The feast day of St Francis the poor man of Assisi

These marks of the stigmata (on St Padre Pio) are probably similar to those on St Francis’s hands.

St Francis was a man of peace and we need peace in our times. Our peace is being disturbed by materialism. Nothing is wrong with materialism per se or the pursuit of wealth. But today all of us are bombarded with ideas that make us want more than we need. I make no secret of my wish to be a billionaire. It is very unlikely to happen. I think many people have this dream these days and I feel this was not as strong an aspiration for people once. They were content to aspire to other forms of greatness if they could.

Whichever way we look at it people – all of us – can’t see that there is a metaphysical universe full of untold riches deeper and more meaningful than anything here in this bounded realm. The man of peace St Francis, who had been a rich boy, gave all he had away and took the promise of eternal and lasting riches – the riches of God’s love and eternal life – seriously. He was through the strength of this belief able to work hard at promoting the peace that Christ ushered in.

People find it hard to believe in the spiritual realm and I can accept that. But I wonder if they – we – question enough the ideas we are bombarded with. Adverts in particular have to make promises and sow ideas in our heads. The media is a complex web of ideas but at heart it is funded by the need to make you and me and every body else buy things and want things and that is generally OK but there is a dark side and that dark side is the ideascape of self indulgence and the nexus that stops us bothering to love our friends and neighbours and those who need our love.

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