During This Time of COVID, Secular Franciscans Gather!

On Sunday, April 18, 2021, St. Francis Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, based in Milton, MA, gathered in a member’s backyard. It was the first time the fraternity has come together since the COVID pandemic was declared. Everyone wore masks and social distancing was observed.

Franciscan friars from St. Anthony’s Shrine in Boston MA, came and celebrated Mass with us. Also with us was a group of Korean Catholics, who were entering formation to become Secular Franciscans. One of the friars was also Korean, and he preached the homily both in English and Korean. One of the Korean’s with us, sang a beautiful Korean hymn during the Mass. it was a very blessed moment for us all!

After a delicious pot luck lunch, there was held a Welcoming ceremony for the Korean Catholics, who hoped to become professed Secular Franciscans after their time in formation. The ceremony was simple but moving. It gives to us “old timers,” hope that the Order will go on and flourish!

It has been a little more than a year since this pandemic grabbed hold of our world! There has been mourning of loved ones lost! Empty town and city streets; empty stores and offices. And empty churches and synagogues! Our fraternities have developed new skills in using programs like Zoom to keep in touch. Newsletters, personal notes of prayers and support have helped some in maintaining contact.

Still the most important thing we can and should do is pray for one another. Pray for fraternity brothers and sisters, locally, regionally, nationally, and throughout the world! It is by prayer, it is by recognizing that in Christ, we are all one, in Christ, we will get through this, and flourish!

Happy Feast Day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order

“Father, you helped Elizabeth of Hungary to recognize and honor Christ in the poor of this world. Let her prayers help us help us to serve our brothers and sisters in time of trouble and need.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

From the Franciscan Supplement for Liturgy of Hours.

In times like the ones we are going through right now, we need St. Elizabeth’s example to inspire us; and her intercessions to strengthen us!

Belated Happy Feast Day, St. Anthony!

St Anthony of PaduaWith the tragedy in Orlando, Florida; I forgot to write something acknowledging the feast day on June 13th of this blog’s namesake, St. Anthony of Padua.

Born in Portugal, an Augustinian monk; he wound up in Italy as Franciscan friar.  He was famous for his eloquence, and skill as a preacher.  During his life, and after his death, he gained a reputation as a miracle worker.  The following is a prayer, asking his intercession:

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers.  Encouraged by thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request).

O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours.  Amen.

If there was ever a time when, as a country , and a world; we needed a miracle, it is now!  So, St. Anthony, pray for us!

Loring Crossman – Rest In Peace Brother

Loring Crossman, OFS

Loring Crossman, OFS

Last week I lost a friend, Loring Crossman, a fellow Secular Franciscan.  I was asked the day before his funeral, to give a brief eulogy for him.  I had no notes when I gave it, but to the best of my memory, here is what I said.

“Loring Crossman was my brother.  Through Baptism, we were brothers in Christ.  We were also brothers in Saint Francis of Assisi.  Loring was a person committed to ’ living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi’  He succeeded me as Minister of our fraternity, and he lead the fraternity as we strived to adapt our lives to the new Rule of Life, that came out of Vatican II.  Like St. Francis, he led us with gentleness and compassion.  I only saw him lose his temper once, and that was at me over something I had failed to do.  Like St. Francis, he was generous with his time, talents, and treasure.  And like St. Francis, he had fraternity members who would provide comic relief.  I remember that once at the anniversary of our new Rule, St Bonaventure University, in New York, was sponsoring a seminar on the SFO Rule.  I drove there myself; Loring, Edwina and two other members were traveling together.  They had to pick up one member in Connecticut, because she was spending some time at the casinos!

Like St. Francis, Loring suffered from many illnesses.  In Francis’ final months, he spent some time with St. Clare and the Poor Ladies of Assisi, at San Daminao monastery.  Francis stayed in a small hut on the monastery grounds.  He was suffering from blindness, stomach problems and other illnesses.  And his hut was being overrun by mice and other critters, which allowed him no rest.  Yet, in all that suffering, Francis was able to compose a most beautiful hymn, the first poem in the Italian language, “The Canticle to Brother Sun.”  It was Francis way of praising God, despite all his suffering.  And I am sure that Loring, despite everything he was going through, was able to continue praising God, to trust in His love.  Loring was able to say, with all his heart, ‘Welcome Sister Death, I am going home to the Father.’’