from time to time, I am asked to publish one of my homilies…… from the Fifth Sunday in Lent
Eight years ago when Pope Benedict inherited the chair of Peter, the sense was that the cardinals had voted to continue the papacy of John Paul II. Continuity was the catch phrase. It what make the verse from Isaiah stand out: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” (Isaiah 43:18) Continue reading →
It is later in the autumn of 1206 that with his decision to “leave the world” Francis began to be aware of the powerful Divine Presence in his life through, his work among the lepers near Assisi, and his habit of taking refuge in churches for prayer and rebuilding the structures. At San Damiano he encountered the consoling presence of the Savior who had suffered and died for him. It was a presence he soon came to recognize in other church: “And the Lord granted me such faith in churches that I would pray simply and say: We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, in all you churches throughout the world, and we bless you, because by your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.” (Testament 4-7). Francis was at the beginnings of an inner peace. Continue reading →
“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance” (St. Augustine, Letter 18). At the root of Francis of Assisi’s on-going conversion was the movement towards a fuller realization of humility in his own life: from son of a privileged, wealthy merchant to a lesser brother following the footsteps of Christ. From one well-dressed and flamboyant as a young man to one who asked to be laid naked upon the ground at the time of his death. From one hiding from God, to one laid bare, knowing that what he was before God he was that and nothing more. Along the way he discovered and lived all the other virtues. Continue reading →
In the Earlier Rule 14 writing about mission, St. Francis says that Franciscans should go through the world subject to all people. It is one of the many ways in which Francis indicated that humility was to be a key virtue of the brothers. St. Bonaventure wrote hold that humility is “the root and guardian of all the other virtues.” (Tree of Life, 5). Each in his own way was understanding the implications of God’s creative love. Continue reading →
Each one of us is gifted and as St Paul instructs us, all the gifts are given in order to build up the community. Some receive gifts that play out in a very public setting before tremendous numbers of people. Certainly Rev. Billy Graham was so gifted. Some are gifted in ways that will never bring them before the public eye or even their own local community. They are said to “toil away in anonymity.” Anonymity? I guess it depends on who you want to watch. If you are striving to return your gifts to God, then an audience of One is quite sufficient.
Admonition Seventeen: The Humble Servant of God
1 Blessed is that servant who no more exalts himself over the good the Lord says or does through him than over what He says or does through another.
2 A person sins who wished to receive more from his neighbors than what he wished to give of himself to the Lord God.
People often remark that they need to pray for patience. St. Francis recognized it is only the stressful moments that reveal if our wellspring of patience has run dry. How does one fill the well of patience? Perhaps one needs to pray not simply for the general item of patience, but for healing of the inner wound that is easily enflamed that bursts to the surface as impatience. With the grace of God, one needs to make peace within oneself in order to keep the wellspring full.
Admonition Thirteen: Patience
1Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. A servant of God cannot know how much patience and humility he has within himself as long as he is content. 2 When the times comes, however, when those who should make him content do the opposite, he has as much patience and humility as he has at the time and no more.
My dad would occasionally remind me of the following wisdom: “Everyone you meet is your better because you can learn something from them.” They were words meant to remind you to keep your own accomplishments in perspective; celebrant them in the moment, build upon them, and learn from them – but do not set up camp and remain there. I suspect St. Francis would have liked my dad’s wisdom – he certainty understood its implications for the spiritual life. God accomplished so much through St. Francis – and Francis knew it was God’s doing and little of his own. Francis remained open to the working of God in his life and discerning the Spirit of the Lord.
Admonition Twelve: Knowing the Spirit of the Lord
1 A Servant of God can be known to have the Spirit of the Lord in this way; 2 if, when he Lord performs some good through him, his flesh does not therefore exalt itself, because it is always opposed to every good. 3 Instead he regards himself the more worthless and esteems himself less than all others.