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Christine ChungPerson was signed in when posted
01:40 PM ET (US)
 St. Francis, little bit unlike from other St.s, he exceedingly devoted his whole life for helping the poors. He did not even pay for the construction fee for the church and use that money for the poors. It might be caused by the work that Jesus Christ did for his people when he came down to the Earth. He granted everything that he could do for his people.
 Therefore, Francis might think that following what he did would be the fastest and clearest way to do his obedience as a St.
Edited 05-05-2003 01:41 PM
Lyndsey Schutte
01:20 PM ET (US)
What does the imitation of Christ mean to Francis?
Francis tries to adopt the humility and servitude of Christ. To be more like Christ, he preached everywhere to everyone, even notorious robbers, and he tried to humble himself in front of everyone, rejoicing when people mocked him. Did He know that Jesus wasn't always mocked and beaten? That sometimes he gained and didn't discourage people's faith and praise?
Is it just my imagination, or does he see only himself as playing the role of Christ and his followers as just playing the role of the apostles? Yes, the Friars Minor were supposted to imitate Christ but it was just like how the apostles tried to follow Jesus.
Marissa "the pope" Bond
12:56 PM ET (US)
Alright, as has become fairly normal for me, I have a variety of questions and (sadly, very few worthwhile) points.

First of all, on the nature of obedience - obedience to God was stressed not only over obedience to superiors in the order, but also to the church as well (as one would assume, since the two are so invariably intwined). The abscence of a strong hierarchy is a tremendous change from the Cistercians and the Benedictines. The Church was hardly mentioned as a heirarchy to submit to. The induviduals of the Church were praised, but for their humility and in rare situations. The Pope was in the story of how St. Clare blessed the loaves of bread, but in it his showed great humility by using his power as superior in the Church to command St. Clare to bless the bread, since she out of humility did not think herself worthy. Franky, if not for having some superiors to command others to allow said superiors to be humble, I doubt anything would ever get done. ("No Brother Masseo, you are too good to clean the latrine. I deserve to do it." "No, Brother Anthony, I am the greatest of sinners, and you are so devout. I should be the one to clean it." "No Brother Masseo, for I am scum...." ad infinum.) Not only this, but Francis himself seems to circumvent Church power by being willing to call Brother Rufino a saint while he was still living, and without canonization. I wonder, was this man, as well as he others than Francis considered saintworthy, actually canonized?
The Punishments delivered, also, I found to be a great deviation from the Benedictine days. While fasting and beatings were freely given in the other orders, the punishements for the Franciscans were much more... interesting, to say the least. Because of the heavy emphasis on humility, they were often not chastisements of the body, but more of the soul and pride. For instance, St. Francis sent Brother Rufino into a town to preach... naked. Or, at least, what they considered naked. Brother Angelo was sent to apologize to three murderous robbers (I will grant that the threat of immanent death could a be a theoretical bodily chastisement for this one). Although the Franciscans would fast or, as in St. Francis' case, be tros upon, pains of that sort were chosen by the victim and thus not really punishments. The punishments mentioned were used to directly affect the sould instead of dealing as greatly with the body. This is, I suppose, because to dwell on punishments of the body would to instill in it some import, and thus be counter to the message of humility?

Well, that's all folks, for this week and for the semester. It's been fun and amusing (probably moreso for me, sorry about that). Hope to see you all again. Remember, Cathol owns you.
anne colyn
11:59 AM ET (US)
question of obedience

In addition to the postings below, the question of obedience is tied up with the notion of responsibility and humility. As others have noted, Francis and the Friars Minor chose the path of humility and servitude to God as the only demand of obedience. What I found striking was that 'out of the love of God they have abondoned their own will", which, as I understand it, fits into the concept of the devil as the negative force who takes over the soul of the weak. In fact, this statement suggests that any of the friar minor are to an extend not responsible for their actions, as it will be blamed on the force of Satan. There is an example in the reading where Francis sees the devil slip into the soul of a brother, which he, Francis then "frees" by assisting him to work out his bad feelings toward other brothers. It looks like the question of responsibility is not really addressed, but rather becomes blurred into the context of obedience. The dominating aspect of humility and servitude should ultimately prevent to have to address this question.
Commendatore Cioccolato
09:27 AM ET (US)
Patricia Spees
Francis question

 Francis, born 1181-d.1226 in the town of Assisi, Italy. His parents were part of the newly emerging and well to do merchant class. This probably is the reason for his movement of Friars was allowed while other movements were declared heretical. The book about his life,The Little Flowers, was written a century after the death of Saint Francis by Brother Ugolino di Monte Santa Maria. His writings were based on the oral traditions passed on by those who knew Francis or who knew of his life works. Much of his writing can be substantiated although admittedly embellished. Francis preached to the people at a time when the people were dis-enchanted with the wealth of the church. Francis gave up all his goods to live a life in poverty owning nothing of his own and he set an example of a poor Christ-like minister of the people that put the church in a much better light. The church was wealthy and powerful and needed Francis and his ability speak to the people by his example. Francis deliberately imitated the life of Christ, he had twelve original followers (apostles), went out among the people, he worked many miracles, and he even suffered a stigmata. Francis was exactly what the church needed to help gather it’s flock.
Alexandra Polly
01:26 AM ET (US)
Appearance of Christ:
     In chapter 14, How the Lord Appeared to St. Francis and to his Brethren as he was Speaking with them.
     This was an interesting section seeing as how the 'proof' of these men speaking well about christ produced the appearance of their 'blessed Lord'. When this 'Lord' appeared as a young man in their midst, he they blessed them all. After this they fell to the ground as if they 'had
been dead', and when they 'recovered from their trance', St Francis gave thanks to their Lord to reveal the 'treasures of divine wisdom'. This role of the speaking of the men and the results produced from the appearance of a 'lord' figure was interesting in how it happened and how the reactions of the men were.
Katie McConnaughey
12:45 AM ET (US)
St. Francis and Humility or “Live Simply So That Others May Simply Live”

As Leslie stated, humility appears at the forefront of St. Francis’ doctrine. Even through trials by Brother Masseo, his piety and humility in his piety never waver. This is key: for he is even humble about being humble. Because of this and his emphasis upon simplicity, St. Francis appears to me as the most “Christ-like” personage within the medieval church. By choosing to suffer, Francis took to heart Christ’s words, “Oh, what you will suffer all because of me,” and he did so with a joyous soul. Harmony with nature, suffering, and being poor all allowed Francis to become closer to God and yet be completely humble before him. At once realizing God’s greatness and still, believing that he was not worthy of such a realization, Francis encouraged all around him to find the Grace that had been granted unto him: “May each of you be filled in Heaven with blessing from the Most High Father.” Humbly, all he asks in return is to willingly serve God in any small way that he can, and with humility he admits he will do this with or without God’s blessing.
Sarah Signor
12:04 AM ET (US)
St. Francis and Nature

When I picture the relationship of St. Francis to nature the first thing that comes to mind is the classic painting of the lamb and the lion, sitting together. I think that St. Francis mirrored the world before the fall, where all creatures were united and peaceful. The lion did not kill the lamb, but instead was his brother. Furthermore the little birds are a creation of God, and in respecting them as your brother you are respecting god and his creations, which is an important part of humility towards God. Humility was very important to St. Francis. I also think that harmony with nature was a way to be closer to God. Being in nature, and therefore in creation, brings you closer to the creator. Churches are built by man, and nature would be closer to God, perhaps, in this respect. (Though I may be going to far out on that limb). I think that in the early 13th century the natural world was becoming more important as well. It began to represent and reflect God and was full of signs and warnings. Understanding the natural world was a way of attuning yourself to god. St. Francis reflects this sentiment.
Jessica Moore
11:51 PM ET (US)
It is not too surprising in a time where other religious orders were deemed heretical or thought to threaten the church that Francis' sect should be accepted with relative readiness by both the church and the christian world. While the rules of the order were strict and Francis was himself quite ascetic, he did not necessarily demand or castigate people for being less severe. Everything seemed meant to be performed with moderation. One was meant to labor, but not to the extent that it made him too tired to pray. One should pray, but not to such an extent that it made him overly judgemental of others or unhappy. Francis' faith was one performed to maximize the love of God. This made it particularly attractive to those who sought to enter the order. In regard to what I read as a pretty easy acceptance by the ruling authority of the church, it seems to me that Francis was quite maleable with regard to taking advise from higher ranking church officials and molding his order to fit the expectations of said authority (Cardinal Ugolino, later Pope Gregory IX). The second rule itself calls for the respecting of the established heirarchy--St. Francis promises obedience to Pope Honorius and his successors, the other brothers are to obey Brother Francis and his successors. He also makes provisions in said document to avoid "stepping on the toes" of other orders/districts by ordering tha the brothers are forbidden to preach in any diocese against the will of the bishop, and unless they are approved by the minister general.
Edited 05-04-2003 11:52 PM
Julie Bednarski
11:22 PM ET (US)
What does the imitation of Christ mean to St. Francis?
Chapter seven lists the many ways in which God allowed Francis to be Christ-like including the twelve companions, the holy Stigmata, and the Lenten fast. However, in Chapter 8 St. Francis tells Brother Leo that true joy cannot be found by performing Christ’s miracles or by prophesying or by converting “all the infidels”, but he tells Brother Leo “perfect joy is only in the cross.” For St. Francis the only valid imitation of Christ is by way of the cross. He states that “we cannot glory in all of those marvelous gifts of God, as they are not our but God’s … But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours (Chapter 8).” Francis found the most perfect joy in uniting himself with the passion of Christ by joyfully suffering abuses and chastisement for His sake. God bestows likeness to the historical Christ where as, following joyfully in the sufferings of Christ is of an individual’s will. One may also imitate Christ by willingly choosing poverty. Francis however thought it prideful to imitate Christ exactly. During his Lenten fast (Chapter 7) Francis ate nothing for 40 days, save half a loaf of bread and “with that half loaf he drove himself from the poison of pride (Chapter 7).”
Sarah Pagni
10:48 PM ET (US)
What does obedience mean now? Has it changed from the Rule of Benedict?
 Obedience is still very important for the Friar Minor, however it does not stress the importance of obedience to human superiors as much as the Rule of Benedict did. Instead, it stressed the obedience first and foremost to God. Francis is unable to get Bernard to answer when Bernard is praying to God. While Francis gets mad, he learns that Bernard was connected to God and that God feels that is more than Francis getting Bernard to answer him. Also, like Jess pointed out, there is obedience to equality. Francis become obedient to Bernard and Bernard pledges his obedience to Francis. This differs greatly from the Rule of Benedict because then you were always obedient to your superior and they would never be obedient to you. Now, everyone is obedient to God and that obedience takes precedence over your obedience to your early superior. This might suggest that more people are joining the order not because they have sinned a lot during their lives and are trying to make up for them but because they were called by God and want to be surrounded by him entirely and be his servant forever.
Leslie StrongwaterPerson was signed in when posted
09:25 PM ET (US)
Humility seems to be the strongest virtue stressed in The Little Flowers of St. Francis. The humbleness and holiness of St. Francis is repeatedly tested by God, his fellow brothers, and most vehemently, himself. Brother Masseo attempts to test the nature of St. Francis and in doing so, is shown a three-fold path; he is greatly moved by the humility of the saint, he discovers the sinful flaws in himself that wrongly allowed him to doubt the saint, and even better, he increases the level of humility in the saint by sheer nature of the test. It seems that whenever brothers or saints, or even curious little boys try to enter into a humility contest, or question the strength of a spiritual source, rather than debunking the source, or attaining some perverse personal satisfaction, the level of humility and remorse in all participants ends up rising exponentially, and all are enlightened by the power of God.
Jess Carlin
06:04 PM ET (US)
What does obedience mean now? Has it changed since the Rule of Benedict?

For the Friars Minor, obedience has changed a great deal since the Rule of St Benedict. It is still one of the primary values for the order, but unlike orders following the Rule of St Benedict, following the orders of superiors or mortals has lessened in importance. Instead, emphasis is placed on obedience to God, and the equality of obedience. For example, Bernard is praying to God, and st Francis repeatedly tries to gain his attention, but Bernard is so intent on praying that he ignores Francis. Francis then prays, questioning why he was ignored, and God hears his prayer and replies that Bernard was united with him. Francis feels foolish, and pledges obedience to Bernard, but Bernard pledges obedience to Francis as well. There is more equality to obedience, instead of the version of obedience found in the Rule, which emphasizes obedience to superiors.
Anna KwonPerson was signed in when posted
05:30 PM ET (US)
Re: Francis and nature
Francis' relationship with nature is reflective of the kind of harmony that existed between Creator and creation before the fall of man. One can easily envision Francis' addressing his "little sister birds" or "brother wolf" as a continuation of the kind of symbiotic relationship Adam and Eve had shared with the animals in the Garden of Eden. Nature was also a way for a person to achieve a higher level of spiritual connection with God. As was the case with Francis and Mount Alverno, a quiet, solitary mountain proved to be the perfect place for contemplation, penance, and visions from God.
This image of the holy man living in tune with nature fits in with life during the Middle Ages, when an equilibrium was sought between the natural world and mankind. The natural world was a mirror of the spiritual world; future doom and disaster could be presaged through mysterious signs in the sky, strange occurrences, bad weather, etc. The wild birds that kept company with St. Francis, or the fish coming to the surface of the ocean to listen in on the sermons of St. Anthony, were thus hopeful indicators of a world at peace and stability (and harmony with God), a goal that was very much desirable in the high Middle Ages as it is today.
Carole StrawPerson was signed in when posted
03:09 PM ET (US)

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