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!

Just Gospel: Pope Francis’ Prayers for People of Asia

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy continues reflections on Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the people of Asia and Tom Kendzia’s hymn Now is the Time.

…Be with us, you who say, “Do not be afraid.” Make us your own, now is the time. We begin this new year singing the words of Tom Kendzia’s hymn. God consoles us and sends our fear away. Despite the happenings in our world, God remains the Creator, the Almighty one directing the proceedings of our universe. Now is always the time for God’s work.

In our country and in our Community we are safe from fear in so many ways. Yet, countless others throughout the world do not enjoy the level of safety that we do. Pope Francis asks us to send our prayers once again to the people of Asia. His intention for this month is: That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.

One has only to do an internet search regarding the Church in Asia to find such language as, underground Church, risk their lives, hostile country, religious-governmental tensions, protests, rebels, ban on Christians, persecution, flight, embattled Christians. This is an unfamiliar lexicon for us. It surely does, however, confirm the need for prayer in this part of the world. These Christian communities need to be assured of that phrase “Do not be afraid.” Our prayerful support can be that assurance.

Our further consideration of freedom from fear leads us back to the words of Father Federico Lombardi, former papal spokesman. He writes, “The presence of evil in the world is a terrible, pervasive and powerful reality. Yet, the power of evil in the world is the most difficult test for our faith: Where is God? Where is justice? The dynamics of communication generally give particular weight to the worst news, disasters, conflicts and scandals, and so the darkness of the evil grows thicker and thicker. Unfortunately these things are true, but they are not the whole truth. God is also at work in the world. You have to open your eyes to see it, your ears to learn how to hear it.” We place our hope in and our prayer behind the goodness that lives in the faithful who labor for the Kingdom in Asia.

In terms of our own Community, we look to our Core Value statements and find, We work at building community by being more sensitive to each other. In our understanding and empathy toward one another, we build a stronger Community, a body of faith which entreats the God who does not know constraints of time and space. In our efforts to be sensitive to the needs and realities of each other, we also build up the Body of Christ which extends throughout the world. In our prayer, in our actions, in our efforts, let us remember that, now is the time!

Pope Francis’ Intention: Christians in Africa

Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on Pope Francis’ May prayer intention for the Christians in Africa.

It is May, the month of Our Lady. Pope Francis has asked us to pray that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice and peace. There is such great devotion to Mary among the peoples of Africa and are these not hallmarks of our Mother in Heaven —reconciliation, justice, and peace?

An unofficial look at apparitions of Our Lady in Africa yields a total of 32 occurrences, some of which are approved and some which have not yet been proven. Yet, this survey indicates such a reverence for Mary. She is our perfect model of mercy, of witness. On the flip side of statistics, of the 53 nations of Africa 15 are embroiled in war and this does not account for the many tribal skirmishes and terrorist uprisings that plague the continent. It seems it is time for the Queen of Peace to come to the aid of her people.

Pope Francis said, “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. She appears to us as a vessel filled to the brim with the memory of Jesus, as the Seat of Wisdom to whom we can have recourse to understand his teaching aright. Today Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world. Where philosophical reason and political negotiation cannot reach, there the power of faith, which brings the grace of Christ’s Gospel, can reach, opening ever new pathways to reason and to negotiation.” So much war and strife mars the ancient beauty of the African continent. So much tribal history keep old wounds open and festering. Let us make our prayers heartfelt as we remember these many suffering peoples.

St. Francis longed to travel to the lands of Africa to evangelize, to preach the Good News. Here, in Egypt he met with the Sultan and tried to bring an end to the 5th Crusade with all its violence. In the encounter between them, both Francis and the Sultan were changed. When Francis finally left to return to Italy, the Sultan showered him with many gifts and treasures. Because he had no interest in worldly wealth, Francis refused them all, except one special gift: an ivory horn used by the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer. On his return, Francis used it to call people for prayer or for preaching.

Francis also shared with his community his new and deep respect for his Moslem brothers and sisters, breaking down the cycle of enmity and misunderstanding that fueled the Crusades. Francis was especially struck by the Moslem five times daily prayer, and the practice of prostrations in worship of God; his letters urged Christians to adopt a similar practice: To make prayer a part of everyday life, in effect to remember God in everything you do. So, as Franciscans, we are called to lend our prayers to the cause of peace, justice and evangelization.

With Pope Francis we pray, “Blessed are you, Mary, for you gave the Son of God to our world. But even more blessed are you for having believed in him. Full of faith, you conceived Jesus first in your heart and then in your womb, and thus became the Mother of all believers. Send us your blessing. Show us the face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace.”


Franciscans at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral to Pray for Peace in Syria

Led by young adults, people of all ages and backgrounds will gather at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral for Adoration, Benediction along and various other prayers for Peace in Syria, united with Pope Francis and Catholics throughout the world.  Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity will be there.Franciscans-pray-for-Syria

This gathering is in conjunction to Pope Francis’ call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and throughout the Middle East.  Learn more about this effort, and the other advocacy efforts at www.usccb.org/syria.