Since St. Francis of Assisi was in my dream last night, trying to lend aid in a spiritual war waging in my dreams and the spirit realm since I first wrote about new Pope Francis, I will share something from the movie, “Brother Sun Sister Moon”, in which Francis is Brother Sun and his childhood sweetheart Claire is Sister Moon.
The movie starts with Francis and some of his young men friends going to a war. After they return, Francis goes to mass and is seized by a statue of Jesus staring down at him off a cross above the altar. Francis hears something like, “Francis, help me repair my church.” Then, Francis goes into a very rough dark night of the soul, bed ridden, delirious. All but his mother give up on him, as she continues to minister to him. Finally, he comes out of it, and goes through an awakening that his wealthy father’s fabric/weaving business is not being run correctly; and Francis starts giving away his father’s products to the poor. This does not please his father, and after a bit of angst, Frances goes into the town center, where there are lots of people and the local bishop, and he takes off all of his clothes and hands them to the bishop, and he turns and walks out of the town. He ends up wearing what looks like a burlap or rough cotton brown smock, at an old falling down stone church in the country side. The believes that is the church he was told in the vision to repair, and he sets out doing that, stone by stone. By and by, some of his childhood friends come by, including Claire, who very much had hoped she and Francis would be married, but now he is on a monk’s path, which is for keeps. Some of them stay, pitch in, help him rebuild that old church, stone by stone. More of his old friends show up, and they join in. Then more people come and join in, and eventually, nearly the entire town is out there, rebuilding that old church, and the big nice church in town has almost nobody attending services. Enter the local version of the Inquisition, and troops are sent by the local bishop to burn the church Francis is rebuilding. He and all of his followers, but one man left behind to care take the old church, are off doing something else. The soldiers kill that man, and burn the church. Francis returns with his followers, most of whom have by then taken vows, including Claire, and he is flattened by what has happened. That leads him to decide to walk to Rome, to seek audience with the pope, who can tell him, Francis, what he did wrong, for such a thing to happen. Two of Francis’ childhood men friends go with him, schooling him on how to speak to the pope. But when Francis is before the pope, in all of his finery, surrounded by a large entourage of men in all of their finery, peacocks the entourage resembled, Francis threw away the speech and summarized this passage to them.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I wept at that point in the movie, because that passage had been blazed into my soul, and was the passage I had mentioned to my father when he expressed concern about where I was headed, and he said hearing that made him nervous, and I said is was Jesus’ words, and he said he knew that, but it still made him nervous. I told my father I loved him and I hoped that didn’t come between us. He said he loved me. I hugged him. Tears came to my eyes.
Anyway, after hearing that from Francis, and seeing the upheaval it was causing in the peacocks, the pope (same actor had played Obi Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars”) came down from his thrne, speaking to Francis, saying he was moved to kiss Francis’ hand, and, clearly seized further, he said, while going to his knees, “and to kiss his feet,” which the pope did, and he said sometimes we (in Rome) forget what it was all really about, and he ordained Francis to minister to the poor.
The old church in the countryside was not the church Francis was asked by Jesus in the vision to repair. It was Christendom Francis was asked to repair, and the old church was the first step to him getting there. It is not clear in the movie, nor in anything I read about Francis, including Nikos Kazantzakis’ splendid novel, St. Francis, that he ever understood what the vision meant. But he did it anyway, and toward the end of this life he received the Stigmata, wounds of the crucified Jesus on his own body, which remains the first Stigmata recognized by the Rome church.
That is the Francis of Assisi shown to me, after whom new Pope Francis named himself.