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Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Gospel Vision--Nearing the End of Our Chapter.

  I am sitting here at Siena College on the final full day of our Provincial Chapter.  It has been a wonderful week for several reasons.  For one thing just to renew acquaintance with friars that I have not seen for a while is a blessing, as well as getting to better know other friars, especially the younger ones.

  Chapters are also for electing leadership and we will complete the process this morning of electing our provincial council.  I think that our nation could learn something by observing how religious orders do elections.  Yes, we are human and there is a level of "politicking" at times, but when the moment comes to pass out ballots and vote there is a sense of solemnity, silence and prayer-fullness about the matter.  Did you ever stop and pray as you cast your ballot in local and national elections?  Something to think about.

  As I mentioned in my last blog post a chapter is primarily about renewing our commitment to our religious life, in my case the Franciscan life.  That is the real blessing of the past week. I came to that realization over the past few days as we discussed our stance towards refugees and immigrants and towards health care as it applies to our elder friars.  As we discussed these issues I realized that terms like liberal and conservative do not apply.  I suppose that our stance on immigration and sanctuary for refugees could be called "liberal" and our belief in the dignity of every person as they age and move towards natural death could be called "conservative".  The truth, however, is that for us the only label that applies is "Gospel."  There are certain things that living the Gospel calls us to that just do not fit into convenient political categories.

   I have been dismayed at times, and especially recently, when posting something on Facebook and well meaning people immediately frame it in political terms.  Please know that whatever positions I take on this blog or on social media are based on my conviction (right or wrong) that these things are part of living the Gospel.
 
   At times living the Gospel sounds like "pie in the sky".  It would be if we did not have the Christian virtue of hope which calls us beyond our present reality because the Lord is risen and ascended and gone to prepare a place for us.  To live the Gospel is to call us now, on this earth, into the realization of the Kingdom that is yet to come.  God's reign, in its fullness, will come in the future, but God's Kingdom is among us, even now, where there is justice, peace and forgiveness.

   Think about that--PLEASE!!!

  

 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Heading for Our Provincial Chapter--Prayers Please.

Friars gather for Eucharist during the 2014 Chapter of Holy Name Province
 Tomorrow, Pentecost Sunday, I will be heading north to Siena College in Loudonville, NY to participate in our provincial chapter.  Many readers of this blog might wonder, "What is a chapter if not a section of a book?"

   In religious life a chapter is a gathering of the members of the community, a gathering which has several purposes.  The primary one is to deepen our commitment  to our way of life.  In my case that is the Franciscan life.  The chapter is also a time for electing new leadership.  This year our provincial and vicar provincial are in the middle of a sex year term.  There are six councilors who work with them and they will be elected this week, some of them re-elected, others new to the job.  The chapter also makes important decisions regarding our life, some of them in the form of specific laws and statutes, others as more broad policy statements.  In addition in recent years our chapters have also taken stands on various issues affecting our society, particularly when they involve values that are dear to us as Franciscans.

   The chapter I will be attending is for my province, Holy Name Province.   There are also general chapters for the whole order as well as local friary chapters.  The chapter is the highest governing body of the order and the province.  This means that superiors must abide by chapter decisions.  In our province, at the present time, every solemnly professed (final vows) member must attend.  Those over 70 may be excused.  I am 72, but still gladly attending.  At one time only superiors and specifically elected delegates attended.  Smaller numbers enable all of us to do so.

   I am looking forward to participating in this years chapter.  A big topic of discussion will be what we call reconfiguration and revitalization as we move towards not only having fewer provinces in the US, but also striving to living our Franciscan life more deeply and authentically.

   I hop that this glimpse into our Franciscan life is informative for you.  More importantly I ask your prayers for us that as we gather at Pentecost the Holy Spirit will indeed inspire all of us as we gather in chapter.

Veni Sancte Spiritus--Come Holy Spirit