From the Heart of the Minister - February, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, peace and every mercy! We have barely gotten through Christmas and Lent is upon once again.  Our Holy Father’s Lenten message this year begins with a Scripture quote from the Gospel of Matthew…”I desire mercy, and not sacrifice”.  Matt:9, 13; which points back to the same words in Hosea: 6,6.

Most of us are of an age to remember the Sisters drilling into our heads to give up something during Lent.  Candy, soda, and ice cream were tough things to give up as a child.  And we all joked we would rather give up school, homework, and chores. Forget the hard things and instead give up the easy ones.  That’s not exactly what Pope Francis has in mind.  He would like all of us to incorporate the Spiritual Works of Mercy into our Lenten journey.  But how is this a sacrifice?  If it is difficult for you to do, if you have to go out of your way to make it happen, or if you have to step out of your comfort zone – it’s a sacrifice.  Just as there are many ways to perform the Corporal Works of Mercy, it is the same with the Spiritual Works.


Do not judge, but be supportive.

In humility always and with God’s own gentleness, help a brother or sister understand what sin is in the eyes of God.  Sin is out of fashion these days.  As long as what you are doing doesn’t affect me…’s fine.  Not so.  The tough part is: “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” Matt; 7:5


Be open to talking with others about your beliefs.  There is always something more to discover about our faith. The tough part?  As Catholics we are not always open to talking about our faith.  Invite someone to go to Mass with you and perhaps to breakfast after to talk about their experience.


Everyone has moments of doubt in their faith journey.  Follow Christ with the witness of your life so that others may see God’s love revealed in your actions.   Hhhmmm….where have I heard that before?  Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary. The tough part: remembering that in all aspects of your life.  What kind of example do I give with the jokes I “like” on Facebook?  Do I give the appearance of trying to live a good life or do I save that for Sunday Mass or fraternity meetings?


Do not be bitter about wrongs done against you.  The tough part about this one?  Everything!  It is not in our nature to stand by quietly while someone tears us apart. Someone cut you off while driving? I try (try) to say a Hail Mary for the person. I don’t always succeed and sometimes it is said through gritted teeth!


Forgiving others is difficult at times because we do not have God’s limitless mercy and compassion.  But Jesus teaches us that we should forgive as God forgives, relying on Him to help us show others the mercy of God.  The tough part: letting go of grudges.  We often wear grudges like a uniform.  We put it on every morning and carry it around. And every time we wrap ourselves in it, it becomes heavier. Saying sorry is something we learn as kids, but how often do we really mean it? Forgiveness transforms hearts and lives – starting with our own.


Be open to listening and comforting those who are dealing with grief.  The tough part:  looking into the raw face of grief.  We are so helpless to heal it, or so we think. Even if we aren’t sure of the right words to say, our presence can make a big difference. So many times we run from this one because we tell ourselves we don’t know what to say.

  • Lend a listening ear to those going through a tough time
  • Make a home cooked meal for a friend who is facing a difficult time
  • Write a letter or send a card to someone who is suffering
  • A few moments of your day may make a lifetime of difference to someone who is going through a difficult time


Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can support others.  Joining together in prayer for the living and the dead entrusts us all into God’s care. As Christians, Catholics and Secular Franciscans, we do pray for the living and the dead. There is no tough part to this one; but try doing something a little different than you normally would:

  • Request a mass intention for a friend or family member who is going through a tough time
  • Ask a friend or family member if there is anything you can pray for them about

May your journey through Lent shape you into a better Franciscan and hopefully one who has learned something about ‘being’ mercy.




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