FR. JONATHAN ST. ANDRÉ, T.O.R.
Dear Brother Leo:
I hear that you were the scribe to whom most of Francis of Assisi’s writings were dictated (thank goodness; I hear his grammar wasn’t always the best). I also know you were his confessor. (I won’t ask you to talk about that.) My question is this: Having spent so much time with this extraordinary saint, what do you think is most surprising about Francis?
A “Franny” who loves Francis
Thanks for the good question (and the compliment on my grammatical skills). There are a few things that come to mind that might surprise people about Francis of Assisi.
One thing is that, for all his ministries (preaching penance to the people, rebuilding small dilapidated chapels and loving lepers, to name a few), people might be shocked that Francis spent over half of his time in solitude.
Besides our traditional Catholic season of Lent, he separated his year with other “Lents.” Francis, and often myself, would go to the heights in our native Italy and spend time in communion with the Lord, gathering only to pray the Divine Office and share meals. This time in solitude enabled him to use his other time more powerfully.
People might also be surprised to know that the topic Francis wrote about the most was the Eucharist — much more than even poverty, although he devoted himself to the Poor Christ and his Poor Mother.
Francis’s most prolific writing period was writing Eucharistic exhortations to his friars, rulers and all people, calling them to follow the mandates of the Fourth Lateran Council, which called for care of the Eucharist and the places where it was celebrated.
Francis would love your theme for the year, “I am the Bread of Life.” Actually, it seems that he loved the Gospel of John above all, as well.