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"Francis: Saint for a New Millennium"

Links for Learners

by Lynn and Bob Gillen

January 1999

The following Links for Learners resource is offered to those who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in an educational setting or for further study at home. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for further study each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain this resource. Up until December 1998 it was called a teacher's guide or classroom resource. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

Please see our links disclaimer located at the end of this document.

Curriculum Connections

This month's "Links for Learners" will support curriculum in:

    • Religion - Christian life-styles; living the gospel; comparative religion; ecumenism; prayer.
    • World History - Francis and Clare; 12th-century life and values; the Crusades.

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month's Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout this month's "Links for Learners."

gospel-based values

Peace Prayer

Assisi; Portiuncula

mutual forgiveness

Orthodox; Anglican

Catholic Worker Movement

Dorothy Day



St. Clare



role model

Peter Maurin

Biographical Information on Francis of Assisi

This month's article offers reflections on the life of Francis of Assisi. To find out more about this remarkable man's historical background, try these resources:

American Catholic Online's "St. Francis of Assisi, Lover of All Creation" feature offers helpful background.

For information on both Francis and Clare, the orders they founded, their rules of life and how they supported one another in prayer, see the official home page of the Order of Friars Minor, the largest branch of the Franciscan family.

Click here for further reflection on the life of Francis of Assisi.

Francis and Peace

The Peace Prayer, attributed to St. Francis, certainly reflects the holy man's approach to life. Try using the Peace Prayer as a framework for discussing how we can better live the gospel message of Jesus. See the site for the text of the prayer.

Mutual respect, mutual forgiveness: These were the watchwords of Francis. He sought to replace hatred with love, conflict with forgiveness. He believed that mutual forgiveness restores balance and harmony to the lives of Christians and other believers.

Are you familiar with the band Los Lobos? Its members come from the tough streets of East Los Angeles. On their CD, The Neighborhood, listen to the lyrics of the title song. It's a prayer of thanksgiving and peace. They thank the Lord for each day; they pray for their brothers; they beg the Lord to bring peace to the neighborhood. What similar expressions can you find within the media for prayers of peace and forgiveness?

Look at the business magazine Forbes (11/30/98, p. 160) for a good example of selfless commitment to others. The article "Life Is Too Precious to Waste" tells the story of Lisa Landi, a woman afflicted with AIDS. Determined not to waste her life, Ms. Landi visits schools to talk to teens about AIDS. She will not live out her days in hatred and bitterness over her situation, but rather will promote forgiveness and awareness.

How about your own life? Talk about where you find conflict. Can you turn it to love? Here are a few examples. Try developing some of your own.

* Where are the opportunities to be an instrument of peace? When your younger siblings argue, can you act out of love and find ways to help them reconcile, without waiting for intervention from your parents?

* Where can you turn hatred to love? When a friend or classmate says "I hate her, she's so... (smart, pretty, stupid, different)," can you find a kind word for the one despised?

* Where can you replace injury with pardon? It's easy to seize on an unkind word someone throws our way, and nurture the wound into a major feud. How can you forgive and put it behind you?

* Where can you shine the light of truth on errors and lies? Do you prolong an error by simply neglecting to tell the truth? Are you afraid to speak up to right a wrong? Will you let a sibling or classmate take the rap for something you did?

* How can you bring your faith as a support to someone experiencing doubt and uncertainty? If a friend or classmate loses a parent or a sibling, do you reach out in genuine support? Do you share your faith in a quiet but clear way, or do you just stay out of the way and leave the person to struggle alone?

* Where do you offer hope as an antidote to despair? Do you have a friend who has considered suicide, or a friend who is bent on self-destruction through drugs or alcohol or indiscriminate sexual activity? What hope can you offer from your own life, your own prayer or belief system? Can you live in an attitude of trust when people, even parents, let you down? What is your response to an alcoholic parent: Never trust anyone again, or struggle to be open and to trust others?

* Where can you spread light to counteract someone's darkness, or perhaps your own darkness? Do you continually fight with your parents? Do you resist accepting and loving a stepparent? Do you refuse to see the new love in your birth parent's life as a source of joy for him or her? Is it easier to sulk and make life miserable for all of you? Christ's light is there. Look for it.

* Where do you replace sadness with joy, unhappiness with a smile?

Francis and Prayer

Prayer can be a source of life and support for each of us. Clare supported Francis in his efforts at charity by praying for him. She founded a religious order specifically for the purpose of praying for others engaged in working with people in need. But where do we go for support? Where do we pray? How do we find the words to express what we feel?

You might find it helpful to begin and end each day with a few moments of prayer. Try the daily "Minute Meditation" at St. Anthony Messenger Press's site. This same site invites you to pray along with an audio recording of Mother Teresa. Perhaps you can turn to your PC and the Internet for prayer. Look at the site, which will give suggestions and examples for improving your prayer life. Choose items such as "time" or "place" or "basic facts" from the site. This site also offers methods for learning meditation, including prayers and body postures.

If your school has its own Web page, create an online haven for fellow students or teens like yourselves. Develop it as a prayer source to open and close each day. If you don't have a school Web site, spread the word among your schoolmates about existing sites devoted to prayer.

Many schools and youth programs conduct retreats. Some are simply annual class or grade activities, a one-day break from the routine to pray, talk and reflect. Other retreats are timed for significant life moments such as Confirmation or the culmination of your high school years (kairos retreats, for example). In any case, a retreat is an infrequent event. But it's possible to relive that event occasionally as a means of refreshing our spiritual selves.

Individually, or as a part of a small group, you can go through a virtual retreat online. See the site, sponsored by Passionist Publications.

The Psalms can be a nourishing form of prayer, especially when we can't find words for our own prayer. See the site This is the Web site for the Diocese of San Jose, California. Click on "Prayers" and then "Psalms." The site suggests which psalms to pray in special need or circumstance.

Or see for help in finding daily Bible verses to encourage your prayer. You can click here to receive daily prayers and verses by e-mail. Taize is a community of Christian brothers in France.

An additional resource is The Catholic Campus Ministry of Rider University in New Jersey offers prayers for college students in various circumstances (exams, loneliness), plus examples of Christian service and ministry.

Respect for God's Creation

Have you heard of the woman who has spent a year living 200 feet up in a 1000-year-old redwood tree to prevent logging companies from cutting down the trees? Whether her methods are right or wrong, her motivation appears to be respect for God's creation.

St. Francis certainly had praise for God's world. How can we develop a stronger respect as well? Service projects such as cleaning up beaches, canyons and parks help. So do recycling efforts and conservation projects. Talk about how you can offer praise for God's creation in your own way. Develop service projects that will support our world.

You may get some ideas from these sample sites:

The Millennium Institute offers information on what's being done to preserve our earth for future generations.

Try checking in with the Ecology Action Center, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Francis encouraged Christians to live in peace with individuals of other faiths. For just this reason, he is often revered by believers other than Catholics. Some have noted that world history would certainly have played out differently if more people followed the openness and respect modeled by Francis of Assisi.

You can promote such an attitude of respect in your own circle of influence. Modeled, perhaps, on the weekly PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, you can develop a discussion group (ongoing or one-time) to promote mutual understanding between faiths or other disparate groups. Invite a panel of religious leaders to address your class or school assembly. Or invite teens of other faiths, perhaps your own classmates, to share their beliefs with you in a class discussion. If you have a video production class, try taping the discussion for airing at a later date for other classes or the whole campus.

Or perhaps your school has a rivalry with a neighboring school. Such rivalries can be fun and encourage competition. But they can also sometimes lead to hard feelings, vandalism and an attitude of disrespect. You can find ways to promote inter-school visits for discussion. Search for common understandings, mutual philosophies and beliefs. Again, try videotaping a discussion for broadcast to both school campuses. Talk about role models for each school. Who are they? What are their qualities? What do you have in common?

Further Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site's archives. - The New York Times - The Los Angeles Times - Time magazine - CNN - MSNBC - This site will take you to a number of online publications. - The Associated Press - The Chicago Tribune - People magazine The Washington Post The History Channel - The Miami Herald - The Close Up Foundation - ABC News - Channel One's online resource

Links Disclaimer:

The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

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