The life of Francis of Assisi : is Franciscanism relevant today?
Francis of Assisi is a much-loved saint whose followers come from different backgrounds and who are inspired to live the Gospel life. Francis' story is obscure but this dissertation seeks to understand Francis' life and examines his influence through the lives of others amongst whom are: - Mother Theresa of Calcutta; - Anthony of Padua; - Padre Pio; - Maximilian Kolbe; - Charles de Foucauld; and - John Bradburne. Francis' vision was unambiguous and it challenges our values. His simple faith, Catholic tradition, evangelistic principles and radical freedom were fundamental qualities, which suited him to God's call to renew His church. Those same qualities are still needed today. Like all young men Francis loved life, was often inclined to be irresponsible and who entered military service without proper thought. Whilst imprisoned in Perugia God began his transformation and called him to, "go and repair my House”.Francis saw in creation objects of love that led him back to God. He preached to the animals but his concern was for people. During the Crusades Francis was a peacemaker during the Crusades and following that example Pope John Paul II made a plea for peace between the Muslims, Jews and Christians whilst visiting Damascus on the 6th/7th May 2001. Francis' enduring influence comes from his own understanding of the problems of materialism that we face in the west. Western culture is one of 'super-development' that is at odds with happiness. Status gives us prestige but also a craving for more power and possessions when we ought to be educating the poor and eliminating hunger and suffering. The result is a spiritual void in which we ask, 'is this all that there is or is there something more?' Whilst the church's membership in the west has declined the reverse is true in the former eastern bloc countries, China, Asia and Africa and their Catholic seminaries are full. The cults like those of Charles Manson, the Davidics, or the Jehovah's Witnesses and the 'New Age' are growing. They claimed to have sole possession of the truth. Sects, however, are not new and have been around since the church's earliest days. Francis was well aware of the heretical sects of the Waldensians and Humiliati. Franciscanism continues growing, evolving, and renewing itself. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal was established in the 1980's and they work extensively with the poor and marginalized particularly in New York and London. If the church is to be true to the Gospel in the Third Millennium it too must accept that challenge. Francis teaches that Christians must not to live in a self-satisfying, self-serving way, that they must be Christ centred and that they must submit to the will of God. Lastly when they make life choices they should ask the following questions: - Does the Father want this for me? - Does this please the Father?
- ETD@PUK