By Father Robert Campagna, OFM
“Rebuild my Church.” That was the call and will of God as St. Francis of Assisi first “heard” those three powerful words. He would hear that request more than once, as he prayed in a worse-for-wear battered old chapel with all but a holy Icon remaining on the wall. So Francis took to repairing the chapel, and did so with great care and prayer.
But in his heart, Francis began to understand those haunting words were more than a literal ‘fix it’ job. God was inviting him to fix what was wrong with the society and spirituality of the times.
From those three little words, came a revolution in the form of what would be a new kind of religious order and indeed, a new kind of Church.
Our Lenten and Easter Days, blossoming into 50 Days of Easter, touch us too in the 21st century. As St. Francis discovered, the doors of the heart open if we spend some time listening and opening those doors.
What better time to do so than throughout the solemn days of Lent, the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the glories of Easter Time.
The key is to carve out some quiet time with the Lord. Why not try to arrive at church 15 minutes early. That might provide some “listening” time to seek God’s will. And during the liturgy, we need to listen attentively to the Readings and Gospel for the day- for listening to God’s Holy Word is indeed a powerful prayer.
Also, listen throughout the day, listening with courtesy to others – in our home, in our family and at work. We need to listen closely because the Lord answers in his own way.
With St. Francis, we come to the Lord in the silence of our hearts, sweeping out the cobwebs of our own excess and selfishness. Ask God what is right for you. Many people seek the help of a spiritual director. But as Francis found, we must pray silently: “Have mercy on us” (in Lent) – and “Alleluia” (in the Easter Season).
Perhaps then, even arriving just 15 minutes before Mass will afford time to kneel or sit quietly, leaving behind all the hectic moments of our charged lives, the better to ask God for His Will in our particular lives. Ask God to help you know what “mission” is needed in the new life of grace showered on us in this Holy Season.
Father Robert, OFM is Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Conception and director of Franciscan Mission Associates. www.franciscanmissionassoc.org
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