With Franciscan Eyes

Holding on to Hope

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“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!


Hidden Graces

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Hidden Graces

In front of my home, hidden in a lot filled with trees, is an abandoned and broken-down home. During the summer because of the thick foliage, I couldn’t see it. But now every day I see it and lately it has been a source of my reflections. Knowing the history of this area, I know that at one time it was a simple but adequate home for a family. People from Chicago came out to live here seeking refuge from the agitation and violence of the city and in hopes of more economic stability. They found both here. The Catholic Church here has an 81-year history and when I talk with the older folks who are still living here, they speak with sparkling eyes and nostalgia for the community dinners, the celebrations and fun times they had as a faith community.

For various reasons the source of income for the people changed drastically and the factories moved out looking for ways to make more money with less expenses and so the slow exodus began. Without jobs many people left and currently the area has an aging population. But they continue to be a people of great faith and enthusiasm in living this faith.

But that house. It continues to speak to me of mission. At times we are called to be in places and moments of strong connections and activities that nurture the body and soul. I have lived on mission and been on many mission trips and the relationship with people is one of the greatest joys of my life. In my youth, I would have said, “Now this is really mission!” Doing all those marvelous activities that express a new kin-dom of God. We are all kin!

Now already in my golden years, I can look at the abandoned home and thank God for what it was and what it did for the people who lived there. It tells a story, perhaps a melancholy one, but it is a story with a history. It speaks to me of respecting where I am now and where my people are in this faith community. It speaks of the desire to live the reality in which God has placed me.

As we are ending another extremely difficult year, we can see that the call is to live our mission embracing the reality of whatever we encounter in life. Even in the most abandoned moments of our lives, the mystery of God’s love accompanies us and raises us above the difficulties to look beyond with hope and determination. These thoughts continue to resonate with me; they return to my mind and heart because I am certain that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Scripture tells us this. St. Paul lived this and Jesus is glorified in this promise.

Let us not be afraid of abandoned houses and difficult situations but instead, let us risk going deeper to seek the presence of God in all moments because there will be grace present. However, I do say with joy, Come, Lord Jesus, come Emmanuel, come soon 2022!