1) “Peace Prayer of Saint Francis can’t be traced further back than a French magazine published in 1912”
The so-called “Prayer of Saint Francis” (“Make me an instrument of your peace…”) is a great prayer, it’s just not from St. Francis!
2) “Believed that his followers should engage in manual labor to procure necessities. Begging always a secondary alternative”
Not quite how we always remember St. Francis.
3) “Articulated no legal or social reform program”
It’s not that legal or social reforms can’t be helpful or important; it’s just that we mustn’t think that’s what St. Francis stood for.
4) “Believed one’s most direct contact with God was in the Mass not in serving in the poor or in natural world”
As the Second Vatican Council said, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Christian life!
5) “Believed the Mass required careful preparation, use of the finest sacred vessels, and proper vestments”
Since the Mass is the “source and summit” of the Christian life, we better do it right.
6) “Very orthodox on faith and morals: friars guilty of liturgical abuses or heresy should be remanded to higher church authorities”
St. Francis was not an anti-authoritarian “hippie.” Part of his radicalism was his radical commitment to the Church.
7) “Told Sultan al-Kamil he was there to explicate the truth of the Christian faith and save the sultan’s soul. Not an interfaith dialoguer”
It’s not that interfaith dialogue can’t be helpful, but that St. Francis practiced direct evangelism, which is also necessary.
BONUS: The Supernatural Dream that Convinced the Pope to Approve the Franciscan Order
It’s hard to think of the Church without Franciscans. But it almost wasn’t so!
When Francis and his small band of followers first arrived in Rome in 1209 to seek papal approval, Pope Innocent III was skeptical. For the last few decades, the Church had been having problems with a heretical group called the Waldensians that, like the Franciscans, also preached radical poverty. Were the Franciscans also going to be a problem?
But God’s providence was at work. When they arrived, the Franciscans happened to run into Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, who was the confessor of the Pope, and he was immediately sympathetic to their cause. He convinced the reluctant pontiff to meet with the group.
After about a week, Innocent III finally agreed to give the group temporary informal approval, telling them that if their numbers continued to grow, they could return and seek official approval.
But God wasn’t done with them.
Later that year, Innocent III had an experience he wasn’t expecting: a supernatural dream about the Franciscans.
In his dream, he saw the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome – and it was falling over. But someone was standing in the breach: there was Francis, the young leader of the strange new group, and he was holding it up.
The implication was clear: the Franciscans would play a key role in supporting the papacy and the whole Catholic Church. Inspired by the dream, just about a year after their first meeting, Pope Innocent III officially recognized the new Order of Friars Minor, or the Franciscans.
And the rest is history!