Reflection on the past week
Once in a while we experience a sequence of events that make us pause to reflect. This past week or so has been such a time for me. As I shared in a previous post, I was in Peoria, IL last weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to meet the newest member of the family, my then six-day-old great niece. (She's a whopping 12 days old today!) Also, I had the privilege of visiting a prospective and his family in Marshalltown, IA. These were enjoyable occasions, as was the entire weekend. Times to reflect and meditate on the beauty of family and friendship and the opportunities we have to get together and share life.
Monday, just before returning to Cincinnati, I participated in the Funeral Liturgy of the brother of a fellow Franciscan priest. Father's brother lived in Peoria so I stayed in town an extra day. Sixteen Franciscans from the Central Illinois area gathered with the family to celebrate the life and memory of a man who obviously enjoyed life and family. I did not personally know the deceased, but I certainly got a positive image of him from his family and friends. It was good to be with the friars of the area, all of whom I know and some of whom I have lived and worked with over the years.
Last evening a large group of friars gathered in Oldenburg, IN (just about 45 miles west of Cincinnati) for the Funeral Liturgy of one of our elder Franciscans who had been a Novice Master and Pastor in his younger years. Father Benno influenced and touched the lives of many members of our province over the years.
Life, family, friends (old and new), birth, death--they all converge and mix to make up our lives. As we just celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King last weekend and prepare to enter into the beautiful Season of Advent this weekend, I can't help but think about the beauty of the ebb and flow of our personal and family(communal) lives. Members are born--or in the case of our community, members join us as new brothers seeking to live our life, and members die and pass on to eternal life much as the season of autumn follows the fruitfulness of summer. The landscape here in the Midwest is barren, but not lifeless. Nature is preparing for next year's crops. As we bury our dead and celebrate new life as families and as a province, we are constantly reminded of the fact that what sometimes looks like barren dessert is oftentimes a fruitful land where the Holy Spirit creates the wonders of life. This season of Thanksgiving and Advent and the Celebration of Christ the King offer us the possibility to pause and pray--and prepare our hearts for the upcoming celebration of the Birth of Jesus.