There's the cute statue in the garden, the lover of animals, the gentle steward of nature. Then there's the reformed party boy, the slow and reluctant convert, the man who embodied the heart of Christ through his love of the poor. Word on Fire contributor Father Damian Ference takes a look at the real St. Francis of Assisi and shares his thoughts.
I am a diocesan priest, but I like to tell people that I am part-Capuchin. That’s because in addition to the diocesan priests that staff our college seminary, we also have three Capuchin friars on formation faculty – it’s been that way since I was a seminarian. Those friars played an important role in my priestly formation, inside and outside of the classroom.
When I was heading off to do graduate work at Catholic University, my bishop told me that I could live on campus, in a rectory, or with a religious community. (Wisely, he told me that I was not permitted to live alone in an apartment.) So I asked the Capuchin friars if they would have me, and soon I had my own room at Cap College in Washington, DC. For two years I celebrated Mass, prayed the office, took meals, washed dishes, watched football, and shared my life with about thirty men who were devoted to the witness of St. Francis of Assisi.
After the Virgin Mother, St. Francis is arguably the most popular saint in the Christian tradition. Everybody loves St. Franics of Assisi, even some atheists. After all, who wouldn’t love a guy who has a nice beard, wears sandals and a simple brown habit, loves creation, and is often depicted with a cute bird on his shoulder or even in his hand?
To be honest, most of the Capuchins I lived with in DC loved animals too. Their little slice of land in the North East corner of the District was a sanctuary for birds, squirrels, deer and even a red fox. And if you were lucky, inside the friary walls you might see (or at least hear) a mouse or two late at night. All creatures of our God and King...
Ah, the dreaded "routine" visit to the dentist. Rozann Carter finally made hers last week, and the dentist's x-ray discoveries taught her a little bit about the process of dealing with the effects of sugar sin.
“Do you have a mint problem?”
A mint problem?
What the heck is a mint problem?
Do I take 3-8 peppermints every time I leave a restaurant?
Is that a problem?
“Do you floss regularly?”
With regularity? Yes. Every month, on the month.
Oh, you meant frequently? (Silly adverbs.)
No, I don’t floss frequently. What gave that away? The fact that my gums are bleeding because I flossed 20 minutes before I came in to your office?
“Let’s take a look at these x-rays.”
Uh oh. Here we go.
The smell of blue rubber gloves, the feel of the mini grim-reaper sickle against enamel, the sound of the whirring, splashing lipo-esque suction that disposes of extra saliva while your mouth is stretched open just awkwardly enough to garble every answer to the 27 life questions posed by the friendly neighborhood hygienist. Good to see you again, fake-plants-and-murals-on-the-ceiling dentist office. It has been too long...