Today is the Feast of St. Francis on the traditional church calendar. Catholic or Protestant, there are lessons to be learned from Francis of Assisi’s story. He’s known in Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches as the patron saint of animals and the environment. Born into privilege and wealth, he eventually gave it all up to serve Christ and further the gospel.
I’ve written often about how important I think it is to teach the Bible to children as one big story rather than a collection of loosely related stories with a moral or lesson about God. A close second for me is the importance of teaching our children their spiritual heritage…the history of the church from the days of Acts right up to the present day. When we do, we so clearly see God’s hands on major events in history (which is, after all, really “His Story”), and there are many, many figures throughout the history of the church, from the early church fathers, to the Reformers, to modern missionaries, whose lives are wonderful examples for us and our children. We need to be familiar with and take advantage of our rich heritage! This is why I love Crossway’s new title, The Church History ABCs (keep an eye out…I may have an extra copy of that one to share in the near future!).
I’ve used a couple of different resources with my kids to learn about St. Francis. We have a short, animated DVD called Francis-Knight of Assisi that is really well-done. Even my older kids don’t mind still watching it. We also enjoy Tomie dePaola’s book Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi. We love several of his books and his illustrations are wonderful!
I’ve also referred to Loyola Kids Book of Saints by Amy Welborn. It has a nice entry on St. Francis and helps kids relate it to their own lives with personal application. You can also do a quick internet search and get ideas for fun activities to do.
Take advantage of these “teachable moments” with your kids!
I’ll leave you with the “Prayer of St. Francis” (which may or may not have actually originated with him):
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
- where there is hatred, let me sow love;
- where there is injury, pardon:
- where there is despair, hope
- where there is darkness, light
- where there is sadness, joy
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love;
- for it is in giving that we receive,
- it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.