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Boston Catholic Journal - Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason



Counsels and Admonitions

from Saint Francis

Consilia et Admonitiones quae cessarunt tertio die mensis Octobris anno Domini millesimo ducentesimo vigesimo sexto, quando imago Christi compleretur in persona Francisci servi sui.

St. Francis of Assisi Maker of Men in the Imago Dei

Maker of Men

A New Series:

Saint Francis was a maker of men.

What he demanded of himself, he demanded no less of others, however much he was filled with compassion, love, and kindness toward everyone who failed — not him — but themselves, in their own pursuit of the perfection Christ required of them and which they found possible in him. Those who followed St. Francis were (and some, perhaps, still are) among the greatest examples of men God ever created: examples of selflessness, discipline, perseverance, fortitude, courage, determination, goodness; in a word, the best of what is manliness.

He was relentless in his pursuit of holiness, and whatever stood between him and God was unsparingly tossed underfoot or cast aside as an affront to God and an enemy to his salvation and the salvation of the souls God placed in his path and in his care. He took this responsibility absolutely personally and altogether seriously. His focus was singular: God — His glory, His honor, His most holy will — and nothing other and nothing less.

I emphasize this to break the persistent myth surrounding narratives of St. Francis (especially since the 1960s) that would have us see him as something of an innocuous Flower Child more concerned with Mother Earth, animals, and offending no one; a soft, almost androgynous, if not feminine figure emblematic of a spirituality largely foreign to Catholicism. Such an understanding of St. Francis does not simply fail to agree with the reality of the person and history of this great saint, but grossly distorts him to the point that an accurate presentation becomes so startling that it may appear to be the fiction, rather than the saccharine pulp presentations that have largely made him acceptable to popularly pious sensitivities. This is a great injustice to St. Francis, although I think that he would be the first to see the inanity in it.

But to the point: if you would really understand St. Francis, you must first (of course) understand Jesus Christ, and three particular teachings that He enunciates, apart from which you will never understand anything at all about St. Francis, his life, and his history. Indeed, they are so central to the life and spirituality of this great saint that we may say that, in a sense, they constitute the very fabric of his being:

Enter at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leads to life: and few there are that find it!(St. Matthew 7.13-14)

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.(St. Matthew 16.24)

If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. (St. John 15.19-20)

Once we dwell upon these three points sufficiently, we can venture further, and deeper, into — not just St. Francis — but our own lives in Christ, where they are, where they are taking us, and where they are likely to end.

I know that this is hubris. But if I am not brave in this venture, I will accomplish nothing good: not in my own soul, still less in the souls of those who endure this series.

I hope for good. But only God can accomplish any good in me, and if He does not, then all praise and glory be His forever and ever: Sanctus. Sanctus. Sanctus!

Geoffrey K. Mondello
April 25, 2024
Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
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  • Some Admonitions Concerning the Body:

“Many people, when they sin or receive an injury, often blame the Enemy or some neighbor. But this is not right, for each one has the real enemy in his own power; that is, the body through which he sins. Therefore, blessed is that servant who, having such an enemy in his power, will always hold him captive and wisely guard himself against him, because as long as he does this, no other enemy, seen or unseen, will be able to harm him.” (The Admonitions X )

the flesh is always opposed to every good.” (The Admonitions XII)

  • How Even the Least of Gods Creatures Serve Him Better than We Do —
       and what is more frightening still ...

“All the creatures under Heaven, each according to its nature, serve, know, and obey their Creator better than you. And even the demons did not crucify Him, but you, together with them have crucified Him and crucify Him even now by delighting in vices and sins.”
(The Admonitions V)

  • Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

“Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the Second Death shall do them no harm.”
(The Canticle of Brother Sun )

  • Who Our Real Friends Are

“Our friends, then, are all those who unjustly inflict upon us trials and ordeals, shame and injuries, sorrows and torments, martyrdom and death; we must love them greatly for we will possess eternal life because of what they bring upon us.”
(The Admonitions XXII.1 )


  • What We Must Hate

“We must hate our body with its vices and sins, because by living according to the flesh, the devil wishes to take from us the love of Jesus Christ and eternal life and to lose himself and everyone in Hell. For through our own fault we are rotten, miserable, and opposed to good, but prompt and willing to embrace evil.”
(The Admonitions XXII.5 )

more to follow ...




Boston Catholic Journal

Totally Faithful to the Sacred Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome

Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.
(Apocalypse 3.8)

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