young who prefer radical commitment to half measures.” This is what attracts people to Christ: not halfhearted, fearful and watered-down explanations, but the bold living and preaching of the Gospel. This is why I love the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal so much – they preach the Gospel with every part of their lives, from how they live in brotherhood to how they care for the poor to how they preach the truth of Christianity, even when the world rejects it.
If we want to renew the Church, we must first renew ourselves.
St. Francis, pray for us!