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Pope Francis Reminds Us of Saint Francis and the Heart of Spirituality

Pope Francis Reminds Us of Saint Francis and the Heart of Spirituality Bruce Davis

It seems a day does not pass by when there is not a new quote or an act of humility from Pope Francis. Recently he advised us all that "We know God by having an open mind." "Each of us," he said, "must look into our hearts." Then a few days later, it was announced Pope Francis would wash the feet of handicapped people during Easter week. I think a pope rarely leaves the Vatican during the holy days of Easter, no less washes the feet of the least fortunate among us. Truly, Pope Francis is bringing alive the spirit and life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saint Francis, the medieval saint from the twelfth century, is remembered for his love of nature, his humility, and his concern for everyone, no matter their walk in life — particularly the very poor. If we look deeper, we will see that Pope Francis is practicing the inner path that brought Saint Francis of Assisi to so much joy. Pope Francis can illuminate these practices as well as clear up misunderstandings. There has been too much self-denial and sacrifice embedded in religion for too long and for too many.

Those who have been fortunate to live in Italy and follow the footsteps of Saint Francis realize he is the saint for nature, the poor, and a lot more. Most people don't know that Saint Francis spent a good part of his short life living simply on mountaintops all over central Italy. His many days and long nights were spent in the big silence, contemplating all elements of life. Nature in all its beauty, the sky in its wonder, and his own nakedness stood out nearly every moment. This time alone in silence guided him to a profound peace within himself. He would spend days and weeks alone on many mountaintops instructing his dear brother Leo to keep all humans away. His time alone in the perfect stillness was sacred. This time was about simply being and much more. It was time without distraction. Saint Francis ventured deep into the great vastness of his heart. Loneliness and everything human was present, but time and time again, it all fell aside to something greater. Saint Francis found a great vastness of God. A perfect peace was found inside the midst of the peace and quiet of the mountaintop.