I have a giant saint crush on St. Francis of Assisi, and honestly I think everyone should as well. Fr. Benedict Groeschl once said (and I paraphrase) that St. Francis is one of the most perfect examples of an imitation of Christ. I’ve said this before and I will say it again, St. Francis is so much more than the patron of animals and the guy who wrote the Make Me a Channel of Your Peace song.
Which is why I dislike when the only thing people know about him is this quote:
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words” –St. Francis of Assisi
I know a few men and women whom I would qualify as St. Francis scholars and many of them said there is a pretty high likelihood that he never actually said/wrote this.
For all blogtensive purposes, let’s say he did say this.
Now, my real beef with this quote is that we (as Catholic especially) use this quote as a cop out, we hide behind it. We say that we are living the Gospel ergo it’s not necessary to use words. That’s crap and we know it.
I would say that St. Francis lived the Gospel pretty radically. He left his family, was kidnapped by his own father and imprisoned in his house, ran away, publically renounced his father, sold all of his belongings (which were many), started a brand new order (even though the Pope had previously said ‘no new orders’), he met St. Dominic, inspired St. Clare, received the stigmata and basically evangelized Italy (and arguably the world). There is a reason he is so well known in the Catholic and secular community.
So, yes he lived the Gospel. And do you know what else? He was a famous preacher. He spoke charitably to all he met. He used words because it was necessary. Even his nearly perfect example of living the Gospel wasn’t enough for him, he used words as well.
Of course there are times where our actions are going to speak louder than our words. There are some hearts and ears that are not willing to listen to what you have to say verbally. But when it is necessary, when the Holy Spirit has opened those hearts and ears, you better be ready to speak His words.
Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence 1 Peter 3:15
Speaking of actions and words, today is the beginning of Fortnight for Freedom! Click and read how you can get involved and defend our religious freedoms.