St. Francis, the Sultan and Pope Benedict

The following excerpt is from yesterday’s Wednesday audience of the Holy Father in which he offered a reflection on the life of St. Francis.  This particular passage concerns St. Francis’ meeting with the sultan in Egypt in 1219, (my unofficial translation from the Italian):

Also the successor of Innocent III, Pope Honorius III, with the bull Cum dilecti of 1218 supported the singular development of the first Friars Minor, who went opening missions in various countries of Europe, and in Morocco. In 1219 Francis obtained permission to go and speak, in Egypt, with the Muslim sultan Melek-el-Kâmel, in order to preach the Gospel of Jesus there also.  I wish to underscore that this episode of the life of Saint Francis that has great relevance.  In an age marked by an ongoing conflict between Christianity and Islam, Francis, armed only with the faith and his personal gentleness, effectively followed the path of dialogue. The reports speak about a benevolent acceptance and cordial reception to us from the Muslim sultan.  It is a model that even today must inspire relations between Christian and Muslims: promote dialogue in truth, in reciprocal respect and mutual understanding.  (cfr Nostra Aetate, 3).

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St. Francis, the Sultan and the President

I wrote the following essay some weeks ago, but never found time to edit and post it.  Since today is the feast of the Protomartyrs of the Franciscan Order, St. Berard and Companions, I thought it would be an auspicious time to bring this to light.

While I realize the historical figure of St. Francis lends itself to romanticizing and mythologizing because of the singularly extraordinary nature of his person, as a Franciscan it irritates me to see his life used as a political tool.  Paul Moses on the CNN Opinion website, does precisely this as he attempts to have St. Francis sucked into vortex of Obama-mania.  In addition to being the author of the CNN article entitled “Is Religion about War—or Peace?” Mr. Moses is the author of a new book called The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace. Mr. Moses is at pains to state that he does not “mean to liken Obama to Francis,” but, goes on to do precisely that and, in the process of expressing his admiration for Mr. Obama, he historically misrepresents the Seraphic Saint. Continue reading

Christmas Conquest

In last nights post about tonight’s discussion group topic, I asked the question:

How can men surrender to the mystery of Christ’s condescension without surrendering their dignity, responsibility and strength as men, husbands and fathers?

This morning Pope St. Gregory the Great indirectly answered my question in the second reading from the Office of Readings:

For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan. The Conqueror’s victory would have profited us nothing if the battle had been fought outside our human condition. But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to have been born not of blood, nor of the desire of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

St. Gregory speaks about the Redeeming power of Christ, his victory of Satan, sin and death in terms of His having shared “our human condition.”  As the battle takes place in the valley of human misery, so victory begins in a stable where His own received Him not (Jn 1:11).

A true leader, a father, for example, shares the condition of those whom he leads. We exhort our superiors to “lead by example.”  Our Lord criticizes the pharisees because they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them (Mt 23:4), and so He tells his apostles: All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not (3).

I am reminded of the story of how St. Louis, King of France, landed in Damietta with his men, refusing a safer passage away from the fighting:

When the King heard say that the Banner of Saint Denis was ashore he came hurrying across his vessel at a great pace, and despite the Legate who was with him, he would not be stayed, but sprang into the sea, up to his armpits in water, and waded, with his shield round his neck, and his helmet on his head, and his spear in his hand, to join his followers on the beach. When he got to land and discerned the Saracens, he asked: What people those were? and they told him:  They were Saracens; and he tucked his spear under his arm, put his shield In front of him, and would have rushed upon them, if his paladins who were about him would have allowed it.

Prior to the landing the King had exhorted them all:

Friends and followers, we are unconquerable if we are undivided. The divine will has brought us hither; let us land, be the enemy’s forces what it may. It is not I that am King of France, not I that am Holy Church: it is you yourselves, united, that are Church and King…. In us Christ shall triumph, giving glory, honour, and blessing not to us, but to His own Holy Name.’

In the condensation of Christmas the King rallies with the men on the ground and gives them His Name and His power to conquer.

See also the story of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN, Medal of Honor Recipient.

Chivalric Resource: Dr. John Rao

In our franciscan communities it is our custom on most days to listen to a religious conference of some sort at breakfast. Lately we have been listening to downloads from Keep the Faith‘s website.

Of particular interest to those who read MaryVictrix are the some of the conferences by Dr. John Rao, associate professor of history at St. John’s University and director of the Roman Forum.

Of further interest are some of his series on Church history especially his ones on the Crusades.  Very Good.

I admire Keep the Faith and the Roman Forum very much.  The late Dr. William Mara was a giant among the great Catholic American thinkers of the last century.

Not being a Traditionalist myself, though celebrating the Traditional Rite, I can’t vouch for everything on the website.

God bless them for defending the crusading spirit.

Lobster Brains

A prison is the perfect setting to demonstrate how lobsters suffer when they are caught in traps or confined to cramped, filthy supermarket tanks,” PETA wrote in a June 2 letter to the commissioners. “The center will teach visitors to have compassion for these interesting, sensitive animals while also commemorating the millions of lobsters who are ripped from their homes in the ocean off the coast of Maine each year before being boiled alive.

Crusaders for wimpy and stupid causes. Try saving some of the unborn babies who are slated to be “ripped from their homes” in their mothers’ wombs and shredded into pieces, and then treat go and yourselves to a nice big lobster tail.

Sword salute to HotAir.