St. Francis of Assisi is an iconic saint whose life and spirit animate persons of every faith and background. Since the election of Pope Francis in March 2013, devotion to St. Francis of Assisi has soared worldwide. In addition, the words and actions of Pope Francis, especially with his simple manner of life and constant outreach to the poor, give us immediate insight into the life and spirit of St. Francis. Going further, Pope Francis’ ready smile and gentle caress of those Jesus called “the least” invite us to similar gestures of service and friendship to “the poor” we know and meet — at home, in school, at work, at the mall, wherever there is need.

What do such concrete gestures of  service and friendship look like in my life? What steps do I take personally to “bear the brand marks of Jesus” in my daily routine? Precisely how am I “for” and “with” the poor?  On this special feast day, may St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis give us courage to “boast in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team