by Sister Jean Schwieters
As we near the end of another year our attention begins to focus on what we have accomplished, what we have gained and where we stand at its conclusion. Much of our reflection rests on material possessions, perhaps because their tangibility bring us a sense of well being and pride. We tell ourselves that so much is due to our own hard work and commitments. As we gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day to acknowledge our blessings we know in our hearts that we, alone, cannot take all the credit.
For Francis of Assisi THANKSGIVING was more than an annual event. It was a way of life. No amount of material possessions could add to his deep awareness that all he had was given to him. All that he had become rested on his ability to let go. On the day he stripped himself of his elegant robes in the piazza near the front of the Bishop’s residence he gave public witness to an emerging belief that it was not riches that created or gave importance to a person. This was a radical declaration that not even Francis comprehended. Over years of observing the madness that drove his father to accumulate more and more he knew in his heart that material wealth was not the answer to what he was looking for. As of yet, his heart did not grasp what it was that would fill the void he felt inside. Over time he would grapple with the paradox that wouldn’t let go… the struggle between self-emptying and fulfillment.
It was not a practice of Francis to praise and thank God only for what many would perceive to be gifts and blessings. He readily acknowledged God’s goodness in every aspect of life - trials and sufferings included. He saw the possibility for conversion and growth in his relationship with God in every event in his life. For Francis it was God who gave him life. For Francis it was God who called him to a new way of living. For Francis it was God who taught him the values found in the Gospel and in the lives of the poor. It was God who invited him into the circle of Creation where he learned the true meaning of brotherhood and sisterhood. God truly became his ALL. And his response was a never-ending Thanksgiving and Praise, the prayer formula that shaped his entire life.
Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.