The initial shock of the news that far too many priests had abused children grew only larger when we learned how Catholic bishops and dioceses tried to silence victims and cover up wrong doing. That truth was sacrificed for the sake of the Church’s reputation is not only a scandal, but a decision that led to abusing priests being sent to new parishes, placing more innocent children at risk. What has been overlooked in many places is the number of good priests who have had to deal with the fallout of the scandal—the anger of some of their parishioners, social media attacks on the Church and the suspicion that lingers around the priesthood in general.
While Pope Francis has taken the courageous step to publicly acknowledge the sin of the Church; and he did this at a public meeting of the Bishops of the world held at the Vatican earlier this year (February 2019) in Rome, we know that no meeting, no amount of new regulations will undo the damage already caused. The Pope did not pretend that this could happen. What he demanded on the Bishops was to find concrete ways to renew the Church as a spiritual home for those whose lives had been broken by priests and bishops who abused their power and position of authority. He knew that expressions of compassion and justice for the victims must be affirmed in dismantling those systems and structures that made power and authority more important than mercy and service; that allowed both the abuse and cover-up to go on so long.
What can Secular Franciscans do to support the healing process, to join with both the Pope and their Patron in the work begun with summons of the Crucified: “Francis, rebuild my house”? READ HIS FULL ARTICLE
Pope Francis, in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, has presented us with a significant contribution to Catholic Social Teaching…..Laudato Si’ sounds an alarm that we have lost our way in addressing this basic human and Christian calling. Our world is falling into serious disrepair, and our way of living is threatening future life on the planet.
Canadian Bishops, ...offer a resource to help Catholics, whether individually or in groups, to engage more deeply with the challenge of Laudato Si’ in their Canadian context. This resource is organized into six chapters, each based on one of the six chapters of Laudato Si’. Each chapter concludes with a series of reflection questions and resources for action, organized under the headings See, Learn, Pray, Act.
This is another excellent option for fraternities looking to introduce JPIC and Laudato Si' to their fraternities through ongoing formation. Download the pdf file here.
The story of St. Francis and the Christmas Crib at Greccio focuses on what was really important to Francis –the poverty of Jesus and his mother, and the discomfort felt by the little baby. Celano also places an emphasis on the three virtues of simplicity, poverty, and humility, and leads us to understand that the poverty of Francis is in imitation of the poverty of Jesus. For Francis, the external poverty of Christ’s birth at Bethlehem is representative of the radical poverty of the Incarnation.
1. Reflection question: what is the place of poverty – simplicity – humility in my life?
The narrative stresses the importance of “memory”, which also means “ensuring that we do not forget.” Celano repeats the word memory at the beginning and at the end of the story and writes of how Francis wished “to enact the memory of that babe who was born in Bethlehem.” This is an essential duty of our faith— a faith that, according to the Bible, can be summed up as “remembering the deeds of the Lord.”
2. Reflection question: where do we enact “memory” in our lives? Are we able to re-read the events of our lives and perceive the Lord’s presence in them?
For all Christians, the “memorial” of the Lord par excellence is the Eucharist that we friars celebrate daily. The parallel between the Incarnation and the Eucharist is often expressed in Francis’ thought and writings. At Greccio, the nativity scene does not have crib figures to evoke the mystery of the Incarnation, instead the Eucharist is celebrated as the supreme memorial.
3. Reflection question: what truly is the place of the Eucharist in my life, in the course of my day?
Making memory in this way, however, is not merely an intellectual operation. In the account of Greccio all of the senses are involved. The sight of the scene, with countless images of light; hearing songs and Francis’ own fine voice; the touch of the baby who awakes and is held in his arms; the sweet taste that has Francis licking his lips! All this speaks of a healthy relationship with the senses, which are part of our relationship with God and part of proclaiming the Gospel. There is an interplay between the bodily and spiritual senses in the Christian tradition, and this can serve as a warning against excessive intellectualism. Franciscan spirituality sees the senses as an avenue to God.
4. Reflection question: what is the place of the senses in my relationship with God, and in how my faith is expressed?
Francis invites us to make room for creativity, which opens us up to the new. We’re invited to give space to feelings, to joy, to songs, to festive celebration. He also calls us to enjoy the beauty of poverty, which in the story of Greccio is characterized by a dignity and beauty that become a source of joy.
5. Reflection question: how open am I to the new and to what challenges me? How can I grasp the beauty of poverty?
STORY: THE MANGER ST. FRANCIS PREPARED IN CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S BIRTHDAY
- Thomas of Celano, Life of St Francis,
by Daniel P. Horan - National Catholic Reporter (December 10, 2018)
Trappist Fr. Thomas Merton is pictured with Dalai Lama in 1968, whom Merton met during his Asia trip. (CNS/Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University)
Young people — and not-so-young people alike — want "real" Christian models, women and men who inspire us not by their perfection in life and faith, but by their committed struggle in life to keep the faith. Day's experience of ongoing conversion and struggles for peace and justice on behalf of the poor, and Mother Teresa's long trial of experiencing God's absence while nevertheless persisting in caring for society's "untouchables" — these are Christians that speak to women and men today. It is their humanity on display that makes them both holy and relevant....
....We should care about Thomas Merton today because in many ways he reveals something to us about who we are: modern women and men, religious and laity, striving to connect the faith of Christianity with the particularity of our lives.
Let's start with ourselves, but let's also pray that everyone grows in this virtue a bit.
Step 1: Fear the Lord
Man must keep the fear of God always before his eyes, and never forget His commandments. The fear of God means reverence for God; what we often forget is that by offending God, we offend ourselves.
Step 2: Not my will, but yours O Lord (from John 6:38)
This means that in order to be humble, we must avoid taking inordinate pleasure in our own wants and desires but always strive to do God’s will before all else.
READ ALL OF THE 12 STEPS Download PDF Version
Our guest speaker for the Regional Spiritual Conference in August, 2018 was Dr. Richard Shields. Comments from those that attended found Dr. Shields an excellent speaker and his talks were realistic and current to our day and time. We asked Dr. Shields to consider sharing future thoughts with us to be put on our Regional newsletter "Franciscan Focus" and he agreed. This is Dr. Shields first sharing. - Sherrill Guimond, Regional Formation Director
CIOFS is excited to present you a special gift to help you celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Rule. CIOFS has prepared a 12-minute video, entitled, “Forty years of the ‘New' Rule, A Treasure for the OFS" which provides a historical perspective on the rule of 1978 and a beautiful summary. Please share this video with your brothers and sisters. View the video and celebrate the rule together. Take some time to discuss and contemplate its message. Celebrate this great treasure in your hearts and carry it with you throughout the day. https://youtu.be/Y2eUXrAuWO4
How can we sum up the spirituality of St. Francis? One way to start, Murray Bodo, OFM, says, is to consider his “Canticle of the Creatures.” “He praises God,” Fr. Murray says, “by being a part of all of the created world.”
- OFS member, Jim Milton shared this site with us. Thanks Jim.
Jesuit Father Thomas Reese developed A Reader's Guide to Laudato Si' that speaks to our Franciscan charism and may assist your Fraternity in honouring our commitment to "respecting our common home". The guide goes through Pope Francis' encyclical, chapter by chapter with a short commentary on each chapter followed by a selection of discussion questions. For those of you who have not already made a study of the encyclical, Laudato Si', this would be an excellent way of taking each month one chapter to include in your On-going Formation study. - Sherrill Guimond. ofs, Regional Formation Director
As your Regional Formation Director, I hope to provide fraternities with formation ideas and material that will be useful in your local formation programs. My hope is that you will share your ideas as well so we can all benefit. Just click on the Comments Button.