Saint Francis of Assisi

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St. Francis of Assisi’s Sufi Connection

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Saint Francis of Assisi | 1 comment

“What everyone is in the eyes of God, that he is no more.”
-When St. Francis of Assisi was praised by anyone, this was his reply

Most people know that St. Francis of Assisi was a lighthearted troubadour of Italy who experienced a religious conversion and became a saint with an uncanny influence over animals and birds. It is on record that the troubadours were a relic of Saracenic musicians (Saracen, an archaic name for Muslims used by Europeans) and poets. It is often agreed that the rise and development of the monkish Orders in the middle ages was greatly influenced by the penetration of Moslem dervish organization in the West. Studying St. Francis from this point of view, certain interesting discoveries become possible.

Francis was born in 1182, the son of Pietro Bernardone, a merchant, and his wife, Madonna Pica. He was originally named Giovanni, but his father was so attached to France (where he spent much of his commercial life) that “for love of the land he had just quitted” he renamed the child Francesco.

Although considered an Italian, Francis spoke Provençal, the language used by the troubadours. There is little doubt that he felt in the spirit of the troubadours a glimpse of something deeper than appeared on the surface. St. Francis’ own poetry so strongly resembles in places that of the love poet Rumi that one is tempted to look for any report which might connect Francis with the Sufi order of the Whirling Dervishes.

Rumi’s school of Whirling Dervishes was in full operation in Asia Minor, and its founder was still alive, during the lifetime of St. Francis.

Here is the puzzling “spinning” tale:Francis was walking through Tuscany with a disciple, Brother Masseo. They arrived at a fork in the road. One path led to Florence, another to Arezzo, a third to Siena.

Masseo asked which branch they should take.”The road which God wills.”
”And which is that?” “We will know by a sign. I command you, by your path of obedience, turn round and round as children do, until I tell you to stop.”So poor Masseo twirled and twirled, till he fell down from giddiness. Then he got up and looked beseechingly at the saint; but the saint said nothing, and Masseo, remembering his vow of obedience, began again to twirl his best. He continued to twirl and to fall for some time, till he seemed to have spent all his life in twirling, when, at last, he heard the welcome words: “Stop, and tell me whither your face is turned.””To Siena,” gasped Masseo, who felt the earth rock round him. 
”

Then to Siena we must go,” said Francis, and to Siena they went. 

That Francis felt the source of his troubadour inspiration to lie in the East, and that he was connected with the Sufis, seems clear from much evidence. When he went to the Pope, trying to have his Order accepted, he used a parable which shows that he must have been thinking in terms of the orphaning of a tradition and the need to reestablish its reality.

The phrases which he uses in the parable are of Arabia, and the terminology, of a King and his court, of a woman and her sons in the desert, is not Christian but Saracen (Muslim).

“Francis,” says Bonaventura, recording an audience with Pope Innocent, “came armed with a parable. “There was, “he said, “a rich and mighty king who took to wife a poor but very beautiful woman, who lived in a desert, in whom he greatly delighted and by whom he had children who bore his image. When her sons were grown their mother said to them, “My sons, be not ashamed; ye are the children of a King.” And she sent them to the court, having supplied them with all necessaries. When they came to the King, he admired their beauty; and seeing in them some resemblance to himself, he asked them, “Whose sons are ye?” When they replied that they were the sons of a poor woman dwelling in the desert, the King, filled with much joy, said, “Fear not, ye are my sons, and if I nourish strangers at my table, how much more you, who are my legitimate children.”

The tradition that the Sufis are the esoteric Christians out of the desert, and that they are the children of a poor woman (Hagar, wife of Abraham, because of their Arab descent) fits completely with the probability that Francis had tried to explain to the Pope that the Sufi stream represented Christianity in a continuing form.

At his first meeting with the Pope, we are told, Francis did not make much impression, and he was sent away. Immediately afterward, however, the Pope had a strange dream. He saw “a palm tree gradually grow up at his feet until it grew a goodly stature, and as he gazed upon it wondering what the vision might mean, a divine illumination impressed on the mind of the Vicar of Christ that this palm tree signified the poor man whom he had that day driven from his presence.”

The palm tree is the symbol used by the Sufis, and this dream is probably the consequence of Francis using it as an analogy during his audience. .

In the early part of the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent III, convinced of the validity of the saint’s mission, granted permission for the foundation of the Minor Brothers, or Franciscans. The “Lesser Brethren,” considered to be a title assumed from pious humility, might lead one to ask whether there was any Order known as the “Greater Brethren.” If so, what might the connection be? 


The only people known in this way who were contemporary with St. Francis were the Greater Brothers, an appellation of the Sufi Order founded by Najmuddin Kubra, “the Greater.” The connection is interesting. One of the major characteristics about this great Sufi teacher was that he had an uncanny influence over animals. Pictures of him show him surrounded by birds. He tamed a fierce dog merely by looking at it – just as St. Francis is said to have cowed the wolf in a well-known tale. Najmuddin’s miracles were well known throughout the East sixty years before St. Francis was born.

When he was thirty, Francis decided to try to reach the East, and specifically Syria, which abutted upon the area of Asia Minor where the Whirling Dervishes were established. Prevented by financial troubles, he returned to Italy. Then he started out again, this time toward Morocco. He set off with a companion and traversed the whole kingdom of Aragon in Spain, though nobody can say why he did this, and some biographers are actually puzzled. Spain was very much penetrated with Sufi ideas and schools.

The atmosphere and setting of the Franciscan Order is closer to a dervish organization than anything else. Apart from the tales about St. Francis which are held in common with Sufi teachers, all kinds of points coincide. The special methodology of what Francis calls “holy prayer” indicates an affinity with the dervish “remembering,” quite apart from the whirling. The dress of the Order, with its hooded cloak and wide sleeves, is that of the dervishes of Morocco and Spain. Like the Sufi teacher Attar, Francis exchanged his garb with a mendicant. He saw a seraph with six wings, an allegory used by Sufis to convey the formula of the bismillah.

Francis refused to become a priest. Like the Sufis, he enrolled into his teaching laymen, and again like the Sufis but unlike the Church, he sought to spread the movement among all the people, in some form of affiliation. This was “the first reappearance in the Church, since its full hierarchical establishment, of the democratic element – the Christian people, as distinguished from the simple sheep to be fed, and souls to be ruled.”

The striking thing about the rules laid down by Francis was that, like the Sufis and unlike the ordinary Christians, his followers were not to think first of their own salvation. This principle is stressed again and again among the Sufis, who consider regard for personal salvation to be an expression of vanity.

He “began his preaching everywhere with the salutation which God, he said, had revealed to him – “The peace of God be with you.” This is, of course, an Islamic salutation.

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St. Francis of Assisi quotes 4 the Soul

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Articles, Saint Francis of Assisi | 2 comments

St. Francis of Assisi quotes

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, he courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.

For it is in giving that we receive.

Grant me the treasure of sublime poverty: permit the distinctive sign of our order to be that it does not possess anything of its own beneath the sun, for the glory of your name, and that it have no other patrimony than begging.

I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.

If a superior give any order to one who is under him which is against that man’s conscience, although he do not obey it yet he shall not be dismissed.

If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.

Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. 
Francis of Assisi 

Where there is injury let me sow pardon.

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love, 
Where there is injury, pardon; 
Where there is doubt, faith; 
Where there is despair, hope; 
Where there is darkness, light; 
And where there is sadness, joy. 
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek 
to be consoled as to console, 
to be understood as to understand, 
to be loved, as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive, 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” 
― St. Francis of Assisi “The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today” St. Francis of Assisi “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the gospel always, and when absolutely necessary, use words.” St. Francis of Assisi “Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that have received–only what you have given.” St. Francis of Assisi “No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.” St. Francis of Assisi “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.” 
St. Francis of Assisi “True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.” St. Francis of Assisi “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where these is hatred, let me sow love.” St. Francis of Assisi “Keep trying to do what is necessary, then what’s possible and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” St. Francis of Assisi “Lord make me an instrument of your peace, 
Where there is hatred let me sow love. 
Where there is injury, pardon. 
Where there is doubt, faith. 
Where there is despair, hope. 
Where there is darkness, light. 
And where there is sadness, joy. 

O divine master grant that I may 
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console; 
To be understood as to understand; 
To be loved as to love 
For it is in giving that we receive- 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. 
And its in dying that we are born to eternal life. 
Amen.” 
St. Francis of Assisi “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” St. Francis of Assisi “Nor did demons crucify Him; it is you who have crucified Him and crucify Him still, when you delight in your vices and sins. ” St. Francis of Assisi “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” St. Francis of Assisi “For it is in giving that we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi “Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” 
St. Francis of Assisi “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” St. Francis of Assisi “A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows” St. Francis of Assisi “preach the gospel always, use words if necessary ” St. Francis of Assisi “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi “When you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even 
more fully in your heart.” St. Francis of Assisi “I have sinned against my brother the ass.” St. Francis of Assisi “All the darkness of the world cannot extinguish the light of a small candle.” St. Francis of Assisi “O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek to be consoled, as to console. To be understood, as to understand. To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” St. Francis of Assisi

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Quotes from Saint Francis of Assisi

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Articles, Saint Francis of Assisi | 0 comments

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self. 
Francis of Assisi

For it is in giving that we receive. 
Francis of Assisi

Grant me the treasure of sublime poverty: permit the distinctive sign of our order to be that it does not possess anything of its own beneath the sun, for the glory of your name, and that it have no other patrimony than begging. 
Francis of Assisi

I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone. 
Francis of Assisi

If a superior give any order to one who is under him which is against that man’s conscience, although he do not obey it yet he shall not be dismissed. 
Francis of Assisi

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. 
Francis of Assisi

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. 
Francis of Assisi

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching. 
Francis of Assisi

It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look. 
Francis of Assisi

Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love. 
Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. 
Francis of Assisi

No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves. 
Francis of Assisi

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. 
Francis of Assisi

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. 
Francis of Assisi 

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. 
Francis of Assisi

Where there is injury let me sow pardon. 
Francis of Assisi 

While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart. 
Francis of Assisi

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