Today Carolyn and I leave for Rome and then Assisi. We will continue to study Italian, and I will be sharing some insights into the religious and political milieu of the 13th century with a lovely group of pilgrims. My intention is simply to keep my mind as alert as possible, and my heart as open as possible. I want to remember an insight of Dawna Markova: “What you love reveals its loveliness.”
St. Francis was clearly a remarkable human being. Remarkable in his absolute commitment to live his beliefs, his wholehearted embrace of suffering humanity, and in his unstinting love of Nature. He was a human being in that his path was not one of unremitting sweetness and light. His relationship with his father was turbulent, his experience in war was traumatic, he felt the burden of leadership as onerous, and finally a vast number of his followers could not be faithful to his vision. Karen Armstrong says that the magnificent basilica that houses his body in Assisi was actually the final and perhaps greatest betrayal of his life. Even the famous Peace Prayer attributed to him was not written until the 19th century by an anonymous author.
I plan to write a series of essays while in Italy to unpack these varying eddies in the the life of Francis, and to reflect on their relevance to life in the 21st century. I am sure Francis would echo the sentiment expressed in “his” famous prayer: May we all be instruments of Divine Peace.