With the implications of the Coronavirius in our midst, words from the book of Ecclesiastes echo across the millennia, 'a time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing...' For us, this meant that our April gathering was quickly moved online via Zoom, and that as always, we remain connected through our Cord Newsletter and our direct outreach to each other. The Minister's Note in our Newsletter is extensive this month, but I would like to highlight two incredible Franciscan women here.
Sr. Marianne insisted in abject cleanliness and thorough handwashing frequently and throughout the day, with every patient.
With the grace of God, she kept her promises. She and her Sisters lovingly ministered to the people with leprosy - and none of her sisters contracted the disease. Let us all ask Sr. Marianne to pray for us – as we emulate her example… prayerfully trusting in God, caring for others – and in something as simple and important as washing our hands.
On Palm Sunday in 1212, Bishop Guido left the sanctuary to personally give Clare a palm branch, a sign that she was accepting God’s call to follow Jesus in the footsteps of Francis.
Being from such a wealthy family, what a huge leap of faith it must have been for her! This was a brave act of radical conversion. I see Clare in the image above with that could be a palm in her hand; I wonder what she must have felt in that moment. With great trust, she placed her life in the hands of God. I invite you to reflect on a poem, 'Clare's Flight From Home' by our Vice Minister, Sandy, that prayerfully imagines that night. I also pray that we are all so brave to live with such trust in God, love of Jesus, and inspired by St. Francis.
Pace e Bene -
A Spirituality of Encounter
We are called to a spirituality of encounter. We encounter Christ in the Eucharist (and all the Sacraments), Scriptures, in prayer, in creation, and in each other. We are called to walk with Jesus – to pick up our cross and to follow Him.
On the Via Dolorosa, pilgrims would reflect upon Jesus carrying his cross to Calvary. Francis was so touched by the experience of walking the Via Dolorosa, that when he returned from the Holy Land, he popularized this experience of the ‘Stations of the Cross’ so that all Christians could share in the experience. Each time you see the ‘Stations of the Cross’ devotion on the walls of a Catholic church, you’re looking at a Franciscan devotion – a Franciscan gift to the church.
In the Stations of the Cross, we encounter the Passion of Christ. We prayerfully walk with Jesus. In both the Gospel of John and depicted in the San Damiano cross, we are like the apostle John, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary's sister (Salome), Mary (wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene – we are present at the foot of the Cross. This Lent, let us be present. Present at the foot of the Cross. Present through the ‘Via Dolorosa’ we each experience in our own lives. Let us open our hearts to the suffering of others. Let us accept in gratitude all that Jesus has done for us. As a Fraternity, we will be spending time reflecting on the Stations of the Cross at our March gathering.
Each month, we are all invited to be present for our shared time of community prayer. I wholehearted and earnestly invite everyone to experience as much as our day together as you are able. Mass (10am), Lunch (11:30), Community prayer (12:30) Adoration (12:45), and finally our gathering (1pm – 3pm). Please, if you are able, arrive by 12:30pm so we can experience this dedicated time of prayer and adoration together – as a community. Let this be a spirituality of Encounter.
Pace e Bene -
A Love Song –
Francis then instructed his brothers to go to these leaders and ask them to prayerfully listen as they sang the Canticle that praises God, creation, and all those that seek peace. Through the intervention of Francis, the persistence of the Brothers, and most importantly, through the grace of God, the two rivals forgave each other and made peace.
On the way, Francis encountered a leper. Rather than steering clear out of revulsion and concern for his own safety, Francis dismounted his horse, overcame his terror, and approached the leper. Francis gave the leper both money… and a kiss. Something incredible happened inside Francis at that moment. He had a joyous ‘Aha!’ moment, an epiphany – he saw that the face of the leper was the face of Christ.
Francis tells us in his Letter to the Order:
Let the whole of mankind tremble, the whole world shakes, and the heavens exult
When Christ, the Son of the living God is present on the altar
in the hands of a priest.
Give praise to GOD because GOD is good; exalt the LORD by your deeds; for this reason GOD has sent you into the world:
that you may bear witness to GOD’s voice in word and deed and bring everyone to know that there is no one who is all-powerful except GOD.
As we continue to reflect on our Rule this year, the following passage seems especially well-suited to a month that includes the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord:
Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.
Secular Franciscan Order
Old Mission San Luis Rey
4050 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92057
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