“Wars” became sacred to the soldiers because now they were defending the Roman Empire against those who were then called heathens, idolaters and much worse.
St. Francis of Assisi once went to war. He once stowed away on a vessel headed to Egypt (which is why, yet today, he is known as the patron saint of stowaways), where he tried to bring an end to the fifth crusade. He failed in that effort and returned traumatized by war, giving himself totally to being a peacemaker.
There exists in the church a tradition that says Francis died naked on the ground just outside his rebuilt church called Portiuncula, where — with his last breath — he told his followers, “I have done my part. Christ teach you to now do yours.”
Francis of Assisi lived in a world that loved grandeur and augmentation; he practiced simplicity, while also embracing the outcasts of society and all the marginalized people.
He was a lover of nature and is remembered as one having a special kinship with all creatures, even as one who preached to the birds and stroked the feared wolves. He practiced a gentler and much more loving ministry then we are familiar with. And he is remembered because of it.
How many others persons of power, prestige and force throughout history are held in such esteem? How many of them are remembered?
The new Pope Francis seems to already be bringing hope to the church and to the world. Perhaps we can find ways to do likewise.
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