Saint Francis of Assisi

4th October

St Francis of Assisi is frequently presented surrounded by birds, animals, trees and flowers, the sun and the moon!
The legacy of Francis of Assisi for our times goes beyond romantic notions of flowers and birds.

He founded three orders: The Franciscan Friars, the Poor Clares and the Secular Franciscans (lay men and women who choose to follow the Franciscan Rule).

The present Pope chose to be known as Pope Francis. The Pope’s real name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio but as Pope he signs all Church documents as “Franciscus.” When asked why he chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, the reason he gave was because Francis was “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”

What does it mean to be poor? Take the opportunity to discuss the issue of poverty on two levels: i) awareness that poverty is a problem that countries around the world have to face, and that people who live in poverty cannot afford to buy food, to have a decent home, to buy new clothes and shoes and not even medicines they might need; ii) with older children they can research on countries that have to deal with widespread poverty.

In a world set on a race for materialistic gains of all sorts as a priority, it is never too early to start laying a foundation for a mindset that would appreciate the simpler things in life.  Nurturing the virtue of poverty in a child’s life  could be practised by:

  • making them aware that to enhance their self-image it is not necessary to go for brand names in shoes and clothes;
  • not throwing away items that still function well, just for the sake of getting new ones;
  • not throwing away food but find ways to use leftovers;
  • not being too choosy and finicky about food;
  • with older children simple messages could be passed on with regards to spending within the family budget or even within their own pocket money.

St Francis’ love for God’s Creation prompts us to appreciate our environment, to take precautions against actions that endanger natural resources and the beauty of nature that God created. This is what prompted Pope Francis to voice this concern for the preservation of our “common home” in the Church Document (Encyclical) “Laudato Si’,” a phrase taken from the writings of St Francis.

In most education systems, kids are being educated in the importance of caring for the environment. Attitudes learned at school, need to be supported, encouraged, and put into practice at home:

  • encourage the practice of waste separation;
  • build an awareness for the conservation of water and electricity;
  • turn off water while brushing teeth;
  • turn off light when leaving the room;
  • switch off TV when no one is watching it;
  • not using the car if we can walk the distance;
  • recycle items that can be reused, such as paper rolls for arts and crafts, glass jars, plastic containers and so on.

The standard greeting of all Franciscans dating back from the times of St Francis, is “Peace and Goodwill” (Pax et Bonum). Ask the children what comes to mind when they hear the word “Peace.” What do we really mean when towards the end of Mass, the priest says, “Peace be with you,” and when the priest says “Go in the Peace of Christ.” Peace could be a topic of dialogue with kids when some kind of conflict arises within the family, with friends. You might consider putting up a poster with the words “Peace and Goodwill” decorated with images from Creation.

For family prayer time encourage kids to formulate their own prayers of praise and thanksgiving to God for Creation. Let their prayers be itemised: for the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain, the birds and their singing, the flowers with their different colours and scents. In fact this is a kind of prayer in the spirit of a Franciscan Prayer. Then sing a hymn of praise.

St Francis came from a very rich family. Due to his bad life and decisions he ended up in prison. It was during this period that he realised he was not living correctly and afterwards, he converted. St Francis lived the most simplistic life, helped the poor, and worked to spread the Word of God and His love.  It was St Francis that created the crib scene. In addition, he is well known for his love for animals.

Let’s follow in St Francis’s footsteps and this week let us show our love for animals. Together with your family, devote some time to go to a Sanctuary and donate some of your time there by helping the volunteers with the upkeep of the Sanctuary. You may also wish to provide some food to stray cats in your area of your village. You may also create a shelter made of different size boxes for stray cats. If you have your own pets, spend more time with them! Every creature deserves some love! Don’t forget to send us some sentences about your experience with animals, so we would be able to upload it on our webpage!

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.