Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Oldenburg Franciscan Center

photo: Oldenburg Sunset

Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino

Brother Ruffino was so absorbed in God he noticed nothing external.  He seldom spoke, and even when he did, he never had a gift for speaking.  Even though this was true, one day St. Francis ordered him to preach to the people.  Ruffino, surprised, asked that another friar be sent in his place.

To this St. Francis answered, “Because you did not obey immediately, take off your mantle and habit.” (This left Ruffino in his underwear!)   “Now go to Assisi and preach to the people in the church.  Do this out of holy obedience.”

Ruffino obeyed, and when he entered the church and went to the pulpit, people laughed at him saying, “These men do such penance that they are out of their minds.”

Seeing how quickly Ruffino, one of the noblest men of Assisi, obeyed the harsh command, Francis reproached himself, saying: “How could you, a humble son of a merchant send the distinguished Ruffino to preach as if he were a madman?  You shall do the same thing you have ordered him to do.”  And immediately he took off his mantle and habit, and went to Assisi, carrying his mantle and Ruffino’s with him.  People, seeing him in his underwear, believed he and Ruffino had truly lost their minds through too much penance.

Ruffino was preaching when Francis ascended the pulpit and began to preach on holy penance, on voluntary poverty, and on the nakedness of Christ and the shame of his Passion, so that all began to weep and were edified by the action of Ruffino and St. Francis.

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If you have ever “punished” someone, and realized how out of sync that was with the insult or mistake or… (fill in the blank), you might think how Francis inflicted himself with the same punishment he doled out!

Lent is here. We are asked to find that within ourselves that hampers God’s growth in us, and resolve to erase, scrape or cut it away to make more room for God.  Don’t make the mistake of judging your worth by looking at others who have done less. Remember, of the one who has been given much, more will be required.  And let the cross of ashes put on your forehead on Ash Wednesday be a proclamation to the world that you are getting rid of anything that keeps you from fully relying on God.

Peace in your penance,

S. Sharonlu, OSF

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Take a Lenten Journey with Us!

Join the Oldenburg OSF Sisters in our upcoming Lenten series at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center:

March 1, 8, 15, 22 (Thursdays) 6:30-8pm
Lenten Series: Four Contemporary Stories of Discovering One’s Way
with Sr. Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Re-discover your call to discipleship!  During this Lenten series, we will look to four very real people who were drawn to discover and re-discover what discipleship was calling them to do.  Hearing their stories and the questions that would not let them go can prompt us to listen more closely to the call of discipleship in our own lives.  We will focus on one example per week:

March 1: Howard Thurman – a black minister, teacher, and mystic who established the first radically integrated intercultural church in the United States.

March 8: Edith Stein – a Jewish teacher, scholar, and mystic who became a Catholic and entered a Carmelite monastery.  She died in Auschwitz in 1942.

March 15: Thomas Kelly
– a Quaker teacher and seeker who discovered a mystical depth within himself and set about drawing others to their spiritual depths.

March 22: Jean Vanier
– Canadian founder of L’Arche Communities who has dedicated his life energies to creating homes and sharing life with those with developmental disabilities.

$15/session or $50 for the complete Lenten series. 
Or, come one evening and bring a friend, 2 for $25.
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

We hope to see you soon!

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One thought on “Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

  1. What a wonderful humbling but also inspiring reflection.

    “Remember, of the one who has been given much, more will be required.”

    Reading that something alighted in the core of my being. Thank you.

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