Sunday 6 November 2022

Saint Francis of Assisi - Jennifer Moorcroft - CTS Great Saints

Saint Francis of Assisi
CTS Great Saints
Jennifer Moorcroft
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860825446
eISBN 9781784692964
CTS Booklet B713

A few years back I stumbled upon the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I instantly fell in love with the clear and concise writing; the wonderful lives of Saints and Blesseds, amazing histories and the church teaching. I have read over 300 books from the CTS, and I have been blessed and benefited from almost all of them. There are many wonderful series. This is the first volume I have read from the pen of Jennifer Moorcroft, but I will be tracking down others soon. I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I have already read 14 books in this series and yet had not read any of the 7 from Moorcroft. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have enjoyed all of them. This volume is an fantastic read, in a wonderful series! This book was originally part of the CTS Great Saints Series which has since been rebranded Saints & Blesseds. This volume was originally published in 2009, the eBook edition was released in 2017, and it was rebranded early in the 2020’s.  

The description of this book is:

“This excellent introduction details the life and spirituality of Francis, and the context in which his order of 'little brothers' (Friars Minor) were born and how they had such great and immediate impact upon the Church and the world. From wild, youthful knight and prisoner of war to humble beggar, faithful disciple and inspirational preacher, Francis also advised cardinals and popes, and suffered great persecution in the name of Christ.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

Wild youth
Rebuild my Church
Mission and Preaching
Lay Followers
Lateran Council
Crusading Knight
Storm Clouds
Wounds of Christ
Sister Death
Canticle of the Creatures

I have read a few books about Francis over the years. I highlighted a few passages my first time through this volume. Some of them are:

“The story began in 1181/82 (the year is disputed), in the house of Pietro and Pica Bernadone. For one who would later seek to be the poorest of men, his birth was in a wealthy home.”

“Most commentators have said, rightly, that Francis mistook Our Lord’s meaning, that He wanted His Church to be reformed, not San Damiano to be rebuilt, but perhaps the Lord knew his ‘Little Man’ better than we. Francis began at the very beginning, one stone, one brick at a time.”

“From the very beginning he was joined by men from every walk of life who gave up whatever they possessed to follow him.”

“The joy of their life has gone down in legend. He did not want his brothers to have dismal faces. He would later write in his Rule, ‘that they should show themselves glad in the Lord, cheerful and worthy of love, and agreeable.’”

“The brothers did not always have a good reception; some were beaten, stripped of their clothing, dragged on the ground, but gradually their patience, kindness and joy overcame their persecutors. Moreover, the people saw that they were ‘one of us’, living the same life of poverty.”

“The brothers did not always have a good reception; some were beaten, stripped of their clothing, dragged on the ground, but gradually their patience, kindness and joy overcame their persecutors. Moreover, the people saw that they were ‘one of us’, living the same life of poverty.”

“Because all was God’s creation, a creature of God as he was, then the sun was his brother, the moon and the running water his sisters, and every human being his brother and sister and friend.”

“His appreciation of the individual qualities of his brothers comes out clearly in his designation of the perfect Friar Minor: ‘The good Friar Minor must love poverty like Brother Bernard and prayer like Brother Rufino, who prayed even when he slept; he must lose himself in God like Brother Giles and be courteous like Brother Angelo, as patient as Brother Juniper, that perfect image of Christ crucified; he must possess the purity and innocence of Brother Leo, the distinction and good sense of Brother Masseo, and finally resemble for charity and detachment from the world Brother Lucidus, who never stayed more than a month in the same place, since we have no abiding dwelling here below.’”

“Besides the countless men and women of humble birth among the tertiaries there were also illustrious men and women who lived the Franciscan ideal; royalty such as Saint Louis of France and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; many popes, priests and lay people such as the Curé of Ars, Columbus, Saint Rose of Viterbo and Margaret of Cortona; the most famous in the arts such as Dante and Michaelangelo, Petrarch and Raphael, Murillo, Palaestrina and Liszt.”

“Francis worked with Cardinal Ugolino to produce the Rule of 1223, which the Holy See accepted as definitive. It had enough flexibility to allow those who wished to live in absolute poverty to do so, while allowing others to have suitable houses and permission to study. Nevertheless it nearly broke Francis. So enamoured was he of his Lady Poverty that it tore him apart to see her fair face despoiled, and occasioned the few incidences of harshness in him. When a friar came to him with a coin given as alms, for example, Francis made the Brother put it on a piece of dung with his mouth.”

“This period of his life was the hardest he had endured and Francis, ill and at the end of his endurance, slipped into a profound depression. He doubted his vocation to a life of absolute poverty. Had he been inspired by God in insisting on it, or deluded? Worse, was he being disobedient by insisting on it against the advice of Cardinal Ugolino, who represented the authority of the Church, which had always been his guiding star in showing him the will of God? To add to his agony of spirit, the presence of God, which had been so luminous to him, had gone. He was in profound darkness, with no sense of God’s presence. Was that because of his sins and disobedience? He multiplied his prayers, his fasting, his penances, treating with harshness the one creature, his body, ‘Brother Ass’, for which he had never had compassion, although he forbade his friars to indulge in excessive penance themselves.”

“Covering the wounds, Francis sought out his brothers and asked them whether extraordinary graces should be revealed. ‘Brother Francis,’ said Brother Illuminato, ‘it may be wrong for you to keep to yourself what God has intended for the edification of all.’ Francis then revealed what had happened to him, but Brother Leo, who nursed him and washed his wounds, was the only one permitted to see them while he was alive.”

This is another excellent little volume. It seems every time I read a book from the Catholic Truth Society I find 2 or three others I want to read. I have an ever growing wish list of eBooks, books in print, and books out of print I want to track down. I greatly enjoyed this volume. I learned, was challenged, and was encouraged. This is another excellent read, in a great series. It is well written, and leaves me wanting to find the others from this author from the CTS. It is a great volume in an exceptional series. And I look forward to reading other volumes from both the CTS and Moorcroft. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Jennifer Moorcroft:
A Catholic Response to the Jehovah's Witnesses
Saint Therese of Lisieux and Her Sisters 
When Silence Speaks. The Life and Spirituality of Elisabeth Leseur
The Hidden Light: A Life of Saint Dominic
He is My Heaven: The Life of Elizabeth of the Trinity
God Is All Joy: The Life of St. Teresa of the Andes

In the CTS Great Saints Series:

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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