While President Ronald Reagan may go down in history as the Great Communicator, it’s no doubt that St. Francis could easily vie for the title.
Fact is, he probably would extensively use the Internet today to promote two causes that were close to his heart and especially timely – peace and global warming. He just might have traveled the world today – and used the Web – to blog about his travels and efforts to bring peace to Christians, Jews and Muslims, as well as raise awareness for the environment.
HNP Today was recently pointed to an entry on an Anglican Web site that read, “Francis Sure Knew How To Communicate.” The entry was posted on the site of The Third Order Society of St. Francis in Australia.
In a nutshell, the posting discusses St. Francis’ love of communication, and how he would be a big supporter of the Internet today.
Francis Communicated Whenever, Wherever
The posting, which appears as a blog by a member of the Third Order Society named Twitham, read: “If we look back over this aspect of our Franciscan heritage, it seems entirely appropriate for Franciscans to explore the Web as a means of communication. Uploading to a Web site or a blog is a simple way of reaching a potential global audience.”
Twitham continues: “Francis preached wherever he could get a pulpit. He composed prayers and songs and was one of the first to use Italian as a language for poetry.”
Roy Gasnick, founder of the Holy Name Province’s Communications Office and author of The Francis Book, agrees. “There’s been no one quite like St. Francis,” he said.
“I am interested, or rather infatuated, by the topic since one of the main objectives of my The Francis Book was precisely to present Francis as a man for all media and times — not just for the 13th and 14th centuries, but for the 20th and 21st centuries, as well,” said Roy, when HNP Today reached him by phone in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The fact that this blog is on an Anglican Web site from Australia shows his universal appeal, according to Roy. The saint is also ecumenical.
Roy told HNP Today: “The Third Order Society of St. Francis website is a publication of the Anglican Church. This is part of the Protestant branch of the Franciscan Order. They also have a First Order and a Second Order.”
The Lutherans, he added, also have similar Franciscan orders, with a community of sisters in the Southwest United States and Franciscan brothers in Canada.
Roy said his book, published in 1980, extensively discusses St. Francis’ communications style and open personality.
Francis’ Travels with the Crusaders
One example of his winning communications style is seen in his travels with the Crusaders. His friendly nature, holiness, simplicity and communication skills often opened doors to people who were otherwise off limits.
One of those instances, said Roy, was Francis’ meeting with the Sultan of Egypt during his travels with the Crusaders.
Roy recounts: “Francis jumped the lines and went across desert and into dangerous Islamic territory. If he was captured, he could have been killed right away. But Francis kept saying that he wanted to see the Sultan. He not only met with the Sultan, but spent a few months with him. During that time, the Sultan and Francis had a meeting of the minds, and talked about Islam and Christianity. The gist of it was: ‘If all Christians were like you, there would be no war between us.’ ”
Because of the good relationship Francis created, the Sultan gave Francis access to get to the Holy Land, something those particular Crusaders couldn’t accomplish.
While Franciscans recognize the global ecumenical appeal of Francis, others may not. “Francis was a doer, so he wouldn’t necessarily preach about global warming — he would be doing things about it,” added Roy,
“He wouldn’t be a reporter embedded with the troops in Iraq, he would be actively trying to stop the war at the source.”
And most probably, writing about it on his own Web site.