“The least in the household of God”

April 2, 2020 – Optional Memorial of Saint Francis of Paola

Today the Church celebrates the life of Saint Francis of Paola. Most people are aware of Saint Francis of Assisi, but may not be aware of the other Saint Francis.

As I read more about this unfamiliar saint, his life seemed to offer an interesting perspective on how we might view our current state of required “social distancing.”

Here is a brief snapshot of his view on life:

The life of Francis of Paola speaks plainly to an overactive world. He was a contemplative man called to active ministry and must have felt keenly the tension between prayer and service. Yet, in Francis’s life it was a productive tension, for he clearly utilized the fruits of contemplation in his ministry. He responded so readily and so well to the call of the Church from a solid foundation in prayer and subduing his bodily desires. When he went out to the world, it was not he who worked but Christ working through him—“the least in the household of God.”

I was drawn to this saint’s ability to utilize the fruits of contemplation in his ministry. He used his time of isolation and separation (note that his was a chosen lifestyle rather than a forced “social distancing”) to consider how he could best serve others.

Bottom line for us? We have not chosen to distance ourselves from others. However, it is our current reality. Why not work on ourselves during this time? We can use the time to reflect on our lives in Christ: How much time do we spend in prayer, working on our personal relationship with God? In our daily lives, do we serve others or do we leave the work of caring for our fellow man to some one else? Finally, a difficult question, perhaps best asked while looking in a mirror – are we selfish? If so, what excuses do we use to justify that?

We may have had this time of isolation thrust upon us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put it to good use. Perhaps this time will allow us to put our lives in perspective. Perhaps by the time we are able to return to our “normal lives” we will view ourselves as Saint Francis of Paola did – as “the least in the household of God.”

Learn more about St. Francis of Paola at: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-francis-of-paola/

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