Feast of St. Francis

Many churches in the United States celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. It is a popular day for pets to be “blessed”.

Does one need to be Catholic or a professor of any faith walk to appreciate the life of St. Francis of Assisi? Francis grew up privileged in a wealthy family, enjoyed partying with his young friends, got in trouble as revilers will, decided to prove his manhood by enlisting in the efforts of the Crusades, apparently met his God while riding off to battle and returned to follow a life of supplication and poverty. His dedication to the plight of the disadvantaged, his embrace of simplicity and his love for the environment are highlights of many historical accounts. Our contemporary Franciscan order replicates the lives of Francis and Clare of Assisi.

Fast forward to 2020 and the chaos facing Americans in choosing a President. On one hand we have President Trump, apparently bolstered by numerous religious leaders proclaiming he has been sent by God to save America, holding a bible in front of St. John’s Church threatening to use military troops against protesters . Counter that with the image of Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, paying respects to Justice Ginsburg lying in state at the Capitol. Among many Christian denominations, crossing one’s self while quietly repeating, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”, is indicative of that person’s belief in the Holy Trinity. Joe Biden bowed his head, crossed himself and moved on with wife Jill at his side.

Which scenario gives us comfort? Which visual image fortifies our trust in the faith walk of the man who will become President on November 3rd? To those naysayers who would comment that religion and politics should not mix, I must agree. But, a person’s declaration of faith is of ultimate importance. A man who promotes violence and discord cannot be a man of Christian values. Holding up a Bible while urging the military to move in on civil protest would not be the course of action Jesus emphasized.

So, if you profess Christianity, if you proclaim to be a follower of Jesus, which are you – a Jesus follower or a fake Christian? This is another reason I will vote the Biden/ Harris ticket on November 3rd. It has nothing to do with my religion or God beliefs. It is all about the one who attempts to deceive us.

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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Follow the leader.  Just a child’s game?  How about Simon says?  For us they were playtime activity intended to teach interaction with other children.  But, have you ever considered the ramifications of a 5 or 6 year-old being taught to follow a designated leader wherever that person leads or to do explicitly what Simon instructs?  Of course not, they were just games for children.

What about adults?  Life is not a game.  Do you and I have enough self-confidence, enough courage to walk away from the herd trailing after a proclaimed leader when we know that person is dishonest and corrupt? Whether that person is speaking from the pulpit of a church or from a governmental office, do we have the cojones to say, “No, I will not follow you nor do as you say?”

Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu were such men.  They viewed their country’s status quo as unacceptable.  Violence was not the answer; however, passive disobedience created movements which fueled social action that could not be ignored by national leaders with their trailing herds and toadying sycophants nor preachers with their ‘amen & hallelujah’ congregations.

It was called civil disobedience.  In the months leading up to November 3rd, we should, each of us, consider what it is we are willing to do to press forward on a path which honors the validity of all citizens whether white, black, brown, religious or non-religious,Picture6 gay or straight, wealthy or poor, Muslim or Christian.  When our elected leaders ignore us, when our spiritual mentors speak untruths, our options as a nation dwindle.  However, a greater power within each of us commands us to disobey government and religious leaders when that obedience would be illegal, unlawful and unjust.

The days of child’s play are past.  A new era in American history is upon us and its future will be determined by whom we choose to follow and whom we choose to obey.

These words from CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE by Henry David Thoreau are well-advised in today’s political turmoil:

The government, according to Thoreau, is not just a little corrupt or unjust in the course of doing its otherwise-important work, but in fact the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice. Because of this, it is “not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize”. WIKIPEDIA

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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