Thursday, October 4, 2018


On today's Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the renowned French author, Georges Bernanos [RIP 1948], offers us a timely reflection on how St. Francis dealt with the terrible scandals in the Church during his time.

It is worth reflecting upon, and I reprint it from the October issue of Magnificat:

"Whoever pretends to reform the Church with...the same means used to reform temporal society--not only will he fail in his undertaking, but he will infallibly end by finding himself outside the Church before anyone has gone to the trouble of excluding him from her.  I say that it is he himself who excludes himself from her by a kind of tragic fatalism....

The only way of reforming the Church is to suffer for her.  The only way of reforming the visible Church is to suffer for the invisible Church.  The only way of reforming the vices of the Church is to lavish on her the example of one's own most heroic virtues.

It's quite possible that Saint Francis of Assisi was not any less thrown into revolt than Luther by the debauchery and simony of prelates.  We can even be sure that his suffering on this account was fiercer, because his nature was very different from that of the monk of Wittenberg.  

But Francis did not challenge iniquity; he was not tempted to confront it; instead, he threw himself into poverty, immersing himself in it as deeply as possible along with his followers.  He found in poverty the very source and wellspring of all absolution and all purity.  Instead of attempting to snatch from the Church all her ill-gotten goods, he overwhelmed her with invisible treasures, and under the hand of this beggar the heaps of gold and lust began blossoming like an April hedge."