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.

Just Gospel: Pope Francis’ Intention to Resist Corruption

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy continues Just Gospel post highlighting Pope Francis’ monthly intention that those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption and Tom Kendzia’s song Now is the Time.

…Spirit of truth, save us from our lies. Make us your own, now is the time…Tom Kendzia’s lyrics again lead us to reflect on some themes for this month. Notice that the words plead to be saved from our own lies. We do not ask for protection from the deceits of others. What is more insidious than our own deceptions and corruption of the truth? If we are truly to belong to God, we need to make His truth our own and be set free from lies.

In a similar vein, Pope Francis asks us to pray, That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption. The word corrupt comes from Latin and means to be broken apart. When we break the truth apart and appropriate only what suits us, when we break the truth into parts small enough for our personal comfort, when we break the truth apart and reorder its parts to make it more palatable we are guilty of corruption. Our power level may not be great, but we all have power in some measure and thus we need to examine our use of that influence and our faithfulness to the truth given us.

Once again Father Federico Lombardi has something to say to us on this topic. As he reflects on his experiences with Pope Benedict XVI when he served as papal spokesman, he writes, “It was necessary to recognize the truth even when it was extremely painful, to go deep into the truth before God and people. To not be worried about the image first or concerned about saving face. Benedict has always insisted on the primacy of truth and the search for truth.” We must be aware of our call to be speakers of the truth, but also as ones called to pray for those in positions of power that they might have the strength of character and the dignity given them by God to speak the truth and to act with integrity.

Values Speak to Truth

Personally, we are often held in esteem due to our vocation in the Church. Our Core Value statement reminds us of the responsibility we have to truth as it says, In joyful acceptance of poverty, we, as vowed women religious, affirm the need to honestly evaluate how we use material goods so as to become a ‘disturbing presence’ in our materialistic culture. This statement has many applications, but for our purposes here, it is good to consider the aspect of honest and truthful evaluation of our use of material goods. This is a part of our life that is evident to those who live and work with and among us. If we are not honest in our living of poverty, then the rest of our living, speaking, witnessing and evangelizing can be called into question. Let us use the power given us by the privilege of our calling in an honest and forthcoming way. Truth must characterize our living for, now is the time!