The Franciscan family around the world is gearing up to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi this coming 16 April 2009. That's the traditional date given for the vows of our holy founder in 1209 before Pope Innocent III at the St. John Lateran Cathedral in Rome.
San Damiano outside the walls of the city of Assisi where St. Francis heard the Lord Jesus call him to repair his home.
Members of the various American provinces of the Order of Friars Minor have gathered in Las Cruces, NM at Holy Cross Retreat Center for a week-long retreat being given by Fr. Michael Blastic, OFM of Holy Name Province in New York City.
The US provinces represented are Our Lady of Guadalupe (Albuquerque, NM), the hosting province, Sacred Heart (St. Louis, MO), Holy Name Province (as above), the Commissariat of the Holy Land (Washington, DC), St. John the Baptist Province (Cincinnati, OH), St. Barbara Province (Oakland, CA) and my province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Franklin, WI). There's also a friar from the St. Mary of the Angels Province in Krakow, Poland who is studying in Washington, DC!
It's a good refresher for all of us Franciscan friars, both young and old, veterans and newly professed friars to consider their respective vocations as friars minor ("lesser brothers"). Fr. Michael Blastic recommended and provided gratis for the friars a relatively small book called, A Study of the Rule of 1223: History, Exegesis and Reflection. It is published by the Holy Name Province of Franciscan Friars.
The San Damiano Cross (now housed in the Basilica of Santa Chiara within the City of Assisi), about six feet tall, which spoke to St. Francis of Assisi calling him to repair his house.
It's been a good reflection, as I stated above, to consider our vocation -- our call from the Lord to be lesser brothers in a viiolent world fraught with greed. Fr. Michael has been juxtaposing the reality of 13th century Assisi with our own reality of early 21st century USA. Lots of similarities! Human life deals with the same or at least similar realities and challenges.