Thursday, October 4, 2007

Saint Francis, seriously

A friend of mine died this morning. Another friend of mine was there with him when he died and told me of the experience. He died while she and other friends of his were saying Morning Prayer around his bedside. My friend reports that he was still alive as they read the gospel appointed for the Feast of St. Francis: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

My friend who died was a third order Franciscan; he took that seriously. He is the only person I know who truly embraced voluntary poverty while still living as part of the world rather than in a religious order.

What a peculiar and wondrous blessing that he should die today and join St. Francis in the company of saints on this day, the feast of his patron. What a peculiar and wondrous blessing that he died in the presence of the gospel that promises rest to the weary.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

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