by Sr Gemma, FOH
“I confess before God that what made me love Saint Francis’ way of life so much was that it is exactly like the origin and the perfection of the Church itself, which began first with simple fishermen and afterward developed to include the most illustrious and learned doctors. You find the same thing in the Order of Saint Francis; in this way God reveals that it did not come about through human calculations but through Christ.” – St Bonaventure
How often each of us wishes that we were blessed with talents other than the ones we have. Those who work with their minds can see themselves as so removed from the humanity they serve, and distant from the actions of Christ. Those who serve their brothers and sisters in simplicity can feel as though they were beneath the dignity of the learned doctors. But as St Bonaventure points out, both are present in the early Church, just as both are present in the Franciscan order. As I struggle with wondering if it is better to work with my mind or with my hands, St Bonaventure reminds me that neither is better than the other. The Apostles and the Doctors are both necessary in the Church, as are the Evangelists, the Religious, the ascetics, the contemplatives, and those who care for the poor and the sick. The only “best” is whatever God calls me to, and holiness can be expressed in every work, and even in the work of praying in silence and obscurity for the world.
In order to have the freedom that the saints had, we also have to accept that in God’s eyes no occupation is more exalted than another. Saint Francis was free to embrace poverty, to work with his hands and his heart among the lepers, because he knew that the best work is that given to us by God. By the same measure Saint Bonaventure was able to work with his mind and explain to others the mysteries of God, because he saw too that this did not make him better than anyone else, but was only another form of service.
In each thing that I do today, can I take the time to remember that it is not the action, but the intention and the inner disposition, which makes us saints.