Pastoral Series

Enough! – St. Francis

Like many people, we have a little statue of St. Francis of Assisi in the garden of our front yard. He’s the patron saint of… nature? Birds? Flowering things? St. Francis should be conceived as the patron saint of “Enough.” On this day, the eve of the feast day of St. Francis, let’s ponder what he was about.

A fascinating moment: long after he gave away his wealth to serve the poorest of the poor, already legendary as a person of intense prayer and intimacy with God, Francis went up into the mountains of the Rieti Valley to pray, and took Brother Leo with him. After praying all day, he exited the cave. Leo asked, “Did God say anything?” Francis said “No.” And so it went, day after day, for six weeks, every day the same, “Did God say anything?” “No.” Finally, almost bored, Leo asked him at the end of a day, “Did God say anything?” Francis said, “Yes.” “Yes? What did God say to you?” Francis replied, “God simply said ‘More.’” God wanted more – from this patron saint of prayer and holiness.

We never can think I’ve done enough for God, I have offered enough of myself to God. God wants more – or actually, all of you, all you have, all you are. It’s not costly or a radical sacrifice. It’s what you were made for.

Francis had grown up as an immensely popular, cool, up and coming young man. He feigned a French accent, and sang hip French romantic ballads; all the young men and woman adored him. But he heard a yearning, a calling, deep inside that wouldn’t let him go. Finally he realized that he couldn’t do what God was asking of him as long as he continued along his upwardly mobile path of success and coolness. His father Pietro was grooming him to take over the booming family cloth business; he was off on business junkets to France regularly. But to have time, room, energy and the heart for God’s call, Francis had to give that up. He learned, quickly, that divesting himself of his things, and his career, was not a cross to the borne, but a liberation. He learned he could live on way, way, way less than he was accustomed to. He was free to be, free to serve, free to go wherever God asked him to go.

History is replete with such stories. Millard Fuller was a wealthy Alabama businessman. But he gave it all away to join an egalitarian community in Americus, Georgia, and started Habitat for Humanity. He’d felt the press to provide for his family. What he provided, instead, was an exemplary life of holiness and devotion to God and God’s people.

How much is Enough? Francis would say Way less than you have right now. Francis would add that it’s time to say Enough! to the world’s ideology of getting more, and more, and more. It’s time to say Enough! to the cool life. It’s time to say Enough! to the reality of the poor who are struggling and don’t enjoy our advantages.

Francis would say it’s time to confess I am Enough. I am God’s child. I am God’s emissary. I am on a lifelong mission for God. It’s not about accumulating for me. It’s about joyful abandonment for God. What does God ask of you, today? More. Enough already. More for God. More prayerfulness. More holiness. More service. More joy.

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