The Sermon of St. Francis

A summary of the typical sermon that St. Francis would shout in towns to onlookers and passersby:
"Do penance--change your lives--by performing good works, since we will all soon die. Give to others, and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven. And if you do not forgive others their sins, the Lord will not forgive you your sins."

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21 thoughts on “The Sermon of St. Francis”

  1. When Francis preached, he quoted the Sermon on the Mount a great deal.  He was simple and naive enough to think that Jesus actually wanted us to do what He preached in it.

    Oh for that kind of naivety!

  2. Yep, that's sort of what he did, just went around preaching the Sermon on the Mount. And living it.

  3. St. France's commitment to peace and peacefulness as a way of life is a fascinating commentary on the hatred and intolerance be tween Muslims and Christians so much a part of the current scene, especially after 9-11. His respectful, humble exchange with the sultan of Egypt, the powerful Malik-al-Lamil, nephew of Saladin himself, is one of the most intriguing and inspiring events in history. I believe he would express the same views and approach today. I also believe he would call many of us to repentance for our attitudes and actions toward Muslim people and their religion. He failed to convert the sultan, but he left his presence a respected friend. Author Paul Moses has authored an in- depth analysis of this unique encounter, "The Saint and the SultIn," which I have not read, but expect would be a fascinating experience for many readers of this blog.

  4. With the tragedy in CT, it's hard to think about forgiveness of something like that...especially when there one in most need of forgiveness kills himself.  Sometimes, this kind of evil shakes the foundational belief that any kind of good works can make a difference in the world.  We have faith that penance and good works do help and these events, too, will pass for many people.  However, good works, giving, and love are needed to bring a light into a such a deep blackness that surrounds events like today. 

  5. Works for me. :)

    I know little of St. Francis, but of what I do know, he seems to have been the kind of saint pure and brilliant enough to produce a thousand more.

  6. Richard, I'm sure that amidst all these posts there have to be a few where you talk about people who do terrible, terrible things, and how to reconcile that with a universalist view. If so, would you mind pointing me In their direction? I'm very universalist leaning, but days like today make me wonder. I'm very thankful for your blog.

  7. Hi Sandy,
    I haven't written much on that subject. Mainly out of respect for victims. It's too easy for me to speculate about how God will forgive your killer, abuser or torturer.
    But let me say this, I think the forgiveness of God attends to the hearts of victims and that for the perpetrators it is an awful thing to fall into the hands of a loving and holy God.

  8. Yesterday I was in a crowded rush-hour Tube carriage in London whereupon a woman rammed herself into the already seething sweaty pool of bodies, and started shouting a short sermon at the top of her lungs. The bombastic content pretty much exactly mapped these words, and ended with a benediction for us all to know the sweet love of Jesus. What fascinated me was the British sense of embarrassment, awkwardness, annoyance and wry humour that greeted the shouty tirade. After one stop she exited the Tube and let the rest of us get back to ignoring one another after having exchanged a few knowing glances.

    I wonder how the passers-by of the day received the shouted words of dear Francis. Because in 21st Century London, I feel as though most people thought yesterday's prophet was a little (if not completely) on the mad side. 
    Just an interesting counterpoint for reflection. 

  9. Would you have
    preferred rather that she had started shouting out passages from the Koran and
    called for all submit to the will of Allah?


  10. "Slaughter of the Innocents"

    what “prophecy” might that been that Adam Lanza was fulfilling?

    Richard, do you have to be so insipient!

  11. I had to Google "insipient" to figure out you were insulting me. :-) Too funny. I hope you can find better content elsewhere on the Internet today. Blessings.

  12. Sorry
    if I momentarily lost my moral buoyancy there, it’s just that I found the
    scriptural reference a bit insatiable at the time. You are an extremely busy
    man whose personal and professional ontological sword will forever be sharper
    than anything I could even hope to possess. Nevertheless, it light of recent
    tragic events, fanciful explorations into the theological dynamics of
    evolutionary psychology seems to be abnormally vacuous.  I’m wrestling with this Viktor Frankl moment
    like everyone else and can personally relate to the insurmountable pain and
    grief that those parents are currently going through. Just as when the Tower of
    Siloam fell, there are often no explanations for these horrific and recurring
    tragedies; only that, once again…….it’s a salient opportunity to demonstrate
    the compassion of Christ. – Oh joy……

  13. No worries. I wasn't really trying to explain anything about the recent tragedy. About why it happened or what it means. This text from the bible, in the middle of "the Christmas story", is one Christians tend to skip when they read the story to themselves. It's an avoidance that tends toward the superficial.

    For my part, the story suggests that the world Christmas is trying to decribe is actually this world and not the Hallmark card world many Christians wish it would be. "Peace on earth, good will to men," is hard--tragically hard--when there are "Herod's" among us.

  14. My comment was really to do with the delivery mechanism of St. Francis. The description of the saint shouting to onlookers and passers by piqued my interest given that I had just been on the receiving end of such a sermon. Context is all important. On that basis, I would have found the encounter somewhat surreal whether it was the love of Jesus being preached or the wisdom of Allah. (Although given that I am less well versed in the Koran, I might personally have found it rather interesting to hear some passages read out...)

  15. Tube etiquette in London is a strange and amorphous beast at times. Football Supporters/Yobs have no trouble whatsoever shouting, fighting, farting, singing and slobbering their way to most matches. Like obnoxious flocks of ravenous seagulls, their infantile jubilation often goes unchecked and unchallenged leaving a nasty mess for others less enthusiastic, to deal with. Interestingly though, I'm surprised that anyone in the carriage actually bothered to listen or even respond to her. More often than not, commuters are so intensely cocooned within the bubble of their own iPad/iPod world, that they barely even bother to look up. Creating a "techno" barrier between yourself and others makes one feel less like a sardined drone and more like a free-floating majestic jelly. One of the consequences of this self-imposed social entombment though is the development of kind of spiritual myopia where ones mind, heart and ears are nearly habitually closed to positive external input. You're in control , you choose what goes into your eyes and ears, nobodies agenda pierces your personal itunes Kevlar, nobodies! As we're thinking about this though, it might have been better for you to have shouted out a strategic volley of supportive " Amens" to each of her rants. A bit dramatic, but would have shaken things up a little and made for an interesting ride! Unfortunately,......or fortunately for that matter, her method of delivery was desperately out of date!

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