Tuesday, October 04, 2005

St. Francis' wardrobe issues

Happy Feast of St. Francis of Assisi!

There are two often-mentioned events in his life that concern the good Saint's clothing: the first, when he stood arguing with his father over Francis' giving of family money to the poor, and when his father demanded repayment, Francis took off all his clothes, left them in a heap before his father and ran off down the road (I believe that I've even read that he was singing with joy) to do the work of God. The second, when he lay dying, blind and suffering, he asked his friars to remove all his clothing and lay him on the bare ground to meet his Father in Heaven utterly poor and defenseless.

Both times, he used his clothing to make his point. I wonder if he was over-fond of his clothing, if he suffered from vanity? The rich clothes of his youth must have been a pleasure; that was a very dressy time in Italy. But even his ragged robe as a Franciscan could have been a source of pride to him, because it marked him out as God's man, so it too had to go at the end.

Today's first reading, Jonah 3:1-10, tells of the effect the prophet Jonah's walk through the city of Ninevah had on the king and the people:

Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he cried, "Yet forty days, and Nin'eveh shall be overthrown!"
And the people of Nin'eveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
Then tidings reached the king of Nin'eveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
And he made proclamation and published through Nin'eveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, or drink water,
but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them cry mightily to God; yea, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands.
Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?"

This is not a reading specific to the feast of St. Francis (they are from Sirach 50, Galatians 6, and Matthew 11) but it fits, doesn't it? The people gave the outward sign of their repentance by doffing their own clothes. Even the beasts were ordered to wear sackcloth!

I actually planned to shop for clothes today, truly. St. Francis, help me to make the plainer choice, to take less pleasure in plunking down the bags when I get home!


Julie D. said...

I was reading yesterday (wish I could remember where) that St. Francis' father's livelihood came from clothing. Essentially this was like an heir of Ralph Lauren casting off clothing ... a very impressive statement and one that would cut his family to the quick.

Roz said...

Oh, dear. You've done it to me again. Is it Lent already?

I've been going nuts on eBay finding great wardrobe deals. True, it's economical, and true, I've been underwardrobed. But it's gotten to the point when it feels a bit like the lust of the chase. I think it's time to take stock of where I find my delight.

Therese Z said...

I love you guys.

Julie, how cool to know that about St. Francis. It would even worse for his father.

Roz, new clothes on eBay? I didn't know that! You'll have to explain that to me. With my weight loss, I am getting awfully naked, so I'm doing some cautious intersize shopping, and eBay might be a nice source for some standards...



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