An early "Happy Feast of St. Francis of Assisi!"
This Tuesday is the Feast of St. Francis - the day the Church remembers and celebrates the saint who is the patron of ecology – the lover of all God’s good creation. I am a member of the religious order he founded – the Order of Friars Minor (OFM).
One of the hallmarks of St. Francis was his sense of joy.
His joy came from knowing, experiencing, and believing deep in his soul that he was embraced in the Love of God. It became the foundation of how he went about his life. Things that had once been bitter for him became sweet.
As Pope Francis (who chose his Pontifical name after St. Francis of Assisi) has pointed out, all of us who follow Jesus Christ should be people of joy. When you encounter someone who tries to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you should witness their sense of joy and it will be contagious.
That same contagious sense of joy that St. Francis radiated is available for you and me.
We are invited to be open to and always accept God’s unconditional Love for us. When we do that, we too will be joyful.
How could you and I not be full of joy in the knowledge that no matter what might happen to us, no matter what we do or don’t do – we are embraced forever by the Love of God? And our hope is that if you and I respond to that Love of God with love, as St. Francis did, we will remain one with that Love of God for all eternity.
That knowledge, experience, and belief not only gives me comfort – especially when times are grim – but it is the source of joy.
The difficulty I confront is that even though I know this, I still succumb to what has been referred to as “stinking thinking.” It then that I lose my perspective and my sense of joy. When things in my life become challenging or even painful, I sometimes start to doubt that God holds everything, all of God’s creation, in God’s loving embrace – including me.
But God does! I just have to keep the Love of God at the center of my heart and my mind - and in my actions.
I do that by making sure I take the time to pray, meditate, and reflect on what I believe as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I do it when I look at my life through the eyes of my faith in the Love of God, and it is then I see and experience it so prevalent and apparent.
I’m still working at making my “default” way of being to be that of joy. Hopefully, you are growing in your relationship with the Love of God and are making joyfulness your hallmark as well. When you and I do that – we become the people of joy who are holy and true, like Saint Francis and all the saints.
I pray that you experience the joyfulness of God’s Love and celebrate it especially on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
As always, if there is anything we can do for you at UB Catholic campus ministry, please let me know. We are here for you.
May God bless you with Peace and All Good.