With Franciscan Eyes

Franciscan Ways of Kindness

In this month centered on love, not only do we have Valentine’s Day but National Random Acts of Kindness Week is just around the corner, too, February 14-20. As followers of St. Francis, we have many examples of random acts of kindness to inspire us to do more works of neighborly love that will transform an ordinary day into one lived in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. For instance, you may have heard the story of Francis and the leper. Before his conversion, Francis would have turned and run in the opposite direction as the disease was much feared. Lepers were ostracized and "untouchable." Francis wrote in his Testament, “When I was in sin, the sight of lepers nauseated me beyond measure; but then God himself led me into their company, and I had pity on them. When I became acquainted with them, what had previously nauseated me became the source of spiritual and physical consolation for me.”

God’s love for Francis and, in turn, his love for God transformed him. Francis got off his horse and, in that moment, with God's love pouring into his heart and soul, he kissed the leper in a beautiful act of brotherly love and acceptance and then gave him money. When he got back on his horse to leave, he looked around and saw no one and came to believe it was Jesus whom he had just embraced. It was the beginning of his ministry to a nearby leper colony.

Another time Francis asked those who were able if they would give him their coat. This allowed the donors of the coats to respond in the moment with their own random act of kindness, for we all are called to give of ourselves in various and no less important ways. Francis then gave each coat to the next poor person he met. Francis loved God so much, his kindness overflowed, blessing all he encountered. As Franciscans, doing random acts of kindness should be in our blood streams. Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Like Francis, we can grow into this kind of love as we more eagerly seek God.

Who in your path is kept on the margins of your community--either ignored, excluded, neglected, scorned, feared, or treated rudely and unjustly? In what ways, big or small can you acknowledge their humanity and their identity as children of God? How might your kindness begin a transformation in them and in you? It does not always take a grand gesture. Eye contact and a smile can be an act of kindness in a world where most people's attention is glued to their cell phone. If these children of God are not in your path, is it time that you take a road less traveled and encounter them there? Is this how you might become Jesus' hands and feet? 

Image by Allegany Art

Your Turn!

It is time we share our stories and encourage one another! Have you ever done a random act of kindness, received one, or paid it forward? Have you ever listened to someone who needed to talk on a plane or train or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room (when you would rather sleep or listen to a podcast)--and then were surprised it was you who was blessed by the conversation? Share your story of an unusual random act of kindness that you did or were blessed with or witnessed. We may then share your story to bless others with it. 

To Share your Story


Holding on to Hope

main image

“The New Year is a painting not yet painted; a path not yet stepped on; a wing not yet taken off!
Things haven’t happened as yet! Remember that you are blessed with the ability to reshape your life!”

―Mehmet Murat Ildan

This is a powerful quote comparing the New Year to a painting, a path, and a wing. As I reflected on this, it brought to mind what will happen under the guidance of the Holy Spirit during the Chapter. Hopefully, our painting will be a masterpiece, our path will become known, and our wings will allow us to fly into our future! God is good and as scary as the unknown future and reshaping our life can be, God is with us throughout our painting, path finding and taking off, all in God’s name.

Every New Year begins with the hope that it will be better than the year before and as the year goes on that hope seems to wax and wane like the moon. It does not have to happen that way. We need to remember God is with and within us This gives us the grace to let go of our concerns and let God be in charge. Our entire world needs to choose this path to put an end to war, hunger, poverty, hatred, etc. It needs to be mindful of God’s love and care for us. In 1965 there was a song that was not only appropriate back then, but for the present and future!  Remember “What the World Needs Now”? The song begins: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love… It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Other words in the song address the Lord saying we don’t need any more mountains, or rivers, etc. but what we need is LOVE. May we be God’s instruments of love in our wounded world!


An Advent Prayer When Waiting Takes Too Long

main image

Gracious God, there's so much waiting in my life. I wait in lines. I wait for a better job. I wait for others. I wait for financial security. I wait for a doctor's report. I wait for love. I wait for pain to abate, and I even wait for death. Sometimes the waiting erodes my joy and fills me with dread. Help me find waiting to be the friend that invites me into the spaciousness of stillness. Give me the grace to refrain from rushing ahead in order to bring waiting to an end. Instead, let me find joy in the waiting itself. I ask this for the sake of your love. Amen.