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Commitment as Faithfulness - Associate Day of Reflection
August 25, 2018 - Presenter: Sister Janice Keenan, OSF

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate Day of Reflection. Our day started with an opening prayer thanking God for the gifts of life, love and each other. We prayed that we would recognize His presence in each person gathered for our reflection day. We also prayed that we would share our gifts with them as we reflected on what commitment meant to us.

We listened to two readings that spoke about God’s faithfulness. The first was a reading from Lamentations 3:21-26 which speaks about how God is faithful to us through His steadfast love and His endless mercies.

The second reading was to prepare us for our exercise. It was adapted from The Breath of Love by Michel Quoist. We were to listen carefully to that reading and think how we could draw a picture showing God’s faithfulness in our lives and our faithfulness to Him. There were several images we could use from the reading, including a garment, a voyage, a mountain or a river.

One image that caught my attention from the reading spoke about faithfulness being a series of responses. Faithfulness is not a one-time choice. Faithfulness comes from each time we say “yes” to loving God or loving our neighbor.

I started drawing a road with the intent of showing events where I had answered major questions in my life. After I had a portion of my road drawn, people who helped me to answer those questions popped into my thoughts. At that point, I wrote on the corner of my paper - God sends people to guide - and continued drawing my road. I don’t remember asking for God’s help when I was looking for answers. However, God was faithful as He helped me along my journey. He always sent someone to guide me or something to connect me to the next step.

There were several parts of our reflection day that spoke about our faithfulness to God. The Gospel reading we listened to was a familiar one from Mark 12: 28-34 where one of the Scribes asked Jesus which of God’s commandments is the most important. In this Gospel, Jesus tells us that nothing is more important than loving God and loving our neighbors.

Commitment is faithfulness to love. In the responses after the reading from Lamentations, we listened to the ways God shows His love to us and also how we are called to do our part. Some of the responses are below:

Only God gives love - but we are called to care for each other.
Only God can bring happiness - but we are invited to be joyful.
Only God makes miracles happen - but we must offer our loaves and fishes.
Only God can do the impossible - but it’s up to us to do what is possible.

Sr. Janice gave us a handout with some thoughts on how we can respond knowing there could be negative results. Even though there may be undesirable consequences attached to our words and actions, we can show our faithfulness to God by being kind, loving and forgiving to the people around us.

The title on this part of the handout was "Do It Anyway". The version we read was found written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta. Several of the thoughts from the handout are below:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

This Day of Reflection prepares us to renew our commitment as Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago in October. One way we show faithfulness to this commitment is by our presence at Associate group days. There are many ways we see God’s faithfulness in our daily lives. The more difficult question for me was - how am I faithful to God? How can I show my commitment to faithfulness in my love of God and neighbor? Thanks to Sr. Janice’s presentation, I have some ideas for reflection.

FSC Associate Group Day - Beyond Assisi

Sr. Joanne Schatzlein, OSF - Saturday June 23, 2018

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate group day. Beyond Assisi is an actual pilgrimage where the pilgrims visit seldom seen Franciscan sites. This pilgrimage was created in 2011 by Andre Cirino, OFM and Murray Bodo, OFM. It is the response to alumni pilgrims asking for "more" of Saints Francis and Clare. Sr. Joanne is one of the pilgrim leaders for this trip in May 2019.

Our group of Associates is probably not going to make it to Italy next year. However, we got a taste of what the pilgrims see on their journey through the wonders of modern technology in Sr. Joanne’s Power Point presentation. Many of the pilgrimage sites and stories from Sr. Joanne’s presentation remained in my thoughts from our group day. Several of my favorite sites are below.

Tagliacozzo: Thomas of Celano was the first biographer of Francis. The remains of Blessed Thomas of Celano are at the Church of St. Francis in Tagliacozzo. People come to pray by Thomas’ remains because they want to be close to their Saint.

Poggio Bustone: One thing that stood out from Poggio Bustone was that St. Francis of Assisi greeted villagers by saying "buon giorno buona gente" (good morning good people). Francis recognized that the body is good and it is a vessel of grace. Prior to Francis, people were taught to believe that only the soul is good.

Greccio: At Greccio, Francis invited people into church for Mass. Previously, the people stood outside of the church where they could hear Mass and maybe see the Consecration through a window or other opening.

At Greccio, the first re-enactment of the Nativity by Francis brought the story of Jesus' birth to life. In Italy, Christmas Day is celebrated by visiting créches. These créches include the village around the manager scene. It is understood from these créches that God is always with us and He comes to where we live.

La Verna: Francis composed The Praises of God on Mount La Verna. At Mount La Verna, Brother Leo was cold and depressed. The Praises of God were written on a parchment which also contains the blessing that Francis gave to Brother Leo when he realized what Leo was going through.

A Blessing for Brother Leo
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you and be merciful to you.
May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
May the Lord bless you, Brother Leo.

Looking at the Praises of God, it seems possible that Brother Leo was in Francis’ thoughts when he wrote them. Several of the Praises of God are about comfort and help.

...You are strong.
... You are security. You are rest.
...You are the protector.
...You are strength. You are refreshment. You are our hope.

Gubbio: A well-known stories about St. Francis is when he tamed the wolf that was terrorizing the people of Gubbio. While Francis was staying in Gubbio, he learned of a wolf that had not only killed animals, but had killed people as well. The villagers were afraid to leave the city walls.

Francis went out to meet the wolf. Francis told the wolf that he was in a lot of trouble for his actions. Francis learned that the wolf has hungry and was killing to keep himself fed. Francis got the wolf to promise that if he were fed, he wouldn’t bother the people of Gubbio or their animals again. The people of Gubbio promised that the wolf would not go hungry. The people and the wolf kept their promises and the wolf was able to move about Gubbio freely without being harmed.

At one point during the presentation, Sr. Joanne asked the question - how do we take this home? The stories that caught my attention from Sr. Joanne’s presentation were stories about relationship with God and with the world around us. From Poggio Bustone, Francis’ greeting reminds me that we need to see ourselves and others as good people. That same sentiment is echoed in Greccio where Francis invited the people into the church for Mass. At La Verna, Francis teaches that even when there is suffering in our lives, we can praise God. At Gubbio, Francis made time to understand both sides of the story and found a peaceful solution for the wolf and the villagers.

FSC Associate Group Day - Saturday May 19th
Prayer: Being in Relationship with the Divine

Presenter: Sr. Mary Barbara Hassler OSF
By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate group day. To begin the presentation, Sr. Mary Barbara asked a couple of questions. The first question was - What is prayer? The answer that came to mind was that prayer is communication between us and God. Something I learned from Sister’s presentation was that the inspiration to pray comes from God. Since God is always with us, we pray to bring Him into relationship with us.

The next question was - Who is God to me? The answer that popped into my head was “Father”. One of the responses from a fellow Associate remained in my thoughts. She sees God as a “tough love” type of Father. God loves us and forgives us even when we make the same mistake over and over, but reminds us that we know how to follow His commandments.

As with all relationships, we need to put effort into our prayer life. Making time for daily prayer is essential. Sr. Mary Barbara recommended turning off distractions before we pray. Sister also encouraged us to create a space for prayer. A prayer space is a room or area in a room set aside for one to reflect and pray. This space can be personalized with things that encourage one to pray. Some possible items for a prayer space are a Bible, a favorite statue or picture of a Saint, a rosary and seasonal items from nature like flowers.

We can look to Jesus as a model of how to pray. Sr. Mary Barbara gave us several examples from Scripture. Two of the examples showed how Jesus felt about praying in solitude. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus encourages us to go to our inner room and to pray to our Father in secret. In Matthew 14:23, Jesus went up on a mountain by himself to pray.

As part of the group day, there were several meditations. One was a two-minute meditation exercise where Sr. Mary Barbara touched on reasons to be thankful for different parts of our bodies. Afterwards, I felt more grateful for things I hadn’t thought of. One example that stayed with me was being thankful for arms to hug the people I love.

Another meditation was a guided meditation following along with a CD. The meditation was on the Scripture story about the Potter and the clay from Jeremiah 18: 1-6. First, the CD guided us to visualize ourselves on our way to the Potter’s house with questions about our surroundings. We were then instructed to picture the outside of the Potter’s house, the inside of the Potter’s house and the Potter working with the clay. Meditating on Scripture may be helpful to discern a direction in one’s life or to provide guidance for an issue. Phrases that catch one’s attention may be God’s way of speaking through Scripture.

The loving kindness meditation was my favorite. The steps of this meditation were the same, but bringing a different person to mind each time. First, one visualizes someone very dear and sends them loving and kind thoughts. Then, one visualizes and sends loving and kind thoughts to someone not quite as dear and someone who produces neutral feelings. Finally, one visualizes a person who brings feelings of anger or hurt and sends them loving and kind thoughts. This was a good exercise to help reflect on how people are held in one’s thoughts, especially those people who bring negative feelings.

The centering meditation was difficult for me. We were to sit quietly, as still as possible with eyes closed for 20 minutes. Before the meditation started, each person chose a sacred word to use to return to the meditation if our mind wandered. The purpose of this meditation was to for us to be with God. When the chime went off, Sr. Mary Barbara asked "who couldn’t wait for the chimes to ring" and I raised my hand.

Sr. Mary Barbara talked about silence and solitude. She encouraged us to set aside silent time every day, even if it’s only 5 minutes to start. It's not easy to sit in silence. From experience, I know that I want to jump up and do something. Sitting in silence can be time for self-reflection. Things we don’t like about ourselves may come to mind during this time. If we don’t tune out these thoughts, God can help us acknowledge our shortcomings and work on overcoming them.

Sr. Mary Barbara spoke about some of the benefits one can receive from prayer. Authentic prayer can change a person. It can lead one to true self-knowledge. Prayer can make one more kind and patient. It can lead to gratitude. Prayer can draw us out to serve humanity. After this group day, I can see how deepening my relationship with God through my prayer life can also help me to become more aware of my thoughts, actions and the way I treat others around me.

Franciscans Praying Scripture - FSC Associate Group Day

Presenter: Sr. Maryann Dosen, SSFCR - Saturday April 28. 2018

By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall. The first part of the presentation was focused on Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is not just for the clergy. In fact, Pope Paul VI recommended Lectio Divina to the general population over 50 years ago. In the present day, Pope Francis calls for the faithful to return to the practice of Lectio Divina.

Lectio Divina is immersing oneself in Scripture using the steps below. One must prepare for Lectio Divina. Make a commitment to devote time to Lectio Divina regularly. Find a comfortable place without distractions. Before beginning, pray to the Holy Spirit.

  • Lectio: Read a passage of Scripture aloud. Slowly, mindfully listen to the words. What words touch you?
  • Meditatio: Read the passage of Scripture again. Ask God questions and listen to what God is saying to you. Does the passage speak to your experience?
  • Oratio: Read the passage again. Allow the words to move from your mind to your heart. Listen to God. What is God inviting you to? Offer a prayer in response.
  • Comtemplatio: Rest in God. Put the words aside; be still in God’s presence.

Sr. Maryann read Sunday’s Gospel to us from John 15: 1-8. Then, we read it silently listening for a word or phrase that spoke to us. One sentence that caught my attention was "Remain in me, as I remain in you". I can see how Lectio Divina takes commitment and practice to keep one’s focus on the Scripture passage.

Next, Sr. Maryann explained that St. Francis of Assisi practiced Lectio Divina in his own way. Francis left many prayers in his writings, but not a method for prayer. To better understand Francis, we need to look in his Testament and in the accounts of the early Brothers. Sr. Maryann gave us a reading about Francis. It contained several examples that pointed to Francis practicing Lectio Divina. One example is below.

Francis heard the gospel read in church about how the Lord sent out his disciples to preach. After Mass, Francis asked the priest to explain the Gospel to him. When Francis heard how Jesus’ disciples were to carry out their ministry, including what they were to wear, he immediately changed his attire to match that of Jesus’ disciples. Francis listened to the Word of God, reflected on it a second time with the priest’s explanation and acted upon what he determined God was inviting him to do.

After learning about St. Francis, we moved on to St. Clare of Assisi. Clare did leave a method of prayer for us to study. She imitated Francis’ virtues and way of life, but also lived by the Benedictine rule. Clare did not have a Bible, but used the San Damiano Cross for meditation. From Clare’s Second Letter to Agnes of Prague, we have the following quote:

Look upon Him who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him. ... O most noble Queen, gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.

Studying this quote from Clare’s letter, we see that she meditated on the cross, contemplated Him who was crucified and offered advice for Agnes to do the same.

Sr. Maryann told us that after we are comfortable with the practice of Lectio Divina, we can make it our own. We have examples of moving Lectio Divina forward from St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure and St. Ignatius. All three of them took a piece of Scripture and made it their own.

St. Francis reenacted the Nativity at Greccio so the people could experience baby Jesus in the manger. St. Bonaventure continued the tradition of the Nativity in his writings. He called upon people to meditate upon the birth of Jesus. St. Ignatius created The Spiritual Exercises where people could envision themselves in the manger scene or along the road to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph.

I’ve made half-hearted attempts in the past to read and meditate on Scripture without putting forth any real commitment. After Sr. Maryann’s presentation and her gift to us of a “cheat sheet” with the Lectio Divina steps on it, I’m encouraged to try again.

Adding Yeast to the Dough...Believing in What is not Yet Apparent

Saturday, March 24, 2018 - FSC Associate Group Day
Presenter: Sister Mary Ruth Broz, RSM

By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall. Sr. Mary Ruth asked us to introduce ourselves and explain why we were there. She wanted to know what motivated everyone to attend the Associate group day.

As we went around the room, each Associate or Sister explained why she or he was there. Several people mentioned the group day as an opportunity to prepare for Holy Week which started the next day. Other reasons given were to grow closer to God, to nourish one’s spirituality, for faith sharing and to be with like-minded people. My favorite answer was from one of my fellow Associates who said he comes for the food. Of course, that was only part of his answer, but we enjoyed the laugh.

After graduating from a Catholic high school, I felt like I stopped learning about my faith. As an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, I continue to learn about my faith. Yes, I also enjoy the food, but the best part of attending the Associate group days is growing in faith with my fellow Associates and with the Sisters.

Sr. Mary Ruth gave us a hand out with quotes, poems and short readings that related to the day’s topic. A quote that caught my attention was...

"...Saving the world may be a matter of sowing a seed not overturning a tyrant,
...we do what we can!” (May Sarton)

Sr. Mary Ruth talked about Rosa Parks as an example of someone who had no idea of how her small action would have a ripple effect on the world. Something came over Rosa Parks that day when she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger.

We broke into small groups to talk about the reflection questions from the hand out. A question related to the above quote was: What gives you courage to rise up and speak out? The answer from my group is that we get the courage to speak out when we experience or witness injustice. One of the people in my group told us that she asks herself; "What’s the worst thing that can happen if I speak up?" She also said that she knew God would be with her regardless of the outcome.

A second reflection question that the groups discussed was: What small acts have left you with hope? In my small group, we talked about different ways people have reached out to us when we were ill or needed a lift and ways we’ve reached out to others. We felt hope when someone reached out by sending a greeting card, making a phone call, providing comforting words or a gentle touch.

A poem from the hand out echoed our answers from the reflection question. These small acts of kindness or “crumbs” are food for the soul and should be noticed and cherished.

Be careful with the crumbs.
Do not overlook them.
Be careful with the crumbs:
the little chances to love,
the tiny gestures, the morsels
that feed, the minims. Take care of the crumbs:
a look, a laugh, a smile
a teardrop, an open hand. Take care
of the crumbs. They are food also.
Do not let them fall.
Gather them. Cherish them.
- from Becoming Bread by Guinella Norris

Sr. Mary Ruth gave some suggestions for taking our reflections on the day’s topic and turning them into actions. For example, making time for a special cause, reconnecting with someone we haven’t spoken to in a while or making an effort to be kinder to the people around us.

Just as one doesn’t see the yeast acting in the dough until the dough rises, we often don’t see the Spirit working in us or in other people until there are visible results. Reflecting on this topic made me realize that it’s possible for something thought of as insignificant to grow into something life-changing. After this Associate day, I’m determined to pay more attention to opportunities for action that could lift someone’s spirit or speak up against an injustice.

At the end of her presentation, Sr. Mary Ruth gave each of us a packet of yeast to take home.

What’s Your Decision? An Ignatian Approach to Decision Making
Saturday, February 24, 2018 - FSC Associate Group Day
Presenter: Elaine P. Lindia, FSC Associate

By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate group day. Elaine showed a couple of video clips to provide background on the man who would become St. Ignatius. Ignatius participated in many battles until he was struck in the legs by a cannon ball. He endured surgery without anesthetic to repair his injuries. Ignatius recovered, but his military career was over.

While recuperating in the hospital, Ignatius became intrigued reading about the lives of the Saints. As he reflected on how the Saints lived, going back to his former way of life became less appealing. In the video, Ignatius questioned how St Francis of Assisi could give up everything he owned. Ignatius envisioned himself in the time of Francis of Assisi and came to the realization that Francis gave up everything for God and to serve Jesus by serving others. This began Ignatius’ spiritual awakening.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices to help people deepen their relationship with God. The choices we make can take us closer to God or away from God. We are influenced by internal factors such as our hopes and fears and by external factors like cultural norms and family expectations. To discern, one needs to sort through the various influences to determine what is the best path to take to follow Christ.

Elaine asked us to look at our lives as a road and to think about the major decision points. She passed around paper, pens and crayons and asked us to draw a map, marking our milestones. We were asked to think about these decisions, how we made them and if we invited God into our decisions.

The major decision points on my map were college, career choice, each of my jobs, joining the school board at my parish, buying a house and joining the Associates. I can’t remember inviting God into any of my life decisions, but I can look back and see Him at work in my life. One major decision was joining the Associates. Three Sisters at different points in my life suggested that I join the Associates until I finally acted upon the suggestion.

After a few people shared and explained their map, Elaine walked us through several techniques for making decisions following St. Ignatius’ methods. She also explained how to determine if a choice moves us towards God or away from Him. A couple of the methods that caught my attention are below.

One is Ignatius’ first method for discernment using reason which uses the following steps:

  • Put the matter before yourself clearly. What are you trying to discern?
  • Remain open and objective about the possibilities.
  • Pray to God to move your will so you know what to do.

Ignatius then suggests making a pro-and-con list of the choices. Examine the list and "see to which side reason more inclines". Try to put aside feelings or imagination as much as possible. The final step is to take the conclusions to God in prayer. With an open heart, ask for confirmation or guidance that the discernment is correct.

Ignatius second method of making a good discernment uses imagination to explore the options. With each option, be mindful if the answer suggests growing closer to God or away from God. Then imagine three different scenarios.

  • Someone comes to you with the same dilemma as you are facing and asks your advice.

What questions would you ask and how would that imaginary person answer?

  • You are on your deathbed looking back at the decision you’re now trying to make.

What path do you wish you had chosen?

  • It’s the final judgment day. You are face-to-face with God who loves you and is reviewing the choices you’ve made. Which path of this current choice would bring you into a deeper relationship with Him?

It fascinates me that someone who lived over 450 years ago could provide instructions and advice that would be relevant in our time. The methods above aren’t new to me. I’ve used the pro and con method before and made lists of my options. I’ve also used my imagination and asked myself "what if" when I’m in the process of making decisions.

One difference between these methods and what I’ve done in the past is that I haven’t invited God into my decisions, prayed for guidance or asked myself if a specific choice would bring me closer to God or away from Him. After this Associate group day, I’ve realized that it’s a good idea to invite God into decisions and try to determine if what I’m doing brings me closer to Him.

The Transformative Power of Dreams - An Introductory Workshop
Presenter: Sr. Mary Ellen Ryley, SCMM - January 27, 2018

By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

After Mass, we met in Marian Hall for our Associate group day. We went around the room and introduced ourselves to Sr. Mary Ellen (Sr. Mel), explained what motivated us to come to Lemont for the day’s presentation and mentioned if we had any prior knowledge or interest in dreams.

When the introductions were complete, Sr. Mel talked to us about recalling and recording dreams. She gave us tips to help us remember our dreams and some possible ways to record dreams.

When I introduced myself, I mentioned that I've woken up in the morning knowing that I had been dreaming while I slept, but the dream disappeared quickly from memory. After our workshop on dreams, I moved a notebook by my bed so I could write about my dreams as soon as I woke up. As Sr. Mel suggested, writing down even a fragment of the dream helps one to remember other pieces of the dream.

Next, Sr. Mel explained how the Jung Circle Association worked. Each of us followed the steps for the exercise. We chose a dream symbol for the center of the circle. A dream symbol is a person, object, place, color, sound, animal or activity from a dream. Around the dream symbol we wrote whatever came to mind that we thought was connected with the dream symbol. Next, we reflected on the dream symbol and our associations to that symbol. During our reflection, we focused on any of the associations that felt right to us, maybe something that reminded us of an issue or event happening in our life.

One or more of my recent dreams took place at my childhood home. As an adult, I lived with my parents before I moved into my own house. I used mom and dad’s house as my dream symbol. Some of my associations were: parents, childhood home, parents retired to North Carolina and dad could fix anything that was broken.

After writing my associations to my childhood home, I realized that these dreams were happening when things were breaking in my house. My parents were not traveling to Chicago for Christmas so dad wasn’t able to help fix some of these things for me. I would have to work on getting things fixed without dad’s help. I didn’t know if that was the correct interpretation, but it felt right.

After our exercise on the Jung Circle Association, Sr. Mel explained the Gestalt Dream Process. With this process, you become the dream symbol. In theory, every element in the dream is an aspect of the dreamer’s personality. As the dream symbol, you are to describe yourself...your qualities, characteristics, function and purpose using "I am" statements.

Sr. Mel gave us time to do this exercise. I used the "I am" statements to describe my parents’ house, but it didn’t lead to any additional insight. When people in the group shared their thoughts after this exercise, they noticed that the statements made as the dream symbol were more positive than the previous exercise. If the dream symbol was from a scary or negative dream, this exercise showed that maybe the message from the dream wasn’t meant to frighten the dreamer, but to help figure out a problem.

Another technique that can be used with any type of dream is Inner Dialogue. With this technique, you have a conversation between yourself and your dream symbol. The dreamer creates the dialogue for both participants. Dream symbols are part of us. With this exercise, we give voice to different parts of ourselves. As a few people shared the inner dialogue with their dream symbol, I saw how this technique could be useful and may lead to an interesting insight.

An important final step when processing a dream is to connect with God, to pray and reflect on the message of the dream and what I can learn from this message for my journey through life.

Dream interpretation was an interesting subject for an Associate group day. I wondered what I could learn by interpreting my dreams. I found out that dreams are sent to us by the Spirit to help us with problems and questions. By paying attention to and reflecting on the message of our dreams, we gain insight about ourselves and the events in our lives.

Associate Reflection Day
- Saint Francis, Pope Francis - A Common Vision

Elizabeth Pienta and Brian Nosbusch
By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate - November 11, 2017

After Mass, we gathered in the back of chapel by the sarcophagus of Mother Mary Theresa, the foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Two Associates who were not able to join us for the recommitment celebration on October 1st made their recommitment after Mass.

Afterwards, we met in Marian Hall for our reflection day. The opening prayer was the song “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.” It was the perfect song to start our day.

The presentation given by Elizabeth Pienta, an FSC Associate, was based on the book 'Saint Francis, Pope Francis - A Common Vision' by Gina Loehr with Al Giambrone. The authors talk about the commonalities between St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis in the following areas; humility, charity, church, peace and joy. Elizabeth expounded upon each of the five areas. She had also prepared a pamphlet containing reflection questions on each of the areas. Time was given at the end of each section for reflection.

Francis of Assisi lived a life of austere poverty. Even when the community he started grew in size and popularity, Francis continued to live a humble and simple life. None of the friars, including Francis himself, had a title in the community. Pope Francis models himself after St. Francis of Assisi beginning with the name he chose. We’ve all heard stories of Pope Francis’ humility and how he declined certain privileges to live simply. What I hadn’t heard before was that Jorge Mario Bergoglio - Bishop, Cardinal and now Pope Francis had taken a vow not to seek any of these offices.

Before he started his life of service, St. Francis of Assisi noticed a homeless man who came to beg in his father’s shop. Francis turned the homeless man away, but felt so bad that he ran after the man, leaving the shop unattended. When Francis found the homeless man, he filled the man’s pockets with money. Like the Saint whose name he chose, Pope Francis speaks out for the people society ignores. He also puts his words into action. One of my favorite stories about Pope Francis is about the showers he had built in the Vatican for the homeless of St. Peter’s Square.

St. Francis of Assisi went out and repaired the Church of his time. First, he was a living example of the Gospel and then he preached the Gospel message to others. Pope Francis thinks of the Church as a mother. He stays true to Church teachings and emphasizes mercy, forgiveness and compassion by his words and actions. Pope Francis is repairing the Church of his time.

St. Francis of Assisi lived with an inner peace. He was at peace in poverty, in prison, in sickness and in suffering. Pope Francis also lives with this same inner peace. When he appeared before the world as our new Pope, with all of the responsibility placed on him, Pope Francis was at peace.

St. Francis of Assisi found joy in all of God’s creation. He also found joy in his suffering and physical ailments. He praised God for giving him the stigmata. Pope Francis also found joy in his own personal suffering, knowing that in this suffering he was imitating Christ.

The presentation lasted an hour. Then after a short break, we met in chapel for the 2nd part of our reflection day. First we sang, "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" then Deacon Brian exposed the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. Along with Eucharistic Adoration, the service included three reflections.

The first reflection was a silent reflection on The Act of Faith. The second reflection was also silent, but on The Act of Hope and The Act of Love. The 3rd reflection was for the whole group to pray aloud - The Act of Contrition.

After reflecting on the common vision between St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis, it seemed fitting that we continued our prayers and reflection with the Acts of Faith, Hope, Love and Contrition. The Acts speak of St. Francis of Assisi and of Pope Francis on their loyalty to the teachings of the Church and their dedication to repairing the Church of their time. Both men show us how to live the Gospel and are examples to us of loving God and loving our neighbors.