It has been a very busy yet blessed weekend for us as Capuchins and for the entire Franciscan community world wide. Last night, Sunday Oct 3rd, we celebrated the night that our holy father Francis, passed from this world to the heavenly Father. All of us postulants and our director, Fr. Bill, went to Chicago to take part in the Transitus celebrations with our post novitiate houses there. One of the other postulants and I actually traveled down to Chicago on Saturday ahead of everyone else. The relic of St. John Bosco was in Chicago Saturday night and since he is the patron saint of youth and I work a lot with youth ministry I wanted to be able to go and venerate the relic. Which I did but thats a whole seperate story. Sunday night we began the Transitus at 7pm in the living room of the friary. There were probably about 30 friars, friends and affiliates of the community present. It was a packed house to say the least. It consists of 8 different "stations" recalling the story of Francis' death. After each reading we sang Christ be our light, which with over 30 people singing it, it was just beautiful. After the 7th station we processed to the chapel with the paschal candle and insense to do the last station which is Francis' death. Before he died he asked that bread be brought so that it would be broken and shared and so likewise we broke bread together as a rememberance of this final action of Francis. It was truly a very beautiful service. And as with any Capuchin event we had a big social afterwards with lots of good food. It was time spent as community, as brothers and sisters.
And so now today, Monday Oct 4th we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Francis. It is a solemnity for the Franciscan family world wide, but in the world wide Church it is only celebrated as a memorial. Very unfortunate I think. lol. Since it was our major feast day we got to sleep in and have morning prayer and mass start at 8 instead of 7. A whole hour! During the homily part of the mass Fr. Bill asked each of us, both professed and postulants, what it was that first drew us to St. Francis. It was interesting to hear the different stories from the rest of the community. My reason was this. Growing up as a kid who was living in a divorce situation and not always getting along with my parents, Francis always appealed to me as a kid. Because Francis did not have the best relationship with his family. They didnt understand why he was doing the things that he did. And as I grew up and when I started getting very involved in my faith and started going to morning mass before school started I always felt like I was not understood for doing what I was doing. And this is what started things, but it grew into much more than that. I was so attracted, as a kid and teenager who had very little peace or hope in his life at the time, to this man from Assisi who seemed to bring peace and hope with him wherever he went. He brought the peace and love and hope of God into the lives of many people who would not have received it otherwise. And hearing of this man who was able to do this I found myself wanting to do the same thing. And it's why I am so passionate about youth ministry because so many teens and young people in general are going through the same thing I went through. They have lost hope. They feel unloved, they feel alone, and they feel no one cares. Because I have been there I know the pain that comes from it and like Francis I hope that God can use me to bring His hope and love back into the lives of others. I just had a very powerful experience last week, and I wont give to many details, but he is a very good friend of mine who lives in the area and he experienced this loss of hope and feeling loved. And as I went to be with him and help him through it I came to see that this is in fact why I am where I am now, with the Capuchins. This is why I want to be a priest. It was a very profound experience. I thought to myself it was only 6 years ago when I was in his position and two of my friends were in the position I was that night. And it was because God sent people into my life who brought back that hope and that love that I am still here today. And now here I am giving back what I had received only 6 years ago. There is nothing more powerful to me than that. And I just had the peace in my heart that said this is where God wants me and this is the work God wants me to do. I only hope that He gives me the strength to do it. Becuase it is not an easy thing to see people you care about in so much pain. I thank God for my past, painful as it was, because without it I would not be the man I am today and I would not be here with the Capuchins giving back what I have been so blessed to receive. Happy Solemnity of St. Francis to you all. May the peace, love and spirit of Francis be with each one of you this day. God Bless.
Peace and all good,