Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flat St. Francis Got in my Face

I admit that when it came time to pick a confirmation name I didn't really understand the significance of choosing a saint role-model for life. It's rare to find a Catholic teenager who grasps the importance of confirmation as a sacrament. I picked the name of one of my paternal great grandmothers- Frances-otherwise known as Nana- and I remember how scared I was (at 16 years-old) standing on line in church waiting to tell the bishop my chosen name as he slathered oil on my forehead.

To my surprise, the very solemn holy man wearing the tallest hat I'd ever seen, and some seriously celebratory threads, shook his head in approval when I told him, saying, "St. Francis? Good choice!"

I remember walking back to my seat in relief, not certain as to what just transpired as a result of the ceremony, but knowing that it had something to do with invisible fire and doves. I also wasn't sure which saint the bishop was referring to- and I suspected that his own name was Frances- but I knew there were several holy men and women throughout history who shared that name with variations in the spelling. 
Over time the saint I flippantly assigned to my soul at confirmation chose unexpected moments to step forward and give me signs. It was St. Francis de Sales who led me back to my faith after I had bought a home in a new town and had grown lazy in regard to going to Mass. Shortly after I knocked on the door of the church bearing his name down the road from my house I left with the exciting responsibility of leading a program that would help to strengthen teens spirituality.

This is me at work asking flat St. Francis to intercede on my behalf so that God might send me a new Mac.

Later, discovering that St. Francis de Sales is the "patron saint of writers" helped me have the courage to step away from a very secure teaching career and into a field that I was never formally trained to enter: journalism. I decided that my confirmation saint was signaling me to take a risk.

Most recently I had forgotten about St. Francis's life and his great work leading people to the faith, until I was charged with allowing a flat version of him to shadow me all week as part of a religion class project for my daughter. It was while I was reading the story of his life to a room full of six year-olds that I realized that my confirmation saint was calling me back to my parish between the lines.
"During his lifetime in the 1500's, many people had strayed from the church. St. Francis walked so many miles to draw people to the faith that his feet bled," I read aloud to my daughter and her wide-eyed religion classmates who were seated Indian-style on a bright red rectangular carpet.

However, the most prominent sign came literally, in paper form, as I carried a drawing of St. Francis around with me this week.  I think it was sometime today, deadline day, and coincidentally, St. Francis' feast day, that I started talking to my holy cartoon friend. Stuck in the middle of writing an article on a tax cap survey, I found myself staring at the perpetual smirk drawn on his face in black marker. Flat St. Francis was taped to the top of my computer monitor. I was avoiding my work by eating a chicken salad sandwich and day-dreaming about St. Francis walking until his feet bled to spread the word of God when I suddenly thought that maybe there was still room for me and my spiritual turmoil in God's house. Flat St. Francis seemed so persistent. So I gave in and promised the drawing that I would address my faith journey with a fresh perspective. I'd go back to Mass at my home parish this Sunday.  

"Just stop staring at me, alright," I told him, aloud, knowing that everyone within earshot is used to hearing me to talk to paper on deadline day.

1 comment:

Putz said...

ya, you do need a new big mac for your work<>><<>love those burgers<<>><

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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