HAPPY FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS!
Dear Members and Associates of the Order of Franciscan Hermits... Brothers and Sisters... Although we "Celebrate" and commemorate the Holy Life of our Founder - St. Francis of Assisi, today, I am sure many of us find it difficult to be sources of Hope and Joy when there is such devastation and suffering going on throughout the world with COVID-19, fires, social injustices, political divisiveness, the inability to attend Mass in many areas throughout the world, and overall lack of Unity among the people of this planet (etc. etc. etc.) It seems to be a tall order to believe we can solve all of these issues.
St. Francis witnessed the tragedies of his own time and his solution was to keep his eyes on Christ... to imitate and identify with Him so closely, that he bore the wounds of his Lord and Savior. I'm not suggesting that we all need to have the Stigmata, but to really, truly be followers of Christ, by Living the Gospel Life... "The Good News"... "The Way" to LIVE and BE "on EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN." Jesus gives us the solution for our difficult times...
"LOVE" is not just a "State of BEing"... "to BE in LOVE" but is also an "Action Verb"... "To LOVE"... LOVE requires ACTION. The Gospels give us the strategy to solve the problems we're facing now and for all eternity.
In John 14:12 we have an VERY interesting passage that I think is overlooked way too often...
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father."
"Works" in the Gospels are not only feeding the poor and visiting the sick and imprisoned, but also include performing miracles. Healing others was part of Jesus' "works." In this passage, Jesus is saying that YOU and I can do "GREATER WORKS" than He did!
I can hear you now... "Brother Paul is going crazy here... he's saying we can perform miracles???!!!"
YES... with the Help of the Lord and our Faith in Him.
ALL of our "Saints" that have been canonized, including St. Francis, have had "miracles" attributed to them through their intercession. YOU and I are Saints in the making. If you believe in the Bible... Here's my proof that we can solve our world's problems...
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
All we need is FAITH. Trust in the Lord, but we must "ASK and You Shall RECEIVE." Matthew 7:7
Many of you know that a dear friend's son, Ian, was diagnosed this summer with liver cancer at the age of 15. We immediately started praying here within our OFH FB group, and Ian was "miraculously" given a liver transplant even though he was way down on the list of recipients needing a new liver. For whatever reason, the Lord decided to send him a perfect donor match ahead of everyone else on the list. Within 2 days of receiving the transplant, he was walking and sitting up in a chair in the hospital. He is out of ICU now and has a bright future ahead of him. I TRULY BELIEVE that, through our prayers, Ian was given this new chance at life. It was through our "Asking" that we "Received" this miracle.
The question is... How much do we want WORLD PEACE... EQUALITY... JUSTICE... to LOVE as the Lord has asked us to LOVE???
I believe that ALL of the world's problems are due to a lack of LOVE within humans. Greed and selfishness is so strong, there is no room for LOVE to exist within. I believe we cannot LOVE, Unless and UNTIL we FORGIVE... FORGIVENESS is a Dimension of LOVE... Forgiveness is not separate from LOVE. Let's start Forgiving and LOVING Today!
Until we can see that we are ALL Children of God, despite our differences (political, religious, racial, financial, gender... ALL the many differences we perceive each day)... Until we BE and DO as Jesus did as asked of us in the Gospels, we will continue to suffer from the Sin of selfishness that has separated all of us from one another.
Every time we pray the "Our Father" we say, "Thy Will Be Done, on EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN"... Who do we think is supposed to be "DOing" the Will of the Father??? It's just magically going to happen, or if it someone else's job??? NO... it is each and every one of us that are called to do the Will of the Father, by Living the Gospel Life!
Knowing this now, we have the ability to be sources of Hope, Joy and HEALING for others... to BE LOVE and DO LOVE, to...
BE on EARTH as it IS in HEAVEN!
Pax et Bonum Dear Brothers and Sisters... PEACE and LOVE Always
Br. Paul, OFH
Founder and Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits
A few months ago I lost my grandmother, Janet. It was really rough, considering that her health was declining for quite awhile before she passed away. She had congestive heart failure and kidney failure. I honestly thought that she was going to outlive even me. I never honestly expected her to pass away at 89. It was hard and it was rough. Sometimes there are days where it feels like she just passed; even though she passed in August on my dad's birthday (her son's) no doubt.
Grandma was in more ways a mother to me even more so than my actual mother. I spent the last year of her life as her caregiver. I am now tasked with cleaning out her house that she had lived in since 1963. To say that she had a lot of stuff is an understatement.
In the midst of my own grief; I am reminded of John 11:35 - "Jesus wept." Not only is this the shortest bible verse, it conveys an immensely powerful feeling and emotion and that our Lord was going through. Lazarus had died and the human side of Christ fully took the blow that we all experience at some part of our lives. I am also reminded of Psalm 56:8 "You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?" God takes great care with our sorrows. He knows the reasons behind every tear we shed.
Sadness is not the only thing we feel during grief; there are other stages such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It's important to note that in your own grief that you may not experience these stages all at once or in this order. You may experience different parts at different times. In my own grief the two stages I have felt immensely have been anger and depression. Sometimes the depression is too much to handle. Other days I don't feel anything at all, really.
The biggest thing about your grief is to not fight what you feel. If you feel like crying; it's ok. Sometimes when someone passes it may not always make sense to us. My uncle - my grandmother's son passed away last year almost on the anniversary of my grandfather's passing. He had a massive heart attack and over the past year my grandmother was "bargaining" trying to think of everything she could have done so that he would still be here. It didn't bring him back and it was his time to go. My wife recently lost her uncle - shortly after my grandmother passed and sometimes in the midst of your own grief it is very easy to see the grief that other's experience.
It's very important to know that you are never alone in your own grief. Some of you may not know about Griefshare, but if you have a Griefshare group at your church or fellowship, I strongly encourage you to look into it. Many people are going through what you are going through. And it may also be a good idea to keep track of your grief journey with a journal. Just write about it. Write how you feel
or what you are experiencing. This is just something for you - sometimes writing will also help you feel better.
I am sorry for the "downer" of an article but I just wanted to let you all know a little bit about grief if you are experiencing it right now. Sometimes grief happens and we do feel alone. Jesus is always with us; please tell him about what you are going through. He hears every prayer. Please know I am praying for you all. God bless you. Amen.
About six years ago, I bought this statue of Saint Francis and put him on my balcony that overlooks the inner coastal waterway. At the time, he spoke to me of this little piece of heaven where I live in Florida. It is paradise! The wildlife here is stunning – God’s creatures great and small.
I sit out on my balcony with my statue of St Francis and we watch the inner coastal. On days when it will rain, the pelicans move into a single file procession scanning the brackish water for fish. There are certain times of the year, we will see so many dolphin fins that we cannot possibly count them. On one occasion, we saw a shark fin – that made the front page of the local newspaper.
My front door faces the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean environment is beautiful – the smell of the heavy humid air is fishy and salty. I wait on the season to see right whales and baby sea turtles hatching. My statue of Saint Francis helps to put life into perspective for me – buy only what I need, have faith and appreciate the privilege of living among wildlife in this fragile environment.
All of us desire to do something to glorify God. The Anointing in Holy Orders is a Sacrament exclusively for the grace of being openly called into His service. But then again, most people have a wish to put their time and talents to good use to serve God by helping their neighbors. However, they are at crossroads on how to go about doing this.
That's when we need to remember the promise of God in 2 Corinthians 9:11, where the Apostle Paul says: “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.” We likewise should recall His promise of hearing us and granting what we ask in the Name of Jesus.
What we basically need is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of which you would get to know your further steps. Inspired by God's grace we have to humble ourselves in prayer to lead and be led.
The key to evangelization is PRAYER.. Jesus prayed at every stage and even before the Crucifixion. Our Mother Mary was found praying when Angel Gabriel brought her the Good News. Most saint's lives were founded on prayer.
SO OUR FIRST STEP TO FINDING & SERVING GOD is through prayer.
We can't imitate Jesus, quote verses and serve God without knowing Him personally and engaging Him through prayer.
As I do when alone, while ruminating on the sad state of our wounded world over a pepper steak and a Coke, a song from our grade school years suddenly played in my head...
“It is better to light, just one little candle than to stumble in the dark;
Better far that you light, just one little candle, all you need is a tiny spark;
If we all said a prayer, then the world would be free, a wonderful dawn of a new day we’d see;
And if everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be!”
I smiled to myself, thinking: “Ah, the lost innocence of childhood! When all things seemed so much simpler.”
As we grow older, we supposedly get wiser. But do we truly do so?
The innocence of children along with the purity of heart and mind inherent in young ones gradually get stripped away as we increasingly become immersed into the reality of our increasingly darkened world.
Here, the wisdom of Jesus’ words once more come to the fore, when in Luke 18:16, He said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Child-like innocence, trust, purity and unconditional love are among the hallmarks of those who would inherit heaven.
It is better to light, just one little candle than to stumble in the dark...
We are called to be the light of the world. Our child-like faith and trust in the Lord as well as our unconditional love for the Creator should be made manifest to the world. We are called not to shun the world, but rather to rise above it; and by imitating Christ in our lives, be beacons to other making their way through the darkness of this Valley of Tears.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Matthew 5: 14
We are called to be the salt of the earth and leaven the world with the Gospel that has been revealed to us. Our love for God and faith in Christ should not become lukewarm lest we be thrown away since tasteless salt is indeed useless. Again, we rise above the world yet remain in it in order to infuse it with the New Covenant of love given by Jesus Christ. Love God, love your neighbor.
Better far that you light, just one little candle, all you need is a tiny spark…
We often think that we’d like to make a difference, but then get discouraged when we begin saying: “What can one person do?”
Like a snowball, it all starts from a single snowflake, right? St. Francis of Assisi quite succinctly says: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.” Another Francis, St. Francis de Sales, further expounded on this, saying: “Do ordinary things extraordinarily well, and with great love.”
Christ did not mean His message to be merely proclaimed. He meant for it to be lived. We are called to go forth, not being passive onlookers, but rather, active agents of positive change. And we can do this in our everyday lives by doing what’s necessary and possible, ordinary things extraordinarily well.
If we all said a prayer, then the world would be free, a wonderful dawn of a new day we’d see…
And starting something small is not the end of it. Our living out the Gospel of Christ should be infectious, catching others up in our love and joy. It is in unity in God that we manage to overcome whatever the universe has to throw at us. Psalm 133:1 captures the beauty of unity when it said: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
And if everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be!
When there is unity of purpose centered on God, all darkness, all confusion, all that is evil would be washed away.
We are called to go forth and boldly proclaim through words and actions that there is more to life than simply “being.” There is more to life than merely existing as we are. We have to go forth and become what we are meant to be. Lights of the world, the salt of the earth, infusers of God’s love into the world to fill the dark void wrought by all things that seek to negate this Divine Love.