December 20, 2006

Keeping It Real

It's almost a commonplace for us Franciscans to brag about how St. Francis invented the Nativity scene, or at least the live version.

But it's easy to forget about motives. He didn't do it to elicit sweet or pastoral feelings.

Francis' first biographer, Brother Thomas of Celano, quotes him:

I wish to enact the memory of the babe who was born in Bethlehem: to see as much as is possible with my own bodily eyes the discomfort of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he rested on hay.

As always, Francis works in the tangible and concrete. He desires to see with his bodily eyes what he already sees with his heart: the poverty of Christ, the poor and humble Lord of the manger and of the Cross.

(The translation from Celano's Life is from the version included in the first volume of this series, which I recommend to all.)


Rashfriar said...

Peace! A good reminder. The thing I've always thought is that by having real animals in a small space, with straw spread around, is that the smell would be anything but light and homey. A good reminder of what Jesus put up with to be with us. God bless. (I like the new icon)

Brother Charles said...

Good to hear from you, Rashfriar; peace and good tidings to you this Christmas!

Liam said...

That's a very good point -- and it is another example of people mistakingly thinking of the intense and challenging St Francis as only sweet and sentimental.

I have heard that series of books is very good, and I have it on my list.

Pilgrim Padre said...

And to think that this discomfort was out of His great love for us...! Merry Christmas.