Just Gospel: Pope Francis’ March Intention

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on Pope Francis’ March intention “that the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.”

…Spirit of faith, rise above our doubting. Make us your own, now is the time… Tom Kendzia continues to challenge us in the words of his hymn. In our minds we know that certainly God in all his might is quite capable of rising above our puny doubts. However, in the daily round of living we can lose perspective and our little doubts trade places with God’s mighty Spirit and that Spirit becomes distant and small in the blur of our vision which focuses on the doubts that beset us. Now is the time to put things in order, to see clearly, to take on the focus of God’s vision.

Pope Francis, in his intention for the month leads us to the tool most needed in sharpening the focus of our inner vision. He asks us to pray, That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels. There is much for us to pray about here. We know the term “formation”. It is good to be reminded that the discernment Pope Francis speaks of cannot be simply taught or learned or even caught. Spiritual discernment requires formation, long term openness to the Hand of the Master and his instruments. And what is spiritual discernment? Spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter. It is how the Spirit shows the church and its people what God wants them to do and be. So we are to pray for ourselves, the Church and the whole world that all may be open to being formed in ways of calling on the Spirit to lead in our decision-making. What a different world this would produce!

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Canada invokes Pope Francis’ image of the Church as a field hospital after a battle. He writes, “The image of the church as a field hospital is not just a simple, pretty, poetic metaphor. Field hospitals by their very nature indicate a battleground, a struggle, suffering, confusion, emergency; and they foster dialogue and encounter, conversion, accompaniment, consolation, compassion and the binding of wounds. Each of us who serves on the front lines in the field hospitals of the Church is also a wounded healer. The power to heal comes from a spiritual source and each one of us has the potential to connect with that source.” So, if we are to serve the People of God as healer, teacher, or leader, we must be in touch with the source of all healing and life, that is God. This implies an ability to discern the working of his Spirit among us.

This challenge of spiritual discernment finds a place in our life through the living of our charism. Our Core Value statement reads, “We believe that our Charism both identifies us and influences our decision making as we become more faithful followers of Jesus and Francis.” There’s that mention of decision making. The context for our discernment has to be our Franciscan and uniquely Catholic Charism. This month should find us praying for guidance in our spiritual discernment, for inspiration among all of God’s people that they might discern authentically, and that we might worthily participate in the formation of others in finding the workings of the Spirit here and now for now is the time!

We invite you to visit us at a time that works for you or consider one of our other discernment opportunities. Click here.

Franciscan Religious Witnesses to Vocation as Teacher

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Pavel Morin. Read the entire account here: Franciscan Sister Pavel Morin reflection

On June 26, 1951 Therese wrote the following letter:

Dear Mother Edna,
I’m very interested in your order and would like to join. Please send me the necessary papers so that I may apply for admittance. Thank you,
Therese Morin

On August 13, 1951 Therese’s pastor, Rev. Raymond J Garin, wrote the following letter:

To whom it may concern,
Therese Morin, a member of my Parish, has informed me of her wish to become a member of the Order of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. I have known her for a number of years and I feel reasonably sure that she was in earnest when she told me of her desire. I have been very favorably impressed with her piety. She assists at Mass and receives Holy Communion practically daily. Furthermore, I feel practically certain that she is morally suited for the Convent. She impresses me as a good, clean-cut girl, of excellent character. And whatever I have heard others say concerning her was to her credit. Therefore, I feel justified in recommending Therese to the Convent of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Raymond J. Garin
Administrator of St. John’s

Therese was accepted to enter Holy Family Convent on August. 23, 1951. On her Reception day, June 13, 1952, she received the name Sister Pavel. She attended Holy Family College earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree on July 28, 1965 with a Major in Education and a Minor in English. Sister Pavel was an excellent Primary Grade teacher for 38 years in Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio and Michigan. She was very generous and caring.


Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Fifth Week of Lent

Be inspired this Fifth Week of Lent. This weekly Sunday Gospel reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. If you would like to read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 18 2018 Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: Eau Claire Ecumenical Center, Eau Claire, WI

John 12:20-33

Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.


Most of the preceding chapter of this gospel recounts Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. After he did this, some came to believe in Jesus, but others went off to inform the Pharisees. The chief priests and Pharisees convened a meeting of the full Sanhedrin. Because they worried about Rome’s reaction to Jesus’ growing popularity, they decided to kill Jesus. Therefore, Jesus no longer walked in public, and he left the region. The people who had gathered for the Passover were looking for Jesus and wondering if he would come for the feast. The chief priests and the Pharisees had spread the word that they wanted to arrest him. Six days before the Passover, Jesus traveled to Bethany and the house of Lazarus. While at dinner, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil. The crowd learned where Jesus was and came out to see him and Lazarus. The plot to kill Jesus was expanded to include Lazarus. Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem with crowds of people greeting him, waving palm branches and crying out “Hosanna!” At this sight the Pharisees said, “Look, the whole world has gone after him.” (John 12:19b) This briefly summarizes the text that immediately precedes this week’s gospel. (John 11:45-12:19)

Philip and Andrew are Greek names. It is possible that the Greeks who had come to Jerusalem knew Philip, or at least thought they would have a better chance of meeting Jesus by approaching a fellow Greek. The text does not say whether or not they were Jews, or why they were in Jerusalem. The assumption that they were there to celebrate the Passover is not confirmed in the text. They may also have been there to sell merchandise to the crowds, or as escorts to Jews who had come for the feast. Their presence and their request to meet Jesus make the Pharisees’ statement that “the whole world has gone after him” a statement of the reality. (One of the techniques used by the gospel writers is to have an adversary or a spirit speak a truth before it is accepted and understood by those who are disciples.)

With the arrival of the Greeks, Jesus says that his hour has also arrived. It is both the hour that he dreads and the hour of his glory. They are one and the same. Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat to illustrate his point. It is only by the seed’s destruction that it can become a plant that can then provide nourishment. The reality that the seed must surrender its life as a seed in order to become a plant is also Jesus’ reality, as well as the reality of those who desire to be his followers. The use of the words “love and hate” emphasizes the contrast. A choice is involved here, a decision has to be made. The prayer that begins in verse 28 indicates a sense of the real struggle Jesus experiences in making his choice. With Jesus’ decision to be faithful, the events that will lead to his hour of dread and glory have been set in motion. God’s affirmation, the voice from heaven, is heard by those present, but not understood. The hour of judgment has come. The rulers of the world, those who do not accept his teaching, will be defeated. In the text, the Greeks have come to Jerusalem for the Passover and to find their way to Jesus. At the end of the text, Jesus says that when he is raised up he will draw everyone to himself. We gather to hear this gospel and we are challenged to accept “our hour.”

Reflection Questions

1. Have you ever encountered people who are looking to find or discover Jesus?
2. Has there been a time in your own life when you were looking in some way to find Jesus?
3. Is this Lent in some way an expression of your desire to see or know Jesus more completely?
4. How is the approach of the Greeks seeking to find Jesus a fitting introduction to Jesus’ instruction about his own approaching death?
5. In verse 25, Jesus talks about those who love their life. Who are the people in your life you would associate with loving their life?
6. Do you recall a period in your own life when you had to die to yourself in order to be faithful to the gospel or to your own integrity?
7. Do you think that Jesus was really troubled by the fact that his hour was finally approaching? What might have been some of the things that were troubling to him?
8. Have you ever found yourself saying, with the Greeks, “I want to see Jesus?”
9. Can you take some time to talk with God about your own desire to see God more fully, or about Jesus’ prayer in this text, or about some other thought that arose within you as you pondered this gospel?

Franciscan Sister and Nurse Responded to God’s Call

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie reflects on the life of Sister Mary Felice Wellman. To read the entire reflection, click here: Franciscan Mary Felice Wellman reflection

Jane wanted to be a nurse, so after high school she went to Good Samaritan School of Nursing in Zanesville, Ohio, graduating in 1950. While in Nursing School Jane got to know more members of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, since they were her teachers. After graduation Jane worked at St. Francis Hospital in Cambridge.

Jane also was acquainted with the Sisters of Charity from Mount St. Joseph where one of her Aunts, Sister Catherine Therese, was a member. When she felt that God was calling her to be a Sister she wrote the following letter to Mother Edna dated May 27, 1950:

Dear Rev. Mother Edna,
Please may I be permitted to enter your Community? I have prayed, longed and given serious thought to know God’s will in my regard. At first I had the consent of my parents. Now I do not and the difficulties and problems appear insurmountable.

My father visited me today and has asked me to wait till I have taken State Board examinations which are in November. His reasons for this request are based primarily on financial embarrassment and the refusal of my mother to acquiesce to my desire. My mother hasn’t been herself since I told her what I really want to do. My father feels that if I wait until after November, it will give me a longer time to think about the matter and also give mother more time to see God’s holy Will in my regard. These clouds seem to hang heavy over my head.

Mother, I do want to do the right thing regarding my vocation and also my parents and yet I don’t want to hurt them. I would appreciate any help you may give me in this matter. Should I continue to work here at Good Samaritan Hospital until November, or would you advise me to go to the Convent in August without necessary items? In the meantime I will continue to pray to Our Lord for grace to accomplish my main desire to serve Him as a Franciscan Sister. Thank you.
Jane Wellman

Jane eventually did receive permission to enter the Convent after taking her State Boards. She sent her pre-entrance medical record and application to Mother Edna in a letter dated August 14, 1950. In this letter she wrote, “I am eagerly looking forward to my arrival in Wisconsin in November. I have been praying and studying hard that I will write a successful State Board.” Jane had her physical for entrance done by Doctor Fred Phillips who was a surgeon on staff at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was described as a gentle, kind-hearted, grandfatherly type of man. His closing comment to Jane was, “I bet you $5.00 that you will not last five years in the Convent.” At the end of five years she received five dollars in the mail from him.

We invite you to consider our coming retreats. Click here.

Franciscan Sister Facilitates Eau Claire Discernment of Spirits Retreat

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Jacqueline Spaniola directed 20 young people in a Discernment of Spirits Retreat day at the Eau Claire Ecumenical Religious Center March 3, 2018. Father Dan Oudenhoven and Campus Minister Savannah Siegler were open to exposing students to St. Ignatius’  22 Rules of discernment.

Here’s some feedback from the students about the silent retreat day.

What touched your heart?

  • Realizing that prayer is not always talking. Prayer is listening.
  • Developing my relationship with Christ through desolation
  • The ability to sit in silence and reflect the Lord’s plan and direction
  • The silence really helped me think about things that I needed to work on and let God into my life.
  • Learning the rules of discernment especially patience and how God tests us
  • Really sitting down and understanding a discernment process
  • I really loved learning the rules of discernment and having tangible ways of knowing what is from God.

What part of the retreat was the most helpful?

  • It was very helpful to be able to take a break from my busy life to stop and reflect and listen. Then, it was very helpful to then be able to talk to Sister J about what thoughts were running through my head.
  • Knowing how to decipher evil spirits and good spirits. Also knowing about how consolation can bring evil spirits into our thought process
  • I think it was helpful to learn how to hear God’s voice and determine how to know if you are doing his will.
  • daily discernment affects big discernment.
  • mentioning that we shouldn’t ‘break off too much to chew’ so that the devil can tempt us in that way.
  • what is God’s will for my life and not being selfish
  • the note sheets and resources-having Sisters here with us.
  • greatly appreciated how methodical it was. This really helped with clarity of mind.

Is God calling you to a Discernment of Spirits Retreat? Click here for coming options with Franciscan Sisters and contemplative nuns.

Franciscan Calendar: Saint Agnes of Prague

For our March Franciscan Calendar of Saints, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity highlight Saint Agnes of Prague to whom Saint Clare wrote: I am filled with such joys at your well-being, happiness and marvelous progress through which, I understand, you have advanced in the course you have undertaken to win the prize of heaven. And I sigh with such happiness in the Lord because I know you see that you make up most wonderfully what is lacking both in me and in the other sisters in following the footprints of the poor and humble Jesus Christ.”

A Life of Relationships… including Canonized Saints

  • In 1205, on the eve of the feast of the holy virgin and martyr Agnes, a daughter was born to Primislaus Ottokar I, the king of Bohemia. St Agnes of Prague received the name Agnes in baptism.
  • Her mother was an aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
  • According to the custom of the time, the king’s daughter was betrothed at the age of three years to the son of the Duke of Silesia. She was sent to be educated at the Silesain convent at Trebnitz, where St Hedwig was superior at that time.
  • Pope Gregory IX  himself intervened after arranged marriages for Agnes did not come to be, so that she could follow her heart as a Poor Clare Nun. St. Clare responded to the request for a monastery in Bohemia and sent five sisters from the Convent of St. Damiano in Assisi, to Prague. Agnes and seven other young women of the local royal families entered the new convent together with these sisters.

Photo: Icon of Soul Friends, St. Clare of Assisi and St. Agnes of Prague written by Sr. Roberta Cusack, OSF

Within a short time Agnes was respected by her fellow nuns for her virtue in living her call as a consecrated religious. If you’d like to read more about correspondence between St. Agnes and St. Clare, this article on their letters by the San Luis Rey Fraternity is a delightful read. click here.

St. Agnes of Prague, who encouraged other young women to embrace the consecrated life, pray for us! 



Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Lent

The weekly Sunday Gospel reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. If you would like to read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 11 2018 Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: Holy Spirit Parish, Stevens Point, WI; cross that belonged to Franciscan Sister Irma Grieg

John 3:14-21

[Jesus said to Nicodemus:] And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.


The gospel for this Sunday is part of a dialogue that Jesus had with Nicodemus. That dialogue began when “a certain Pharisee named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, came to him at night. ‘Rabbi,’ he said, ‘we know you are a teacher come from God, for no man can perform signs and wonders such as you perform unless God is with him.’” (John 3:1-2) Nicodemus asks three questions of Jesus, and Jesus’ responses form a dialogue that concludes in verse 21. In the first of the narratives, Jesus reassures Nicodemus that no one can be part of the reign of God unless they are begotten from above. While the question is not directly stated in the text, it seems that Nicodemus’ confusion has been caused by a word that can either mean “again” or “from above.” In the second, Jesus tells him that one must be begotten of water and the Holy Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God. The third response is the text for this Sunday, which deals with why the Son of Man had to be “lifted up.”

In order to protect his reputation as a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night. Later in John’s gospel, the reactions to Jesus’ teaching in the temple produced a divided response, with some believing him and others wanting him arrested. The chief priests and the Pharisees insulted the Temple police for not arresting Jesus on the spot. (John 7: 45-49) But Nicodemus questioned their thinking. “Since when does our law condemn any man without first hearing him and knowing the facts?” (John 7:51) At that point they turn their taunts on Nicodemus. “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:52B) Finally, at the end of John’s gospel, it was Nicodemus, along with Joseph of Arimathea, who made sure that Jesus’ body was buried. (John 19:38-42)

In Jesus’ response to Nicodemus that is recorded in the gospel text for today, Jesus draws on the familiar story of Moses in the desert to explain how one can be begotten of the Spirit. Jesus makes a bridge between himself, who will be lifted up on the cross, and the bronze serpent Moses used in the desert. The Lord told Moses to mount a bronze serpent on a pole and lift it up in the air. Anyone who had been bitten by a snake and then looked upon the serpent would be cured. (Numbers 21:8-9) Jesus is saying that, in a like manner, he will be lifted up on a cross, and anyone who looks on him with faith will be saved from death and will have eternal life.

Reflection Questions

1. Do you know people who seem to need time to wrestle with questions of life, meaning, and their belief in God?
2. Have you ever had questions about your faith or about your relationship with God?
3. Have you ever thought God was deliberately remaining mysterious, hidden, or difficult to understand?
4. Have you ever asked yourself what kind of God would God be if God were easy to understand, and easy to perceive?
5. Why do you think many monastic communities gather to pray in the night and at an hour before dawn? Do you think the darkness and the night have an impact on the quality of their prayer?
6. Do you ever pray to God in the quiet of the night?
7. How do you see Jesus responding to Nicodemus in this text?
8. How do you reconcile what Jesus is saying in this text, about those who are already condemned for their lack of faith, and how he is responding to Nicodemus?
9. Jesus draws on the image of the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up for people to look at and be healed. Jesus then says: “so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Have you ever prayed by just looking at the image of Jesus on the cross? What does this text say to you about that kind of prayer?
10. Why would it have been important for John’s community to remember and record Nicodemus’ encounter with Jesus?
11. Can you take some time to talk with God about your questions, about how Jesus seems to be responding to Nicodemus, or about your own desire to be in right relationship with God?

Franciscan Moment: Mary Esther Stewart O.F.S.

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity feature Secular Franciscan Mary Esther Stewart during the month of March.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mother, grandmother, widow, retired educator, gardener and artist living in Flagstaff, Arizona. I am a member of our local Secular Franciscan fraternity named for Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, ofs.

What attracted you to the Franciscans?

In 1999, as director of adult education for our parish, I was asked by our pastor to provide an education program about our new patron, St. Francis of Assisi. I began to read the Franciscan sources, interact with some Franciscans in Phoenix, and look into this new-found spirituality. What I discovered was a healthy, positive approach to God and all things spiritual. This was reinforced in me when I got involved with the writings of St. Bonaventure and made a few pilgrimages with the Franciscan Pilgrimage Program. I just simply liked what was unfolding in me. My children liked it, too; they told me there was something different about me and they liked it.


Why did you become a Secular Franciscan?

I had no desire to formalize my Franciscan adventure, least of all to join an official group. But I heard Franciscans talking about “the Franciscan family.” As a widow, the idea was beginning to appeal to me. On the occasion that I was assisting a friar with a retreat, I heard him explain the roles for each of the branches of the Franciscan family. When he came to the Seculars, he said their role was “to be Gospel in the world.” That really spoke to me; I decided that I really wanted that for myself. In 2010 I was professed in the Secular Franciscan Order and I’ve been a happy Franciscan ever since.

In what way do the Secular Franciscans differ from the other three branches of the Franciscan family?

All the branches of the Franciscan family are equal but autonomous, and they all share the same charism, to live the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis. But each branch has its own emphasis: the friars are to be minor, lesser brothers in the world, at the service of all; the Poor Clares are the contemplative dimension of the family; the Third Order Regular (active religious living in community and bound by vows) are the focused apostolic part of the family in their work in schools, hospitals, missions, social work, etc.; and the Seculars are to be Gospel in the world. We maintain our secular lives, our jobs, our families, our money, cars and homes, but we live a life of witness to the Gospel. So a Secular Franciscan mailman delivers mail, treating each person he meets with dignity; a Secular Franciscan nurse serves her patients with joy; a Secular Franciscan who volunteers at a homeless kitchen prepares the food as if he or she, like Zacchaeus, were feeding Jesus. Shouldn’t everyone do this, you ask? Yes, but they don’t always. Christians have not always seen their spiritual life connected to the social needs of others; we have too long been blind to the leper among us, both systemically and individually. As Secular Franciscans, we make a permanent, life commitment to live the Gospel in the world. We strengthen and support each other by our fraternal life and our shared and individual prayer lives. We meet in monthly gatherings for prayer, formation, and laughter and joy. We have a Rule of Life that guides us along with our daily contemplative prayer time focused on the Gospel. We don’t take vows, but we make a life promise to observe poverty (a simple life-style), chastity (a life of love for our families, our fraternity members, and all whom we encounter), and obedience (a life dedicated to listening to the Gospel message) and to live the Gospel in our secular state. Our Secular Franciscan life is a permanent way of life.

What do you think is the significance of the Secular Franciscan Order for the future of the Church?

Secular Franciscans, like their brothers and sisters in the other branches of the Franciscan family, take roles of service, prayer, and apostolic activity. But we can be your next-door neighbor, your bridge partner, the CEO of the company, or the chef in the local restaurant. Rather than a religious habit, our symbol is the Tau, a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. One Secular Franciscan friend of mine summed it up perfectly: She was a teacher’s aide in a public school. She was highly respected by the parents for the kind way she treated the children in her class. She always wore a little silver Tau around her neck. One day a parent asked her what that was. She said that she was Franciscan and that the Tau is her Franciscan symbol. The parent replied, “Oh, I always knew there was something different about you.” That is our Secular Franciscan challenge in the world: to make a difference in ourselves, in our society, and in the future of our Church by spreading the Gospel message of peace and joy.

You can learn more about our Secular Franciscan life by visiting our fraternity website: www.sfoflagstaff.org.
Please visit me on my website and view my Franciscan art, writings and Franciscan presentation list: www.arcoirisstudio.com

Franciscan Sister on Point Catholic Busy Student Retreat Team

Invited for the recent Point Catholic Busy Student Retreat, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Julie Ann Sheahan served on the team of directors ministering to 60 students who committed themselves to the week. Campus Minister Wendy Mitch and Father Tom Lindner planned and organized the retreat with the theme ‘Get Centered’.

Students committed themselves to the following things:

  • Set aside time each day for four days to pray on your own.
  • Meet with spiritual director for a half hour each day for four days.
  • Dinner will be served every night. Join as your schedule allows.
  • Join retreat participants for praise and preaching each night. And if your schedule allows, gather for Mass each day.

Knowing students have just begun to learn the ways in which God is part of their daily lives, retreatants also received helps for what to do after the retreat on how to develop patterns of personal prayer so their relationship with God can continue to grow. This included reading the Scripture readings used at daily Mass and St. Ignatius’ examen.

Other Retreat directors included: Father Frank Corradi, Father Dennis Lynch, Alexian Brother Patrick McCabe, Marge McCardle, Father Billy Dodge, Sister Stephanie Spandl, SSND, Pat Pintens and Sister Sandy Setterland, SSJ-TOSF.

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Third Sunday of Lent

Find some Lenten wisdom in this collaborative Franciscan Gospel post. The weekly Sunday Gospel reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. If you would like to read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 4 2018 Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, Mississippi

John 2:13-25

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the moneychangers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.


Most of us associate this event in the life of Jesus with the end of his life. Matthew, Mark, and Luke present their accounts of Jesus driving the merchants from the temple at the end of their gospels. In their narratives, this is the event that leads the religious leaders to the decision to have Jesus arrested and executed. In vivid contrast, John’s gospel places this account at the very beginning, in the second chapter. Also, in John’s gospel, Jesus goes to Jerusalem three different times (John 2:13, 5:1, and 12:12). Scripture scholars believe that John wants to lay out the fullness of who Jesus is right from the beginning. Because he is writing decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Christian community is well aware of the events of Jesus’ life and death. There is no need to ease gently into the radical nature of Jesus’ life and death.

John’s description of Jesus in the temple is more violent than that of the synoptic gospels. Only in John does Jesus make a whip. John also includes a prediction of the temple’s eventual destruction here, and he includes a quote from Psalm 69 about being consumed with zeal for his Father’s house. Why is Jesus so zealous here? Perhaps a key is found in the prophet Zechariah, who describes a time when the fullness God will be present. One of the things the prophet says is, “And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who come to sacrifice shall take them and cook in them. On that day there shall no longer be any merchant in the house of the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 14:21) This passage states that when the day of fulfillment comes, everything will be considered holy to God, and there will no longer be any need for merchants in the temple to sell unblemished animals for sacrifice. By his actions, Jesus is saying that the time of fulfillment has come, and the merchants’ presence is no longer needed.

Reflection Questions

1. What were you taught about your feelings of anger?
2. In what way does the anger, violence, and lack of respect for people with different points view in the media and society affect you?
3. Have you been surprised by the amount of anger or hurt with which you responded to a particular situation?
4. Jesus does not become angry often. Can you think of other times Jesus became angry? Can you think of other times he used physical force?
5. What do you think would have been the likely response of the merchants, the people who had come to offer sacrifices in the temple, religious leaders, and the disciples as they witnessed the events that are recorded here?
6. What do you think would happen if every time you tried to make an offering or bring a dish at a potluck, you were told that what you had to offer/bring was not quite good enough? How would you respond to that situation?
7. Can you take some time to reflect on who might feel that they are being told they are not good enough by our church’s physical structures, schedules, requirements, and qualifications?
8. Can you talk to God now about how you feel about expressing your anger, about times when you have felt like you were being told you were not good enough, or about some other awareness that rose within you as you read this gospel?