Years later I learned more about him through St. Anthony Messenger magazine and other sources. I discovered St. Anthony of Padua was a dedicated follower of St. Francis and have kept a picture of him cut from the magazine with these words on it: “A life of faith must have deep roots of humility, a trunk of obedience, branches of love, leaves of good example and fruit of prayer.”
Those words paint a picture of St. Francis.
On Wednesday, March 21, the fourth Sunday of Lent, I read the day’s reflection in Bishop Robert Morneau’s book, “Daily Reflections for Lent,” out on my garden bench. It was a beautiful morning, one of those early sunny days we had this spring. Towards the end of the reflection the bishop wrote:
“A good Lenten practice is to pause upon retiring at night and recall our confirmation name as well as the words used in being signed with the oil of chrism: ‘ __________, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” I paused to reflect on those words and on St. Francis and immediately a little chickadee fluttered around the corner of the house and landed on the bench six inches from me. It hopped about unconcerned, cocking his little head a few times to look up at me as he continued exploring. Finally he flittered onto the rim of a bucket at my feet, over to a nearby potted plant and then away.
It was … well … unbelievable! Coincidence you may ask? But I believe! I didn’t want the moment to pass. Having not invoked the name of my confirmation saint for years, if ever, and the very moment I reflect on St. Francis and the words that sealed his name and mine through the gift of the Holy Spirit, I receive this beautiful and gentle sign. I realized what a treasure confirmation is and such a blessing to have our special saint with us, sharing our name, walking through life with us.
I embrace this sacrament, this gift, and I carry the name of St. Francis like a wild bird on my shoulder.
Clarke is an occasional cartoonist for The Compass and member of Holy Rosary Parish in Kewaunee.