Sunday, December 31, 2006

And Dwelt Among Us

Peace! Blessings on this feast of the Holy Family. A thought struck me in the Gospel today: Luke tells us that Jesus went back to Nazareth and was obedient to Mary and Joseph, and that Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Part of the dynamics of family is that all the members learn from each other. So Jesus, as a human being, learned from Mary and Joseph, and they, of course, learned from him.
Francis of Assisi learned from his family, in both positive and negative ways. He learned about the faith, about life, about perseverence and courage from his father and mother. He also learned about the power of greed and acquiesence to wrong. I hope, also, that his family learned from him. It's easy to think that his mother did. But perhaps Pietro di Bernardone did, too.
This feast reminds us that God is the ultimate foundation and hope of any family, and that the Holy Spirit can work within any family dynamics, both the most beautiful and the most dysfunctional. Thank God for that.
Holy Jesus, Savior, help us in our struggles to love. Mother Mary, St. Joseph, guide and help us on the way.
God bless you all. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Seeing and Not Seeing

Peace! Happy Feast of St. John the Evangelist. The readings today talk about seeing. The First Letter of John talks about what "our eyes have seen." The Word of Life made visible. Yet, the Gospel says that the beloved disciple "saw and believed." But he believed because of what he didn't see: no body, no visible presence of the Lord Jesus, only a few pieces of cloth lying around. The Lord tells us through John that the Word was God, from all eternity, yet in time became visible. That dynamic of seeing and not seeing is part of our spiritual journey. There are times when God's presence is clearly visible, clearly discernible. Then, there are times when God seems hidden, obscure, or even completely absent. Faith calls us to believe even when we do not see; to love even when we do not feel love.
This was the secret of St. Francis, to believe in God's presence even in those places where it does not seem to be, or even be possible. He learned that from his encounter with the leper. He never would have imagined that God could be present in a diseased and shunned leper. Yet, in a leper he encountered a "sweetness of body and soul" which could only come from God.
We ask St. John to help us to believe in the Word of Life made visible, that with him, with Our Lady and Francis and all the saints, we may continue to walk by faith and believe He is with us.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

When the Snow Hung Round about...

Peace! Happy Feast of St. Stephen. I pray everyone had a blessed beginning of this wonderful Christmas Feast! I recall that at the death of St. Francis the bells of the little Church of St. Stephen in Assisi began to ring. One Christlike person receving another. Thank you God for them both. God bless!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

How Small He Became

The Gospel of this Fourth Sunday of Advent (which is also the entire fourth week of Advent) recounts the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized the great work that God was carrying out in Mary. An important point is how she came to know this. What was the sign that pointed it out? It wasn't anything big or spectacular. Mary was not bathed in a heavenly light, or arrayed in gold and silver, or preceded by a fanfare of angelic trumpets. Rather, Elizabeth felt the baby move within her, leap for joy at God's presence and the fulfillment of the promise. How often in the history of the world has a baby kicked within the womb? How normal, uneventful, small such a thing is in the scheme of world history. And yet, it was through such a small thing that God opened Elizabeth's heart to reveal to her the great mystery present in her young cousin coming to visit. This reveals to us so much of what the Incarnation is all about. And calls us to remember what Christmas means. I don't think we should waste our time or energy railing against the commercialism or glitter or political correctness battles. Rather, we should take time to listen to God speaking in the midst of it all in the seemingly ordinary and small things.
That, I think, was one of the great secrets of St. Francis. He looked for God in the small things of every day. In the stars and the sun, in the lepers and the poor, the prelates and the rich, in the daily joys and sorrows. And Christmas for him was a reminder that God was there in all those things.
Where did he learn that? From Mary, who teaches us to pay attention, to ponder these things in our hearts, and to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.
Merry Christmas! Blessings and Peace always!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christ our Key

The Key

Peace and Good! I love the “O” Antiphons used during these later Advent days, approaching Christmas. Sunday we hailed Christ as the Wisdom of God, Monday as Adonai, the Lord of Hosts, and yesterday as the Root of Jesse (Radix Jesse). Today we send our plea for redemption to the Clavis David, Key of David.
The preacher at mass today made a great point. He said that when we think of a key, we usually think of a door or gate, being locked or unlocked. But the word also has another meaning: that which guides interpretation, as a key to a map. And that truly applies, for it is Jesus Christ who is the key to understanding life, the universe, and everything. The universe is there before us, but we need a key, a vision and way of understanding to make it intelligible. Which is why the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, that we might see the glory of God and know what it is we are beholding.
I think this is what Francis encountered in Jesus: the one who made sense out of his world. And I pray He will help all of us as our key, opening for us the magnificent vision and teaching us the truth: God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son. God bless you!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our Lady of Guadalupe, leading us to Jesus

Paz y Bien! I have always been moved by the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I visited the Basilica last August and was very touched in seeing both the image itself, and the faith of the people who were there with me. Our faith tells us God uses the Virgin Mary to bring Christ into this world, both in the Incarnation and in its continuation in the Church. St. Francis called Mary, "The Virgin Made Church." There is no competition between Jesus and His Mother. No one can really be devoted to her without listening to her words, "Do whatever He tells you."
One fact about the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: she wears the symbols of a pregnant woman. Which means that when one gazes on that image, one is in fact gazing not just at her, but at her Son, Jesus. Mother, help all peoples to come to know and love your Son, and with you to serve Him in our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need.
(By the way, this image is a photo I took of the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. She really is world-wide!)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Clay God uses: Saint Andrew

Peace and Good! I have always admired St. Andrew. The gospels show us a man with a generous heart and a willing faith. St. John tells us that, at the multiplication of the loaves, he was the one who presented the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus. He did say, "But what good is that for so many?" Yet, he had enough faith to present those small resources, and trusted Jesus could do something with them. We all know how small sometimes our gifts seem, and how little they seem in the face of the needs of the world. But Andrew can tell us: Bring them to the Lord. You never know what he can do with them! God bless us all!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanks to God/Buying and Selling

Peace and Good! I have been ill, even in the hospital, but am better,thanks be to God and His gift of modern medicine. I will reflect more on the whole experience soon. I also ask prayers for my Aunt Annette who died last Sunday. Her funeral mass is tomorrow morning.
One quick thought of the day: how interesting, to have Jesus overturning the money changers on the day called "Black Friday" because it so focuses on buying and selling! Not that Jesus was against business; he uses images of merchants and economics in some of the parables. But he was concerned always about priorities: that we remember what is what and why. Economics are to serve the good of people, not the other way around. And of course, it should serve ideally to help us love and praise God. But we forget so easily. I think that's what so motivated Francis. He knew the life of a merchant, he knew the power of money and wealth. And he knew how it could be so easily abused, turning things upside down. He experienced how his own father had chosen money, possessions and all to his own son. May the Lord help us, like Francis, to value things with their true value and keep our priorities. God bless!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Peace and Good! A Franciscan Friar today shared at mass about the conditions for Christians in the Holy Land. He talked about one young woman who, after obtaining a theology degree in the United States, returned to her native Bethlehem to teach the children the faith. It's a hard life there now, especially for the Christian population. One thing she mentioned as being particularly hard is seeing the wall go up, the wall the Israeli government is erecting around the town, making it feel like living in a prison.
It just made me wonder: how effective are walls? How well did the Great Wall of China work, or Hadrian's Wall? More importantly, how do they help make the world better?
I remember Francis, answering the bishop of Assisi, who wanted the friars to have possessions. "If we have possessions," he replied, "we would need walls to guard them and weapons to protect them."
Walls may work in one way, but do they help us to "love God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves"? Robert Frost quoted the proverb: "Good walls make good neighbors." But do they make loving neighbors?
I pray God will help us tear down the walls in our hearts so that one day, in His grace, we will live in a world where no walls are needed, except maybe to sit on while we eat an ice cream cone!
God bless and keep you!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Clay God Uses: Martin de Porres and Charles Borromeo

Peace and Good! These are two saints who amaze me, as much for what they didn’t do as what they did. They both had reason to walk another path, and yet both heeded the Gospel and walked in the way of the Lord, though in very different circumstances and places.
Martin de Porres had every reason to be a bitter man. He was treated badly by his father, looked down upon as someone illegitimate and of mixed race. When he joined the Dominicans he was kept for several years from becoming a full member because of prejudice. Yet, rather than becoming a bitter man consumed by anger, he used these circumstances to open his heart in compassion to others and obedience to God’s grace. He like Francis, was known to extend his kindness even to the smallest creatures, feeding the mice who plagued the priory rather than killing them. I think of the story of Francis telling someone who was bitter against injustices done against him that such bitterness would only bring about the only true loss, loss of his soul. Martin, by God’s grace, shows us that such bitterness is not the only way to cope with life’s disappointments and unfairness.
Charles Borromeo had the opposite. His was a life of privilege and wealth, full of palaces and power. He was related to the Medici family, and had relatives who were cardinals and even popes. This brought him position and privilege. He could have forgotten all about God and the good of others and put his energy into the politics of that era, both secular and ecclesiastical, and done quite well. But, again by the grace of God, he did not see what he had as being something he should use for himself, but that he should give himself to the love of God and others. He became a model archbishop and true Christian pastor. He used his gifts for others and thus turned worldly advantage into true discipleship.
Both these saints show us that there is no limit to what God can do, nor any particular type of person who can be a saint. Francis told us never to despise or look down on others. I think it was because he knew how powerful the grace of God could be, and how God often chooses the most unlikely instruments. He felt that he himself was an example of this, and he was right. Who would have thought that the party boy, spoiled son of a merchant, would ever amount to anything in the sight of God.
Francis, Charles, Martin: pray for us, that we too may emerge from whatever we’ve experienced in life, that with the grace of God we may be His instruments, his saints.
God bless!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bartimaeus Sets the Pace

“And they should be glad when they live among the poor and the powerless, the sick and the lepers and the beggars on the side of the road.” So St. Francis told his brothers. I think that Francis says this not just so that the brothers will learn to be compassionate and generous with those in need. More importantly, Francis is urging them to open themselves to learn the ways of God from those who often know them best: the poor, the blind, the lame.
In the last Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:46-52), of all the crowd that follows Jesus, it is the poor, blind beggar Bartimaeus who shows most clearly what it means to have faith. The crowd only looked at him as a nuisance and tried to shut him up; then as an object of pity, telling him not to be afraid. Bartimaeus was not intimidated or distracted by them: he kept yelling until he was heard by Jesus, and then leapt to his feet when Jesus responded and called him. He even left behind the only little bit of security he had in the world: his cloak. And when Bartimaeus receives what he thought was most important, his sight, he uses it to do what he discovers is even more important: following Jesus down the road. Thank God he didn’t listen to the crowd and shut up, content to let Jesus go by without making any waves. Rather, Bartimaeus was called to show to all that crowd, and to us, what it means to have faith.
Such faith reminds us that we never know through whom God is going to speak, so we have to learn how to listen well. And Francis said that this begins with the poor and the lepers and those who live by the side of the road. They can teach us what real faith and perseverance is.
I have experienced this in my life, though I always need to be reminded of it. I found that it is good to reflect also on what we heard from the prophet Jeremiah in Sunday’s first reading. The Lord through the prophet says that he will lead the people: “Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child.” The pace of any group is set by the slowest members. Yet, right in the middle God will place the blind and the lame, the mothers and those with child. Those who are least able for the journey are set in the middle, not only to be protected, but also to set the pace! We are usually inclined to see anyone who holds us back or slows us down as a nuisance and a hindrance, just as the crowd considered that annoying blind beggar, Bartimaeus. Yet, by the grace of God and the persistence of his faith, he set the pace.
God tells us: My ways are not your ways. I pray that with Francis we can learn to leave our ways behind and, like Bartimaeus, walk in His ways, following Him down the road.
Peace and Good!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Music Musing

Peace and Good!
The power of music. Once Francis was ill and asked a brother to play him some music to help him through. The brother demurred, not thinking it fitting. Later Francis heard music, as if played by an angel on a heavenly violin. It helped him in his suffering and revealed yet another aspect of God’s compassionate love for us.
In the last two days I have had two experiences with music which have made me reflect on its power. Last night, I had a classical music station playing as I finished up some work. At first it was just background sound, but suddenly something plucked at me and I started listening to it. I could not tell you whose work it was (I’m not great at recognizing composers), but I only know that its beauty and power suddenly touched my heart and led me to stop and listen and enter into it. I thanked the Lord for that moment, and the gift of the composer, as well as the musicians, who cooperated with the Holy Spirit to express such beauty.
Today, after finishing my swim, I entered the locker room. Someone was playing some rap song or other (I really couldn’t tell you who composed that). I noticed right away that that music made me uneasy, and I hurried to get changed and get out of there. I don’t know how the others there were affected by it. I’ve been there before when such music was playing and, although I’ve never liked it, this was the first time I noticed its effect on me.
In neither case did I set out to listen to music and make a judgment about it, but both times I noticed how it affected me, both positively and negatively. Two things came to me from this.
Firstly, it is important what kind of ‘music’ we allow into our lives. We have to realize the way various things can affect us, and make our choices accordingly. Francis let the music of the Scriptures and Sacraments, love of God and of others, as well as the rhythms and beauties of creation, fill the ears of his heart and lead him to the one who is Beauty and Harmony itself. So it shouldn’t be strange that he heard angelic music that night as he lay suffering. He trained himself, or better, let the Spirit train him, to listen and truly hear such music.
Besides this, however, it’s also important to ask what kind of ‘music’ I am playing for others. My life affects others, by its harmonies and its disharmonies. My words and my actions, my attitudes and decisions, produce a certain quality of music. Francis realized that his life was lived not in splendid isolation but in the midst of God’s world, and that what he did, how he lived in that world, was important. So he also tried to produce for God as beautiful song as he could, even when that meant rubbing two twigs together and weeping for the passion of Jesus Christ. The music of his life still reverberates, even in the blogosphere!
So, Lord, this day I thank you for lovely music and ask that I may learn to listen to your angelic viols and take my own part in the divine symphony you conduct each day. Francis, my brother, teach us how to listen to and play the music of the Gospels, with Jesus as composer, conductor, and orchestra member. Amen.
God bless you all!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Brother Wind and Sister Leaves

Peace! I have always wondered about the interaction of grace and nature, especially in regard to becoming holy. St. Francis has always taught me that all good comes from God (which he got, of course, from Jesus!), and so all is gift. And yet, we have to strive and expend our effort. And although I’ve heard people quote St. Teresa of Avila, “Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you,” I’ve still wondered how the two could work together.
God gave me a glimmer of an answer yesterday. I was walking home on an afternoon marked both by the beautiful light which speaks the joy of autumn and the blustery winds which announce the coming of winter. Then, another mark of autumn also caught my attention: the leaves falling from the trees, and being moved all around by the wind. I’ve always thought of it as a dance, a dance of the leaves, and loved to watch it happen.
Yesterday it came to me that there are two things which help produce the way this dance happens: the wind that blows and moves the leaves, and the shape of the leaves themselves, which affects how the wind moves them. Now obviously the wind is the major factor, for without the force of it the dance would not happen. Yet, the shape of the leaves does contribute to their motion as they are moved by that wind. They dance in the wind as they are formed, and respond to its impulse because of what they are.
So maybe the Holy Spirit, the force that makes us holy, is that wind (not an original idea, I know; it’s been said before), and without that wind nothing can happen. The wind blows where it will. Yet, the shape of each leaf is also part of the equation, both for the dance of the individual leaf and of the whole dance of creation. So it matters for each of us and for all the way we let ourselves be formed, the shape that we take. That shape affects our part in the dance, and so it matters what we do, how we live.
Thank God for the dance of the leaves, and the dance of our lives, for his wind that blows invisible and yet irresistable. May we learn to love that wind and the dance it calls us to dance.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

St. Teresa

Peace and Good! Although her feast is not liturgically celebrated today, it was good to pray to Teresa and honor her memory. Her story is so different from Francis of Assisi, yet they were alike in ways too. But I like best her bookmark: Nada te turbe, nada te espante, quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta. Solo Dios Basta (Let nothing disturb you, nothing affright you, whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices). God bless!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Conversion: Go and Do Likewise

Peace and Good!
I’ve added a subtitle to my blog name, recognizing something I think is important. In regard to Francis of Assisi, hard and fast dates for his early life are hard to come by. He was probably born 1181 or 1182. We have a foundation date for the Franciscan Order of 1209, and his death, of course, was the evening of October 3, 1226 (the evening being counted as part of the following day, hence his feast on October 4). Most agree that his process of conversion began sometime in 1206 or 1207. So we are in the midst, most likely, of the 800th anniversary of his conversion, which I think just as significant, if not more so, than the 8th centennary of his birth or of the founding of the Franciscan Order. I am urging all Franciscans I know to mark this anniversary, most appropriately by seeking our own ongoing conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Regarding his own conversion, it was a process, but Francis picked out his encounter with lepers as signally important. “It was bitter for me to see lepers,” he says, “but the Lord led me among them, and what was bitterness was changed into sweetness of body and soul.” In the biographies we have the story as Francis meeting a leper on the road, overcoming his initial repulsion, and helping and embracing the leper. This led Francis to realize that the sweetness of life, the sweetness of God, which he had been seeking and which eluded him in both war and commerce as well as parties and praise, was to be found when he reached out in compassion, just as Jesus had done, especially in the first chapter of Mark.
I think this so much reveals to us some of the meaning of the gospel of today’s mass, the parable of the Good Samaritan. I always notice that Jesus does not, in fact, answer the doctor’s question: “Who is my neighbor?” Rather, he puts it: “Who was neighbor to the man beaten by robbers?” Many are people are frustrated and scandalized in reading the Gospel ideals and then seeing the way things are in the world, even among Christians. But Jesus’ message is not to sit back and wait to be treated like neighbors, but to be neighbors. “Go and do the same.” In opening ourselves in compassion and acting on it we can enter into the mystery of salvation offered by Jesus, who was the one who was so moved by compassion that he came and dwelt among us.
We friars have to remember we are not called to join a community, we are called to create community, to learn how to be brothers. That is the call of all Franciscans, if we would follow Francis’ example. Concentrate on being brothers and sisters, being neighbors, acting with compassion. It’s a struggle, and can be painful, and even lonely at times. That’s what Francis found, in the footprints of Jesus Christ. But as his Master, he also tells us: “It’s worth it.”
So I hope not to merely reflect on Francis’ conversion, but to be open to my own, in the Lord. God bless!
(BTW, I could only find images of Francis already in the habit doing this. Does anyone know of an image of the Francis ‘of the world’ embracing the leper?)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Our Lady of the Rosary

Peace and good! This may be a 'politically incorrect' feast these days, in that it was established as a thanksgiving for the victory of the West over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. But again, it celebrates the fact that what we do in this world matters and that God cares about what goes on. And what a way to remember that: to pray rhythmically the beautiful scriptural prayers so that we can do what Our Lady did: ponder the deeds of the Lord in our hearts. Francis' devotion to her was great, and it always led him to consider her in relationship to God, specifically to the Holy Trinity. One of his prayers says of her: "You are the one...chosen by the Most Holy Father in heaven, whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son, and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete..." She leads us into the very heart of God! Thank you, Mother. May God bless and keep you all!

Friday, October 06, 2006


Just wanted to share this image that Francis himself drew. God bless!

The Power of the Word

As a pilgrim to the Holy Land, I visited the ruins of Capernuam. As the bus drove down the road, our guide pointed to a grass-covered mound and was told, "That's where Corazin was. On the other side of the road you'll see the site of Bethsaida."
Then I remembered the Gospel words of Jesus, heard at mass this morning:
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, 'Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.'"
I wonder if Francis thought of these words when he roamed the Holy Land? He learned to believe in the real power of the words of Jesus, which is why he tried to put those words into practice in his life. It's a good thing to meditate on, and return to the Word. Pax et Bonum!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why after him?

I thought last night as I joined almost 300 other Franciscans of all sorts in remembering Francis' passing into the fullness of life (called the transitus): what an amazing man, to have all these people praying in his honor all these years later. And truly he is, a gift from God to us all. Not to call us to be him, but to do what he did: find our true selves in the will of the Good God who made and makes us. What we are before God, as Francis reminds us, is what we are. No more, and no less. That is the true basis of all humility. Francis was aware of his gifts, and was willing to use them with great conviction, but never wanted to forget that they were gifts and so he needed to focus on the Giver and never claim them as simply his own, to do with as he pleased. I pray God will help us all do the same, and trust that He will if we open ourselves to him, as little and imperfect as we are. Remembering God's love of the saints is not an indictment against those who admire them, but a call to believe that God can indeed love, and does choose to love us. As one friar said when he witnessed a moment of gruffness from Padre Pio, now St. Pio: "If that man can be a saint, then there's hope for all of us!" And Pio smiled at him, because he knew it was true.
So remember: if God could love Francis, the vain, showy, spendthrift son of a merchant, he can love each of us. And love us into holiness, if we say yes.
Say yes.
Pax et Bonum!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Violence andFrancis

Pax et Bonum! Yes, it is the eve of the feast of a great saint, a great man, a genius: Francis, son of Pietro di Bernardone, of Assisi. We need to heed him, and his message. I just read sadly about the young children killed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. God rest them! And it can make us think our world is more violent than ever. But I don't think it is, I just think we have more efficient tools! Medieval Italy of Francis' time was quite violent. So how did Francis become a man of peace in the midst of it all? Not because he wasn't tempted to be as violent as the world around him: he was, and constantly. But he remembered the words of his wise and patient savior: Those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and Love your enemies. But what impressed Francis was not what Jesus said, but what he did: loved his enemies even to dying at their hands, without raising his against them. That is not an easy message to live, but we are promised it is the real way to peace. Help us, Francis of Assisi!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

St. Jerome

The man single handedly translated a huge amount of the scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, without computers, typewriters, or even a decent desk lamp. So he was a little cranky! Who wouldn't be. Thank you, Jerome, for all that hard work. Thank you, Lord, for Jerome, and all the rest who work so hard to help us enter Your Word and Your Word enter us. Peace and Good!

Friday, September 29, 2006


Peace and Good! Today we celebrate Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. St. Francis had a great devotion to St. Michael. Are angels still a part of our lives in the 21st century. I think so. The feast reminds us of two things: we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, and that the service of love is part of the fabric of the universe. The angels we celebrate are always presenting as serving: serving God, and serving us. What an amazing thing, if you think about it. Thank God for angels and flowers and galaxies and rocks. God bless!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Peace! First of all, it is Saint Pio, not Saint Padre Pio. Just a semantic preference of mine.
But he is a great saint, and I am proud to be his brother, but ask his assistance. He had the external marks of the crucified Jesus not to make him better but to witness to the world of God's power and the reality of the love shown on the cross. That's not always easy to believe, which is why we are given men and women who are God's mercy writ large. Saint Pio, pray for us!

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Cross, the WTC and Mater Dolorosa

Peace! What connections to make here!
We honor the cross as the instrument of salvation, but have to remember that it originally was a sign of power: human power, coercive power--the Power of Rome to impose her will on the world and punish those who opposed that will. The cross was the call to obedience, but was only transformed by the true obedience of Love of Jesus Christ. And it remains the symbol of the presence of God in the midst of the evil we encounter in this world, and of our call to obey as Jesus did. Thus, the WTC, 9/11, calls us to two things: to believe God is still in a world where such evil (and others, as Darfur) exists, and to respond in obedience to the Gospel message. Someone sent me an email for 9/11 calling us not to forget, and to work so that "those who want to destroy us are...destroyed." Is that the message of the cross? Yet, today's feast of the Sorrowful Mother reminds us that the suffering caused by evil is not forgotten by God, and that the triumph of Good will wipe away all tears. It's not always easy to bring it all together, which is why God gave us Mary as our example. Mater Dolorosa, ora pro nobis!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Peter Claver

Peace! There are friars who worked against the worst of slavery, but I wish the Franciscan response had been stronger. Still, the important thing is to answer the call now. First of all to pray for peace, and to do what we can for it. Ah, but that is the question, and the need for contemplative prayer. God bless!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

Pax et Bonum! Francis saw work as a normal part of human life, and so wanted it to be part of the life of the friars...not pretensions to some sort of nobility, even of a religious type! There are, of course, may different types of labor, but all can be directed to the love of God and the love of others if done with love, care, and joy. Not always easy, but Francis said we should do our best and let Jesus fill in what's missing. God bless!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

John and Rose

Peace! The last two days I have been thinking about Francis and the saints of the day: John the Baptist, whose name he received, and Rose of Lima, patroness of Latin America. Each reveals God working in the midst of success and failure, within human limitations and even evil intentions. That is what Francis teaches me to look for everywhere: the work of God. God bless!

Monday, August 28, 2006

St. Augustine

Peace! Again, the contrasts are remarkable, as are the similarities. Augustine was a rhetor and wrote very elegant Latin. Francis struggled along with his ´bad Latin´(as one of the friars called it). Yet both used the language to express something of the inexpressible: the Goodness, Beauty, and Incredibly Personal Love of God. Thank You, lord, for both. "Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in You."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Regina Caeli

Peace! On this day on which we honor is a special way the Mother of God, we also remember that we are called to follow her example and be open to the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads me to Mexico for a week to work with some sisters there, so musings will continue in a week (though I've only just begun). God bless!

Friday, August 25, 2006

St. Louis of France

How unalike saints can be, even of the same 'family.' Francis an Italian, son of a merchant from a feisty little commune with anti-aristocratic leanings, Louis a French noble born to be king. One an ascetic with no fixed abode, the other denizen of a palace and father of 10 children. Yet how great is God in working through each? Pax et Bonum!