Friday, May 24, 2013

The Art and Wealth of St. Francis

Giotto's fresco of St. Francis's rejection of worldly goods, Upper Church, Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi.

I stumbled on this the other day as I was sifting through issues of Gustav Stickley's 'The Craftsman' magazine -- a magazine that became something of the Bible of the turn of the last century Craftsman-Bungalow movement.

It's a remarkably long article that gets fairly deeply into the artistic legacy of St. Francis, including his own contribution as poet and builder. His canticles are some of the sweetest ever written in Italian -- well, Umbrian(!) -- and the fact that he wrote in the vernacular opened the door for Dante and so many other poets and writers of the early Renaissance to do likewise.

I'm reposting the article in its entirety here. I understand that is allowed by the University of Wisconsin so long as I don't try to profit from reposts. Yeah, right. Heh.

Anyway, here goes. These jpgs of the pages, so they can't be easily searched or quoted from; there are text versions available at the site, but they are difficult and inaccurate due to the limitations of character recognition.

I was somewhat startled when Pope Francis on Wednesday offered a homily after mass in which he stated that all who "do good" (even the atheists) are saved. This is standard Church teaching -- at least since St. Francis himself -- and yet it is hard to recognize such magnanimity among many who profess the Catholic faith, including plenty of the Church hierarchy. Thus it is refreshing to see the Pope issue a reminder to his colleagues and to the world. 

As announced on Vatican Radio:

Pope at Mass: Culture of encounter is the foundation of peace

(Vatican Radio) “Doing good” is a principle that unites all humanity, beyond the diversity of ideologies and religions, and creates the “culture of encounter” that is the foundation of peace: this is what Pope said at Mass this morning at the Domus Santae Martae, in the presence of employees of the Governorate of Vatican City. Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, concelebrated at the Mass.

Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”:

"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us.‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:

"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”

This was the final prayer of Pope Francis:

"Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible. Amen.”

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website

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