This past weekend I was engaged in Retreat Ministry. I was part of a Team presenting one retreat and led another retreat for a parish group. While I was preparing for the retreats I came across this verse which ran in a parish bulletin years ago and shared it as part of the retreat.
Come and work beside your brothers
Serve God upon God’s throne
Come and labor with your sisters
Build God’s Kingdom stone by stone
See the fields so ripe for harvest
Take your place among the rows
Come and labor with God’s children
That God may reap where we have sown
This verse is a simple reminder that we each have a part to do. Each one of us has gifts and skills, talents and abilities to build the kingdom. Each day we are given an opportunity in both great and small ways. That thought was part of my message for the retreats. We are all called to sainthood; each and every one of us. We continually achieve this by building the kingdom and pointing towards Christ. Where have we done so today? Where have we built the kingdom? Where have we shown Christ to others?
This is what St. Francis strived for each and every day. He desired nothing more than to build the kingdom and point to Christ; to be a true reflection of Him who was brother and savior. It began in the simplest of ways – embracing of a leper, rebuilding little churches and transformed into a way of life, a surrendering his all, a devouring of God’s goodness and mercy which he continually discovered in the world around him.
As we begin our journey towards the Feast Day of St. Francis (October 4) I invite you to ponder your building up of the kingdom, your serving, and how you are a vessel of Christ in our world. I also invite you to prayer. Traditionally a novena (9 days of prayer – asking a saint to intercede for us before Christ) are prayed leading up to a feast day of a Saint. Today (September 25) marks the start of the novena for St. Francis. I invite you to join me in praying the prayer St. Francis composed before the crucifix at San Damiano and to conclude with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
Most High, Glorious God,
Enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith, certain hope
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.
St. Francis… pray for us.
Guide us on the path of Christ so we too may build Christ’s kingdom with you.