December 28, 2015

Sober and Devout

"In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer."

(Pope Francis, homily for Christmas, Missa in nocte)

December 24, 2015

Christmas on a Friday

[St. Francis] used to observe the Nativity of the Child Jesus with an immense eagerness above all other solemnities, affirming it was the Feast of Feasts, when God was made a little child and hung on human breasts. he would kiss the images of the baby's limbs thinking of hunger, and the melting compassion of his heart toward the child also made him stammer sweet words as babies do. This name was to him like honey and honeycomb in his mouth.

When there was a discussion about not eating meat, because it was on Friday, he replied to Brother Morico: "You sin, brother, when you call 'Friday' the day when unto us a child is born. I want even the walls to eat meat on that day, and if they cannot, at least on the outside they be rubbed with grease!"

He wanted the poor and hungry to be filled by the rich, and oxen and asses to be spoiled with extra feed and hay. "If I ever speak with the Emperor," he would say, "I will beg him to issue a general decree that all who can should throw wheat and grain along the roads, so that on the day of such a great solemnity, the birds may have an abundance, especially our sisters the larks."

(Thomas of Celano, 2nd Life of St. Francis, Chapter 151, FA:ED II, 374-375)

December 5, 2015

I'm a Friar, Not a Rocket Scientist

One of the brothers shared this fun story with me:

Br. So-and-so came to us after graduating from MIT. One time back in 1952 I showed him an article I had written for my high school magazine explaining in detail how the rocket scientists, given enough money, could send a manned space craft into orbit around the earth, and from there to the moon and back. He said: "You can believe that science fiction stuff if you want, but take it from me, a graduate of MIT, it can't be done. To escape from the gravitational pull of the earth, you have to add more fuel, which adds more weight, which requires more fuel. It just can't be done."

December 1, 2015

There's a Space for You

In the hallway outside our chapel, there's a 'family tree' of Franciscan saints and blesseds (click to enlarge):

There's St. Francis and his early companions at the root. St. Clare is on the first branch on the right. After all, she did call herself St. Francis's "little plant."

One of my favorite things about the tree is that there is an empty space:

There it is. Nestled among St. Joan of Valois, St. Joseph Cafasso, and a Gandulphus and a Hugh that I haven't been able to identify for myself, there's an open space.

When I pass by the picture with another brother I sometimes point to the space and say, "There's a space for you."

It's true. There's a particular space for everyone on the family tree of sanctity. Each human life is a unique and unrepeatable creation. And since, as St. Thomas teaches us, grace perfects nature, the graces God desires for each of us are also unique and unrepeatable, as will be the sanctity and the saint that they produce.

So let's embrace our grace and sink into our space, becoming the unique and particular saint that God has created us to be.