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
They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words"... here we see our beloved founders Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi teaching us all we need to know about Living the Gospel Life....
Keep our eyes on Jesus and let His Light Illuminate our Soul!
As contemplatives, this picture can teach us a great deal about Prayer, Spirituality and the Transformation we can have with an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ... specifically the Christ Child.
Gaze at the picture... what do you see? What are the emotions Francis and Clare are expressing?
Francis is truly humbled, brought to utter Silence and simply IS ("BE"-s) in the Presence of the Lord. You can clearly see his Stigmata which shows how closely he identified with Christ, yet there is no pain because it is all worth enduring for the Christ Child who calls us closer to him. Clare is amazed, JOY-filled... stopped-in-time at the miracle of witnessing such Innocence and Purity. Both saints eyes are transfixed on THE ONE who Unites Us into ONE Body in Christ.
What about Jesus... what is he doing in the picture?
Jesus looks at Francis and Clare [US] asking, "Are You Ready?" It looks like he is going to tell them exactly what He needs... His plan for them. You can't have the encounter with Christ without the call to Action. So, while it is great having a contemplative vocation, it doesn't stop there! Christ always asks us to put our Faith into Action... to Feed the Hungry, Visit the Sick and Imprisoned... TO LOVE which is an Action Verb!
My Novice Master told us daily, "Go to the Silence... Go to the Silence"... this picture of the "Silent Night" is exactly what he was talking about. Allow the Silence... the Christmas PEACE and LOVE of the Christ Child fill us with JOY and there, we will find our vocation or calling... He will tell us exactly what He wants us to do. Every question or doubt we have ever had will be answered in that Silence. It will give us the strength and clarity to go forward to LIVE the Gospel Life, Loving and Serving One Another.
So, it is with a heart filled with Christmas PEACE, LOVE and JOY and that I send my prayers of Health, Happiness and Perseverance out to you and your families as we each Celebrate this "Silent Night" today, and EVERY day of our lives.
Pax et Bonum...
Founder & Guardian of the Order of Franciscan Hermits