Christ has gifted Fr. Rutler the rare talent to observe our foolishness with blunt and dry humor. I cherish this talent. So few have it.
Which reminds me: Anyone know what happened to Zmirak? - He seems to have fallen off of the face of the earth. I miss his talents and wisdom. I've tried a few times to google the man to see what he was up to but abandon in frustration. He seemed to have disappeared around the same time as Fr. Corapi. Was kidnapping involved? Did he get married? He picked a fine time to take his hand off the plow!
In his latest, Fr. Rutler takes on the urban legends and peculiar use of St. Francis as a garden gnome.
A pacifist? He joined the Fifth Crusade, simmering ever since eleven thousand Muslims had invaded Rome and desecrated the tombs of Peter and Paul in the year 846. Francis went to North Africa in 1219 to convert the Muslims and confronted Sultan al Malik al-Kamil, who had just slaughtered five thousand Christians at Damietta. Francis fearlessly told the Sultan: “It is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship.” While counselors called for the beheading of Francis according to Muslim law, the Sultan was so taken with the humility of Francis that he only had him beaten, chained and imprisoned, and then he released himPoor St. Francis. He is so misunderstood. Can you imagine devoting your entire life to Christ for the sake of salvation of souls and then have the crackpots from Catholic Conference of Bishops, Jesuits and nuns diminish your contribution to sexual infidelity and feeding the birds as the peace that surpasses all understanding?
I cannot imagine any greater torment.
Whenever somebody slanders the reputation of St. Francis with chicanery, I make a declaratory statement and then ask a few simple questions:
I don't think we're talking about the same Saint. Do you know this is a guy who told his father to go scratch his fanny with a broken bottle and dropped his clothes on the floor? Are you sure you are not confusing a song with the actual life of this Saint?
The Saints that circle my wagons are always powerful militants and for refuge, zealous lovers of the Eucharist. The burn the candle at both ends crowd. We tend to frustrate and annoy the people around us, don't we? We frustrate our families. Our friends. The wizards in the Chancery. My mother used to quote a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay: “My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light.” Though I am sure the light brings some measure of comfort to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene, I sometimes seek refuge from it myself. While I have never been tempted to reduce St. Francis as a garden knome, a few years back I put a statue of him in my driveway, hoping that seeing him every day in my comings and goings would remind me every day to pray to this Saint and invite his presence to temper the flame. A few months later, he got out of Dodge when one of children backed into him with the car. I should have known better.
Fr. Rutler sums up the lesson I have always known yet continue to resist myself in my own calling.
By the way, the popular “Prayer of Saint Francis,” which begins, “Make me a channel of your peace,” was actually the work of an anonymous author who published it in France in 1912. Its vague theology and lack of mention of Christ, express a semi-Pelagian heresy unworthy of the Saint of Assisi. Let the last words of the real Saint of Assisi be our guide:
“I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.”