I recently put up yet another post about the wild wild rain forest of Holy Souls Mountain, promising to put up a post about why Saint Francis appreciated nature so much.
I ran my thoughts about this before various Franciscan types – one a founder of yet another Franciscan community in Australia (that was about ten years ago), and another the now just retired two star admiral, a Conventual Franciscan, who was head of the entire chaplaincy for the Department of Defense for the U.S.A. (that was about eight months ago). I suspect I’m on target with these comments. I think that, at the least, they are rather Catholic, even if I don’t know all that there is to know about Saint Francis himself. Though I was told that these comments went to the heart of who Saint Francis was and is.
First of all, Saint Francis is a saint, ferociously in love with God in all truth, in all charity. He’s not a tree-hugging nature boy, but someone who was nailed to the tree of our redemption with Christ, whose wounds, stigmata, he bore. He’s not an ecclesial rebel, but someone who upheld the Church, as was seen by the Pope of the time. And you can be sure of this: he is praying from heaven for the conversion of that city in California which goes by his name, but in large part is risking going to hell.
Saint Francis loved nature because he learned from nature what simplicity we are to have before the providence of God. The more he saw that nature was simply doing the will of God, the more he saw fallen human nature miserably failing in being so wonderfully childlike before our Heavenly Father. For the pure of heart, this is like a crucifixion, one which transforms one into a child who trusts our Lord. We must ask the Lord for such simplicity of heart, whereby we can take the simplicity of nature as an examination of conscience. We have sinned Lord. And He provides forgiveness. And then we rejoice in true Franciscan style.
I remember that my diaconate class in the seminary was called the “Peace-Prayer Class”, which was meant in a derogatory manner. Those were strange days. I took it as a compliment. That peace prayer, written by Francis, though touched up a while back, has been extremely influential in my life, very profoundly so, especially the bit about understanding others for their good, though at the same time, and perhaps because of that, being misunderstood by others still. This is a crucifixion which provides an examination of conscience about our trust in the Lord. Saint Francis was a saint!
Why Saint Francis is a Holy Souls Hermitage Hero: However much I love the Carmelites, it is because of the incisiveness of Saint Francis, the little poor man, that I have been drawn — in my humble opinion — to be a hermit.