Truly With God, Everything is Possible

Friar Voices

The basilica of St. Francis and statue of Francis returning from war.

This time of year has some shifts happening. We alternate between warm days and cool to cold nights. The leaves begin to change – just a little on the edges, while others drop suddenly. It brings back the smell of autumn at Duns Scotus, walking with Fr. Larry Zurek and other candidate classmates among the flanked oaks, through a ball field toward the pines. The grass was tall and yellow. The skies brilliantly blue. Everything seemed possible.

It’s then I remember St. Francis and his dreams, how he had hoped to become a great knight, which led to a deeper dream, pulling him away from “serving the servant” and not the Lord. And how in caves, he fell in love with Jesus. Not that even that was so pretty. His friend said that Francis went in one way and came out like another man. There in the privacy of the cave, Jesus, the Wounded One, could touch his wounds, his sin, and try to convince him of God’s forgiveness. He emerged with enough strength to tell Pietro that he would have no other father than “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”. He wouldn’t sell his soul to commerce or the violence needed to protect it.

This time of year things shift inside of me. It has to do with the Feast of St. Francis, the waxen smell at Duns Scotus, the colors of autumn blossoming, singing, “O Most Holy Soul” in a sorta-Pete-Ricke-kind-of-way, and the possibility of living out the dream that God implanted in me. This middle-aged me realizes that it is making room for God to do that in me, rather than me chasing windmills, or my own agenda.

Some of us begin this weekend anticipating the Feast of Francis with the Blessing of Animals. That’s because the feast can’t be contained in just a day. We delight in the multiplicity of Creation, God’s luxurious generosity, fecundity, in giving us animals. We will come to Tuesday night, the Transitus, to remember and regret and rejoice with that most holy soul, and to allow God to re-found the Order in our hearts. Do you remember that Fr. Ignatius Brady would say that this was the task of every novice during our novitiate? But it truly is the task of each of us – especially on this night, and the day of Feasting with Francis. Truly with God, everything is possible.

–Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM