Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live life with a Franciscan focus.

17 October 2011

My Top 10 Saints 

With All Saints Day coming up in a few weeks on 1 Nov. (and All Saints of the Franciscan Order on the 5th), I thought it'd be fun to share my absolute fave saints -- my Saintly Circle, in Google+ parlance, if you will -- and a little bit as to why I like them.
 My Saintly Circle

There are loads more saints that I love, like St. Anthony of Padua, St. Dominic, and St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort to name a few. But if I included all of them, you'd nod off and start drooling on your keyboard, and drool + keyboard = possible electrocution. So, in the interest of public safety, I present My Top 10 Saints.

1 & 2. Joseph and Mary

These two pretty much go without sayin', but ... I'm saying 'em anyway. :-) For Joseph, how can you not admire someone who answers to "Terror of Demons"? And Mary's the Mother of God. 'Nuff said.

3. St. Francis of Assisi

Bein' that I'm a Franciscan, this should also go without saying. One of the things I love best about Francis Bernardone was his wholehearted embrace of living the Gospel sine glossa, "without gloss". Sadly, in our time, he's become sissified into a Birkenstock-clad, Tree-huggin' Birdman. But in reality, Francis was as tough as nails and took a no-holds-barred approach to sin.

"See, you who are blind, deceived by your enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil, for it is pleasant to the body to commit sin and it is bitter to make it serve God because all vices and sins come out and 'proceed from the heart of man' as the Lord says in the Gospel. And you have nothing in this world and in the next, and you thought you would possess the vanities of this world for a long time."[1]
That sound like a nambly-pambly "anything goes" guy? Didn't think so.

Learn more about St. Francis of Assisi.


4. St. Clare of AssisiFranciscan powers, activate!

The other half of the Franciscan Wonder Twins. (Franciscan powers, activate! Form of ... a Tau!)

No, she's not a biological twin of Francis, but Clare Offreduccio is Francis' arse-kicking spiritual twin. Born of nobility, she was inspired by Francis' example of uncompromising Gospel living and left it all behind to do the same. She eventually came to found the Poor Clares, the Second Order in the overall Franciscan Order.

Even though she was of frail health, Clare twice saved San Damiano and her sisters from invaders: In 1240, she repelled hordes of Saracen mercenaries by holding aloft the Eucharist while praying for her sisters and the city of Assisi. She did it again in 1241 against the troops of Vitalis d'Aversa. Don't mess with Mama Clare.

Learn more about St. Clare.


5. St. Faustina

Named the "Apostle of Divine Mercy", Sister Mary Faustina Kowalska was graced with numerous visions of Christ Himself, in which He instructed her to make widely known the depths of His mercy to an aching and broken world. She heroically lived her life with childlike simplicity and trust in God, and faithfully obeyed God, her spiritual director, and superiors in all things.

Because of her obedience, we have the magnificent Divine Mercy devotions, such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Divine Mercy image, and more. Faustina said nothing new -- the Lord has always been a Lord of mercy -- she simply reminded us of God's unfathomable mercy and communicated deeper ways of contemplating it.

Learn more about St. Faustina.


6. St. Francis de Sales

Plain-spoken, direct, and full of compassion for the average schmoe striving for sanctity, St. Francis wrote -- among others -- An Introduction to the Devout Life, which I find enormously helpful and inspiring in its practical advice. With a complete collection of his writing/sayings spread in front of you, ya could close your eyes, randomly plop your finger down, and find a gem. Ev'ry time. For example:

"A spirit of mockery is one of the worst imperfections of the mind, and displeases God greatly, so that He has often punished it most severely. Nothing is more hurtful to charity, and still more to devotion, than contempt and derision of our neighbor, and such is inevitably found in mockery."[2]
Bam! (And ouch -- it's so easy to fall into mockery, isn't it?)

Learn more about St. Francis de Sales.


7. St. Ignatius of Loyola

I absolutely adore Ignatius' vivid imagination, and his advice on how to use our own imaginations while praying, as well as in everyday situations, like eating:

"While one is eating, let him imagine he sees Christ our Lord and His disciples at table, and consider how He eats and drinks, how He looks, how He speaks, and then strive to imitate Him. In this way, his mind will be occupied principally with our Lord, and less with the provision for the body. Thus he will come to greater harmony and order in the way he ought to conduct himself."[3]
I've found his Spiritual Exercises quite helpful, and I highly recommend making a Spiritual Exercises retreat.

Learn more about St. Ignatius.


8. St. Josemaría Escrivá

Every time I read anything of his, it's like being doinked upside the head by Moe of the Three Stooges. Not that I'm sayin' Josemaría is a stooge, just that he has a way of walloping ya back in line. Such as:

"Don't succumb to that disease of character whose symptoms are inconstancy in everything, thoughtlessness in action and speech scatter-brained ideas: superficiality, in short.
"Mark this well: unless you react in time -- not tomorrow: now! -- that superficiality which each day leads you to form those empty plans (plans 'so full of emptiness') will make of your life a dead and useless puppet."[4]
Learn more about St. Josemaría.


9. St. Maximilian Kolbe

Not only am I inspired by his firm devotion to Our Lady, but his heroic self-sacrifice never ceases to humble and amaze me:

"In 1941, the Nazis imprisoned Father Maximilian in the Auschwitz death camp. There he offered his life for another prisoner and was condemned to slow death in a starvation bunker. On August 14, 1941, his impatient captors ended his life with a fatal injection."[5]
Because of this, I think of him as "Iron Max" -- it truly takes a will of iron to offer up your own life for another ... just like Our Lord.

Learn more about St. Max Kolbe.


10. St. Padre Pio

There's so much to love about Padre Pio Forgione of Pietrelcina! His cheerful good humor! All the miracles attributed to his intercession! And oh, those zingers! My two faves are:
  • "Bring me my weapon!" (When asking for his Rosary.)
  • "Pray, hope, and don't worry." (I say this to myself on a regular basis.)
And when folks talk about being humble even in the face of false accusations, he's always invoked as a prime example of patient endurance.

Learn more about St. Padre Pio.


So, your turn! Who's in your Circle, and why?

- - - - -
  1. "Concerning Those Who Do Not Do Penance", from "Prologue: Exhortation of St. Francis to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance" in the SFO Rule. The "Brothers and Sisters of Penance" is what the Secular Franciscan Order was originally named. So, this is an exhortation from St. Francis directly to all Secular Franciscans, in all ages. Booyah!
  2. Part Third, Chapter 27: "Modesty in Conversation, and Becoming Reverence", from An Introduction to the Devout Life.
  3. Third Week, No. 214, from Spiritual Exercises.
  4. Chapter 1, No. 17, from The Way.
  5. Marytown: St. Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr of Charity.

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