Tag Archives: friends

Morning Thoughts: Saint Francis for 4-year-olds (and you and me)



“Saint Francis of Assisi”, coloring book page, colored by a “4-year-old”


(My wife teaches 4-year-olds in a Catholic elementary school. The school’s patron saint is Saint Francis. They call this week “Saint Francis Week” and hold various events throughout the week to celebrate the feast of this great saint (Oct. 4th). My wife and her co-teacher were looking for a short, simple biography that would be appropriate for their 4-year-old students. They didn’t find anything that seemed to be the right fit. So here’s what I jotted down for their pre-K-4 class. The kids really seemed to enjoy it. Maybe you will too. Let us “become like little children”.)


Saint Francis, a Knight for God


There once was a young man. He lived in a land called Italy. He lived a very long time ago. He lived over 800 hundred years ago!

He lived with his family in a small city named Assisi.

The young man was quite silly. He loved to dream and he loved to sing and he loved to dance. He loved to play with his friends all day long.

The young man’s name was Francis.

His father wanted Francis to be more serious. His father wanted Francis to be just like him. He wanted him to sell expensive fabric to people who were very rich. Fabric is what you use to make pretty things like curtains, tablecloths, and clothes.

Francis’ father wanted him to work in the family shop. But Francis was not very interested in that kind of work. Francis wanted to be a great knight!

And one day Francis went off to do just that.

Francis went off to become a knight. He began to travel to another city where he would fight with a sword and a shield. Francis thought that he would become a great hero.

But on his way Francis got very sick. He had to return to his home. His mother took care of him. And while Francis was getting better he began to dream of different adventures.

He began to spend a lot of time walking around the woods and looking at the flowers and at the trees. He began to watch closely all the animals, especially the birds that flew high up into the sky. Francis began to think a lot about God!

Francis began to dream about heaven. He began to wonder about love. He saw that there was another kind of knight!

Francis decided that he would be a knight for God.

Francis wanted Jesus to be his king and for Mary to be his queen.

Francis no longer wanted to use a sword or a shield. No, Francis wanted to teach all the world how to love. Francis wanted to sing and dance and show everyone how be more like Jesus.

He began to live very simply. He had very few things. His only clothing was an old brown robe. He lived almost like a little animal in the forest. Francis was very free. Francis was filled with joy. He was very happy.

And soon many other young men came to join him. They too wanted to be knights for God. They all lived together. They called each other brother. They shared all they had. They were kind to each other. They loved God together.

And one day, even a young lady wanted to join. She brought other ladies and they started a home of their own. They called each other sister. That young lady’s name was Clare.

A new type of family was beginning to grow. A family who lives very much like Jesus. We call them Franciscans.

We now call that young man, Saint Francis. We now call that young lady, Saint Clare.

Saint Francis and Saint Clare are now in heaven with Jesus and Mary and all the holy angels and saints. They live in perfect peace with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. They see us right now. They pray for us too.

Hey, who knows, maybe one day a few of you boys and girls may become knights and ladies of God, like our patron saints, Saint Francis and Saint Clare!


—Howard Hain


Communion with Saints

by Howard Hain


A man named Paul lives in my home.

He’s an excellent house guest.

He never imposes.

He’s never and always alone.

My daughter and I talk of him often.

He brings wisdom to our kitchen table.

I’m not exactly sure when he moved in.

But it wasn’t so long ago.

Before and with him there are others.

Theresa, Francis, Bruno, John…just to name a few.

But Paul for some reason never seems to leave.

The others, they kind of come and go.

Paul on the other hand always hangs around.

But then again, I could say the same about the rest.

Is it cliché to say it’s a mystery?


Walking Into Heaven

by Howard Hain

Rembrandt, “Philosopher in Meditation”, 1632, (Musée du Louvre)

Dream big.

Think small.

Step by step.

Real growth is incremental.

Reaching toward a glory beyond our reckoning.



The Paralyzed Man

We need to engage our faith and its stories in an imaginative way. It’s not enough to leave our faith to the experts. Like anything important,  faith should engage our minds and hearts and imaginations.

Our gospel story for today, for example,  begs us to think about it. Have you every thought about the poor fellow who’s paralyzed and was brought to Jesus for help?

How did it happen, you wonder? Was he a fishermen there in Caphernau,  and one day his wife tells him there’s a leak in the roof. So he gets a rickety ladder and climbs up. The ladder gives way and he fall fifteen feet unto the dark basalt rock below. Caphernaum was built on that.

He can’t get up; he can’t move. Some of his friends come. Nothing they can do, so they take him into his house to his wife and kids,  and that’s where he lay helpless–who knows how long?

It’s a tough thing to lie on your back and can’t move. It has to wear your spirits down.

Then, Jesus comes to live in Peter’s house in Caphernaum. And the man’s friends–thank God for friends like this–come and pick him up and take him there, because they hear that Jesus can cure you.

But they can’t get near the place; it’s jammed with people. So they pull him up to the roof. Did he say “This is the last place I want to go.” And they cut a hole in the roof large enough to lower the poor man down, right to Jesus’ feet.

“Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus says to him. “I’m taking away the cold darkness freezing your soul… Get up and take up your mat and go home.”

And the man went home. He must have put his arms around his wife and his family. She probably told him never to go up on a ladder again. We never hear about him after this.
Like so many in the gospels, he’s a sign that God wishes to heal what’s broken in our world.

So his story makes us hope for the paralysis we see maybe in ourselves, maybe in our world so often frozen in its inability to bring about peace and justice. Like the friends of the paralyzed man, we bring our paralyzed world to the feet of Jesus, that he bring life to our souls and bodies. The Lord is here as he was there.

I  wonder, too, about Peter–the miracle took place in his house. His life was certainly changed when Jesus came to live with him. All those people at his door.  After the man left,  I wonder if Peter looked at his roof and asked “Who’s going to put that back?”

But that’s for another day.