How did November descend upon me so quickly? In any case, today
(Nov. 9th) is a good day to add to this because we are celebrating the
Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran - the wonderful Basilica in Rome that is considered the "Pope's Church". According to a writing on www.AmericanCatholic.org this church, St. John Lateran is the spiritual home of the people who are the Church ... It is also very important to Franciscans! A few years back I had the opportunity to visit this holy place in Rome while I was on a Franciscan Pilgrimage to Assisi and to soak in the beauty and the history that is a part of the basilica.
Fr. Roch Niemer, O.F.M. who was my pilgrimage leader writes in his book,
In the Footsteps of Francis and Clare,
"... In 1209 Francis and his first companions came to Rome to have their way of life, their dream approved. Innocent III gave verbal approval to the brothers, tonsured them and commissioned them to preach penance. This fact is so vital because if Francis had not come to Pope Innocent III there would be no Franciscan family today. For this reason St. John Lateran is also called the baptistery of the Franciscan movement, the place where the Franciscan family was born ..." And many years later in 1855 my own Community - followers of Francis - began. The picture of the stained glass was not taken in Rome, but in the Chapel of my Motherhouse where my community has so often gathered in the Franciscan tradition to pray, to share Eucharist, to celebrate, to bring the needs of our world before our good and gracious God!
Now, those thoughts are not exactly what I was going to write about, but I couldn't let the feast slip by without some comments. I also want to share with you a few reflections that came to me a couple of weeks ago. I was able to travel to the Oregon coast for a few days with two other Sisters in Community - actually the other two-thirds of the Formation team that came out from the east coast for meetings and some planning time. Believe it or not, we really were working hard during those days! In community, like in a family, it is important to go away once in awhile, to have a change of pace & spend time together ... sometimes, when there are important things to discuss, a lovely setting and salt air helps the brain to be more productive.
The first evening we were at the beach we had a beautiful sunset! Rain was predicted for the our whole time, but God is good and provided us with some sunshine. We were able to take a quick walk on the beach before the rain came in. I was taken with the seagulls. They were clustered together on the beach, pretty much all facing in the same direction~somewhat protecting one another from the impending storm. St. Francis use to preach to the birds, but this particular evening the birds were preaching to me! They spoke to me of community. Each gull was unique, but similar. They were together as a group. I have come together with others who share similar values as me and desire to work within the Church to make a difference in the world. We are all unique yet we draw strength from each other. When difficulties come we rally around one another with care and support.When I came home I found quote that I wrote down a long time ago. It was buried in a bunch of other papers. It is a good reminder for me as I share life with others .... and to all of us as we strive to build up community wherever we are.