What do Jorge Mario Bergoglio and I have in common? How about a connection with St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day falls tomorrow, October 4? I chose "Francis" as my name at Confirmation, and Jorge chose "Francis" as his name upon assuming the papacy.
Great minds think alike.
Unlike many of the saints canonized by the church, St. Francis wasn't a martyr. He wasn't a great theologian -- a "Doctor of the Church." He wasn't a Pope, or a diplomat, or a political figure. He did found a religious order, but its members didn't reside in secluded monasteries, as monks to that date had done; they wandered about the world, sharing the poverty of the people to whom they preached.
Francis was blessed with a facility with language, and he was one of the earliest writers to use an Italian dialect -- rather than Latin -- in serious writing.
I've always believed that St. Francis wrote the familiar "Prayer of St. Francis," a portion of which is quoted above. I learned only today that no recorded copy of the prayer dates back before 1912, when it probably was composed, in French, for a small religious publication. But if Francis didn't write it, it certainly was written in his spirit. He would have approved.
"The Prayer of St. Francis" sets forth goals for us all -- not just for Christians. It describes what it means to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. The world in 2014 is a good time to re-read and consider how we might apply these aspirations to our own lives.
But then, any year would be such a year.