Love's Flower

Part 6




The psalms celebrate the fidelity of God in no uncertain terms: The Lord Is faithful in all His words! (Psalm 146) His faithfulness reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 108) The fidelity of the Lord endures forever. (Psalm 117) God IS faithful — an infinitely faithful Father and Creator. His FIDELITY sustains the creatures He made and the people He chose.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews celebrates the fidelity of Jesus, the Son of the all-faithful God. Jesus, he writes, was faithful to Him who appointed Him.. faithful over God's house, not as a servant, but as a Son. (cf. Hebrews 3:2, 5) So faithful is Jesus as a loving, obedient Son and as a merciful, gracious Savior that even if we are faithless, He remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)

When St, Francis of Assisi made his definitive commitment to an evangelical form of life, he embarked upon a great adventure of FIDELITY. For Francis, the intensification of his baptismal consecration meant living as an ever more faithful adopted son of the Most High heavenly Father. It meant imitating more closely the FIDELITY of Jesus, his Savior and his Brother. And it meant discovering love as the root from which all FIDELITY springs.

God loves, and therefore He is faithful. Jesus loves, and therefore He is faithful. Thus as the Little Poor Man grew in love, he became an ever more faithful son of God and an ever more faithful brother of Jesus. Francis' love flowered into FIDELITY in every area of his life. God called him to a life of radical Gospel poverty. Francis was faithful. Our Lord invited him to do penance. Francis was faithful. The Holy Spirit. raised him up as the father and founder of a new religious family. Francis was faithful.

The friars who lived with St. Francis were struck by his great FIDELITY to prayer. No matter where they were, no matter what the weather, when the time came for the recitation of the canonical hours, Francis stopped and prayed. No matter how weary he was, no matter how ill he was, the Little Poor Man always faithfully rendered his homage to God. If he could not attend Mass, he would read (or, have one of the friars read to him when he was no longer able to see) the prayers and Scripture readings for that day's liturgy. What some saw as a duty became for St. Francis a marvelous expression of faithful love.

St. Francis' FIDELITY to prayer also extended to those for whom he promised to pray. Once on a journey, he met an abbot well known for his learning. They conversed for awhile and the abbot, impressed by the Little Poor Man's evident holiness, asked Francis if he would pray for him. After receiving the assurance that he would, they went their separate ways. The Seraphic Father had traveled only a short distance when he said to his companion, °Brother, let us stop here so that I may fulfill my promise to pray for that abbot." And the abbot, several miles away in the other direction, later testified that at that very moment he was overcome with such spiritual sweetness that he could only say: "Brother Francis Is praying for me."

FIDELITY is an all-times, all-seasons, all-places virtue. If it begins with our faithful love of our all-faithful God, it quite naturally spills over into a faithful love of neighbor. It invites us to fulfill every one of our duties — from the sublime duty of prayer to the simple tasks of daily life -- out of love and for love. And thus we bear witness to what another learned abbot has so beautifully said: FIDELITY is the most beautiful flower of love to which nothing is smell. (SI. Columba Marmion)


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