I wish each of you blessings as we begin a new year. And may we know the blessings which we have already.
Last month I was able to travel to Arizona to visit Sr. Ange Mayers. I had visited her there some years ago and always wanted to return for another immersion into the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in the heart of the Sonoran desert of Southwest USA. Sr. Ange will be leaving her ministry there soon and so I needed to go or forego the experience. Fortunately I had some frequent flyer miles to use up and so I made the time for this trip.
Sr. Ange has lived and ministered among the Tohono O’odham people for over 15 years. This is in addition to her previous ministry of ten years in Tucson with the Yaqui and Tohono O’odham. I have known Ange since we served together in Venezuela back in the late 1980’s. Still I was very impressed with her poise, presence and persistence in living with deep faith, love and patience amidst challenging circumstances.
Ange’s place of ministry lies 120 miles west of Tucson. So while there is much beauty in the desert and in the people, there is also harshness, solitude, and suffering. There is the beauty of the large saguaro cacti, the sunrise and sunsets, the quiet of the starlit nights, and the surprise of many birds in the arid landscape. There is the beauty of the native people who live close to the earth, with authenticity and simplicity. There is the harshness of poverty, the too often suicides or early deaths, and the scarcity of resources for jobs and education. She has walked with the people there ministering a religious promoter, facilitating leadership training for parish members, teaching faith formation for families, adapting sacramental preparation to the needs of the people, and promoting growth in mental health. Most of all she has been a Franciscan presence, being first of all a sister to her brothers and sisters living in this part of the earth. To read a more see Ange’s brief autobiography our web site under “Meet the Sisters” at www.fslf.org.
Visiting Ange was a blessing that I continue to treasure. There are many things and people for which to be grateful as well. I am grateful for family, friends, my Sisters in community. I am grateful my work in the healing ministry and for all of the gifted healers that work to heal the wounds of the earth and her people. I am grateful the sun, and the moon, the air, the earth and for fire. The following prayer is a little long for a blog but seems so appropriate to share at this moment. It is a prayer written by St. Francis toward the end of his life and demonstrates Francis’ mystical union with God and all God’s creation.
The Canticle of the Creatures
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Son, who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.