From the Publisher
Toward the end of his life, Francis of Assisi endured what can only be described as a time of great desolation and despair. His physical health was failing; the Order he had founded was moving away from his original ideals of simplicity and poverty; his mission to the Muslims had fizzled out; and several of his oldest and dearest companions had deserted him. It's not unreasonable to suppose that Francis also felt himself deserted by God. This sense of utter abandonment may not fit the hagiographies, but it sure makes psychological sense.
Franciscan Eloi Leclerc takes this time of abandonment as his starting place for this elegant and insightful meditation. The book is an imaginative reconstruction but one that's based on contemporary texts, of the struggles that Francis went through during his years of doubt and despair. Leclerc doesn't offer ready-made solutions or sweetly pious recipes. One of the great merits of this book is that he takes Francis' despair seriously. Ultimately, however, he also takes Francis' breakthrough moment seriously: the moment when Francis has the revelatory realization that, bad as life can get, "Deus est."
I've thought about this simple claim"God is"many times since reading this little book. On the surface, it may seem anti-climactic. But as Leclerc presents it, there's a great deal of wisdom in being able to make and live the assertion. It may be that there's more theology embedded in the simple affirmation "Deus est" than in all the world's books.
Read an Excerpt
Leaving the dusty road and the broiling sun under which they had trudged for hours, Brother Francis and Brother Leo followed a narrow path which led through the woods toward the mountain. They proceeded painfully for both were weary. Their heavy robes of brown sackcloth had been unbearably warm in the full sun and nowhow they did welcome the shadows which fell from the beech trees and the oaks!
The narrow ravine rose sharply and their awareness of every step was intensified by the rough pebbles under their bare feet.
At one point where the slope became quite steep, Francis stopped and sighed. His companion, a few feet ahead, stopped too, and turning toward him asked in a voice filled with respect and affection, "Shall we rest here for a moment, Father?"