This past week we had two events in our Franciscan life which caused me to pause and ponder. As one journeys in this way of life, there are moments which awaken within you not only memories but also encouragement in one’s vocation. Both of the events this past week have been invitation and awareness.
The first of the two events was the First Profession of Vows of our two novices. It is only because of a timing issue which allowed for this important moment to take place here. Typically, our novices are in Ireland for this moment in their Franciscan life. As someone who has lived this vowed life for seven years, to witness this simple but powerful commitment reminded me again of my own “yes” and resolution to live our vows in the context of today’s society. As I heard our novices make their vows while placing their hands into the hands of our Provincial, my heart was agreeing again to live out these same promises. It was again an invitation to trust in God’s will and love at work in my life. It was an awareness of the support and growth we find in fraternal community. It was a fire enflamed for the core of who we are as Franciscans to live the gospel, to embody it a bit more and to witness it again and again. The moment of Vows is a moment of surrender. To be reminded of this again was gift and in some heart anchoring way strengthen my own yes made a few years ago.
The second event was a Memorial Mass and interment of cremated remains of one of our Friars, Anthony. A Friar who had lived this way of life for nearly 75 years. A Friar who came from humble beginnings near to where my story begins. A Friar who had lived the gospel in a variety of locations, always meeting people and offering them a sense of God with us. As we honored him and celebrated his eternal reward, I was taken by the reality check of life. We may live to be into our mid-nineties or we may not, we may have a humble beginning or not, we may have a varied life or not. Regardless of any of this, God is at work in us and for us. It again requires trust and surrender. Just like Friar Anthony continually trusted God was present with him in his mission as a Friar. Just like Friar Anthony surrendered not only his lived life but also his final breaths into the love and mercy of God, each of us must do the same; Friar or not.
During his homily at the Memorial Mass, our Provincial read a portion of a letter which Friar Anthony had left. Friar Anthony concluded his letter, “I have come to love and appreciate St. Francis and St. Clare, and I hope that I have made them known better through my talks and homilies.” This struck me, for this is what I hope I am doing with my vocation as a Friar and my current ministry. For in loving and appreciating St. Francis and St. Clare I am loving Christ and making him known to others. St. Francis and St. Clare, Friar Anthony and our two newly professed Friars each carry a light in them; a divine spark. By encountering this again this week I am reminded of my own light and divine spark which I carry with me into what is mine to do. I hope in doing this I encourage others to pay attention to their divine spark, the light which they carry and how God is at work in their life.
It is good to be reminded time and again of the gifts of our journey and of the “yes” we say. It is in these moments we see our faithful God, are met with the gifts and challenges of relationships and are encouraged to continue to shine like the stars.
Photo Credit: Susan Campbell