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 Life of St. Francis
A Biography
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Assisi, Italy

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GENERAL..imagesblu_gry.gif (541 bytes) Saint Francis
     & the Muslims

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  Selected Readings
  Writings - St.Francis
  San Damiano Cross
  Blessing of Animals
  Prayers - St. Francis
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   Of Saint Francis
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   The Transitus
    
    
    

 
St. Francis of Assisi and the Muslims

 

ST. FRANCIS VISITS THE SULTAN OF BABYLON

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 of wolves."

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 certain."

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.

Action Steps:

Read Kevin Regan, "Catholics and Muslims: Two Faiths, One God", Catholic Youth Update (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002.)

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.

The Good Word *

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, Minn.

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