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Showing posts from May, 2011

Thanksgiving For Forty Years of Blessings

As you have been made aware earlier on this blog I will mark an important milestone this Sunday--40 years of priestly ministry.   I want to take this opportunity to thank God for using me as His instrument in so many ways, ways that are beyond my own abilities and that have to do entirely with His Grace--be that with preaching, counseling and spiritual direction, or in the confessional. I also want to thank all those who have sent me cards and prayers for the occasion, and to thank the many people who have become part of my life--from Boston, to New York, the Bronx, Buffalo, Camden, NJ, the many places where I have preached missions in English and Spanish, in the US and Canada, the people of Bolivia, especially the campesinos, who left a permanent mark on my life, and the people of Eagle River, Phelps and Land O'Lakes, WI.  I could not have imagined 40 years ago the number of folks who would become part of the fabric of my life.  I would add to the list the people whom I touched a…

St. Francis, Man of Peace and Non-Violence

I am winding up a ten day retreat/vacation here in Assisi and feel renewed in every aspect of my life as a friar and priest.  I look forward to quietly celebrating my 40th anniversary as a priest one week from today after participating in the ordination of two friars on Saturday, May 21.
   What is very much on my mind these days is the figure of St. Francis as the saint of peace, the peace of Christ. As a young man he was a soldier, but a soldier who became disillusioned with war.  After heading off to battle he returned to Assisi in disgrace because he failed to pursue the military career for which his father equipped him.  He later went to the middle east, along with the crusaders, not to fight, but to preach to the Sultan, who while not converting to Christianity, came to respect Francis as a truly holy man.

   What is keeping this aspect of Francis' life before me is the debate that has been going on since the death of Bin Laden.  People have been asking "Was this the ri…

Assisi Alive with Tradition

I'm writing from Assisi today.  It is a wonderful spring morning and the place is bustling with activity.  I went to morning prayer and Mass in Italian with the friars here, then after breakfast I visited the Basilica of Our lady of the Angels.  This is the place where the Franciscan movement really began.  The Baslica was built in the sixteenth century and houses the little chapel of Or Lady of the Angels (beleived to be built in the mid 4th century) one of several small churches rebuilt by St. Francis and his early followers after Francis heard the call to "Rebuild my House."  It was here that Francis and his companions first gathered as a community, a brotherhood.  It was from here that they were first sent out to preach.  It is here that to this day most of our general chapters are held.

   Assisi is rich in tradition, but it is not locked into the past.  Instead it honors and commemorates the past, yet brings it forward.  Today the city sports modern buildings, fes…