Father Francis, you were known during your life on this earth for your Joy. Even now, long after your exile here has ended, you are still known for your Joy. You are the saint who befriended all of the birds, and tamed the wolves. You are the saint who preached on the street corners to anyone and everyone. You are the one who kissed a leper.
We know and admire you for your constant happiness...yet we also know you for your suffering. You embraced Lady Poverty with a will and exuberance that I can hardly imagine. You owned nothing, not even your next meal. You suffered through many long and difficult journeys, through the desert and across the borders of nations. You struggled with scorn and ridicule and disrespect both from within and from without your own Order. And you bore the Stigmata.
In my world, Father Francis, joy and suffering--joy in suffering--is rarely heard of. We lose ourselves in a million mundane, meaningless, and even harmful things, drowning joy in happiness, and mistaking the latter for the former. We are too afraid to face the pain that must be gone through to attain true joy: the pain of self-denial, self-giving, selflessness. Little Father, please teach us your secret. Please teach us how to find joy in suffering, and through suffering, joy.