Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My accidental devotion of St. Francis of Assisi

Today is the Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi... the great Saint.  Today, the Catholic Church takes a moment to let us know about a man who
lived a life of heroic virtue, and hey, it might behoove us to live a little bit like him in our life.

I have an accidental devotion to him.

Because, you see, if you aren't a practicing Catholic or a Catholic at all, the two things you might know about St. Francis is he played with animals and our current Pope is named after him.

And I don't really like animals, or bugs.  I certainly wouldn't let them crawl on my shoulder or anything to 'pose' for a statue (I understand that isn't how these things actually work).

The Pope development came later, I'll write about it in a second.

When I was an 18 year old kid, I somewhat accidentally ended up at Franciscan University and in the shadow of this great Saint.  At FUS, my faith was formed, my confidence grew, and I met people who would determine the outcome of the rest of my life.  At Franciscan University of Steubenville, I went on adventures most would only dream of. I climbed cliffs, I created and attended a Royal Ball in a building called the Kartausa, which was founded in the early 1300s. I took road trips to Niagara Falls overnight, and the Grand Canyon in a weekend. I traveled the world, did mission trips locally and mission trips internationally.  I took midnight drives with my best friends playing "Delilah" at the top volume, singing and sometimes crying out pain.  I went camping, went to many states, met the type of people who you only meet once in a life time, but I met them over and over again.

I did this all under the shadow of St. Francis.  St. Francis who was called to 'rebuild' the church, taking it literally, he began, to um, build a church. Until God was like, "No, our Church, I need you to rebuild our Church... I need to remind us what the Church is for...WHO the Church is for.  I need you to renounce your wealth and understand the stunning beauty that flows from serving OTHERS".

So he did.

And when we look at his life example, it challenges us to do better for our Church. It challenged a man from Argentina enough to take his name for his papacy and remind the world that it is Mercy Christ Seeks. It is a RELATIONSHIP, Christ desires.  It is a rebuilding, beginning first with our hearts so necessary today.

My mom is going on a 9 day pilgrimage next week with Father John Riccardo and Father Steve Mateja to Poland.  I was suppose to go with her, then the Lord reminded me I have four kids who are under the age of 6 and I can't leave anywhere for almost 10 days, probably for another two decades.  Anyway, she asked what my prayer intention would be and I begged her to pray my children will meet good friends. I have written about it before, but I believe the friends our children will meet, especially in 2016, will form them in a way I will never be able to. I pray all the time that my children meet good, holy and FUN friends.  The type of friends I met in the shadow of Franciscan University.

Friends like my girlfriends.  The five of us in college (Leah, Nona, Kellie, Amy and I) who had maybe a bit too much fun, but were always there to protect and love each other.

Or my girlfriend Bree, who I lived with post-college during a confusion, beautiful time.  She was Aaron and I's matchmaker.  She encouraged me to be confident and send him that text message saying. "Hey, I'm single"

Friends like my dear man friends.  Jay, the godfather of little Aaron.  Mike,  who is my ministry partner.  Eddie, who I don't see half as much as I should, or talk to barely ever, but reminded me that I was a beautiful women deserving of people in my life who would treat me as such.

Friends like Paul. Who has done more in the last two years for me interceding for my family in heaven, that I will ever be able to thank him for.  My friend Paul, who showed me what it is to be a saint as he took his last breath here on earth so unexpectedly.  My friend Paul, who I still cry out of missing on a weekly, if not daily basis, but of who I get to say ,'oh, my best friend is in heaven... and that's AWESOME'.

I know St. Francis watched us rebuild our little corner of the church through the friendships we have molded and the learning we have tried to continue to do.

I went with my Franciscan University girlfriends to visit Paul's grave last January.  It was hard, it was beautiful, we cried, we drank, we got annoyed with each other a couple times.  We drove in the car with all the windows down screaming early 2000 songs at the top of our lungs while the cold weather stung our skin.  And I was reminded of the gift St. Francis gave us.

Just this weekend, one of my dearest friends from college came through Michigan. Our family's got together.  GUYS! Our children played.  We met with my brother's family and saw the fun our children had together and the old spark of our university came though.
My Foze and I together again...

We fancy ourselves occasional bloggers

Three families... lots o' kids
I could go on and on.  The friendships I made from this school, my roommates, my radio dj partner, the people I would adventure with, the household that wasn't a household. Literally hundreds of people who have shaped me, under the watchful eye of Franciscan University and St. Francis.

My husband teases us about graduating from Franciscan.  He says he never hears about us doing anything radical like, 'Attending CLASS'.  He jokes that we all grew so much debt with a desire to go out into the world and 'hang out' (um, otherwise known as ministry).

He's wrong.

The intercession of St. Francis, a saint I have accidentally fallen in love with, has always been working overtime in my life, and has given me the type of gifts that I will never be able to repay and will only be able to pay forward.

St. Francis, Pray for us.  And pray for my children.


  1. What a beautiful, awesome reflection! I said to my sister once (whose best friend at FUS turned eventual husband) I wonder how many families, relationships, ministries, new ways of serving God's people would have never existed without this university...your story is one that reveals this:)

  2. Happy feast of St. Francis! I love this-and the photo of you ladies praying before Paul made me cry, and the beauty of it all and his legacy is incredible.
    This post brings back so many good memories for me! No joke, I nearly spit out the water I was drinking when I read your husband's comment about attending class. Oh my goodness, it's so funny because while I loved many of the classes I took at FUS, and I learned a bunch in the classroom, the most impactful things had to do with relationships and the ways that God was working through people. Both in the obvious ways (meeting and getting married to my husband while we were students, in formation with my amazing household) and more subtle ways (random chats with random people in the bathroom, or spending 2 hours at a time in the Caf talking with people). You're right-all of that is such an incredible gift from the little man of Assisi. I hope that your children are blessed to meet such incredible friends!