Who do you say you are? August, 2020

Who do you say that you are?

This weekend, I participated in the National Formation Directors Workshop. I learned a great deal; but, what keeps resounding in my head is from the talk that Father Christopher Panagoplous, T.O.R. President in Turn of the CNSA, gave at the opening on Friday night.

He referred to today’s (8/22/20) Gospel from Matthew, chapter 18.  Jesus asked the apostles “But who do you say that I am?”  Father Chris took that question and asked all of us “But who do you say that you are? When someone says “Tell me a little about yourself”, what comes out of your mouth first?  How do you see yourself and in what order of importance? Well, I’m a widow, I love to garden, I rescue hospice dogs, I’m a ‘pre-reader’ for several of my favorite authors, I’m a penpal to several prisoners, I crochet winter scarves for the homeless, I’m a cantor, lector and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at my parish, I do a lot of different kinds of crafts, I love old black and white movies and oh yeah….I’m a Secular Franciscan.

Oh yeah,…I’m a Secular Franciscan????? As if that is an afterthought, or at the bottom of the list.  All the other things are what I do.  Being a Secular Franciscan is who I am!

If I’m not seeing it as first in my life how can anyone else see it?  Can anyone see from the way I live my life that being a Secular Franciscan is who I say I am?  In this craziness we are living in now, do I stand by when a group of neighbors are having a racist conversation? Do I faithfully recycle and put a full bin out on collection days? During this time of ‘sheltering-in-place’ have I reached out to anyone outside my circle of family and friends to see how they are doing?

While we have this time on our hands thanks to the pandemic, why not take an inventory of who you are and what you do and see if things need to be reorganized a bit? All of us can use a tune-up now and again.  Thanks, Father Chris, for the reminder!

May, 2020, from the Regional Minister

Along With Everything Else in the World, Communicating Has Turned Upside Down!

Oh, the times we live in!  Could you ever imagine (outside of a Stephen King novel) that churches are locked, most people are not working, most retail business is closed and in order to go out of your house, you must wear a mask!?  Who would have thought? I’m not sure even Stephen King could dream up all that we have been through in the last two months that feel like two years. And I haven’t even touched on the virus itself and how it is robbing us of our loved ones, our health, our peace of mind, our livelihood, and our lives as we knew them.

Nothing is the same;  we’ve been shaken to our boots and yet, here we are.  Many of our local Councils and fraternities have met through conference calls or ZOOM meetings. Formation has started up again using some form of meeting virtually.  The only way to attend Mass is by watching it on TV or streaming on the computer.  Who would have thought??

But…………… and you knew that was coming, right!?  There are many good things coming out of the pandemic.  We have prayed the rosary together on the phone and we prayed the Stations of the Cross and the Divine Mercy Chaplet….on the phone.  Who would have thought?  The first night of the rosary, there were 80 of us on that call.  And although the parts where we prayed together sounded like a joyful Tower of Babel, we were one, saying one prayer with one purpose.  Who would have thought??

I was asked the other night what ministries we can be involved in with all these restrictions.  My immediate answer was “We are each other’s ministries!”  We need to check in with each other on a regular basis.  And that is not a task that has the ministers’ names on it.  It is something all of us can and need to be doing.  And I’m going to up the ante.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H those dusty Franciscan skills and call someone from your fraternity that you don’t regularly talk to or sit with at meetings or maybe don’t even like. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation and if it helps, write down a couple questions before you call.  Then, if the conversation lags for some reason, you are ready with some backup topics.  We have been given the gift of time and wouldn’t it be such a blessing all around if we actually got to know one another better?  Who would have thought??!!

We need to learn how to communicate and convey our love and joy….from behind the masks we are wearing.  That’s a skill that is going to take some work. If all someone can see of us is our eyes, are they getting the kindness our smile would normally be conveying?

When I was in high school – oh so long ago! – I went on a weekend retreat and late on Saturday afternoon, we were given the hardest task in the world.  We had arrived on Friday after school and the group consisted of high school seniors from the local Catholic high schools.  We were assigned rooms so we couldn’t bunk with our best friends.  We were separated into groups that had a good mix of kids from different schools.  And then we were assigned places at table for meals.  All to have us with someone we didn’t know.  And then came the group task on Saturday afternoon.  After listening to a wonderful presentation on forgiveness and accepting people as they are, each of us was told to go pair up with someone who we didn’t particularly like.  What a humbling experience.  We each had to go to someone we didn’t like and say, will you be my partner in this exercise.  At that point, we didn’t know what the exercise was.  For each pair, one was the leader and one was being led.  The one being led was blindfolded and taken outside by the leader and taken on a Blind Faith Walk.  The blindfolded one could not speak and had to rely on the leader to tell him or her when to turn, when to step up, when to step over and these directions were coming from someone we admittedly didn’t like!  So how hard can it be to pick up the phone and check in on someone?  Now, don’t get the wrong idea and think that anyone who calls you is someone who doesn’t like you!!  Look at it as the one who called you would really like to get to know you a little better and as a Secular Franciscan, is reaching out in love and concern to see how you are doing.

We all know this isn’t going to be over any time soon so I would like to go even further and perhaps once a month, have each minister trade phone lists with another minister and have the folks in your fraternity call from the list of another fraternity.  We might really end up knowing each other!  Who would have thought??  And the answer is simple.  Who would have thought?  God.  Pure and simple.  The pandemic has given us a lot of lemons.  God has given us the recipe for lemonade.

“Let each one confidently make known his need to another that the other might discover what is needed and minister to him. Let each one love and care for his brother as a mother loves and cares for her son in those matters in which God has given him the grace.” St. Francis   ~ St. Francis of Assisi, The Earlier Rule, (IX: Begging Alms), 71  Thanks, Cindy Louden, OFS, for this beautiful and very appropriate portion of The Earlier Rule

Easter Message 2020 from the Regional Minister

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord is RISEN!  Alleluia!! Alleluia!!  I’m sure you are thinking that is a mighty strange picture for Easter Sunday so let me explain. I have never seen a picture like this before.  It speaks to my very soul.  After all that Jesus has gone through this past week, when he finally gets back to the Father, Jesus is held against the Father’s chest while the Father gently kisses His Son.  I don’t see them, but I think God the Father has a tear or two rolling down His cheeks.  This picture says a whole lot to me about the situation we are in right now.  When we can be with our families again there will be wildly, joyful, exuberant hugs.  But there will be that one family member who just holds you against his or her chest, gently kissing your head while tears stream down his or her cheeks.
Our Lord has RISEN, risen, indeed! We, however, are still in this hell with no end in sight.  Our day for rejoicing is coming.We could never make it through without this day occurring.  Be grateful today that our Lord has triumphed over death.  But remember, He was alone when it happened.  Just like we are alone now.  He understands how we are feeling. So, some time today, lean into His chest and wait for the kiss.  He understands and He is waiting for you! Alleluia! Alleluia!!
May the Lord comfort you today and may you enjoy today in whatever way you can!

Petition Pray for CoronaVirus

Dear Father, Almighty Healer and Physician, we bring our fears, anxiety and petitions to you during this outbreak of coronavirus.  Please restore our inner peace so that we can be a shining light to those stuck in the darkness.

And let us pray for

+        All those who have the virus and fear the outcome, may they find their peace in you.

+        All the medical staff who cannot work from home but need to be in the ‘trenches’ taking care of the sick, may they have the stamina and good health to continue to serve.

+        For all the working parents who are suddenly faced with their childrens’ schools being closed. Help them to find a solution that does not impact their earnings too greatly.

+        For all those who are worried, please grant them the peace to get through this time.

+        For all those working extra hours to provide more test kits, masks and sanitizer, shower them with the ability to keep up their difficult schedule.

+        And for all the rest of us, please help us make good decisions about where we go and when to stay home, what supplies we buy and how much/many, and most especially keep us calm and filled with Your grace so that we are able to reach out to others in need.

We ask these things through the Sacred Heart of Your Son, Jesus.  May we be open to Your Ministering to us so that we are equipped to minister to others.   Amen

 

 

Prayer for those dealing with the Coronavirus

Dear Father, Almighty Healer and Physician, we bring our fears, anxiety and petitions to you during this outbreak of coronavirus.  Please restore our inner peace so that we can be a shining light to those stuck in the darkness.

And let us pray for

+        All those who have the virus and fear the outcome, may they find their peace in you.

+        All the medical staff who cannot work from home but need to be in the ‘trenches’ taking care of the sick, may they have the stamina and good health to continue to serve.

+        For all the working parents who are suddenly faced with their childrens’ schools being closed. Help them to find a solution that does not impact their earnings too greatly.

+        For all those who are worried, please grant them the peace to get through this time.

+        For all those working extra hours to provide more test kits, masks and sanitizer, shower them with the ability to keep up their difficult schedule.

+        And for all the rest of us, please help us make good decisions about where we go and when to stay home, what supplies we buy and how much/many, and most especially keep us calm and filled with Your grace so that we are able to reach out to others in need.

We ask these things through the Sacred Heart of Your Son, Jesus.  May we be open to Your Ministering to us so that we are equipped to minister to others.   Amen

 

 

State of the Region – 2019

State of the Region – Annual Meeting 2019

It’s been a busy, busy year and there is a lot to report on.  First let’s talk about the changes at the Regional Level. Ted and Gretchen Bienkowski have resigned their positions on the Regional Council for personal reasons.   I am very, very saddened at this but I understand that life happens and we need to roll with it.  I would like to publicly thank Ted and Gretchen for everything they have done in the last 3 ½ years.  They traveled many miles with me for visitations, elections and special visits with fraternities.  You all know they live about 5 miles past God’s country and if we needed to be someplace early, they would come the night before and book a room at their own expense. We will certainly miss you and wish you well.

Cindy Louden who held the position of Councillor at Large has been appointed the Regional Vice Minister and there was a vote to accept by the Regional Council..  That leaves both positions of Coucillor at large open and the Regional Council will convene next week to discuss candidates for the positions.

The Venerable Matt Talbot Emerging Fraternity is as “emerged” as it needs to be.  The speed bump keeping them from Canonical Establishment is getting the altius moderamen secured.  When the group first came into being, they were sponsored by St. John the Evangelist fraternity who, at that time, was bonded to the TORs.  As you know, the TORs no longer have a presence in this area and the St. Augustine Capuchins, do.  In order to go forward with the Canonical Establishment of Matt Talbot, we are in negotiations with the St. Augustine Caps to take on their altius moderamen.  The St. Augustine Caps recently elected a new Provincial, Father Tom Betz, and he is getting up to speed on every aspect of that job, not just what we are asking.  In the meantime, I would like to congratulate Ken Johnston, minister of the Venerable Matt Talbot group for working so hard to get the group to where it is today.

Another great addition to the Region in the last year has been the Padre Pio Fraternity.  They did not have to go through being a forming group and then an emerging fraternity because they started with enough professed people to form a Council.  They are resurrecting the charter of the Cathedral fraternity which closed some years ago.  The charter remains active for 100 years after the last member dies.  The Padre Pio fraternity meets at the Padre Pio Prayer Center so we are working on getting them bonded to the St Augustine Caps who run the prayer center.  They fraternity welcomed 3 new members at a Profession last Monday night.  Carolyn Murray is the Minister at Padre Pio.

Queen of Peace fraternity has come to the conclusion that they must close.  There are not enough folks left to make a fraternity.  They certainly tried hard!  St. Peter fraternity in Beverly, NJ, is also closing.  Their numbers have dwindled as well and the remaining members are looking at local fraternities to transfer to.

That brings us to the difficulty of getting Spiritual Assistants when half of our fraternities are without one now. As I announced in May, the Lay Spiritual Assistant program concluded with 5 women being certified as Lay Spiritual Assistants.  So far, we have been able to temporarily assign Liz Bueding as Spiritual Assistant to the Venerable Matt Talbot fraternity.  However, it wouldn’t be Franciscan without miles of paperwork and that hurry up and wait M.O. we all know and love!  The Provincial of the Order to which the fraternity is bonded must agree to the assigning of a Lay Spiritual Assistant.  We are all but finished on this one.  We are hoping to utilize a few more of our Lay Spiritual Assistants in the near future.  We don’t have any plans at the moment to start another class.  However, if there is enough interest, we can certainly talk about it.  If anyone is interested in going through the program and becoming a Lay Spiritual Assistant, please let me know.  Just remember, we will not assign a Lay Spiritual Assistant to his or her own fraternity.

One of our new initiatives in this last year came as a suggestion from Vince Iezzi.  He suggested sending a card to members who are celebrating a significant anniversary of their profession.  That would be one that is divisible by 5.  Ted Bienkowski took on the task and has done a stellar job in sending the cards for anniversaries but also expanded it to sending cards for serious illnesses and a sympathy card to the families of a member who has passed and also sending a card to a member who has lost a family member.  We took it a step even further by sending cards to the Ordinaries i.e, the Bishops of the dioceses that are covered by our Region.  We celebrate the anniversary of their Ordination, their birthday and the date of their being named a Bishop.  To date, 120 cards have been sent. Thirteen of them have come back as undeliverable but several of those were resent with an updated address.  Three thank you notes have been received in response to the cards being sent at the death of a loved one.  All in all, this has been a hugely successful effort and Ted is the reason for its success.  I have also sent each of the Bishops a report of the fraternities within their diocese outlining where and when those fraternities meet and how to reach the minister.  I also have taken the list of apostolates from your annual reports and included them in the report to the Bishops so they know what good things you are doing!  Several bishops answered that they were happy to get this information.

In addition to the regular elections and visitations, I have made a concerted effort to get out to the fraternities to just spend time with them.  Some folks are suspicious of my motives………..Why is she here???………. but for the most part, these “friendly” visits are well received.  I have been to several Professions and anniversaries of Fraternities.  If you invite her….she will come.  Although it keeps me rocking and rolling most weekends, it’s good to get out and spend time with folks without an official reason.

I’d like to switch gears and talk about some of the things that have come out of the NAFRA Chapter that was just held in Corpus Christi.  There is a new Transfer form.  It’s now FOUR pages long.  I will mail a copy out to each minister.  We have lost people in the shuffle with using the old form and hopefully this will help keep better records for all of us.

One of the things that is discussed every year is the Duns Scotus Fund. Below are my notes from the NAFRA Chapter.

Duns Scotus Fund

  • John the Baptist Province sold property and they set up a trust fund for Seculars. The funds are to be used for formation and the Friars had “oversight” of the account. The oversight was to last 20 years.
  • The 20 years are over and we take over the account in its entirety.
  • The fund will be known as Duns Scotus Formation Fund
  • Local requests should be presented to Regional before going to National
  • Individuals can apply as well as fraternities
  • After the Regional Council has seen the proposal, the requester calls or contacts one of the people on the Duns Scotus board to see if the proposal has been done correctly and if the idea will pass
  • Proposal then goes to the Board and an answer is given within two weeks
  • One of the purposes listed for applying for these funds is Leadership Training. I am proposing that we apply for our Council Boot Camp workshops (copying expenses, stipends for church hall or meeting room etc)

 

The Fair Share, as you have heard, is not being increased this year.  We are the lowest Region in the Nation for Fair Share.  One of the Regions has a Fair Share of $75 per person!

And now to that dreaded subject………..the Annual Report.  I will be sending out this year’s report within the next week.  Please use the report that I send and not an older version that you might have on your computer.  There will be NO demographic information collected this year.  The drop dead deadline is February 1.  I must have all the information consolidated and to National by March 1.  This isn’t a “would you like to do an Annual Report request”.  This is we ALL must do one. No one out there considerers it more of a pain in the neck than I do.

What is coming in the next year………

We would like to take a look at the Districts and even them out some.  During the Memorial Service, you may have noticed that when I called PA Central, there were many more people coming up.  The locations and numbers of fraternities have changed since these borders were drawn.

We are also actively preparing for a “Boot Camp” for Councillors workshop.  Our March weekend in Easton is March 27 to 29 and we will be working on each of the positions of Council, what the duties are and putting together a small handbook of See Spot Run directions and resources.  It isn’t restricted to current Council members but is open to everyone especially those who think they might be willing to run for a position the next time their fraternity has elections.  Once we have the weekend workshop, we will pare it down to a one day version and take the show on the road for all those who were not able to attend the Easton weekend.  All Council members are being asked to attend one of the workshops which will be held at different locations throughout the Region.  Stay tuned for more details on that.

Now……..are there any questions that you would like to ask?

Before we end with our closing prayer, I would like to especially acknowledge the Carisios who were sitting here waiting for me yesterday morning to help me set up the room.  Most especially to Theresa who went through the room with the big mop, checked the bath rooms for toilet paper, and volunteered to bring water and a fruit tray.  God bless you both!

And most especially to Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap who so graciously allowed us to meet here!

 

You Can’t Blow a Kiss to Your Leper – Kate Kleinert, OFS, November 2019

You Can’t Blow a Kiss to Your Leper

We are often asked “who” or ‘what’ our leper is.  That can be a tough question or one that is glaring at us from every angle.  Once we figure it out, how do we approach our leper?

When St. Francis heard God command him to rebuild His church, Francis didn’t contact United Builders Local 500 and ask them to put in a bid for the job.  No, Francis rolled up his sleeves, scrounged for materials and got down and dirty. Literally.

When Pope Francis was newly elected, there was a phrase being bandied about “Smell Like Your Sheep”.  I have it on a tee shirt.  And back in the day, the shepherd did smell like his sheep.  He slept with them, he herded them to a place where food was more plentiful, he tended to their needs. And he smelled like them.  The sheep were comforted by that.  No strangers here…..he’s one of us!  You never see a collie herding sheep from the sidelines – they are always in the middle of the fray.

The ultimate example, of course, comes from Jesus. There was only once (that we know of) where he cured someone from a distance (the Centurian’s servant) and that was done to teach faith.  Otherwise, He is face to face with those He is ministering to.

How do we live that part of the Gospel??  The first article of our Rule states:

The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.

The words that jump out are life-giving union with each other.  That phrase isn’t directing us to walk past the homeless on the street, or ignore the person holding the sign and walking among the stopped cars at any given intersection.  Life giving union doesn’t necessarily mean to bring the homeless home with you, but when you hand that person a few dollars or a blessing bag, look into their eyes and ask what their first name is.  And then say…”____________ (Joe, Jane, whatever) I’m going to pray for you.”

Life giving union……Life giving dignity!  We ignore the homeless because we don’t’ want to be bothered or put on the spot for a donation.  If I don’t look at them, they don’t exist.  And the homeless embrace that treatment as being a necessity of living on the streets.  No identity, no address, no one caring.  If the light is still red and there is time, more often than not, Joe or Jane reply “I’ll pray for you, too:”

 

I’m sure there are many definitions of Life giving union.  This is only my own interpretation.  Remember our plea to God to ‘make me an instrument’  No instrument can be played unless it is willing, warmed up, and ready to deliver God’s music.

 

You cannot play an instrument from the sidelines.  You cannot kiss a leper without getting close. Maybe Francis (we) got the message wrong in the beginning – Rebuild my church – Life giving union –  or just maybe God wants us to start with getting our hands dirty – the Franciscan way.  Look people in the eye when you tell them God cares for them.  If we are truly living the Gospel life, when that person looks back at us, he or she will see God shining through us! May the Lord give you peace.  And may you give it to someone else!

Choose to be Grateful - From the heart of your Minister - October 2019

I was in the middle of a “man-about-the-house” job and loving every minute…..NOT….when I realized I needed longer zip lines.  The closest place is Walmart and it was dinner time – either the best or worst time to go to Walmart.  Was everyone home eating dinner or did they all decide to postpone dinner and get to Walmart right away.

It was the worst time to go. Figures.  I found what I needed and decided rather than make a U-turn in that aisle to go to the checkout counter, I would go down the next aisle which had Fall and Halloween decorations.  There was a flat wooden pumpkin with the words Choose to be Grateful painted on it.  Yes, that is it, pictured above because I did buy it along with the longer zip lines.  I was intrigued by the pumpkin because what has Autumn or Halloween have to do with being grateful and the bigger question….when did Walmart start selling inspirational items???

Choose to be Grateful?  You mean it’s an option??? YES!  Just like we choose to be upset and choose to be angry or hurt or wounded.

Yesterday, I drove my sister to an appointment.  She is going through something right now and was in no state to follow these complicated directions to get to the office she needed.  I was happy to help.  We arrived in enough time that we sat in the car and talked for a bit.  She went in for her appointment and I walked around the back of the building to deadhead the marigolds that were planted there.

A woman came out the door and said “Oh!  You are stealing the plants!”  Like a guilty kid with her hand in the cookie jar, I immediately held out my hand to show what I had and assured her I was only picking the dead ones.  She laughed and said she was only kidding but I still felt the need to explain.  “See, (holding up my Tau Cross) I’m a Franciscan and we are doing a project with these seeds.  I’m only picking the dead ones because that is where the seeds are.”  She thought it was a nice idea and started walking to her car.  Halfway across the parking lot, she stopped and turned back to me.  “Can you say a prayer for me?” she asked.  “You bet I can!  What’s your first name?” It turned out to be Marian and she was so grateful for the promise of a prayer.  She has been having severe pain in her back and that day the doctor decided she needed an injection at the Pain Intervention Center.  The first appointment is November 14; a long time to wait in pain.

I returned to the car to see my sister coming out of the building, visibly upset and shaking. While I was deadheading marigolds, she was going all over the building looking for the right office only to find out that they had moved.  We were at the wrong place.  Her cell phone rang and it was the person she was supposed to meet with and he was apologizing for not giving her the right address and directions.  The appointment was not an easy one to make and she was afraid she had missed her chance.  The man said he would see her as soon as we got to the right place.  Now she was feeling guilty that she was holding me up and that we would be going home in rush hour.

I chose to be grateful.  First, I told her it was never a waste of time to be with her which calmed her down some.  Then I told her about picking marigolds and having an opportunity to pray for someone. Both things to be grateful for.  If we had not been at the wrong place, I wouldn’t have more marigold seeds, or have met someone who needed to hear from God.  Make me an instrument….

 I could have been upset about losing more time when I have so much to do right now.  I could have been annoyed with my sister for not having the right address, and I could have been very angry being stuck in rush hour traffic on the Blue Route.  But I chose to be grateful…grateful for how God used me to reach out to a woman who is scared and in pain.  And grateful that God allowed me to spend time with my sister who I dearly love.  Yes, being grateful is a choice.  Not always an easy one. But something I want to continue to work on.  I feel a lot better choosing to be grateful than being tied up in knots on the Blue Route!  While you are trying to choose to be grateful, say a prayer for Marian.  She could use it!

What’s In A Name? From the Heart of the Minister – July, 2019

The practice of taking a religious name at Profession stopped in the 70’s.  We stopped at the same time that the religious Orders stopped.  We don’t become a Secular Franciscan in order to become a new person with a new identity.

Just so I would have something to back up what I am writing here, I put the question out on the Regional Ministers’ list serve so that all Regional Ministers across the country would see it and respond. Some of the Ministers asked what century I am living in and others said they never heard of taking a religious name.  And here is the wonderful answer I received:

If we take a look at the past, a name change at Baptism was originally meant to give a person a Christian identity and name as opposed to a pagan name.

As Secular Franciscans, prior to Vatican II, we followed the custom of religious communities that gave a new name at the time of reception into the community. It signified the idea of dying to the old self and rising to life in Christ. This is no longer done in religious life. Taking into consideration that we are lay people; we are even less inclined to take a religious name.

Why is this no longer done?

At the time of the second Vatican Council, all religious were encouraged to go back to their roots: to look at Baptism as the foundational sacrament. We are given Christian names at Baptism. Therefore, we are being asked to be known in the community by our baptismal name.

 Our Secular Franciscan profession intensifies our baptismal commitmentIn Profession we make a public statement that we are going to live out our baptismal commitment for the good of the church. 

Remember when we switched from SFO to OFS?  Oh what moaning and groaning there was over that!  It was done so that all Secular Franciscans worldwide are identified in the same way.  Taking a name falls into the same category.  It is not an accepted practice worldwide.  Receiving a cord and taking a religious name at Profession were stopped more than 50 years ago.

By the same token, all formation comes from For Up To Now – or the FUN manual as we know it – and the Franciscan Journey.  To deny the Inquirers and Candidates of what the rest of the world is learning is not acceptable.  People end up being professed without knowing what every professed Secular Franciscan needs to know.  Later, these same folks are voted onto Council and are so lost and find the position so hard because their formation was not done according to the Rule, the Constitutions, the Statutes and Guidelines.

There is work to be done. We have willingly joined an Order and to be able to keep order, we all must comply with our governing documents.  These documents can keep Ongoing Formation well stocked for a couple years at least!

As we learn about where we are in our Secular Franciscan journey, we can step into the future of our Order with solid knowledge and practices.

 

From the Heart of our Minister – June 2019

We often pray – “Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace”.  We want to be the conduit to give Christ’s peace to another.  Yet, we don’t hold onto our own peace. Giving peace away is fine – as long as it isn’t yours!

 

I had one of those “Ah ha” moments last Sunday while watching the Mass on EWTN.  I must admit that I don’t know who the priest was saying the Mass.  Not a face I recognized.  But his message was powerful and part of it went like this…if you had a gold bar and someone came up to you and insulted you or made you feel badly (=angry, hurt, embarrassed, humiliated etc, etc) you wouldn’t then hand them the gold bar and say –here–, take it. Why in the world would we hand over our gold especially to someone who just hurt us.  Why then, do we so readily hand over our peace?

 

We all complain about the amount of stress we have while replaying a scenario in our minds of some incident where we were the victim. Guess what?!  You are keeping yourself a victim by having the conversations again in your head, And again each time you tell someone else what happened and how you felt. How hard would it be to allow yourself to be an instrument of peace….to you?

 

You can’t give away what you don’t have. You can’t drink from an empty cup. Believe me, I don’t win any awards at this stuff.  I declare to anyone listening that I can’t handle the situation and have handed it to God, telling Him (oh brother!) that He has to handle it for me.  And then I systematically tell Him how badly He is handling it and what needs to happen.  How many times do we give things to God to handle and snatch it back again before the words die out on our lips?  Proverbs 3:5 -“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.”

 

The hardest prayer to pray is to ask God for the best solution…..and then leave it there. Not what I want, not what I think should happen but what the best solution is. Let me be an instrument of Your peace. And let it begin with me.  Maybe that line simply means that of all the channels of peace we try to set up, at least one of them needs to make a U-turn and come back to our own hearts. Isaiah 41:10 -“Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

 

As Franciscans, we are called to minister to God’s people.  Don’t forget that we are also one of them!