Is God calling you?

In the early 1200’s, St. Francis of Assisi often prayed in the deteriorating church of San Damiano. One day he heard the Lord speaking to him from an icon of the crucified Christ saying, “Francis, go rebuild my church, which you see is falling into ruins!”  Francis Bernardone, a young man in his twenties at the time, set about rebuilding the dilapidated church. He begged for stones and soon began repairing the structure. He had a little help from others.  Many came to jeer at him; others came to help.  Francis, however, was a man on a mission: he was determined to do as the Lord asked.

However, Francis soon learned that the Lord was not speaking of the interior structure of San Damiano, but of the interior or the spirit of the Catholic Church.

Francis and his followers began living an extremely simple was of life.  This became his formation by the Lord himself.  Francis transformed the Church radically.  He began to follow Christ more closely.  He devoted himself to prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving.

St. Francis lived a true Gospel life and many believed he mirrored Christ as much as a human possibly can.  Of course, Our Lady was the closet to Christ. We Franciscans often say, that our founder went from “gospel to life and life to gospel.”  There was no end and no beginning.  His gospel actions and prayer life were a continuous circle.

God calls us in much the same way today, “_________ (insert your name), go rebuild my church.”  Will we answer our fiat to him?  Yes, Lord!

This is not a call to change everything about the mass or the doctrine of the church, etc.; instead it is a call to be on fire for the Lord.  Change our spirit within the Church. Maybe we can start with some old-fashioned on-our-knees praying, praising, and thanking God.

After much prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance, let us step out in faith and answer the call as Francis did.

St. Francis, son of a rich cloth merchant, Pietro Bernardone, loved the good life. Parties, entertainment, and adventurous quests were his close companions.  However, God stepped in and changed all that! When God enters your life, you cannot help but change 360 degrees.

He gave up his family.  His father never approved of Francis’s new life and disowned him. Francis gave up money.  He gave up his glory on the battlefield for another type of glory. He turned from his comfortable life until he desired nothing but Christ.

What did he get in exchange? “A peace the world cannot give” (John 14:27).  The joy the world cannot comprehend.  Joy is not merely happiness, but an inner gladness. — like your soul is smiling! Joy comes from the heart and radiates from within.

Oh yes, he also got the downside of following Christ:  poverty, sickness, and near blindness from weeping constantly over his sins.  He suffered hunger and rejection. Many thought his rule was too austere and criticized him for it. He named it Order of Friars Minor, today known as the Franciscans.  However, St. Francis praised God for his pain.  He was joyful to live a life close to the sufferings of Christ.  Eventually, he even bore the stigmata.

St. Francis is still working from heaven’s side to rebuild the Church.  It is our turn to help.  Is God calling you to a life of simplicity, purity, and humility? Pray to the Holy Spirit and see.  I can attest after 20-plus years as a Secular Franciscan, I have felt the cross, but I have felt Franciscan joy.  It is not an easy walk, but there is no other place I’d rather be. See for more information.

Even if the Franciscan call is not for you, listen to God’s call: “Go rebuild my church.”  Francis exhorted his brothers to anticipate and fulfill the needs of others before they ask.  This is an act of charity.  Is there a sick member of your parish? Perhaps you can deliver a meal or just visit.  Is another down on their luck? Maybe you can help with canned goods or paying a bill for them.  I have been trying but not always succeeding to meet more parishioners to make a real connection with others. Ask the Holy Spirit, he will tell you what to do.

Small actions done with great love also count.  As Francis said, “Preach the gospel always and when necessary, use words.”  Our actions should speak louder than our words, but our love of God should speak louder than our actions.

This world is hungry for God’s love. Let’s do our part to feed it!

Copyright 2015, Mary Mitchell









Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell, from Chicago, is a devout Catholic who likes to mix the divine truth with humor. She thinks it's the only way we can get through this life! Mary is the mother of three and has been married to her husband, Philip, more than 20 years. She has attempted to live the vows as a Secular Franciscan for about 20 years, but has a long way to go.

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