October 4 - Memorial of St. Francis Assisi
St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan order, has an incredible story - one that includes, but far surpasses his love of creation/animals. Francis had a hardcore conversion, did hardcore work for the poor, practiced hardcore penance, and had a hardcore relationship with the Lord. So, let's look beyond the blessings of animals, the cute garden statues and your forever suppressed desire to speak with animals.
It's been 5 years since my semester abroad (Gaming, Austria - notice the mountain scape at the top of this page), and during that semester I said one prayer more than any other: "Who are you, Lord, and who am I?" St. Francis used to pray this often, as recounted by one of his fellow brothers, who would wake in the middle of the night to find Francis in prayer.
I was moved during my time abroad, and still am today, by the simplicity of this petition. Lord, reveal your face to me, and as you reveal yourself, may I come to know myself. What a request!
This petition has a fantastic amount of humility welling up inside of it - Francis recognized the dependence of his being on God, and found freedom within this. He found the freedom to know God and to know himself - and not be afraid of all of himself. Fr. Giussani says in The Religious Sense:
"So here is the paradox: freedom is dependence upon God. It is a paradox, but it is absolutely clear. The human being - the concrete human person, me, you - once we were not, now we are, and tomorrow we will no longer be: thus we depend."
St. Francis' petition strikes the core of my human situation - because I depend, the more I come to know my Source, the more I come to know myself. As I come to recognize myself, I see more clearly the Image in which I was created. Looking elsewhere is futile.