Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saint Clare of Assisi

Below is an excerpt from an article written by Ilia Delio OSF

Clare, the Radical

We read daily about poverty around the world. Sometimes the stories are directly beneath the stock market quotes or surrounded by stories of the world’s wealthiest people. The juxtaposition may be coincidental or purposeful. I tend to think the latter is true because poverty makes us nervous. 

The unnerving quality of poverty makes St. Clare’s emphasis on poverty difficult to grasp. Her desire to be poor, however, was not a glorification of human deprivation or neglect, but her desire for God. Had she not beheld the poverty of God as the immensity of divine love, I wonder if she would have pursued a life of poverty so vigorously or urged Agnes to do so. In her first letter to Agnes, she writes, “You have rejected all these things and have chosen with your whole heart and soul a life of holy poverty and destitution.” 

It is difficult to understand how a woman of the aristocracy could choose a life of destitution and be happy, unless she had an understanding of poverty beyond material means. Clare had a God-centered understanding of poverty. For Clare, the logic of poverty was the logic of love. She saw the poverty of God as a fountain of love—a love that brings us into being, sustains us, and yearns for us. Her emphasis on the centrality of love is characteristic of Franciscan spirituality.

‘Become Poor’ 

Clare of AssisiHow do we center ourselves in the love of God? Clare’s answer is simple and disarming: Become poor. Clare encouraged Agnes to pursue a life of poverty. It is hard to admit in a consumer culture that poverty is the key to the fullness of life. To the secular mind, it seems absurd. Western culture is immersed in a capitalism based on the idea that worldly success is a blessing of God. The type of poverty that Clare and the Franciscans speak of is opposed to the spirit of capitalism and self-sufficiency. It means to be dependent on others. That is exactly what Clare and Francis saw in the mystery of Jesus Christ. 

In his Rule, Francis writes: “They must rejoice when they live . . . among the poor and the powerless. . . . Let them . . . remember, moreover, that our Lord Jesus Christ . . . was not ashamed. He was poor and a stranger and lived on alms.” 

Francis perceived that Christ lived depen-dent on others so that God’s goodness could be revealed. When we allow others to do things for us, God’s goodness shines through them. Poverty is not so much about want or need; it is about relationship. Poverty impels us to reflect on our lives in the world from the position of weakness, dependency, and vulnerability. Poverty calls us to be vulnerable, open, and receptive to others—to allow others into our lives and to be free enough to enter into the lives of others. While Clare and Francis call us to be poor so that we may enter into relationship with the poor Christ, they also ask us to be poor so as to enter into relationship with our poor brothers and sisters in whom Christ lives. 

In her second letter to Agnes, Clare writes that she is to “gaze upon him [Christ].” Although she does not explicitly link poverty and gazing upon Christ, the foundation of poverty in her first letter and the call to “gaze upon him” in her second letter suggest that poverty is the basis of spiritual vision or contemplation. To gaze is not simply to see, but to see with the eyes of the heart. It is the vision of the spiritually poor person who is inwardly free to contemplate the presence of God. If we are to enter into real relationship with God, we must become poor; we must embrace our poverty.

To read the full article, click HERE

Source:  Franciscan Media

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Padua Program - Called to Serve

The Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities, in collaboration with The Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University, is launching the Padua Program in the fall of 2018, with the goal of supporting leaders, both lay and religious, who serve in Franciscan Ministries. This program is modeled on the leadership of Saints Francis and Clare.

The Padua Program, which opens in 10 weeks, is designed to support the professional and personal development of leaders in Franciscan mission-driven institutions. Content includes expertise on successful mission integration in complex organizations and tools for discerning authentic Franciscan responses to contemporary problems. Successful organizations result when mission is seen as a central resource, not a relic of the past. Helping new generations of leaders acquire confidence and competence in balancing the financial imperatives with a Franciscan inspiration is the goal. 

To read a blog from Pauline J. Albert, PhD, curriculum director of the Padua Program, click HERE

To learn more about the program and to apply, click The Padua Program

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Death Penalty is Inadmissible

Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Happy Fest of St. Ignatius Loyola

Today is the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.  Want to know more about the life is this saint?  This incredibly fun video was produced and narrated by Jason Kapell under the auspices of Fairfield University Media Department.

And if your are interested in learning more about the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life, you can check out the website for the Jesuit Spirituality Apostolate of Vancouver:  

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Beautiful Noise

We need times of silence and solitude to find the centre of our life in God; yet silence does not necessarily mean the lack of sound and noise.  The following reflection by Madeleine DelbrĂȘl may help us gain a deeper appreciation of the meaning of silence and solitude.  After all, we can find God in all things.

(Madeleine DelbrĂȘl was declared venerable by Pope Francis in January, 2018.)

“Why should the wind through the pines, the sandstorm, and the squall upon the sea all count as silence, and not the pounding of the factory machines, the rumbling of the trains in the station, and the clamour of the engines at the intersection?  In each case, it is just the humming of the great laws of the world around us at play.

Why should the song of the lark in the wheat fields, the buzzing of the insects in the night, and the droning of the bees among the thyme nourish our silence and not the crowd in the street, the voices of the women in the market, and the songs coming from the bars?  All of these are the noise of creatures advancing toward their destiny, all of this is the echo of God in order or in shambles, all of this is the sign of life encountering our life.

Silence does not mean running away, but rather recollecting ourselves in the open space of God.  Silence is not a tiny grass snake that darts off at the slightest noise; it is an eagle with might wings that can soar above the commotion of the earth, of the people, of the wind.”

Excerpted from Madeleine DelbrĂȘl, “We, the Ordinary People of the Streets”

Perhaps like Neil Diamond, we can find rhythm and beauty in traffic noise, and  learn to carry silence within us even when we are surrounded by disturbances and chaos.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Installation and Welcoming Mass and Celebration

Re-posted from
For more photos and other news, go to:  Franciscans of Canada

It was with great joy and celebration that the new Franciscan Friars community in Richmond, BC came together on Sunday, 22 July and was officially welcomed by the people of St. Joseph the Worker Parish as their new pastoral team. The celebration of installation and welcome was held during the parish’s 11:15 am mass which was presided by His Grace, the Archbishop of Vancouver Michael Miller, CSB. During the installation rite, Archbishop Miller formally installed Friar Pierre Ducharme as Senior Pastor and welcomed Friars Manoj Xalxo, Joe Glaab and Martin Bettin as Assistant Pastors, and Friar Benjamin Ripley as Guardian of the Richmond friar community. Friar Bob Mokry, Minister Provincial of Christ the King Province was also present to celebrate with the community on behalf of the Western Canada friars. The installation rite was very rich in its symbolism that reminded Pierre of his role as shepherd of his parish as stated in the renewal of his ordination promises.

 Following the Installation mass, everyone enjoyed great food, cheer, and fellowship with a barbecue reception put on by the parishioners. The weather cooperated with a beautiful sunny day. There was a short program where parish representatives gave words of welcome and thanks including: Vila Nova Carvahlo who represented the parishioners; Paul Fraser, Principal of St. Joseph the Worker Parish School; and Stephanie Chua, Minister of the local Secular Franciscan fraternity. Words of thanks and appreciation to the parish community were given by Fr. Bob Mokry on behalf of the Franciscans of Western Canada; Br. Benjamin Ripley on behalf of the Richmond friar community; and Fr. Pierre Ducharme on behalf of the new pastoral team.

The Friar community as a whole praised St. Joseph the Worker Parish community for their hospitality and warm welcome. It was very evident that the Franciscan spirit is alive and well in St. Joseph’s Parish which was founded by our brother Franciscan Friars of the Atonement nearly 70 years ago. It is evident that we as a Friar community have big shoes to fill and look forward to carry on the spirit of St. Francis and journey with our brother and sisters of St. Joseph the Worker Parish. We look forward to our new experiences and embracing the challenges of building a new friar community which come our way. St. Francis, pray for us.

Pax et bonum!

Br. Benjamin Ripley, OFM

(Guardian, St. Joseph the Worker Friar Community)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Are you ready to make an impact in the community?

Lawrence Anthony was a conservationist and author known as "The Elephant Whisperer".  Anthony rescued and rehabilitated a group of wild South African elephants who were deemed dangerous.  After his death in 2012, this group of elephants travelled to his house in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and stood around the house in an apparent vigil for two days.