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Once Francis was teasing and laughing with his friends. A beggar came along crying for alms. Francis was so sympathetic and kindhearted that he gave whatever he had in his pocket to the homeless person. His companions poked fun at him for his benevolent act. The sight of the beggar set him pondering about the poor quality and wretchedness of mundane life. He gave a great deal money to the poor. His father considered this act of Francis as waste of money and berated him.
Sometime after this, a battle broke out amid the men of Assisi and a neighboring city in 1202. Francis volunteered for it, but got captured after the first battle and exhausted a year in imprisonment. On his return to Assisi and was hailed as a hero. But during the course of his captivity he had undergone a reformation and reconstruction of character and outlook. Although he was once again picking up the tab In his social circles and parties, he was now questioning his reason for continuation. After sufficient consideration, including clear dreams and spiritualist mental pictures, he turned away all worldly gratifications, sold all his property and donated the money to the Church. He then began an enduring fervor of compassion for the sick and poor.
Later on, Francis was laid up in bed for many months on account of some serious disease. This experience of sickness was also instrumental in leading him to reflect on the purpose of life. Eventually the Lord put aside his sickness, as he had to accomplish a significant undertaking in his life.. Francis meditated and pleaded to the Peer of the realm for control and direction as to his future. He had a vision of Lord Jesus. He had a strong strength of mind to abandon and relinquish his previous fashion of livelihood, to stride a life of wholesomeness and spotlessness and to contribute his life to the overhaul of civilization.
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Francis' father turned him out of the house. Dissatisfied with his life, he turned to prayer and service to the poor, and in 1206 he publicly renounced his father's wealth. One account says that "He not only handed his father his purse, but also took off his expensive clothes, laid them at his father's feet, and walked away naked. He declared himself "wedded to Lady Poverty", renounced all material possessions, and devoted himself to serving the poor." His old friends even pelted him with stones and mud. Francis lived the life of a beggar and bore everything with staying power and lack of complaint. He wore a unrefined costumes and consumed minimal food.
In his day the most dreaded of all diseases was something known as leprosy. Lepers were kept at a space and looked upon with horror and revulsion. Francis cared for them, nourished them, suffused their sores, and kissed them. Since he could not pay for the conservation to the Church of San Damiano, he undertook to repair it by his own labors. He moved in with the priest, and begged stones of no use in fields, shaping them for use in patching up the church. He got his food, not by begging for money so that he might live at the expenditure of others, but by scrounging crusts and discarded vegetable from trash-bins, and by working as a day laborer, insisting on being paid in food rather than in money. Soon a few companions joined him. Dante in his Paradiso has Aquinas say of him:
" Let me tell you of a youth whose aristocratic father disowned him because of his love for a beautiful lady. She had been married before, to Christ, and was so faithful a spouse to Him that, while Mary only stood at the foot of the Cross, she leaped up to be with Him on the Cross. These two of whom I speak are Francis and the Lady Poverty. As they walked along together, the sight of their mutual love drew men's hearts after them. Bernard saw them and ran after them, kicking off his shoes to run faster to so great a peace. Giles and Sylvester saw them, kicked off their shoes and ran to join them...."
After three years, in 1210, the Pope sanctioned the structuring of the Order of Friars Minor, generally called the Franciscans. St. Francis collected many followers. The members of this Order had to take a vow of poverty, chastity, love and obedience. The gospel of kindness and love of Francis soon spread all over Europe and earned for him the name of St. Francis. Francis and his companions took the words of Christ when he sent his disciples out to preach (M 10:7-10):
"Preach as you go, saying, "The kingdom of Heaven is at hand." ... You have received the Gospel without payment; give it to others as freely. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, no spare garment, nor sandals, nor staff."
The priests would have no wealth, and no material goods, independently or communally. Their undertaking was to speak, but declaring by word and action the love of God in Christ.
Back in his own homeland and neighboring countries, many people were genuinely fascinated and captivated by Francis and his desertion, and self-determination. What is unnoticed is that these were made possible only by his readiness and enthusiasm to acknowledge complete poverty, not appealing poverty but real filth, mud, rags, freezing, and food shortage, and lepers with real pus oozing from their wounds and a authentic threat of disease. Numerous unrealistic young people were joining the Order in a rupture of eagerness and then finding themselves uncertain that such edges of poverty were absolutely compulsory and indispensable but the force of his personality kept the original ideals of the Order alive in them.
From the first known letter from Francis to all Christians:
" Let us produce worthy fruits of penance. Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will recieve from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure."
Two men climbed Mount La Verna in Italy, St. Francis of Assisi in 1224 and thirty years later St. Bonaventure. What Francis lived, the intellect of the Bonaventure pursued to understand to blend with the very One who is above all created essence and knowledge." Both Francis and Bonaventure had the same principle: to get higher from the inspection of God's signs in living things to the foresight of uncreated righteousness itself. Bonaventure approved what Francis said: "God made man simple; man's complex problems are of his own devising" (Ecclesiastes, 7:29-30)."
Rather than entangle himself with infinity of questions, Bonaventure, like Francis, mirrored on those nucleus tribulations of wisdom and authenticity that centered around man's relation to God. On both counts, in order to be certain that he was exploring these central issues within a Christian perspective rather than within a context of purely natural reason, Bonaventure would have to establish the relationship between faith and reason. Faith founded on the authority of God and the Church, and reason, which is based on the natural evidence of things.
Bonaventure developed his themes under the influence of the Franciscan spirit and the ideas of Augustine and Aristotle. The same theme drove Bonaventure threefold desire of Francis of Assisi: "To adhere to God totally by the savor of contemplation, to imitate Christ completely by the practice of the virtues, and to win souls to God as did Christ himself. "What Francis personally experienced, Bonaventure contemplated and formulated so that the corpus of his philosophical ideas was animated and organized by the spirit of Francis. Bonaventure is a Francis gone philosopher to affect a rapport between Assisi and Paris.
As per Bonaventure, knowledge of creation and the creator is deepened by the theological application of metaphysical concepts. To man's way to God, the mystical theologian translates theoretical conclusions into practice by giving love priority over speculation about revelation.The soul rises to God by reading with junction, reflection with devotion, seeking with admiration, deep attention with joy of heart, skill with piety, knowledge with charity, understanding with humility, application with grace, and light with the inspiration of divine wisdom.
Bonaventure found himself developing and defining indefinitely the Franciscan vision. He admired Franciscan and adopted him as "the master whose authority is definitive and whose words can never be contested." Consistent with this preference, he favored Franciscan spiritual vision of God and ideas to empirical concern for things in themselves. By no means did Bonaventure neglect to adopt Franciscan ideas such as act and potency and the agent and possible intellect. Whatever he inherited, however, he adapted to the mind of Francis, the master whose wisdom of transcends realities to understand the Christian faith.
In 1220 Francis resigned as minister-general of the Order, and in 1221 he agreed to a new and modified rule, which he did not approve, but could not resist. He died on 4 October 1226. The Franciscan split into the Conventual Franciscans, who held a limited amount of property in common, and the Spiritual Franciscans, who disavowed all property. They taught that Christ and the twelve apostles had held no property, singly or jointly. This view offended those who held property, and was declared to be heretical (proof text, J 18:10; Jesus said to Peter, "Put up THY sword...."). In 1318, several Spiritual Franciscans were burned at the stake in Marseilles.
After his death in 1226, Pope Gregory IX declared Francis a saint. For centuries after his death, his Franciscan order has experienced continuous growth and is still active today caring for the poor, educating, and continuing many other good deeds.