Francis and encountering Jesus in silence

So often I think of St. Francis in terms of what he did. He tamed the wolf at Gubbio. He praised God for all creation. He lived as a poor man and cared for lepers. He was a man of peace who charmed even the Sultan.

But central to Francis was Someone – Jesus. Francis was nothing without this relationship.

Five years ago when I visited Assisi I spent a whole morning at the Carceri, the place above Assisi full of caves, where Francis and his early followers went to pray. There is a small room where once there was the cave of St. Francis, but there are still some caves. I sat for some time in the small chapel and, in the midst of visits of school kids, I found peace.

But I also found and entered the cave of Brother Masseo. I had to maneuver down steps with a bit of ice.


I entered the small cave and went to the back.


Looking out on the hillside, I had the sense that this was one of those thin places the Irish speak about, where the veil between heaven and earth is almost non-existent.


There, in the silence, in the solitude, God is present – if we open ourselves to His loving presence.

At the center of the life of Francis of Assisi was the encounter with a God of love, an encounter nurtured by silence and prayer.

Sister Ilia Delio, in Compassion: Living the Spirit of Saint Francis, notes that this relationship was essential for Francis.

The key to Francis’ “ecological life” is relationship. Francis found himself to be an “I” in need of a “Thou” and realized that he could not be fully a person apart from being a brother. His relationship with God, rooted in a profound love of God and his acceptance of God’s love in his own life, changed the way he knew himself in relation to others. He took the commandment of Jesus to heart, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and realized that to love oneself, one must know oneself.

Out of that silence and prayer, the place of encounter with the living God, Francis and his companions could know who they were and live as the poor men of God and preach the Gospel.

I ask God to give me the grace of silence and prayer, so that I may better serve God and the poor.


Saint Francis, help me open my heart to God and to the poor.

3 responses to “Francis and encountering Jesus in silence

  1. Pingback: The Upside-Down World of St. Francis | walk the way

  2. Pingback: Romero – the seed that bears fruit | walk the way

  3. “I ask God to give me the grace of silence and prayer, so that I may better serve God and the poor.” Thank you.

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