Friday, October 15, 2010

Peace ... Let it grow!

I had hoped to write a quick post on Monday or Tuesday, but it didn't happen ...ohhh, those good intentions of mine!
So here I am at Friday! This morning when I went for my walk I saw a sticker in the back window of a parked car similar to the picture I recreated here (isn't technology with the Internet and clip art great!). I know I have seen the sticker on this car before, but this morning I read the words that were next to the PEACE symbol ..."Let it grow". It is funny how things get mi
ssed and then all of a sudden, something strikes you. That struck me this morning! It started me thinking, in a prayerful sort of way, that when we have peace in our hearts, peace in our neighborhoods, peace in our world, it can be like beautiful flowers growing - they bring refreshment, hope and delight to the weary spirit, and ... how we need to nourish the soil of our own hearts and that of each other to bring about those blossoms of peace. Prayer, scripture and a life in God is the living water that helps to do that. Really, wasn't that part of the mission of St. Francis' life?!? Think of the peace prayer we so often pray and sing! St. Francis probably didn't write those exact words, but they definitely embody his thought and belief.

With all that in mind, I also want to mention two great people our Church honors this week. Monday, October 11th was the Memorial feast of Pope John XXIII. It was on that day in 1962 that he convened the Second Vatican Council. Since he is a man I really admire for many reasons, it was a delight for me to be reminded on Monday at prayer time that he belonged to the Secular Franciscan Order. In his "Journal of a Soul", John XXIII wrote: "My Soul is open before you. Like a blank sheet of paper. Write on it what you will. O Lord: I am yours." After reading a biography of his life a couple of years ago it is very clear that he lived those words! God surely used this kind, wise and compassionate man to make a difference in our world and in the Church.
And, today, is the Feast of Teresa of Avila (1550-1582)
- a Carmelite Nun, saint and doctor of the Church. She was indeed a woman of prayer as well as insight and wisdom whose spirit still inspires people today.

Another significant event I want to mention before I sign off is a wonderful gathering I was a part of last weekend. About 25 of our Sisters gathered her
e in the Portland area (one of many such gatherings being held throughout the country) at our Franciscan Spiritual Center for an all day meeting with members of our Leadership who were in town. It was great day of prayer, sharing and dialogue about our life together as Sisters of St. Francis. Our day concluded with a beautiful prayer ritual in which we each received our new Constitution - the way of life that we follow. After much work to revise the Constitutions we had for over 25 years, it was exciting to receive this finished and beautiful document! Some of the concluding words of the Constitution are: "Inspired by thespirit of Francis and Clare of Assisi and our foundress Mother Francis Bachmann, we seek to follow Jesus Christ, who chose to be poor, and Mary, his Mother, by faithfully living the principles and practices set forth in our constitutions." Words for me that are both blessing and challenge as I strive to live my vocation daily.

So, for me and for you, may Jesus, the Prince of Peace be at the core of all of our lives!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy St. Francis Day!

October 4th .... Today we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi! A grand day to celebrate, so, Happy St. Francis Day!

In my office I have a Marvel Comic book on the life a St. Francis titled "FRANCIS, Brother of the Universe" ... and isn't that so true!
Born, Francesco Bernadone (1181-1226), more books
have been written about St. Francis than about any other saint. He is the patron saint of peace, the patron saint of ecology, the patron saint of Italy and the patron saint of animals (so says my Marvel comic book), but more importantly he was a true man of God and of the Gospel! Francis "got it" - he was passionate about his relationship with Christ, passionate about life and was true "brother" to all he met. Of course he wasn't born that way, but allowed God to work in and through him over time. So, today, as the Franciscan that I am, I celebrate and honor my brother Francis! I am working a bit today, but want to get home early to meet up with the Sisters I live with as we have a nice evening planned with a special dinner and prayers to celebrate!
Actually, my celebrating started over the weekend ... I traveled to Spokane WA where about 20 Sisters of St. Francis gathered for a special ceremony Sunday honoring our Sisters for 120 years of "Humanitarian Service" in Eastern Washington. In an old section of a cemetery in Spokane eight Franciscan Sisters were buried there in the early 1900s. These were pioneering women who journeyed west from Philadelphia establishing schools, an orphanage (St. Joseph Orphanage which is now St. Joseph Family Center & continues the helping and healing ministry) and also helped give service to the people in the area including tireless effort helping the Red Cross during the time of a terrible influenza epidemic. The ceremony included a bagpiper, a few good stories of these courageous women, a proclamation from the Mayor of Spokane, and the reception of a beautiful plaque from the American Red Cross. I feel proud to be part of such a beautiful legacy! I was touched by the stories and remembering, and am challenged by the fortitude, strength and self-giving witness of these early Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia! They indeed were true followers of St. Francis! It was a wonderful day and a fine way to usher in the feast day! I am sure he never could have imagined the Franciscan Movement that grew and has developed throughout the world that includes the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Saint Clare (Poor Clares) and the Order of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (Third Order Regular which my Congregation is included in, and Secular Franciscan Order). Yeah, Francis! And so, I pray ..."O God, in your servant Francis you have given the world a true disciple of Jesus. Guide us who follow Francis (and all good men and women)to witness faithfully to the living Gospel and to bring compassion and joy to the world." ~ Morning Praise , Oct.4, Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise Prayer book