From the Heart of Our Regional Minister - December, 2015

My dear Brothers and Sisters, peace to your hearts!

There is much to do in December. We have been celebrating Christmas since we were born. We all know what it takes, how much we have planned, how much we can actually do. We can only hope as Franciscans that we manage to pare down the list a little more each year and take a step closer to the manger.

This December is also very special because it kicks off the Extraordinary Year of Mercy. It will be a huge opportunity to not only gain mercy but to live it. Can we get out of our own way to allow God to work through us to bestow mercy on someone else?

The Corporal Works of Mercy can give us a great stepping off point. We know them; but we ask God “When did I see you thirsty?” etc. More often than you think! Perhaps turning out of our comfort zone – or doing what we always do – will give us a new way to look at them.

Feed the Hungary

Very straightforward. Donate food to a local shelter, volunteer at a soup kitchen. How about…..not wasting the food we are eating? Don’t throw leftovers out, pack them for lunch. Don’t like leftovers? Make a plate up for a sick or elderly neighbor,

Give Drink to the Thirsty

This is a tough one. We don’t see many thirsty people every day. Again….how about not wasting it? A little awareness now can hold off the day when we are out of water. My grandmother taught me after you boil an egg, let the water cool down and water the house plants.

Clothe the Naked

Typically a no-brainer. There are plenty of Good Will stores and Salvation Army places around. Did you know both Purple Heart and American Family will pick up your donations at your front door? How about…. looking through your clothes and possessions with a Franciscan eye and ask yourself….when did I last use this and could someone else be blessed by having it?

Shelter the Homeless

This one must be very close to Jesus’ heart since there was ‘no place to lay his head’. Have your fraternity get involved in the Blessing Bag project that will culminate at the “Q” in June. Have you ever contacted Habitat for Humanity to see if you have some skill to offer them? If Jimmy Carter can still do it at the age of 90 while suffering from brain cancer…….

Visit those in Prison

The definition of ‘visit’ is not limited to physically going to see someone. It is very easy to visit through a card or letter. Mary Mother of Captives runs a pen pal program where the prisoner does not have your real last name or address. When I sent a birthday card to my pen pal on death row, I got a gut wrenching letter back. It was the first birthday card he had ever received….in his entire life.

Comfort the Sick

Do you give much thought to those who are sick at heart? Very often you don’t need to look outside your own family. Caregivers are a vastly overlooked group in desperate need of just a little kindness.

Bury the Dead

Yes, there is more than one way to look at this one. Mark your calendar or keep a record of when people pass – your neighbor’s spouse; your co-worker’s child. On the one year anniversary, send a “I’m Thinking of You” card or have a Mass said. For that person, it will feel like a hug directly from God.

And lastly, let us pray for one another as we journey through this Extraordinary Year of Mercy that we not only receive God’s mercy, but allow ourselves to extend His mercy to others.


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