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    A View from the Pew

    Remembering Assisi on the Feast of St. Francis 

    Happy Feast of St. Francis! After several visits to Assisi, I can honestly tell you that the spirit of Francis permeates this tiny medieval village. Giotto's frescoes within the basilica church depict the life of a man whose passion for God continues to draw pilgrims each year. Within Assisi, the pilgrim discovers that authentic holiness may be found in the happiness of people who live simply, extract beauty from daily encounters with one another and celebrate the beauty of creation on a daily basis. "Joy attracts," Archbishop Dolan wisely states. That kind of charism propels from an interior spirituality that Francis extols within his praise of the Virtues. I imagine Francis as a human being full of God's joy, warmth, generosity, humor, care. That joy, that peace, may be tasted in the food, heard in the sounds of the community that lives in Assisi, felt in the presence of churches, and seen as you walk through the streets where Francis lived. The ordinary turns into the extraordinary in Assisi, a graceful serenity that offers a foretaste of God's reign. 

    Each time I visit Assisi, I am convinced that Francis continues to prompt those who live and those who visit to actively seek God in one another. True activism finds its root in the sacred, where Francis found his deepest joy, prompting him toward a radical lifestyle. Is not every Christian not called to do likewise and live within God's reign, building it as Francis did - stone by stone - here and now, in this time and place?  "Preach the Gospel," Francis tells us. "When necessary, use words."