There are many people who provide examples of how to live a spiritual life. These include not only historical religious figures, but also ordinary people. They demonstrate in their everyday lives what it means to be a spiritual person.
When I heard that the new Pope decided to take on the namesake of Saint Francis, it brought back some childhood memories. I was attending Catholic school in second grade when the class went to the theater to see a movie about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. I was very captivated by the movie. I remember saying to myself, “I want to be like him.“
I did not want to be a priest or friar, rather I wanted to emulate the way he lived. I wanted to put into action his unwavering humility, selflessness, self-sacrifice and devotion to God. He accepted any and all adversities that God threw at him willingly and without complaint.
Of course at that young age, I had no idea just how hard it would be to imitate Saint Francis. Nevertheless, it became a life goal.
Below is a favorite prayer attributed to Saint Francis that I believe sums up how he looked at spiritual life. This is not a prayer just for Catholics or Christians; it is an approach to spirituality and life that can benefit all of us.
Let us pray:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Dear God, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
What really rang true to me about Saint Francis’ view of spirituality is looking past, and going beyond, oneself. He sought to attend to others without regard to his own needs. To me, the prayer above speaks volumes about what it means to be a spiritual person.
At the same time, there are many quiet, gracious, inconspicuous truly spiritual people with whom we come in contact in our everyday lives who may or may not subscribe to any particular religion. Make it a point to pay attention to what is going on around you and you will see them. We can learn much from watching them.
Doing good and helping others is second nature to them. When they see a need, they do their best to fulfill it. They do it without hesitation or having to think about it. Recognition or gain of any kind never crosses their mind even for a moment. It is who they are; they have found their spirit-self.
How wonderful it is that they have chosen to share their divine selves with us! How wonderful it will be for us to join their ranks!