Our entire fraternity is missionary and shares in the mission of the Church, following the example of St. Francis and the desire he expressed in the Rule. Each friar, therefore, conscious of his own responsibility, is to play his part in missionary work.
Over 800 years ago, a young man in Assisi heard a sermon on how Jesus’ disciples were sent out “without silver or gold”. This passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew made such an impression on Francis that he decided to devote himself totally to living poorly, like the apostles. He dressed in a rough garment, went barefoot and with “no bag for the journey, nor a staff”, he began to preach repentance. He also heard a message of renewal from the beautiful crucifix in the abandoned church of San Damiano; “Repair my Church.”
Francis was soon joined by other companions, including a young noblewoman, Clare. They cared for the lepers forced to live outside Assisi, and repaired ruined churches. Their life was extremely austere, but they lived joyfully with a deep spirit of service toward the poor and excluded, and with a trust in God’s providential care…
St. Francis is known as the man who was most like Christ, “the first after the only one”, the universal brother, a man of peace and reconciliation, the Poverello, the lover of the poor, the troubadour of creation. It is true. Francis of Assisi, however, was first and foremost a mystic, a real contemplative, enamoured with the poor and crucified Christ. Francis was not only a man who prayed, but, as his biographer Thomas of Celano says, he was “a man become prayer”. The presence of God transfigured him until He made him “another Christ”.