“Go repair my Church, which as you see is falling completely in ruin”
These were the words spoken to St. Francis of Assisi from the image of Christ on the crucifix at San Damiano. Francis first took these words literally and began repairing physical church buildings, including the Church of San Damiano. Later, Francis’ life’s work would show us that this call was far greater than rebuilding physical structures, but that his greater mission was to rebuild the church through his founding of the Franciscan Order.
Franciscan spirituality can be seen throughout the world today with its focus on service, humility, and simplicity. All of those virtues are essential for the continued proclamation of the Good News throughout the world.
The San Damiano cross, the beautiful work of art, through which St. Francis had this miraculous encounter, now hangs in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi and a replica can be found frequently in churches and homes throughout the world (including mine). If you have ever seen a San Damiano cross you will notice something unique regarding the image of Christ displayed.
Unlike many crucifixes, Jesus is not a corpse but rather represented as resurrected.
When gazing at this cross it can even appear that Jesus is looking directly at you with triumphant victory in His eyes. It is not often that when meditating on the cross of Jesus we are met with such a striking visualization of the victory of the Cross. Now, from this cross, Jesus speaks the same words to all of us that He spoke to St. Francis centuries ago,
“Go repair my Church, which as you see is falling completely in ruin.”
This call to action is not meant to throw us into despair, but rather motivate us to journey on with hope. Just as gazing at Jesus on the cross should point us to victory and triumph, we must look at all the circumstances of our current world with hope in the promises of Christ.
The last several months have been filled with many trials. At times, we have been separated from the people and sacraments that we love. We may have suffered with illness, loneliness, fear, and anger, but even in all of this God is rebuilding. He is restoring our families, communities, and Church.
This restoration starts with each of us.
Rebuilding our global community begins with us as individuals. Did you know that each of us was created for such a time as this, with a unique gift for the world and church that only we have to share? Christ has a mission uniquely suited for you, and we are each being called out as disciples of Christ to proclaim His goodness, truth, and beauty. I don’t know what your particular mission is, but I do know that if you open your heart to the Holy Spirit, He will direct your path.
We must all work together, united in prayerful discernment, and allow the Holy Spirit to move through us to accomplish this great work. He is creating something new and, even if we can not perceive it, if we open our hearts to His work and cooperate more fully with Him, we have the supreme gift and privilege of helping to usher in this beautiful restoration and work of grace. Where is He calling you to boldly step out in faith, hope, and love today?