Authored by: Reverend Dr. James Sabak, O.F.M.
What made St. Francis, St. Francis? Well, it was more than a love for creation and a desire for poverty – surprising as that may seem! St. Francis was also more than a dreamer, and definitely not a passive figure either in the church or in a society of his day. What made St. Francis, St. Francis was a passion, an energy, and an earnest desire to know and to experience God.
This passion and desire was born not only of an open heart but also and most importantly an open mind, which shattered most of the preconceived notions and expectations of people in the Middle Ages. It was drawn out of a necessity to know in real and concrete ways that God was not a figment of imagination or a fantastic hope that could never find a grounding in reality.
Yes, God was worshipped and adored in his time in much the same way as God continues to be worshipped and adored today. But such piety and devotion were becoming routine and hollow and dry and lifeless. Some were going to extremes in counter-response to this devitalized movement – rejecting creation and our humanity as an evil source for this loss of devotion. Francis, however, was guided by the Holy Spirit to see it all another way.
The joining of mind and heart in the person of St. Francis directed him to embark on a journey that few in his day dared to do – to risk everything for greater understanding of who God is and what such knowledge provides for a deeper knowledge of God’s purposes for each of us. The risk transforms knowledge into wisdom, that pursuit of learning and endeavor that brings about insight, prudence, care and compassion for creation as God’s greatest gifts to the human family.
The pursuit of wisdom, which comes from knowing God, encountered through discovery and exploration, inquiry and examination embody what it means to be The Franciscan School. Modeling our educational foundation on the way of understanding forged by St. Francis of Assisi we are led to seek after wisdom never for its own sake, but rather that this journey may lead to a greater awareness of the truth and reality of God and of God’s embrace of us.
At the end of his life, St. Francis prayed that just as God had taught him what he was to do in this world, so too God would teach his followers what they must do. The openness and willingness of St. Francis to trust what God was calling him to undertake unveiled a new horizon wherein a life of faith possesses the potential to profoundly impact every aspect of human life. We of The Franciscan School dare to venture into this horizon. By embracing a God-centered wisdom we are released from fear and anxiety and are opened to the many glorious ways God reveals what we must do and become to be life for the world.