The city of Assisi |

Saint Francis Novena | Day 1 | Conversion

Novena to Saint Francis of Assisi

Day 1 | Conversion

Where there is Love and Wisdom, there is neither Fear nor Ignorance,
Where there is Patience and Humility, there is neither Anger nor Annoyance
Where there is Poverty and Joy, there is neither Cupidity nor Avarice
Where there is Peace and Contemplation, there is neither Care nor Restlessness.
Where there is Fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter.
Where there is Mercy and Prudence, there is neither Excess nor Harshness
(Admonition XXVII)

by Pat McCloskey, OFM

Francis of Assisi gave this advice to his brothers when they were gathered for one of their yearly meetings in Assisi. This advice may seem counterintuitive, leading us in the opposite direction from where we want to go.

Francis was one of most free people who has ever lived—internally free, that is. His conversion had its dramatic moments (for example, embracing a leper along the road), but it was an ongoing, progressive opening himself to God’s grace and to the life changes which that grace always sets in motion.

Because we are constantly tempted to think that God will ask too much from us, we wonder: “Will the first pair of virtues in each line above lead us to what concludes each line? Will love and wisdom truly keep us from fear and ignorance?”

Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of Francis, wrote that the Poor Man of Assisi seemed to his contemporaries like “a man from another world.” He increasingly based his life on God’s sense of “normal”—and that meant progressively deeper conversion to God’s ways.

God’s grace needs room to work in a person’s life. Conversion creates that room in us by reassessing what it truly important and what is not. The beggar whom Francis could easily have dismissed became an instrument of God’s grace.

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