Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
The world of 13th century Italy inhabited by Francis of Assisi certainly would seem to be distant and unlike the world experienced by Teresa Lisieux in 19th century France. But to these two saints whose feast we have celebrated today and earlier this week, their two worlds would seem very similar. Both periods saw resurgence in consumerism and technology and both witnessed a shift in values leading to an erosion of the importance of religion. Although advances in technology separated the two saints, both saw simplicity and directness as the best means of progressing in the spiritual life. “What matters most is not great deeds but great love.” Teresa gave this admonition but it could have come from Francis as well. Both saints saw the temptation to greatness as drowning out our first and important small steps towards God. Both saints saw God in everyday occurrences, and their search for simplicity reminds us that the Kingdom of God resembles the small mustard seed or the grain of yeast.