In the thirteenth year of his conversion, Francis journeyed to the
regions of Syria, constantly exposing himself to many dangers in order
to reach the presence of the Sultan of Babylon. Taking a companion with
him, a brother named Illuminato, he came upon two lambs. Overjoyed to
see them, he said, "Trust in the Lord, brother, for the Gospel is being
fulfilled in us: Behold, I am sending your forth like sheep in the midst
When they proceeded farther, the Saracen sentries fell upon them like
wolves swiftly overtaking sheep. By divine providence they were led to
the Sultan, just as Francis had wished. When the Sultan inquired by
whom, why and how they had been sent, Francis replied with an intrepid
heart that the Most High God had sent him to point out to the Sultan and
his people the way of salvation and to announce the Gospel of truth.
Inspired from heaven, Francis continued: "If you wish to be converted
to Christ along with your people, I will most gladly stay with you for
love of him. But if you hesitate. . .then command that an enormous fire
be lit and I will walk into the fire along with your priests so that you
will recognize which faith deserves to be held as holier and more
The Sultan replied that he did not dare accept this choice because he
feared a revolt among his people. Nevertheless, he offered Francis many
gifts, which the man of God spurned as if they were dirt. Seeing that
Francis so completely despised worldly possessions, the Sultan was
overflowing with admiration and developed an even greater respect for
him. Thus it came about that the divine fire burned still more perfectly
in Francis' heart, so that later it would be clearly seen in his flesh.
Selections from Saint Bonaventure, The Major Legend of Saint
Francis, Chapter 9.
Read Kevin Regan, "Catholics and Muslims: Two Faiths, One God",
Catholic Youth Update (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press,
Pray for the Spirit's gift of understanding and a deeper sense of
openness to differences.
Act! Ask your parish youth leader or your religious education teacher
to organize a trip to a local mosque. Talk with Muslims to better
understand their faith and pray with them.
Each day of our lives we are faced with so many decisions. Besides
all the little decisions we have to make, there are some really big
ones, too: Where should I go to college? What career is right for me?
and many others. Sometimes we're not even sure where to begin. The story
of Francis and the Sultan gives us some ideas of how Francis figured out
what to do with his life.
First, Francis always prayed to God for guidance. Francis had a very
close relationship with God, even closer than best friends. He knew he
could give his entire heart and mind to God because God loved him and
would help him to make the best decision.
Second, Francis listened to his own heart. He knew himself better
than he knew anyone else. He relied on God and his friends to help him
understand the desires of his heart and how he should fulfill them.
Third, once Francis knew what God wanted for him, he went after it
with all his energy. Francis never did anything half-way! His heart was
so full of the joy of knowing Christ that he wanted to share it with
everyone, even in far-away countries where his life might be threatened.
Finally, Francis made every decision for the glory of God. He could
have yelled and screamed at the Muslim Sultan to try and persuade him
but the love of Christ compelled him to treat the Sultan with dignity
and respect. The Sultan treated Francis with the same dignity and
respect and thus Francis saw Christ in him.
Francis shows us that no matter what the division is, we can rely on
God and our own hearts to lead us on the right path that will make us
happy and fulfilled.
Bro. David Kazmarek, TOR
"The Good Word" is an inspirational article written for young men by
men in formation. Bro. David made his first profession of vows on May
31, 2003. He is studying theology at St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul,