Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: October 5, 2020

Today, once again like so many days this year, the world seems to be upside down. What used to be rock solid is soft and squishy. What used to be able to be counted on are less so. The hallmarks we so often used as life’s touchstones are all but gone. Yes, today, once again like so many days this year, the world seems to be upside down.

I have watched in great dismay as our own government implodes by acts of pure recklessness. I have witnessed family members and longtime friends turn against one another as one party tries to defend the indefensible. I have sat with those dismayed to the point of malfunction and depression. I, too, have become disillusioned and often want ‘off this ride’.

Then, today, I again visited the doctor to try and heal a sinus surgery that also has gone awry. I sat there, again, in his office and pleaded with the Lord that today – this day – it would finally be to a place of healing. As I was about to leave the parking lot my phone rang. It was Einstein Medical Center. I knew what they wanted, and I almost pressed the red button to deny the call. ‘I am sick, after all’, I said under my breath to no one in the car but me; but God spoke in that instant and I answered. The charge nurse began with “Thank God you answered, Monsignor. We can’t get any priest to answer today.” She then quickly regaled the details of a man name ‘Frank’ alone, scared, dying. No one allowed to be with him in his ICU bed. Would I please come.  

I did help. I heard his cries and his pain. I granted him the highest gift of my office as a priest: absolution. The loving embrace of a God who until that moment seemed so far away; so distant, but now is close again. I gave him peace, but in our brief exchange, as he gasped for air, I witnessed something come to me, too. Frank gave me peace. You see, he wasn’t concerned with the President or the Supreme Court or the fights playing out live on air. He just wanted peace. He wanted the things that last beyond what we think are so important. Frank wanted God. So do I. St. Francis ounce said, ‘Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give.’  By this holy standard, perhaps there is hope even for the likes of me.

Yes, once again – unexpectedly – God came, but God wasn’t done! No, as I sat back in my car to think and pray on Frank and our encounter, a friend sent me a poem she had written years ago. She saw my Facebook posts about my illness and wanted to support me in some small way. But, just like Frank, in her simple way, she gave me life. I end with sharing the beautiful words of my friend, Janet, to prayerfully bring you lasting peace; a peace the world can never hope to bring, or know, at least not here…


– Janet K. Hartzell  2013


It’s so hard Lord,

To let go of things,

Ideas, disappointments 

Of hurts.


It is so hard Lord to let go.

But as I look at the leaves on

The trees of autumn…..

First one leaf drops,

Then another, and another

Some not quite so sure they are ready

To yet let go of the past season,

      only in its own time 

                      when ready to let go

     And the time is right.


Perhaps they are hanging on just to

Reflect on what has been

                Or ……….what might have been

Until they are free of the past,

          And then, letting go and falling on the soft cushion 

Of the glorious colors of the already

            fallen leaves……..

                 of autumn,

     until  the tree is standing naked 

before Almighty God.


Have you ever looked at a tree in the winter 

     When it is free at last of its leaves?

How beautiful a winter tree is with all 

         Its bumps and imperfections…………..,

                 and years 

                       on display.

Free of the past years 


Unashamedly before the Almighty

        Free of the accumulation of the past season…….

                       The past lives.


Life is like that if we are able

            To really let go and trust that the |

Almighty God will catch us when

        We fall .

Then we will be able to come to the evening

              Of our lives with dignity and beauty

Knowing that through all the autumns

                Of our lives we have been blessed.

Then, being stripped bare,

            We will emerge into the newness of another

Spring in all its magical and majestic glory into

              The blessedness of a resurrected life.



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