Message from our minister: Patrick Martin, OFS
FOUR FRATERNITIES Our former regional and national minister, the late Tom Bello, would always remind me that we are all members of four fraternities. There is, of course, our local fraternity, what our Rule calls “the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love.” (22)
But our Rule also says, “The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels – local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.”(20)
We are members of ALL four fraternities, and this reality was brought home this month. As your regional minister, I was one of 30 regional ministers who attended the annual national chapter at San Pedro Retreat Center in Orlando, Florida. In addition to prayer, formation, social time, and a little business (Tom’s description of what every fraternity meeting should be, in order of importance), the chapter included the triennial international visitation. Chelito Nunez, the Vice Minister General of our Order (from Venezuela), and Father Francis Dor, OFM Cap, a General Spiritual Assistant (from Cameroon), conducted a fraternal and pastoral visitation to the national fraternity of the United States.
There are 110 countries with a Secular Franciscan presence. Our international executive council (called the CIOFS Presidency; CIOFS stands for “Consilium Internationale Ordo Franciscanus Secularis”) is, as you can imagine, quite busy with visitations, elections, and the other business of an Order of the Church.
Six days after returning from the national chapter, we began our annual regional chapter. Ministers or their representatives from 26 of our 33 fraternities attended, and, ironically, it was our region’s triennial national visitation. Mary Stronach, our national executive council’s international councilor, and Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, OFM TOR, a national spiritual assistant, conducted the fraternal and pastoral visitation.
I love attending my fraternity meetings. I find Francis and Clare, and their charism, in the faces and words of the sisters and brothers of Saint Anthony of Nagasaki Fraternity. I am sure that you do as well, when you attend your fraternity meetings. But sometimes, I forget that I am part of a larger community. The Secular Franciscan Order is truly a self-governing Order of the Church, as I witnessed at the national and regional chapters. Our first Rule, Memoriale Propositi, was approved in 1221. Our current Rule was approved in 1978 by Blessed Pope Paul VI. While sometimes our fraternities might feel like a parish organization, or a devotional group, or “just another club,” remember that each of us made a permanent profession to this Rule, and our Rule’s interpretation “belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.” (3) Our international fraternity, national fraternity, regional fraternity and local fraternity are bonded together by these documents and our shared Franciscan charism.
On page 6, there is a copy of “Pray the Rule,” a way to remind us through prayer of our commitment to our Rule and the way of life to which it calls us. Kathleen White, the regional minister of Our Lady of Indiana region, and the keeper of the “TAU Daily” listserv, recently shared this with us. I hope that our fraternities will take the opportunity to incorporate this prayer into their regular prayer life.
LAUDATO SI‛ AND THE FRANCISCAN CHARISM
In late 1224, Francesco de Bernardone wrote a poem. He was seriously ill, suffering from an eye disease which was blinding him. He had also received
the stigmata by this time. In less than two years, he would be dead at the age of 44. The poem he wrote was the first ever written in the Italian language, or, more accurately, in the Umbrian dialect of Italian. And nearly 800 years later, it is one of the most beloved poems of European and world literature.
Last year, Pope Francis used a line from that poem as the fi rst line of his encyclical on the environment. At the recent Quinquennial in St. Louis, one of the speakers, Brother Keith Douglas Warner, OFM, Director of Education and Research for the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara
University, said, with great emphasis: Laudato Si‛ is the most Franciscan encyclical EVER!
Brother Keith says that Laudato Si‛ is a Franciscan vision of Christian engagement with society and the environment. For better or worse, St. Francis will always be identified in popular culture as the “bird bath saint.” But we Franciscans know him as so much more, and the little man who would talk to the birds and creatures brought us a much richer and complex attitude to our relationship with all of God‛s creatures, both animate and inanimate.
Pope Francis recognized this when he chose “Laudato Si‛” as the title of his encyclical. And you don‛t have to look very hard to fi nd our charism reflected
throughout the document. The keynote speaker of the Quinquennial was Father Dan Horan, OFM, and his theme was “Mercy and Minority in the Franciscan Tradition.” In the first of his talks, “Creation and Poverty,” he visibly and convincingly demonstrated that our Franciscan way of life is best reflected in the “Kinship Model” of creation. We are not stewards of creation. Rather, we are in relationship with creation, with Brother Sun and
Sister Moon, with Brother Wind and Sister Water, with Brother Fire and our Sister Mother Earth. In fact, our own Secular Rule specifi cally states this in
Rule 18: “Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which ‘bear the imprint of the Most High,‛ and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.” (my emphasis).
Laudato Si‛ confirms this:
“Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. (LS42)
“The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us toward a common point of arrival, which is God. . .” (LS83) “Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. (LS139)
Likewise, as our Rule 13 calls Secular Franciscans “to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ,” so, too, does Laudato Si‛ call all Christians to do the same. “. . . a true ecological approach must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (LS49)
“ . . . we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others. We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading
poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions. . . leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet.” (LS90)
Francis and the Franciscans are held up as authorities and examples in Laudato Si‛. The Holy Father specifi cally references Francis at least nine times in the encyclical. My favorite reference was early on, in paragraph 10: “I believe that St. Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by nonChristians. He was particularly concerned for God‛s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” All Franciscans should rejoice that our charism is presented to the world as an example of living in harmony with nature and the world.
Peace and all good, Patrick
THIS IS PERFECT JOY?
The first time I heard the story of Francis and Perfect Joy, I was an inquirer in my fraternity. I must say, it was one of the more difficult teachings for me. I struggled for a long time trying to understand how being miserable translated into perfect joy. It just didn’t make any sense.
In a letter he dictated to Brother Leo, Francis begins by telling us what Perfect Joy is not: It is not if all the bishops, archbishops and kings should join the Order; not if all the brothers should go to the nonbelievers and convert them to the faith; not if God should grant Francis the grace to heal the sick and perform
OK, so what, then, is Perfect Joy? Francis tells us: I return from Perugia and arrive here in the dead of night. It’s winter time, muddy and so cold that icicles have formed on the edges of my habit and keep striking my legs and blood flows from such wounds. Freezing, covered with mud and ice, I come to the gate and, after I’ve knocked and called for some time, a brother comes and asks: “Who are you?” “Brother Francis,” I answer. “Go away!” he says. “This is not a decent hour to be wandering about! You may not come in!” When I insist, he replies, “Go away! You are simple and stupid! Don’t come back to us again! There are many of us here like you – we don’t need you!” I stand again at the door and say: “For the love of God, take me in tonight!” and He replies: “I will not! Go to the Crosiers’ place and ask there!” I tell you this: If I had patience and did not become upset, true joy as well as true virtue and the salvation of my soul, would consist in this.
So how is this Perfect Joy? I don’t think Francis sounded so very patient and calm when he said “For the love of God, take me in tonight!” Francis is not happy. He’s wet, cold, bleeding, in pain. He’s begging for someone to take him in and provide relief. But he insists that this is the path to true joy, true virtue, and the salvation of my soul. Perhaps we need a clearer understanding of joy, particularly as it relates to happiness. In a recent interview, the noted Benedictine monk and mystic, David Steindl-Rast said, “Joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens. Usually, we have the idea, when something nice
happens, then I’m happy, and when something bad happens, of course I’m unhappy. You can be unhappy, and yet joyful. We don’t think of that. But there is a deep inner peace and joy in the midst of sadness. If we feel our way into it, we know. . . that kind of joy is what we really want, because happiness is not steady. But joy can be steady. And that’s what we really want. We want the happiness that lasts.”
Peace and all good,
THE DOOR IS OPEN
Last December, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and declared a Year of Mercy. During his homily, he said: This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is he who seeks us! It is he who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any
event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.
The Holy Father’s namesake also had a lot to say about mercy:
Where there is mercy and discernment, there is neither excess nor hardness of heart… (Admonition XXVII)
Those who have received the power to judge others should exercise judgment with mercy as they themselves desire to receive mercy from the Lord. For judgment will be without mercy for those who have not shown mercy (Jas 2:13) (The Second Version of the Letter to the Faithful, 28 – 29) There should not be any brother in the world who has sinned, however much he may have possibly sinned, who, after he has looked into your eyes, would go away without having received your mercy, if he is looking for mercy.
And if he were not to seek mercy, you should ask him if he wants mercy. And if he should sin thereafter a thousand times before your very eyes, love him more than me so that you may draw him back to the Lord. (A Letter to a Minister, 9-11) While I was in sin, it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I had mercy upon them. And when I left them that which seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body; and afterward I lingered a little and left the world. (The Testament, 1-3) Our culture doesn’t really give much value to mercy. We are a culture of justice, of retribution disguised as fairness. If we wrote the story of the Prodigal Son from our cultural viewpoint, upon the son’s return home, his father would have said, “OK, you’re welcome to come back. But you must pay back every penny I gave you. It’s only fair.” Mercy does not call out for fairness; it calls out or love beyond expectation. It calls us to turn the
other cheek, to walk the extra mile, to forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times. As Francis was a countercultural example to his time, we must be the same in our own time. The door of mercy is open. Let’s walk through together.
Patrick Martin, OFS
CHANGES (February 2015)
This month, we begin the season of Lent. When the pastor at my church applies the ashes, he always quotes Mark 1:15 – “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” We are called to repent, to reconsider, to re-think, to change.
Jesus calls us to be open to change, to be more than the status quo. He calls us to grow in our faith and to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in ways we cannot imagine. Francis’ life changed radically when he opened it up to what God wanted him to do, not just what he wanted to do. He exchanged his fancy clothes for a simple robe; he gave up his dream of becoming a warrior to become a “Fool for Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:10); he left his comfortable life and many friends and associated with the poor, the unwanted, and those on the edges of society. He probably read in Mark what Jesus said about change and service: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (10:45).
Change doesn’t come easily for me. I like the way things are. I like my morning rituals, my habits, the daily rhythm of my life. But change always
presents itself, and I must learn to accept it.
My fraternity changes. We are blessed to add new (and younger) members. And they bring with them new ways of doing things. I must be open to this.
Our region changes. We add new fraternities, emerging communities, and newly forming groups. We also lose fraternities from time to time. But like Francis, we cannot stand still. We must always be the face of God to the world, and if the world keeps changing, then so must we.
My goal this Lent, is to listen more closely to God and learn how I must change.
As dictated by our constitutions and statutes, every three years, the ministers of all the fraternities in St. Margaret of Cortona region come together to elect a new regional council. Regional elections will be held on Saturday, April 25, at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, in Washington, DC. Please pray for all the ministers as they gather to make these very important choices.
And please consider putting forward your name to serve on the council. Rule 21 of our Order states:
“On various levels, each fraternity is animated and
guided by a council and minister who are elected by
the professed according to the constitutions.
Their service, which lasts for a definite period,
is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a
duty of responsibility to each member and to
The positions on the regional executive council are:
-Virginia Area Councilor
-Metro DC Area Councilor
-Central/Southern Maryland and Delaware
-Western Maryland and Pennsylvania AreaCouncilor (new)
We are all called to serve one another, brothers and sisters. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in this discernment. There is more information and a
nomination form in this edition of Up To Now.
Patrick Martin, OFS
Be the Joyful Face of Christ to All (November 2014)
The title of this column, brothers and sisters, comes from the theme for 2015 developed by the national fraternity (NAFRA) or our Order. It attempts to capture the spirit and energy Pope Francis has given to our church as we face the challenges of the 21st Century. Our Order faces many challenges as well, and the 30 regional ministers gathered with the National Executive Council in Dallas last month to discuss and learn.
Our national minister, Tom Bello, OFS, presented these challenges as priorities for the next three years:
1. Spiritual Assistance. Tom reminded theregional ministers that as the number of vocations diminishes among our brothersand sisters in the First and Second Ordersand Third Order Regular, the availability ofsuitable and well qualified spiritual assistants from these obediences is also diminishing.Fortunately, in our region, we are engagedin an active and dynamic Secular SpiritualAssistant Training program, like many other regions throughout the country. This programis already bearing fruit and will soon produce suitable and well qualified Secular Spiritual Assistants for our fraternities.
2. Formation. At the national level, we have a new Chair of the National Formation Commission, Mary Ann Lenzi, who is also overseeing the preparations for the next Quinquennial in Denver in 2016. As an Order, we will continue to use the “FUN Manual” to supplement and enhance our initial and ongoing formation. Every fraternity should have a copy of the “FUN Manual.” It is a treasure trove of information, not only for inquirers and candidates, but as a source of on-going
formation for everyone.
3. Youth. More than 50 percent of our Order is age 66 or older; less than 9 percent of our Order is under the age of 50. Of that, less than 1 percent is under the age of 35. The numbers are discouraging. But as Franciscans we cannot allow ourselves to be defeated by discouragement. Nationally, we have two new animators for the Youth and Young Adults Commission, Sue and Christy Nelson. They are rolling out a multi-year plan for serving these communities. Our own Youth and Young Adult subcommittee of our Formation Team recently held its first meeting for young adults last month at the Shrine of St. Anthony. Read all about it in this issue of Up To Now.
4. Outreach and Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. At the Dallas chapter, our Order awarded the annual JPIC Award to Bishop Gerald Kicanas the Bishop of Tucson, Arizona, for his heroic work and Christian witness along our nation’s border with Mexico. Our Rule calls each of us to apostolates and ministries, “especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.” (Rule 13) As “messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others.” (Rule 19) We do this through our apostolates and ministries.
5. Communication. Every professed member should be receiving the national newsletter, “TAU-USA,” as well as “Up to Now,” our regional newsletter. Please tell your minister if you are not!
6. Vocations. At the national level, NAFRA is gathering the best practices from all the regions. But it truly is at the local level where we recruit and welcome those who want to learn more about Francis and Clare. We even have a Pope named Francis. That ought to help! But it is through personal invitation and living our vocation every day that tells the world around us that we are Franciscan. One of my favorite sayings is “Preach the Gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” One way we can live our vocation for all the world to see is to Preach the Gospel at all times; use words of necessary. And we will truly be the joyful face of Christ to all.
A Need for Assistance (August 2014)
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Last month, I was fortunate to attend my first “Summer Seminar” at St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa. I serve on NAFRA’s Spiritual Assistance Development Task Force, and spiritual assistance was the topic this year. In the pleasant foothills of the Alleghenies, I joined Secular Franciscans from around the country to learn about and discuss the importance of “suitable and well-prepared” spiritual assistants for our fraternities.
Our Rule is quite clear about the importance and necessity of spiritual assistance. Going back even to our first Rule, Memoriale Propositi, in 1221: “…let them have one religious, instructed in the word of God, who would admonish and encourage them to penance, perseverance and the performance of works of mercy.”
And forward to our current Rule:“26. As a concrete sign of communion and co-responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well-prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.”
I’m sure everyone is aware that there is, throughout our country, a shortage of vocations to the consecrated and religious life. The four Franciscan religious families (OFM; OFM Capuchin; OFM Conventual; Third Order Regular) are stretched to provide friars for all the works and ministries entrusted to them.
Many Secular Franciscan fraternities throughout the country, including many in our own region, do not have a spiritual assistant. At any given time, there are 12 – 15 fraternities in the St. Margaret of Cortona region without a spiritual assistant. This absence is not only contrary to our Rule, but creates a void of Franciscan direction and spiritual nourishment. I am not reluctant to say that we are approaching a crisis.
At the same time, we are blessed in our region to have FOUR suitable and well prepared regional spiritual assistants: Br. Kip Ledger, OFM, Cap. (St. Augustine Province); Fr. Kevin Treston, OFM (Holy Land Province); Dcn. Tom Bello, OFS (delegate for Holy Name Province, OFM); and Anne Mulqueen, OFS (delegate for St. Anthony of Padua Province, OFM Conv.). This holy quartet is working diligently to provide pastoral visitations to all our fraternities, and to assist in finding qualified individuals who can serve as fraternity spiritual assistants.
But what is most is exciting is that our region, like many regions around the country, now has a lay spiritual assistance training program. Brothers and Sisters in our area who are called to the ministry of spiritual assistance can participate in this two year program. It is our hope that we can address the need for spiritual assistants with our own “suitable and well-prepared” lay spiritual assistants. My own fraternity, St. Anthony of Nagasaki, has a lay spiritual assistant, and we are blessed that someone who reflects the charism, the tradition, and the constitutional and statutory requirements is present at our fraternity meetings.
Please pray for all our spiritual assistants — the priests, brothers, sisters, and lay people – who serve our Order, and say a special prayer for our lay spiritual assistant trainees as they prepare to join this important ministry.
A FRATERNITY OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION (May 2014)
My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On June 8, we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began their evangelical mission. Like our forebears, all the baptized are called “to make disciples of all nations.”Whew! That’s quite a job our Lord has laid on us! Some are called to serve as missioners (see Franciscan Mission Service www.franciscanmissionservice.org ), but what about the rest of us? While we all should pray and support our Franciscan lay missioners, how can our fraternities participate in this “new evangelization”?Last fall’s synod of bishops on the New Evangelization identified evangelization as a regular activity of the church, a lifelong process directed at practicing Catholics, and anoutreach to baptized Catholics who have become distant from the faith. How can a Franciscan fraternity participate in this “new” evangelization? As a guide, let’s turn to “Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel” – the exhortation of Pope Francis, written in response to the synod.Our “Franciscan-hearted” Pontiff has given us a beautiful, accessible and rich guide to the New Evangelization. All the faithful should read it cover to cover. After “mining” this mother-lode of spirituality, I offer eight nuggets for your consideration, contemplation and guidance:
◊ …[A]n evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! (paragraph 10)
◊ Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction.” (15)
◊ The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel. (114)
◊ All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. (120)
◊ This message has to be shared humbly as a testimony on the part of one who is always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp. (128)
◊ Rather than experts in dire predictions, dour judges bent on rooting out every threat and deviation, we should appear as joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty that shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel. (168)
◊ It is true that in our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns. We are told quite clearly: “do so with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet 3:15) and “if possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18). We are also told to overcome “evil with good” (Rom 12:21) and to “work for the good of all” (Gal 6:10). Far from trying to appear better than others, we should “in humility count others better” than ourselves (Phil 2:3). (271)
◊ If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any
satisfaction we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. This is but a small sample of the riches to be found in the Joy of the Gospel. Please consider using the Holy Father’s exhortation for your ongoing formation.
In the peace and joy of Francis and Clare,
Patrick Martin, OFS
Francis and Eucharist (February Message)
My Dear Sisters and Brothers,
According to his biographers – and even in his own writings – Francis’ relationship to the Eucharist was intimate and intense. Our Rule (#5) reminds us of this special connection. At a time when the Fourth Lateran Council felt compelled to order all Christians to receive communion at least once a year, Francis and his followers attended Mass daily whenever they could. His understanding of the meaning of Eucharist sometimes gets lost in our modern world. But its radical and transformative power deserve our attention.
In his retreat program, “Becoming the Eucharist We Celebrate,” Father Dan Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. shares with us a crisis he underwent as a young priest. The Eucharist had become “boring,” “magical,” and required “no skin off my back.” As he struggled with this crisis, he came to the understanding that he was only doing the Eucharist half-way. There was another dimension of Eucharist which he had not yet realized.
According to Father Dan, the description of Eucharist, especially as found in the Gospel of John and in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, reveals that Eucharist is not a passive experience; it requires action on our part. The early Church Fathers saw the scriptural basis for Eucharist as action. Francis saw it, too. But that teaching diminished over time.
However, like Father Dan, we need look no farther than the four verbs of institution in the Eucharistic Prayer to see what Jesus asks of each one of us:
1. Take: At the Last Supper, Jesus takes bread in his hands. Through this action, he also chooses us and takes us as his own.
2. Bless: In the Jewish tradition, to bless is to recognize the God-given goodness within an object and praise God for it. We are all blessed and loved by God.
3. Break: What good is bread if it isn’t broken? Jesus knows that he must be broken for the salvation of the World, and if we are to follow him, we too must be broken – from our selfishness, our hatreds, from all that is not Christ-like.
4. Share: Jesus shared the bread and gave the cup. We are all called to share with others. The final verb of institution requires an action.
When Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me,” Father Dan realized that he was only doing the first two. In the Eucharist, God calls us to do all four.
Francis especially understood the Eucharistic requirement for action. He was a lay person who made the action of the Eucharist his entire life. He wasn’t always accepted by his brothers. Sometimes, the Church didn’t understand him. He made his life an example of how we must not just go half way with the Eucharist. We must go all the way.
Eight hundred years later, on Corpus Christi Sunday in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily, “…by concentrating the entire relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus in the sole moment of Holy Mass, one risks emptying the rest of existential time and space of his presence. This makes ever less perceptible the meaning of Jesus’ constant presence in our midst and with us, a presence that is tangible, close, in our homes, as the “beating Heart” of the city, of the country, and of the area, with its various expressions and activities. The sacrament of Christ’s Charity must permeate the whole of daily life.”
Take; bless; break; share. Each time we join together for Eucharist, we must become Eucharist ourselves.
In the peace and joy of Francis and Clare,
Patrick Martin, OFS
St. Margaret of Cortona Regional Minister