Photo by Patrick Pahlke, Unsplash

I was waiting in the cell phone lot, checking emails, when I received the call that I had been waiting for: Fr. Larry Hayes, OFM, had arrived and was now at the B2 area for pick up!

Our recent days together allowed some time for Larry, our new Provincial-elect, and myself to clarify our initial goals for the beginning of the new Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe. My initial impression is that there is a lot of work ahead of us! Luckily, this work is not just our own. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to unleash within our brotherhood the clarification of direction that the world and the Spirit is drawing out of us. It is a work that will engage all the friars and many other sisters and brothers who are begging us, encouraging us, to become the Lesser Brothers that the world needs now.   

One of the clear goals that the current US-6 Provincials have embraced as fundamental is the goal of our Pope Francis: synodality. It is a way of connecting our hopes and dreams with those of others to hear God’s call to us now.  It harkens back to our earliest experience as an Order where we regularly gathered in Chapters to hear where God might be leading. In those early days, it created some incredible disasters, like sending brothers to Germany and being pelted with stones and sticks because of answering “Yah” to the question of “Are you heretics?” But there was also incredible success in England, both with those who live on the edges and in Canterbury. 

I read in our recent international newsletter, called Fraternitas, an article by Br. Giuseppe Buffon, OFM, from the Antonianum on the feast of the Portiuncula. In it, he says: “The Parable of Perfect Joy, in which Francis speaks of his exclusion from fraternity because he is ‘simple and idiotic,’ portrays in an emblematic way the experience of fraternity to the test, of fraternity torn in search of reconciliation, of fraternity wounded, which invokes healing, of fraternity that must welcome its own vulnerability, finding only in it the ‘perfect joy.’ Accepting vulnerability rather than seeking justice is for Francis the only way to forgiveness, which is above all reconciliation with oneself. It is new science, almost madness, evangelical madness.” He later calls this “the barefoot vulnerability of love.”  

I pray that this way of the early fraternity will become our own as we travel the road into our new future. This way of Francis and Clare, of barefoot vulnerability, of littleness, of failure and weakness, of forgiveness, is the way of Jesus and the Apostles, and His holy mother, Mary.

Larry and I are excited for the adventure of barefoot vulnerability ahead!