Fratelli Tutti

Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
October 4-5, 2020

This year, in normal liturgical custom, our Sunday celebration supersedes the Feastday of Francis. But I can’t let this special day go by without notice. Therefore, I am publishing tomorrow’s reflection early, hoping that you will read some of it today. I write with warmest greeting to all Franciscans, especially my dear Sisters in Aston. PA. (The Franciscan Spiritual Center has designed some wonderful programs and made them accessible even during the pandemic. Here is a link to explore their wonderful offerings.)

St. Francis Preaches to the Birds – Giotto

For reflection, I plan to spend this evening and tomorrow morning with Pope Francis’s new encyclical Fratelli Tutti (Brothers and Sisters All), issued on this feast. St. Francis inspired the world with a renewed Gospel vision. Our Holy Father seeks to do the same with this ground-breaking teaching.

These will be the first of many prayerful days with this powerful document which Michael Sean Winters, in the National Catholic Reporter, describes:

What is clear is that Pope Francis has given the church a testament of authentic solidarity at a time when our president — and his nationalistic allies abroad — offers a counterfeit of solidarity. Both varieties of solidarity are responses to the excesses and the poverties created by neo-liberalism. Yes, poverties, it is clear, … that the material wealth neoliberal economies generate is precisely coincident with the generation of spiritual and moral poverty. The whole world groans to move beyond the moral slovenliness of laissez-faire ideas. But only the pope’s version represents an authentically Christian version of solidarity and, I would add, an authentically human version. This text challenges Christians in unique ways, but it challenges all….
…. If this pandemic does not shake us out of our post-modern cultural and moral and spiritual lethargy, what will? Pope Francis is throwing the Catholic Church and the whole world a lifeline. Will we grab it?

If you would like to pray with this profound and challenging instruction from Pope Francis, here is a link to it.

A second opportunity for prayer over today and tomorrow comes from our Mercy Sister Eileen Dooling. On our Sisters of Mercy blog, Eileen offers a lovely reflection on the Franciscan-Mercy connection. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

As you can see, there are so many ways to reflect, pray and grow on this beautiful feast. May your prayer be blessed by Francis (both of them) and by this amazing music!

Music: St. Francis Preaching to the Birds by Franz Liszt, played by Kotaro Fukuma 

We Shall Behold Him

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a man who through his deep understanding and love of poverty, worshipped God in all Creation.

we shall behold hinm

In many ways, our reading from Job echoes what we know of Francis. Francis, by choice, and Job, by circumstance, are left with nothing. Each one  experiences that emptiness as an open pathway to God.

Poverty of spirit is that freedom from dependencies, material and otherwise, which could block us from full relationship with God. The parable of Job shows us a man who possessed such poverty in the extreme experiences of his life.

Francis of Assisi’s story is not a parable. He was real, like you and me. His passionate desire for God burned with the intensity of this verse from Job:

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.

We, too, good friends, shall someday behold Him. May the great holiness of Francis inspire us to unblock our hearts to recognize and adore God, even in this life of challenges and blessings.

Music: We Shall Behold Him – The Woodlands Church UMC Choir

Former American Idol finalist LaKisha Jones sings the solo during an Easter Morning anthem.

Savor the exultant words first. I especially love the lines: 

The sweet light in His eyes, shall enhance those awaiting
And we shall behold him, then face to face

We Shall Behold Him
The sky shall unfold
Preparing His entrance
The stars shall applaud Him
With thunders of praise
The sweet light in His eyes, shall enhance those awaiting
And we shall behold Him, then face to face
O we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
O we shall behold Him, yes we shall behold Him
Face to face, our Savior and Lord
The angel will sound, the shout of His coming
And the sleeping shall rise, from their slumbering place
And those remaining, shall be changed in a moment
And we shall behold him, then face to face
We shall behold Him, o yes we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
We shall behold Him, face to face
Our Savior and Lord
We shall behold Him, our Savior and Lord
Savior and Lord!