Happy New Year to All of our Order of Franciscan Hermits Associates, Members, Family and Friends! It is with much LOVE and JOY that I send my prayers for your Happiness, Health and Spiritual Growth throughout 2019.
The Order of Franciscan Hermits now has over 2500 Associates and Members in over 87 countries worldwide who have committed to carrying out St. Francis' original Mission to "Rebuild the Church" and to Pray for World Peace. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT! Even though we are dispersed throughout the world, we are UNITED in this Mission and we each serve as anchors of Christ's Unconditional LOVE and COMPASSION - Welcoming Home EVERYONE who is estranged (for whatever reason) from our Family as One Body in Christ! I can picture the Globe with Bright Lights Shining as our Brothers and Sisters in 87 countries are keeping this important Franciscan Calling very much Alive, each and every day!
I would like to ask each of us to read the story of the "Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-32) and keep this as our ongoing "theme" and lesson to live by as I see it as fully interconnected with our Mission to Rebuild the Church.
The Lord is constantly searching for us... yearning for us to "Come Home." We are called to be in a Loving Relationship with the Father.
We read that, "while [the Son] was yet at a distance," the Father, "saw him and had compassion, and RAN and embraced him and kissed him." Our Lord and Father in Heaven "RUNS" towards us... seeks us out every moment of every day with Joy and Enthusiasm to Welcome Us Home! He's NOT judging our past or counting all of the inheritance that we've squandered... NO! He's CELEBRATING our return HOME, for 'We were Dead and are now Alive; we were Lost, and now Found!"
Are WE enthusiastic about our Mission to Rebuild the Church through our prayer life and truly yearn for our reunification with our lost Brothers and Sisters? Are we too busy looking at the "speck" in our Brother's eye while we have a "plank" in our own???!!! (Matthew 7:1-5).
If we are truly to be Franciscans... Christians committed to "Love One Another as I have Loved You." we must welcome EVERYONE Home regardless of their sins and CELEBRATE their return, not looking at any of their transgressions, but EMBRACING them as the Father embraces us!
Look at these beautiful depictions of the Father Joyfully and Tenderly Embracing Us, Welcoming Us Back Home into His Care. We need to be the Prodigal Son... the Prodigal Father... Christ for One Another...
This isn't too much for us to accomplish... Remember... we're "Temples of the Holy Spirit!" We have the Gifts which allow us to LOVE... God... Our Neighbors... Ourselves and our Enemies. It is only our own reluctance to Accept One Another, just as they are on their Journey, that is keeping us from Living the Gospel Life.
As the song, "Hosea" says...
"Come back to ME with ALL your Heart... Don’t let FEAR keep us apart!
Long have I waited for your coming Home to Me and Living DEEPLY Our New Life!"
This is our invitation and our Mission as Franciscans and Christians. I pray that we persevere in our quest and I say it is NOW time to go HOME and CELEBRATE DEEPLY Our New Life!
PEACE, LOVE and JOY Always...
Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
As our OFH Mission describes, All Associates and Members of the Order of Franciscan Hermits are to "“Rebuild the Church” and Promote World Peace through contemplative prayer, compassionate dialogue, fraternal interaction, nonviolent action, and performing the good works asked of us in the Gospel, striving to Build and Unite the Body of Christ which suffers from many divisions, fostering a more perfect life, and exercising other works of the apostolate (Canon 298). As Hermits, we cherish substantial silence, substantial solitude, prayer and penance." This is difficult in our modern world, without a commitment to the contemplative dimension of our vocation.
The following resources are important tools to learn about Contemplation...
a. The Mission or Calling of the OFH Members and Associates is the same as St. Francis given by the Crucifix of San Damiano, to “Rebuild the Church” and Promote World Peace. The OFH accomplishes this through contemplative prayer, compassionate dialogue, fraternal interaction, nonviolent action, and performing the good works asked of us in the Gospel, striving to Build and Unite the Body of Christ which suffers from many divisions, fostering a more perfect life, and exercising other works of the apostolate (Canon 298). As Hermits, we cherish substantial silence, substantial solitude, prayer and penance.
b. We choose to focus on what UNITES us as Franciscans and Christians, rather than what Divides us, as St. Paul "begs" of us in Ephesians 4:1-6:
"therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all Humility and Gentleness, with Patience, bearing with one another in LOVE, making every effort to maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace. There is One Body and One Spirit, just as you were called to the One Hope of your calling, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of All, who is above All and through All and in All."
[Translation of Greagóir Ó Seanacháin (1997)]:
“Those who want to remain in hermitages to lead a religious life should be three brothers, or four at most; of these, let two be "mothers" and have two "sons," or one at least.
The two that are "mothers" should maintain the life of Martha and the two "sons" the life of Mary, and have a single enclosure, in which each may have his cell to pray and sleep in.
And they are always to say Compline of the day immediately after sunset. And they should make sure to keep the silence. And they are to recite their Hours. And they are to get up for Matins. And let the first thing they seek be the kingdom of God and his justice.
And let them say Prime at the appropriate hour and, after Terce, conclude the silence so that they can speak and go to their "mothers," from whom, when they want to, they can beg an alms, like little paupers, for love of the Lord God.
And afterwards, they are to recite Sext and None and, at the appropriate hour, Vespers.
And as to the enclosure where they stay, they may not allow any person either to enter or to eat there.
Those brothers who are the "mothers" are to make sure they keep their distance from people and, on account of the obedience due their minister, shield their "sons" from people, so that nobody can get to speak with them.
And those "sons" are not to speak with any person other than their "mothers" and their minister and custodian, when he wishes to visit them with the blessing of the Lord God.
The "sons," nonetheless, should now and then take over the duty of the "mothers," according to what arrangement they have come to about taking turns at intervals.
As for everything above-mentioned, let them earnestly and carefully endeavor to observe it.”