Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
Grant us in our misery that we do for your sake
What we know you want us to do, and always
Want what pleases you;
So that, cleansed and enlightened interiorly and
Fired with the ardor of the Holy Spirit,
we may be able to follow in the footsteps
of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Letter to a General Chapter)
The Holy Spirit will always cleanse and interiorly enlighten us if we allow that to happen. We often sense where the Spirit is trying to lead, and then we counter with a more “realistic” approach—but always for what we say are very noble motives!
The Holy Spirit must empty us of whatever is opposed to God in order to fill us with the grace to live up to our God-given dignity. We frequently resist the Spirit’s promptings because we feel that something superhuman is being asked of us.
Few words compare in power to calling an individual “unrealistic.” In fact, saints are the only genuine realists! Was Saint Francis being more realistic when, as a young man, he was the “life of the party”—thanks to his father’s money—or when Francis was caring for men and women suffering from leprosy? Was he more realistic when he avoided solitude or when he made his peace with it?
Only a Spirit-filled man could refuse to become bitter after the opposition that Francis faced. In one of his Admonitions, he warned the friars not to think that by praising the saints they could excuse themselves from the continuous conversion that every saint experiences.
Saint Francis on…
The Spirit: “God is spirit, and they who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
God the Father, when you created the first human
being, you breathed your Spirit into it and gave
it a life unique among all the creatures you had
already made. Help us not to crowd out your Spirit
by things that we consider more important, not to
fear that your Spirit might ask of us something far
beyond our strength. To you be all power, honor,