Franciscan Moments

Our Weekly Devotional from

Saint Miriam!

Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: Februay 02, 2015

Well, it’s official! Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most beloved seasonal prognosticator, saw his shadow this morning portending six more weeks of winter. (Amazing that he could see a shadow with such overcast skies, but nonetheless, the prediction is uncovered.) But perhaps the most important piece of information learned today was that this year, the forecast suggests this winter will be remembered for its duration more than its intensity. We have to wonder…what will we be remembered for in terms of our faith and commitment? Our intensity, our duration, or something less flattering?

One day, while praying before a crucifix in the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano, Francis heard a voice speak to him that said, “Francis, repair my church, which has fallen into disrepair, as you can see.” At first Francis was inclined to take this assignment literally, and he began to physically restore the ruined building. Only later did he understand his real mission in a wider, more spiritual sense. His vocation was to recall the church to the radical simplicity of the gospel, to the spirit of poverty, and to the image of Christ in the poor.

Before long a dozen other young men had joined him in this effort. They became the nucleus of his new order, the Friars Minor. Clare of Assisi would soon follow, slipping through the city walls in the middle of the night to join the waiting brothers. The little community continued to grow and still does to this day, despite the ridicule of a world beset on material things and transitory happiness.

Francis’ life took shape around an utterly new agenda, contrary to the values of his family, his friends, and the world around him. Francis encouraged his followers to welcome ridicule and persecution as a means of conforming to the folly of the cross. He taught that unmerited suffering borne patiently for love of Christ was the path to “perfect joy.”

As we inch now ever closer to the holy season of Lent, where does your perfect true joy come from? What in your life needs reevaluated? Do you help build God’s holy church, or are you simply a bystander?

Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 26, 2015

St. Francis of Assisi desired to follow Jesus Christ and he wanted to always live according to the Gospel. One of the most profound ways that St. Francis came to know and follow Jesus was through the pages of Sacred Scripture. The writings of St. Francis often quoted scripture and alluded to them with great ease. The words of the Bible were so deeply woven within St. Francis; it was almost as if they became a part of him! He embraced God’s Word and lived by them! (St. Francis even insisted that when the friars saw scraps of paper they should pick them up, just in case the Word of God was written on them!)

The ideals of scripture were expressed through St. Francis’ love of God and his neighbor, especially the poor and marginalized. These ideals are found within Saint Miriam and her willingness to welcome everyone. St. Francis looked at the Bible as a guideline to living life in a way that is morally good in the eyes of God. But he also recognized that knowing and doing were incomplete with the other. Therefore, St. Francis labored for those ideals expressed in the pages of scripture. In other words, he sowed what he read and helped to bring about a better world about through his own poverty, effort, and willingness to love unconditionally, even those the world hated.

As we approach the coming  “month of love”, let us pause to pray as we ask ourselves, do we love deeply enough? If we died today would those people and places that made our lives meaningful and more complete know that we loved them? If someone looked at our lives would they readily see that which we truly loved, or, would we be embarrassed in how we spend our time and money?

Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 19, 2015

Soon it will be Lent. I know, I know…I am thinking the very same thing as I pen this devotion! Lent? Already?! Yes. Lent begins this year on Wednesday, February 18th with the arrival of Ash Wednesday. And many parishes, including Saint Miriam, will begin to offer the beautiful tradition of a rendition of the Stations of the Cross. A way to deepen our Lenten devotion and enhance the remembrances of Lent in our holy Church.

At Saint Miriam, these devotions happen every Thursday, following the mid-week Mass at 6:00pm. We gather for Mass at 6:00pm and then pray the stations at 6;30pm as a community of faith. This year, we have a brand new way to make this “journey of the stations” even more meaningful! Therefore, by way of having us all turn our attention, even briefly, toward this coming Lenten season, perhaps a reminder of what these stations are will help in today’s devotion and assist us to pray more deeply.

Each Station recalls a moment of when Jesus ‘stopped along the journey toward his death.” The word, ‘station’ means a place of stopping, just as many do with our local SEPTA railway stations! Jesus stops to talk to people, to show compassion, to fall in his exhaustion, to carry his own cross, and to receive help from Simon, and yes, to fall again and yet again. Yes, each of the fourteen stations is a stopping point in the journey of Jesus to Golgotha. It is as if we become living witnesses to Jesus’ journey as we pray these stations together, but we should also be mindful of our own stations, our own places of stopping…

Where are we halted by illness, injury, grief, or hardship? Where have we been stopped in life by our own psychological burdens, our insecurities, or addictions? Where have we been stationed far too long because of our unwillingness to forgive or let go?

Perhaps this week, we can begin to stop and seek the help from the ‘Simons’ in our life? Perhaps we might even ask Jesus to help us carry our burdens, too?

Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 12, 2015

Our Franciscan spirituality is communal, emphasizing the “we” over the “I.”  We always remind one another that in our parish, and in our work in the world, we must always focus on ‘the other’ – all the others around us. This is not an easy task, but we are called to care for each other in a way that world has forgotten. While each human is a separate and distinct, each grows and flourishes within community. Franciscan spirituality is based on this recognition of the ‘whole community’ and has the calming insight that we can choose our friends, but never our brothers and sisters! In the larger context, Franciscan spirituality and thought is always lived out in a manner that renders all people as ‘chosen’ in the eyes of God, created in God’s image, and thereby replaces class warfare with class cooperation, respect, and love. Franciscans always care for others.

Franciscan spirituality, then, is lesser, humble, and poor. Hence why we are Friars Minor! It acknowledges that all is a gift from the God that we adore, including our talents, our finances, and our unique abilities. Since Franciscans recognize that they truly never own nothing, they wear greatness well and so are  true and faithful stewards of God’s creation.

Franciscan spirituality is also very practical; not fasting beyond what the Church requires, or overeating of what is set before one, preaching without words, and feeding those who are hungry, caring for those hurting, or in grief. Simply being with the others we meet.
This week, take a few moments and reflect on the ideals of our shared Franciscan heritage. Seek to find your place in the application, “If we are not lesser than those we care for, than we cannot ever truly be ministers of those in need.” 
How will you be of service this week? Will you set aside your own needs to serve others and thereby become richer for the effort?