Editor's note:

As we near the end of a week cel­e­brat­ing St. Fran­cis of Assisi, we look toward his mod­el of a Spir­it-filled life. The pow­er of God worked through Fran­cis’s life in innu­mer­able ways, man­i­fest­ing itself in mir­a­cles and astound­ing acts of char­i­ty. Richard Fos­ter joins us again to relate some of the most mem­o­rable sto­ries of Fran­cis that exem­pli­fy life in the Charis­mat­ic tradition.

Read Richard’s intro­duc­tion to Francesco” here.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Streams of Living Water

But why would I think of Fran­cis as a piv­otal fig­ure in the Charis­mat­ic Tradition?

Well, first of all, because of the strik­ing pow­er in the Spir­it that sur­round­ed all that Fran­cis did and said. Per­haps one sto­ry will suf­fice. Clare — who by this time had estab­lished the Sec­ond Order” of the Fran­cis­cans, the poor Clares” — had often request­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to eat with Fran­cis, but he had nev­er grant­ed her request. Final­ly some of the broth­ers urged him to con­sent, say­ing, Father, it seems to us that this strict­ness is not accord­ing to divine char­i­ty … espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that she gave up the rich­es and pomp of the world as a result of your preach­ing.” In the end Fran­cis was per­suad­ed, and so a meet­ing was arranged at the lit­tle church of St. Mary of the Angels. Fran­cis had a meal pre­pared and spread on the ground, as was his cus­tom. Meet­ing at the appoint­ed hour, St. Fran­cis and St. Clare sat down togeth­er, and one of his com­pan­ions with St. Clare’s com­pan­ion, and all his oth­er com­pan­ions were grouped around that hum­ble table.” As they ate, Fran­cis began to speak about God in such a sweet and holy and pro­found and divine and mar­velous way that he him­self and St. Clare and her com­pan­ion and all the oth­ers who were at that poor lit­tle table were rapt in God.”

In the mean­time the peo­ple of Assisi were hor­ri­fied to see in the dis­tance St. Mary of the Angels and the entire for­est around it enveloped in flames. They rushed up the hill, hop­ing to put out the blaze before every­thing was lost. But upon arriv­ing at the lit­tle church, they found noth­ing amiss. No church on fire. No for­est ablaze. Noth­ing. Enter­ing the church they dis­cov­ered Fran­cis, Clare, and the oth­ers sit­ting around that very hum­ble table, rapt in God by con­tem­pla­tion and invest­ed with pow­er from on high.” They then real­ized that the fire they had seen was not a mate­r­i­al fire, but a spir­i­tu­al fire. The blaze they saw was to sym­bol­ize the fire of divine love which was burn­ing in the souls” of these sim­ple ser­vants of Christ. The end result of this aston­ish­ing event was that the peo­ple of Assisi returned home with great con­so­la­tion in their hearts and with holy edification.”

I know I said that one sto­ry would suf­fice, but how can I leave out the most famous Fran­cis sto­ry of all: the tam­ing of the fero­cious wolf of Gub­bio? It seems that a huge wolf had been ter­ror­iz­ing the cit­i­zens of Gub­bio, killing sev­er­al chil­dren. The peo­ple were so trau­ma­tized that they would hard­ly ven­ture out of their homes, and cer­tain­ly not beyond the town’s bound­aries. Hear­ing this, Fran­cis imme­di­ate­ly deter­mined to find the wolf. He struck out on the road to the area where it was often found, his com­pan­ions fol­low­ing along at a safe dis­tance. See­ing them com­ing, the wolf charged at them, open-mouthed and men­ac­ing. Fran­cis firm­ly and gen­tly called out to him, Come to me, Broth­er Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt me or any­one.” His com­pan­ions, at first fright­ened, were aston­ished to see the wolf stop in its tracks, close its jaws, low­er its head, and lie down at Francis’s feet like a lamb. As it lay in front of him, Fran­cis addressed the wolf: Broth­er Wolf, you have done great harm in this region, … and this whole town is your ene­my. But, Broth­er Wolf, I want to make peace between you and them, so that they will not be harmed by you any more.” He then pro­ceed­ed to pro­pose a peace pact between the wolf and the peo­ple of Gub­bio: the wolf would promise not to ter­ror­ize and kill, and the peo­ple would promise to treat the wolf with cour­tesy and pro­vide it with food. As the peo­ple watched in aston­ish­ment, The wolf showed by mov­ing its body and tail and ears and by nod­ding its head that it will­ing­ly accept­ed what the Saint had said and would observe it.” At this all the peo­ple shout­ed to the sky, prais­ing and bless­ing the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In this dra­mat­ic act the shalom of God descend­ed upon that city, for we are told that from that day, the wolf and the peo­ple kept the pact which St. Fran­cis made. The wolf lived two years more, and it went from door to door for food. It hurt no one, and no one hurt it. The peo­ple fed it cour­te­ous­ly. And it is a strik­ing fact that not a sin­gle dog ever barked at it.”

Francis’s entire min­istry was rich in mir­a­cles and heal­ings, signs and won­ders, rev­e­la­tions and visions. Once he encoun­tered a blind girl from the city of Bevagna in the Spo­le­to Val­ley. See­ing her inward heart-devo­tion, he marked the eyes of the blind girl with his spit­tle three times in the name of the Trin­i­ty and restored to her the sight she desired.” One man from the city of Orte had a tumor between his shoul­ders the size of a large loaf of bread.” Fran­cis, see­ing his con­di­tion, laid hands on him and blessed him, and he was sud­den­ly so com­plete­ly healed that no trace of the tumor remained.” The sto­ries go on and on.

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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