St. Francis ranks high on my list of Catholic heroes. So magnificent was his life and witness, that even hardcore secularists must tip their hats and admit Francis embodied the best in what the Christian faith calls us to be.
Even as a self-proclaimed liberal agnostic studying at a decidedly secular state university, I was taken by his story. I also noticed the almost unanimous chorus of praise directed at Francis, even from sources otherwise skeptical of the Catholic Faith's contributions to human history. He was an anchor for me as a Protestant minister, and despite some apprehension, I placed his famous prayer of humility in my pastor's office for all to see. Along with other key individuals, he also opened up the possibilities of the historic Christian faith as I began to question certain doctrines in my own Protestant approach to Christianity.
So I can't help but love today, especially knowing that October is such a wonderful time for Francis to have his feast. A man whose joy and enthusiasm for all that life had to offer had to be celebrated in October. This time of the year was when I came alive. While spring is said to be the great awakening of young men's thoughts, for me it was fall. My most vivid memories of childhood seem to come from the fall and winter months. It was a time to return to school, meet new friends, anticipate a string of holidays, celebrations, fun and excitement. The colors, the smells, the crisp, cool weather, the cider and harvest blessings - all seemed to make the world more alive than at other times.
And these intense sensations must have contributed to my recollections of autumns past. Which is why when nostalgia strikes, there seems to be that low hanging, cloudy autumn day in the background of my memories. So thank you St. Francis for having your feast day at this time of year, so I can celebrate two of my favorite subjects!