Friday, July 27, 2012

God Speaks:True Stories of God's Interactions with Real People: Treasuring Grace's Inspiration and The Story of St Francis

 The book "Treasuring Grace" was inspired by a dream in which co -author Tracy Roberts feels that God spoke to her and directed her hand in the writing of the story. Many people feel God's special influence in their lives in direct or indirect ways.  This recurring column seeks to bring you some of their inspirational stories.

by Tracy Roberts

I have to admit that Many times when I share a story about hearing "God Speak" I begin with, "Now don't think I'm crazy but..."  Why is that?  Maybe because not many people talk about it, or because what we hear doesn't always make sense logically.

Think of St. Francis of Assisi.  He was told to rebuild the church.  Thinking it to be the physical building he began to build.  Again he heard "repair my church".  Eventually he knew God was calling him to repair the church body, the people.

We want to make sense of the supernatural.  Ephesians 3:20  states, "Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us,..."

The power at work within us:
Luke 11:9 begins with "And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

It goes on in verse 13 to say, "If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

So why am I surprised to hear his voice?  I pray the prayer the Holy Spirit often.  Ask and we shall receive.

Believe,
Tracy

(Read more about Tracy's inspirational dream for the book Treasuring Grace on the updated About the Book tab)

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of us your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant, that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Story of St Francis

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of St. Francis of Assisi and his conversations with God, please enjoy the below excerpt from the story of his life from Catholic.org.

Francis grew up a wealthy and spoiled child in France. He spent his youth getting everything he wanted, enjoying all the finer things in life, wild parties, money, and was spoiled at every turn.
Eventually War came to the town of Assisi who took on a neighboring area of Peruga. As Francis was wealthy, he did not have to fight, but after a time he was kidnapped and taken for ransom by the opposing forces. He was held for a year, but never lost his happy attitude and returned to Assisi as carefree as he was before.

"The experience didn't change what he wanted from life either: Glory. Finally a call for knights for the Fourth Crusade gave him a chance for his dream. But before he left Francis had to have a suit of armor and a horse -- no problem for the son of a wealthy father. And not just any suit of armor would do but one decorated with gold with a magnificent cloak. Any relief we feel in hearing that Francis gave the cloak to a poor knight will be destroyed by the boasts that Francis left behind that he would return a prince. 

But Francis never got farther than one day's ride from Assisi. There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home. And return home he did. What must it have been like to return without ever making it to battle -- the boy who wanted nothing more than to be liked was humiliated, laughed at, called a coward by the village and raged at by his father for the money wasted on armor. 

Francis' conversion did not happen over night. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis' turn to wait. Francis started to spend more time in prayer. He went off to a cave and wept for his sins. Sometimes God's grace overwhelmed him with joy. But life couldn't just stop for God. There was a business to run, customers to wait on. 

One day while riding through the countryside, Francis, the man who loved beauty, who was so picky about food, who hated deformity, came face to face with a leper. Repelled by the appearance and the smell of the leper, Francis nevertheless jumped down from his horse and kissed the hand of the leper. When his kiss of peace was returned, Francis was filled with joy. As he rode off, he turned around for a last wave, and saw that the leper had disappeared. He always looked upon it as a test from God...that he had passed. 

His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano. While he was praying there, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, "Francis, repair my church." Francis assumed this meant church with a small c -- the crumbling building he was in. Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father's shop and sold it to get money to repair the church. His father saw this as an act of theft -- and put together with Francis' cowardice, waste of money, and his growing disinterest in money made Francis seem more like a madman than his son. Pietro dragged Francis before the bishop and in front of the whole town demanded that Francis return the money and renounce all rights as his heir. 

The bishop was very kind to Francis; he told him to return the money and said God would provide. That was all Francis needed to hear. He not only gave back the money but stripped off all his clothes -- the clothes his father had given him -- until he was wearing only a hair shirt. In front of the crowd that had gathered he said, "Pietro Bernardone is no longer my father. From now on I can say with complete freedom, 'Our Father who art in heaven.'" Wearing nothing but castoff rags, he went off into the freezing woods -- singing. And when robbers beat him later and took his clothes, he climbed out of the ditch and went off singing again. From then on Francis had nothing...and everything. 

Francis went back to what he considered God's call. He begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church with his own hands, not realizing that it was the Church with a capital C that God wanted repaired. Scandal and avarice were working on the Church from the inside while outside heresies flourished by appealing to those longing for something different or adventurous. 

Soon Francis started to preach. (He was never a priest, though he was later ordained a deacon under his protest.) Francis was not a reformer; he preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church. Francis must have known about the decay in the Church, but he always showed the Church and its people his utmost respect. When someone told him of a priest living openly with a woman and asked him if that meant the Mass was polluted, Francis went to the priest, knelt before him, and kissed his hands -- because those hands had held God. 

Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat...and loving God. With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his good and give to the poor, the order to the apostles to take nothing on their journey, and the demand to take up the cross daily. "Here is our rule," Francis said -- as simple, and as seemingly impossible, as that. He was going to do what no one thought possible any more -- live by the Gospel. Francis took these commands so literally that he made one brother run after the thief who stole his hood and offer him his robe! 

Francis never wanted to found a religious order -- this former knight thought that sounded too military. He thought of what he was doing as expressing God's brotherhood. His companions came from all walks of life, from fields and towns, nobility and common people, universities, the Church, and the merchant class. Francis practiced true equality by showing honor, respect, and love to every person whether they were beggar or pope.


Read more at Catholic.org

image : NoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by profzucker

2 comments:

  1. Diane,

    I am following you from the blog hop. My husband just took a job at a Medical Center named after St. Francis of Assisi. So it is good to read more about him.

    Please visit my blog A Loving Lasting Marriage. Thank you so much

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for hopping by! St. Francis is such an inspirational story. Will definitely check out your blog..

    ReplyDelete

Pro LIfe and Healing after Abortion Blog Hop: Join Us