Feast of Saint Francis

Here's a great story about Francis in honor of his feast today:

In the Porziuncola woodlands one day, in the burning dog days, a cricket breaks the empty noonday silence with its song. The brothers, who had risen before dawn to recite the hours, are asleep. So now in the merciless heat the praises to the Lord are sung by the cricket....

Francis, motionless among the still oaks, listens, enraptured. He is delighted by this little creature from which comes such vibrant harmony. Francis calls, "My sister cricket, come to me." And the cricket comes immediately from a hiding place in a fig tree into his hand.

Francis says, "Sing, my sister cricket, and praise your Creator with a joyful song."

And the cricket begins to sing again. He speaks to her about his thoughts, his desires, his dreams. He speaks of God who is splendor and harmony. He talks of light and shadow, of beautiful life and silent death.

Finally he lifts his hand and the cricket returns to its tree. Eight days pass and the cricket does not move from that tree. When Francis leaves his cell, she is ready to fly to his hand, to sing or be silent according to his command. At the end of that time Francis says to his companions, "Let us give our sister cricket leave to go, for it has made us sufficiently happy now. We do not want our flesh to glory vainly over things of this kind."

So the cricket takes flight beyond the tree and is lost in the sky. It never returns. (Fortini, Francis of Assisi, pp. 541-542)

Friar William Short in his book Poverty and Joy says, "It is the relinquishment of wealth, status and domination over others that the incarnation teaches Francis and Clare.... Following this example, living sine proprio, without anything of one's own, today implies the refusal to arrogate to one's self what belongs to all, because all belongs to the Creator. Everything is gift, nothing is 'property'. The gospel mandate to 'sell all and give to the poor', which Francis and Clare followed, far from being meaningless is as urgent in our own day as it was in theirs."

So, Franciscan leaders hold God's creation in trust for a common good, not in ownership. Like Francis I want to delight in the cricket's song, and in the cricket's song encounter the Creator and share the goodness.