St. Francis, the wolf… and us

Dearest, what we share today is the result of several days of preparation, prayer and reflection.

We hope you can enjoy this article… that can be a fruitful read for you.

Have a good read and “The Lord give you peace.”

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The XXI chapter of the Flowers of the Life of St. Francis (Francis Sources No.1852) tells the famous story of the great, terrible and ferocious Wolf who appeared outside the walls of Gubbio during the period when Francis lived in that city.

A wolf that devoured animals and humans so much that the locals no longer had the courage to go to the countryside.

Out of compassion for these people but also for the wolf, Francis wanted to go against this animal despite everyone advising him…

… and making the sign of the holy cross (…) Saint Francis took the path to the place where the wolf was. And here … the said wolf meets Saint Francis, with his mouth open; and by sticking to him, Saint Francis makes the sign of the cross,and i call him and say:

“Come here, Brother Wolf, I command you on Christ’s side that you do not hurt me or person.”

(…) as soon as Saint Francis had made the cross, the terrible wolf closed his mouth and ran again: and made the commandment, he was meekly like a lamb, and i.e. all the feet of Saint Francis to lie. And St. Francis spoke to him like this:

«Brother wolf, you do a lotof damage in these parts, and … you have had to kill men made to the image of God; for which you are worthy of the forks (…).

But I want, brother wolf, to make peace between you and them, so that you no longer offend them, and they forgive you every past offense, and neither men nor dogs pursue you any more.”

And he said these words, the wolf with acts of body and tail and ears and bowing his head showed to accept what St. Francis says and to want to observe it.

Then Holy Francis said, “Wolf friars, for you like to do and keep this peace, I promise you that I will make you give the expenses continuously, while you will live, from the men of this earth, so that youwill not suffer more hunger; that I know well that because of hunger you have done every wrong.

(…) Brother wolf, I want you to give me this promise, and i want you to trust it.”

And stretching the hand of Saint Francis to receive his faith, the wolf raised the right pea before it, and dimetically can put it over the hand of Saint Francis, giving him that signal that he could of faith. (…)

This beautiful event of the life of St. Francis of Assisi has much to teach in our everyday life, it has much to say to our way of living relationships with people.

Of course we do not live in 1200 and to see a wolf now you have to go miles and go into the reserves, but today as then evil exists and every day we experience it.

Wolves around we see many, but the problems begin when a certain amount of nastiness we find in our loved ones, when for example the wolf has the face of a son who abuses us, when the wolf has the face of a friend who betrays us , when the wolf resembles our husband screaming or our wife who no longer speaks to us.

How did St Francis bring the Wolf closer?

Following his example, maybe we can find the key to getting us out alive and saving the wolf… Already… Francis did not propose (he could do so) to organize a team of armed people to kill the wolf; He knows that this is not the real solution to human conflict.

Let’s take it one step at a time imagining that we are together with St. Francis, there… in the countryside and woods outside the city of Gubbio.

1) THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.

The first thing we see is this: St. Francis makes the sign of the Cross. First on himself and then on the wolf.

This gesture is very significant, which evokes a very specific fact.

Before, St. Francis was a rich young man from Assisi who, when he saw lepers, ran away like lightning.

One day Francis meets, in St. Damian, the gaze of Christ crucified. A wooden board that represents the image of Jesus, known as the “Crucifix of San Damiano”.

From the encounter with that gaze Francis is reborn. Start a new life with the repentance of his sins. Before Jesus’ eyes, Francis recognizes the evil in his heart and regrets it bitterly.

We could say that Francis was a Wolf. Then meeting Christ becomes a forgiven Wolf.

But back to the story:

Francis makes himself the Sign of the Cross. It’s not a good luck gesture… With the sign of the Cross Francis remembers being a Wolf forgiven by Christ… and it is only then that he can go and meet the Wolf of the wild that awaits him with his mouth wide open.

Francis goes to the wolf and manages to approach him because he sees him as like himself.

He knows the wolf in front of him, he knows how to speak to him because he knows very well the wolf that lives in his heart.

Francis is a sinner like all men, but thanks to his encounter with the Crucified Christ, thanks to the forgiveness that Jesus offers him every time in confession… he can stop being afraid of himself and all the men in the world… were also the fiercest, the meanest, the most leper.

And that’s how the wolf feels recognized and treated for what it is: a hungry creature of God.

Francis knows that it is hunger that makes the wolf carry out his murders; but he also knows that the wolf is hungry for caresses, of tenderness… that at the bottom of his heart there is a puppy wounded by life, that at the bottom of the heart of the Wolf there is Christ waiting to come out, to live and to give true life to the Wolf.

Like each of us, as in each of us.

So what… So what… even in our human relationships (friendships, marriage, etc.) we are called to recognize the wolf that we carry in our hearts and to bring it to Christ in confession.

Christ with His sacramental Forgiveness will handcuff our wolf and thus we can go to the Wolf who lives in the heart of the other without judgment and without resentment.

2) “… I COMMAND YOU ON THE PART OF CHRIST…”

Francis enters into dialogue with the wolf not alone, but with Christ.

… in the name of Christ…” Francis teaches us to live all relationships by placing Jesus at the center.

Francis commands the wolf not to do more harm and does so in the name of Christ.

Between him and the wolf there is Christ, as Christ is between him and his friars, between him and his parents, between him and St. Clare, between him and the sultan when he goes to the holy land. In all his relationships Francis brings Christ in.

Francis tells us that one enters into a relationship with one’s neighbour in a way not only human, but also divine.

Placing Christ at the center, as it happens sacramentally in Christian Marriage, means wanting to live in the presence of God, wanting to speak, wanting to greet, wanting to sweep the house, wanting to love and also wanting to quarrel always in the presence of Christ.

It means turning our everyday life into a way of becoming saints for Christ.

If we decide to enter into a relationship with our neighbour by passing from Christ then our relationships will be renewed, they will be more authentic because we in the company of Christ are called and helped to be authentic.

We still emphasize that Francis pronounces the Name of Christ.

In this regard, it should be remembered that the Very Holy Name of Jesus Christ is powerful. In His name there is His own presence and naming Him makes him present. The Name of Jesus drives away demons, heals and heals, in His Name we are saved.

Francis knows this very well and “goes into armed battle”, goes into battle to restore peace together with Jesus himself.

Let us also do it when we want Christ to live in our lives; so that peace may return in our hearts and relationships: “Jesus, help me to forgive that person who…”, or “Even if you have hurt me, I give you a kiss in the Name of Jesus.” Let’s try it and we’ll see the results.

3) “WOLF FRIAR, YOU DO A LOT OF DAMAGE IN THESE PARTS…”

Following our dear Francis of Assisi, we see that he turns to the Wolf calling him “Brother”.

Did the Wolf make vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience? Of course not.

Francis calls him a friar, or brother. He recognizes in him the dignity of god’s creature and therefore his brother, even if his brother is behaving badly.

And he has no qualms about reminding his wolf brother of all the evil he has done to others.

Francis does not pretend anything, he knows that peace is built with two ingredients: justice and forgiveness.

Francis calls evil by name, he is not afraid to do so. Evil is evil. The wolf made a mistake, he committed acts that made others suffer and this Francis tells him clearly.

Truth is necessary.

Telling those who hurt us that he did wrong is important.

Why, however, does the wolf not tear Francis after he has also reproached him?

Here is perhaps an answer: Francis throughout his life has shown that he does not want to feel better than any bad wolf and it is so, starting from the humility that he can say to the wolf these words of truth because in them there is no condemnation towards the wolf, but only towards his actions .

In other words, the wolf can’t be heard saying, “You suck!” … but the wolf’s heart hears: “What you did sucks, but you’re not what you did… you are precious in spite of the evil you have done.”

It is the sin that is condemned, not the sinner.

It is the betrayal of our spouse that must be condemned, not our spouse… it is the unjust slander made by our friend that must be condemned… our friend should not be condemned. It is the bullying at work that we have suffered that must be condemned, not the employer who bullied us.

This is the style of Christ and Francis knows it well. And apply what he has learned from Christ.

4) “… THAT I KNOW WELL THAT BECAUSE OF HUNGER YOU HAVE DONE EVERY WRONG.”

Another step Francis takes is to understand the motivations that have led the wolf to behave in an evil way.

We too, if we really want to pursue Peace and walk the path taught by Christ, must try to put ourselves in the shoes of others. even as our worst enemy and try to understand what may have led him to sin, to do that evil.

Francis knows that the wolf acted so out of hunger: hungry for food, but – perhaps – also hungry for attention, hunger for security, power…

Francis recognizes what is in his heart the wolf, remembering all the “appetites” that have led him in the past to be a superficial and self-centered young man.

Francis knows that the heart of the wolf is similar to his. And he’s not wrong, because he is.

Both have flesh hearts.

Francis’ heart has only one difference from that of the wolf: Francis’ heart knows that despite his misery, the Lord forgives his “hunger”… his sinful appetites.

Mercy precedes repentance… for Francis did not convert because someone made him feel guilty, but because looking at the love of Christ he knew to throw himself into the arms of those who loved him despite all the weight of his sick heart.

How many times do we have a family… when we scold someone (husband, wife, children) feeling better, that person doesn’t change.

When we recognize that we are all “fallible” and we all make mistakes… and let us note with love and sweetness the mistake to the other… here comes the repentance of the person who made a mistake from that loving and welcoming attitude.

Now the wolf, after feeling welcomed as a brother, after someone has spoken to him in truth and given him mercy… Now the Wolf must take a decisive step:

5) “… BROTHER WOLF, I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME FAITH IN THIS PROMISE””

The Wolf is a welcomed brother, he is rehabilitated… but to an essential condition: he must repent and make the firm decision not to hurt others anymore.

It is the act of will required of each of us and no one can be “saved” without his own consent.

The Wolf is there. Francis said and did what Christ taught him. Now it’s Wolf’s turn. The Wolf can choose whether to refuse or accept forgiveness.

Accepting forgiveness means for him to have a new life with the help of the people of the country – who are committed to helping him, feeding him and loving him and this tells us that the good and healing of others is not easy, but always requires our commitment and our Help.

Rejecting forgiveness means choosing to continue living alone, in the woods, and dying of hunger and malice.

The choice is up to the wolf. And Francis cannot decide in his place. Even Christ cannot choose in place of a person who does not wish to repent despite the possibility of doing so.

We know that in the story told the Wolf accepts forgiveness and makes a promise never to commit the evil he had done before again.

But how would it have been if the wolf had refused forgiveness?

What was Francis supposed to do for the wolf?

Francis should have prayed every day for him… and who knows how many wolves Francis wore in his heart… people he prayed for every day because they had rejected repentance and forgiveness.

That is also the case in our relations.

“Loveyour enemies, pray for those who persecute you”… the act of love of prayer is always necessary for every wolf to… Including us… we can accept forgiveness even on the verge of death.

CONCLUSIONS:

We ask the Lord to have a true vision of ourselves, to see that we are no better or worse than our spouse, our children, our friends, our enemies.

We ask for the gift of walking a path to the healing of the heart. a healing that begins when we do not judge ourselves and judge others, when we say:

“Youwolf friar you are thief and murderer”… just like me. Come brother, let us walk together in the sign of the Cross, walk together in the Name of Jesus Christ, and he will lead us to true Peace.

In praise of Christ and the poor man of Assisi,

Peter and Philomena, Sposi&Spose di Cristo

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