Franciscan Spirit Blog

Novena to St. Francis | Day Two: Evangelization

Evangelization is a Franciscan priority because it was a priority for St. Francis. And it was a priority because he had encountered Jesus and just couldn’t keep that to himself. You see, for Francis, everything always harkened back to Jesus and his holy Gospel. But what is evangelization? Well, all we have to do is look at the life of Francis himself to find out. For him, sharing the good news of Jesus was inescapable. He had encountered Jesus, truth itself, in his dreams, visions, and listening prayer.

Francis could no more deny or escape sharing that good news than he could breathing in order to stay alive. Once he had accepted the Gospel as his way of life—and Jesus as his model—everything changed. What had been bitter became sweet. And, as we know, there was absolutely no keeping that a secret!

People had to be pretty shocked the day he took off his clothes in the town square to publicly announce his conversion. There’s a phrase attributed to Francis which certainly rings true when applied to his life. It’s become a kind of Franciscan motto, and one of my favorites. Legend has it that Francis once told a brother to go and proclaim the Gospel using words only when necessary.

You see, the very life of Francis preached, evangelized, challenged, and evoked. He was so convinced of God’s love that he saw everybody else as God’s beloved—even those his society considered an enemy, like Sultan Malek al-Kamil, whom he met with during the fifth Crusade. So compelling was the way Francis lived his life—simply living the truth of God’s love—that he attracted thousands of other people to follow his example. This includes me—hundreds of years later!

One of the reasons why I wanted to take part in this novena is because of how worried I am that our society is promoting the antithesis of Franciscan evangelization. Instead of helping people recognize God’s love, as Francis did, it seems that people are being demonized by one another instead. And that’s not right. Remember, Francis evangelized by attraction!


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Let Us Pray

Loving God, you are powerful and great, yet merciful and loving.
Thank you for giving us the example of St. Francis, who was able to closely model his life after that of Jesus.
Give us the strength to do so ourselves.
Help us to remind our sisters and brothers that we’re all made in your image and likeness,
and therefore worthy of kindness, dignity, and respect.



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