Franciscans Reaching Out!

St. Francis of Assisi, and his fellow friars were different from other religious of their day.  Rather than remain in monasteries, behind walls; they went out into the city streets, marketplaces, and the highways to bring the Good News to all.

Today, Franciscan friars are still exploring new avenues of reaching out to people.  The internet, the Web, and Facebook have become the new electronic highways they travel.

I found this poster on an MBTA Red Line subway car.  I know the friar pictured in it, Brother John “Mags.”  a wonderful friar.  

The Good News of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in many ways, through many new mediums.  But, bottom line, it is how each one of us lives the Gospel that provides the best evangelization.

Passionate for the Way of the Lord!

fireThe parish in which I serve as a deacon has been blessed with a strong attendance at our Sunday services.  However, a good number of our congregants are getting on in years; there will come a time when they will no longer be with us.  And I do not see many young people joining us.  This situation is becoming common throughout this country; this is true in Europe.  There has been a call for a “New Evangelization;” but what does that mean?

There is already out there a plethora of programs, “how to” books, DVD’s and CD’s; all offering an approach that is sure to draw new members.  Most are based on experiences of pastors, lay teachers, and other speakers.  And many of them are fine, and may offer a short term solution.  However, no approach will offer long term success, if it does not awaken a passion for God; a passion for the Word and Sacrament; a passion to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right here,right now.  To ignite that passion, and more importantly, sustain it; we must open ourselves the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  Have a passion for reading and meditating on Scripture frequently, let it speak to us, let it excite us, let it inspire us.  Then, be passionate in prayer, both as an individual, and as part of a worshiping Eucharistic community.  Because, only in Christ, will we experience the great love  of the Father for ea h of us.  Only in Christ, will we find the strength to change our lives.  And through the Holy Spirit, will we receive the grace which set our hearts on fire.

It is then that we will have the passion to go out and “make disciples of all nations.”  However, most of us will not be called to preach with words, but by actions.  Like Francis of Assisi, we must have within us, a passion for healing the sick; giving care to those stressed out by life; welcoming the stranger.  In other words, we must be passionate about giving mercy to a suffering, alienated society.  We may be called in many different and various ways to do this; we may not be very good at it at first, but it only takes small steps, that will grow into bigger steps.

The first followers of Jesus, inflamed by the Holy Spirit, were passionate for living and proclaiming the Good News.  And they drew thousands into the faith.  Let us have the courage to become flame, to become passionate for Christ; and see what miracles we can achieve!


A Franciscan’s Perspective: Blessed Ramon Lull, His Life and the Takeaway.

Blessed Ramon Lull“Therefore, any brother who, by divine inspiration, desires to go among the Saracens and other unbelievers should go with the permission of his minister and servant…As for the brothers who go, they can live spiritually among [the Saracens and nonbelievers] in two ways.  One way is not to engage in arguments or disputes, but to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake (1 Pet 2:13) and to acknowledge that they are Christians.  Another way is to proclaim the word of God when they see that it pleases the Lord, so that they believe in the all-powerful God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-the Creator of all, in the Son Who is the Redeemer and Savior, and that they be baptized and become Christians; because whoever has not been born again of water and the Holy Spirit cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (cf. Jn 3:5).  (The Early Rule of the Order Friars Minor; Chap XVI: 2-3, 5-7)The

Today, June 30th, the Catholic Church remembers Blessed Ramon Lull, who was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order.  He was born in 1232 AD, on the island of Majorca.  He was extremely well-educated and served in various royal courts on the Iberian Peninsula.  After listening to a sermon that touched his heart, he earnestly strived to live the Gospel life as a Secular Franciscan.  He promoted missionary work among the peoples of North Africa; working to establish mission colleges, where missionaries could learn Arabic.  He firmly believed that the way to bring non-believers to Christ was not with the sword, but through prayer and dialogue.  He took time away from his college building efforts, and lived the life of a hermit for nine years.  During this time, he produced a substantial amount of spiritual and philosophical works.  In 1314, at age seventy-nine, he went to North Africa, to be a missionary himself.  There he encountered a mob of hostile Muslims, who stoned him, and mortally injured him.  Some merchants were able to get him on a ship bound for Europe.  He did in 1315.

Francis of Assisi once described himself as a herald of the Great King, Jesus Christ.  He encouraged his brother friars to go out and preach about the love of God, to all they came in contact with, believer and non-believer alike.  But he also wanted their words to be backed up by their actions; by their works of charity, and showing respect to all they came in contact with.  In the first draft of the Order’s Rule (Regula Non Bullata), he describes the two ways his friars were to evangelize, by way of life, or open proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church, and especially the Church here in the Archdiocese of Boston, are being called to engage in a New Evangelization.  One way of evangelization is live our lives as believers of the Good News; as those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  This relationship should color how we interact with others, in our families, our workplaces, and in the marketplace.  The other is to never be shy about sharing what our personal encounter with Christ has meant for us; what it has changed in us.  We share our struggles with our faith; we share the joys of our faith.  And we have the courage to invent others to come and see.

Evangelization is something God is calling us to be involved in, in our world today; right now, right here.  We are all called to be heralds of the Great King!