Category Archives: South America

St. Francis makes a fine name for a Pope

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I was very pleased to hear about a down to earth, South American

(Argentina) cardinal making his way up to become a Pope. You have

probably heard a lot about his helping the poor and reaching out to

beggars in his lifetime.

Having a grandmother from Germany who loved Catholicism and

had her own rosary beads, I knew a little about being a Catholic.

My mother has become more and more a resident in the past,

although she does fine in her senior living apartment up on the

West side of Cleveland. She enjoys having her 5 table mates for

dinner, whose lively conversation includes usually has some gossip

to repeat to me about the people who live in that place.

She also does well at taking care of her “best friend” Nicki, her

dog, which is a mixed breed little fur ball! It has some shih tzu in

her breeding.

My Mom has taken to watching the Catholic channel and will write

me some of the homilies she has heard on recent television programs.

She is not a devout Catholic, more of a follower of God through what she

interprets with her heart and mind.

This new habit of watching the Catholic services and listening to their

sermons and homilies stems back to or is more of a reference to her

childhood lessons from her mother.

My parents always believed in taking us to church, which we all have

become varied followers and believers of God. My two brothers and I

have approached religion in about three different ways. But we all respect

that  each individual needs to have their own personal beliefs. I took my 3

children to church almost every Sunday from their baby years through their

high school years.  We said bedtime and some meals were accompanied by

prayers. Only 1 of 3 of my grown children goes to church currently.

Anyway, this is all leading up to tell you that I have always loved St. Francis

of Assisi due to a pretty plaque on my grandparents’ wall.

I am sure this was due to my grandmother who was born in Germany and

followed her own mother’s Catholic faith. My grandfather, her husband, was

born in Sweden, followed more of an agnostic practice. But from time to time

he would say to my Dad as we drove out of their driveway, “Drive like a

Christian!”

Both my Dad and Grandpa Mattson would ask this question when a

scientific theory came up or my Christian aunt and uncle were there

debating things, “How BIG is your GOD?” (Meaning, do you feel God

encompasses all religions and faiths, along with loving all people?)

The St. Francis plaque,  in my memories,had a handsome, gentle looking

man with a white cloak on with a dove on his shoulder, a deer overlooking

his other shoulder and little creatures at his feet. These animals including

a squirrel, chipmunk, mouse, and a bunny rabbit. I loved St. Francis of Assisi’s

peaceful countenance. I also loved the prayer that accompanied this picture.

I am sure most readers will recognize the very powerful and sweetly sounding

words and see why they mean a lot to me.

These words are from the first part of the St. Francis of Assisi prayer:

“Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace

Where there is hatred, sow love…

injury;  pardon…

doubt; faith…

despair; hope…

darkness; light…

sadness; joy…”

It finishes the prayer with more finite words and you can find it on

the internet but the last part does not have as much meaning to myself.

I love the open minded interpretation to the beginning of this prayer.

More recently, in this century, St. Francis was also given the credit for

believing in the environment. Pope John Paul II (Nov. 29, 1979) declared him

the Patron of Ecology. I also like it that St. Francis was the one who thought

that animals should be in a Christmas Creche or Nativity Scene.

Whenever you see the Pope’s name he chose, know that no other Pope has

chosen the name of Francis before.  Remember the prayer and its universal

meaning and the animals and ecology that are attributed to Saint Francis.

I find it comforting to know that the new Pope has chosen such a humble

follower of God as his namesake!