St Francis

Yesterday on the feast of St Francis, I asked the kids in my form at school, “Who can tell me something about San Francisco de Asis?”

None of them knew anything about him, they genuinely had never heard of him!  Today while continuing to teach the story of Philip II and the Spanish Armada, we were drawing galleons and there were questions about the shapes of crosses on the sails.  I explained one of the shapes as the cross of Santiago de Compostela, and I asked them why the cross of Santiago would have been seen by the Spanish sailors as a good thing to have on their sails.  The children looked at me blankly.  I thought for one horrible moment that they must be very skilled at winding up their teachers…

“Come on!” I urged them.  “Who is the patron saint of Spain…?”

“Sant Jordi?” asked one twelve year-old fan of Barca football club, tentatively.

“No!” I cried, exasperated and obviously now losing all credibility with my class for mentioning religion at all…  “Santiago es el santo patrono de Espana, chicos!”

Oh.  So what?  Who cares?  They had no idea what a patron saint was, except it must be something to do with the church.  And that doesn’t interest them at all, just as it didn’t interest their parents, and it has no significance whatsoever in any aspect of their lives or education.  This, in once fiercely Catholic Spain.

The mission must be to speak a language people can understand or become a minority of self-serving liturgists, who selfishly rehearse their beautiful Masses in a vacuum, while the next generation has not even heard that there is a Catholic faith, nor have the basic Christian culture to know the symbolism of the messages the secular world sends them, which are often from the very devil!  The mission will be lost for as long as the “churchy” people speak their own rarified language.  Get out there, and cease the buggerall battle of the bloggers.  A waste of energy in cyberspace is just what the Father of Lies finds useful at this time!

As for me, I’ll just quietly keep telling the kids about the things nobody else thought to tell them.  Maybe their grandmothers – at least – may be glad when they hear that a teacher has mentioned to their little ones the unmentionable name of the patron saint of Spain…


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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6 Responses to St Francis

  1. joyfulpapist says:

    Rabit, I thought of you on Sunday when two of my grandchildren and I visited a petting farm that has just opened up near my town.

    Among our hosts were four charming donkeys – Holly, Molly, Polly, and George. Delightful, intelligent, and friendly!

    I trust your own field will soon contain a pair of long-eared friends to keep you company.

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Holly, Molly, Polly and George sound far more fun than Hinge and Bracket, and I’m beginning to wonder why I was ever remotely interested in debating matters concerning the church! Donkeys certainly are very intelligent and that is what I like about them. But a “petting farm”…? That sounds scary.

    Could be a radio play in it? Conversation between animals in a petting farm, after the children have gone home at the end of the day… 🙂

  3. Brother Burrito says:

    If lay Catholics may be allowed to think of themselves as ‘apostles’, then I am totally with you on the far greater importance of being apostles to the Godless, the confused, and the ‘mad’.

    Frilly vestments, arcane language and fine architecture are of little use for them, though some might be helped, I suppose.

    The preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven remains the number one priority. To me, this means imparting the knowledge of the Living, Loving, God, in the often dreadful here and now. So many people are spiritually dead, and ignorant as sin. I am only a little better off, myself, but that little has a potential to grow, and I wish to share it so.

    I salute you brother.

    Please tell me if you think I’m just another loony.

  4. cherry says:

    Querido hot cross bunny! Sorry to read of your lament on the blog (about DT debate-which I haven’t followed),…and I concur with all you say about the complete ignorance of a whole generation deprived of the glories of heroic figures of the Faith. I am in Sao Paulo, Brazil and also went to Mass on Feast of St Francis – few knew where the church was located (actually the only ‘sanctuary’ in SP), and several people didn’t know Sao Francisco de Assis! Interesting tho’ – the local parish guitar-mass was not full but I discovered the Monastery of St Benedict in SP filled to the brim with young people atttending a Gregorian sung Latin Mass…hummm!
    Blessings on you – just keep your eyes fixed on Him, He alone is your light and Truth, the rest of us just bray! Pace e bene Cherry

  5. kathleen says:

    I was a teacher and a catechist in Spain for a time. Wholeheartedly agree about the ignorance of the young in the once so Catholic Spain. But that musn’t be an excuse for us exclaim ’tis useless. Every little anecdote (like yours above) sinks into these unevangelised minds….. good luck Rabit! You certainly have a marathon challenge ahead of you.

    P.S. I left a comment of lament on your previous thread !!!

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    Thank you for that, Kathleen!

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