Father Raniero Cantalamessa's new book In Love with Christ is a little jewel. I shall highlight a few choice ideas.
Francis was a reformer by way of holiness, not criticism.
He spread the Gospel idea of conversion, and of penance.
Francis died to himself, which is why God could use him to renew the Church.
Little things are practice for big things.
Francis is like St. Bernard's description of a humble man. "The truly humble man is anxious not to be acclaimed for his humility, but to be reputed as vile."
Cantalamessa quotes St. Augustine, just as Garrigou-Lagrange did in Providence:
This was the gift Saint Augustine had asked of God and which he considered the height of all wisdom: "Noverim me, noverim te. Let me know myself and let me know You; let me know myself in order to humble myself, and let me know You in order to love You.
Cantalamessa also quotes St. Teresa of Avila, "I asked myself one day why the Lord love humility so much and suddenly there came to my mind, without any reflection on my part, that it must be because he is total Truth, and humility is truth."
The priest states, "God is humility because He is love." And, "But its nature love created dependence and dependence creates humility. So it is also, mysteriously, in God."
We know from the Gospels that Christ is God because of His awareness of his innocence, not found in any other creator of any religion.
Christ can only be humility, as the "Greek Fathers said, synkatabasis, that is, condescendence."
The entire town of Assisi thought Francis as "ungrateful, proud, one who would never do anything good in life."
Cantalamessa states this: "....I have tried to put into practice the advice given by an ancient desert Father, Isaac of Nineveh, to one who was obliged because of his office to speak of spiritual things which he had not yet attained in his own life: 'Speak, he said, as one who belongs to the category of disciples, and not with authority, after humbling your soul and making yourself small than any of your listeners.'"
The good priest has a lovely meditation on the first nativity scene, which I shall let you discover on your own.
However, here is one quotation: "A German scholar has seen in Francis the one who created the conditions for the birth of modern Renaissance art, in as much as it frees sacred persons and events from the stylized rigidity of the past and confers on them concreteness and life."