Our Annual Communion Breakfast

We were blessed with a beautiful day for our annual communion breakfast yesterday. Some photos have been posted to our online gallery. You can click on the small photos to see larger sized ones.

As usual, Kate Kleinert, our fraternity minister, gave a wonderful talk which is included here:

Thank you for joining me on this beautiful occasion. I love our Communion Breakfast. It is not only a time when we see some of our Brothers and Sisters who cannot get here during the year, but it is a time when all of us embrace our Franciscan spirit and calling. By bringing a dish to share, we are feeding each other’s body. By being here, we are feeding each other’s soul. I truly believe this is how God is present to us in our every day lives – through each other. Now, none of us believe we are God, at least I hope not! But if we are really listening to our call, we are God’s instruments.

I am not a great musician, but I know this about instruments – they don’t get played by themselves. Someone must bring the music to them – and then act on it. Listening to the music doesn’t make it come out of our instruments.

How many times have we suddenly thought about calling someone we haven’t spoken to in a long time? Or heard ourselves say…I wonder how so-and-so is doing, I haven’t seen them in awhile? Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.

I really try to listen to those “messages” because I believe God wants to show a kindness to the person we are thinking of, and God is nudging us to be the instrument.

God is talking to us all the time, but we don’t always have our hearing aide turned up! God’s messages should not be background noise. He shows us many ways to be His instrument but many times, we have the blinders on. It’s much easier to walk past someone in distress than to stop and offer a kind word. I wonder about all the folks who turned a blind eye to Mary and Joseph when they were in such distress. What did they say when they got to Heaven? Aww, I didn’t know it was Jesus. Is that the only time we react – when we are sure it is Jesus? Mother Theresa saw Jesus in every person she picked up from the street.

None of us are called to be Mother Theresa – that was her job. None of us are called to be St. Francis – that was his to do. And thank God! I struggled with becoming a Franciscan because I couldn’t be St. Francis; it wasn’t in me to do what he did. And isn’t that another way of trying to keep up with the Joneses?

Its hard enough being me! Trying to be someone else is impossible because that isn’t God’s plan. Jesus did not compare himself to others. We cannot find a single instance in the New Testament where he clung to his divinity. He wasn’t obsessed with his image, as we so often are with ours. Instead, he was only concerned with trying to be who he was called to be (obedience); being in solidarity with others (community); doing everything in the right Spirit (love).

Jesus seemed to have an ear for the hearing of God’s Word — in the terrible intensity of the wilderness, or in the hilarity of the wedding at Cana, or in the furious judgment in the Temple, or in the bold suffering of Gethsemane. He heard it at table, in a fishing boat, even on the cross. He listened for it everywhere and always with his whole life. He was in tune with His God, – with His Father.

Jesus heard His call and spent His life fulfilling it. Even the hard parts. I have been called to be me. Terry has been called to be Terry. Rose has been called to be Rose. And for those of us in this room, we have been called to be a Franciscan “me”. Nothing more and nothing less. The nothing more part is easy. I can’t be St. Clare or Mother Theresa and thank God I’m not required to be! The nothing less part of my call to be me is certainly the harder and more challenging portion.

I don’t deserve to be the Minister of this Fraternity. I am not one speck better than anyone else. But I have been a secretary for more than 35 years. I can juggle details better than the average bear and apparently God wants that skill in office right now.

I have been told all my life that I have a nice singing voice. That has nothing to do with me! God dropped that token into my basket when I was conceived. But it took me most of my life to realize that getting up in front of people isn’t being proud or showing off, its using the gift that God wanted me to have. God gave each of us gifts. I’m sure there is more than one of you sitting there saying to yourself …I don’t have any gifts! But you do. What do you love doing? How can you extend that to one of God’s children? Love to eat? Offer to go out with someone who lives alone. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money….there are always coupons for places to eat.

During the Pope’s visit to the US last week, he stated that we are all necessary. He was speaking about abortion and euthanasia but think about that statement. We are all necessary. Everyone has seen or at least knows the premise of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey had no idea how important he had been in the lives of those around him. We might never know why we are necessary, might never know whose life we have touched and influenced. But we have because its God’s plan, its how He reaches those He loves.

That doesn’t mean I have to be perfect, being human, its impossible for me to be perfect. The word that has been translated as “perfect” doesn’t mean to set an impossible goal. It is taken from a Latin word meaning complete, entire, full-grown. To those who originally heard it, the word would convey “mature” rather than what we mean today by “perfect.”

To “be perfect,” in the sense that Jesus means it, is to make room for growth, for the changes that bring us to maturity, to ripeness. To mature is to lose adolescent self-consciousness so as to be able to make a gift of oneself, as a parent, as teacher, friend, spouse – a Franciscan. That was another phrase the Pope used last week. Make a gift of yourself – serve God by serving others. That’s Franciscanism in a nutshell!

Now, I’ve been a practicing Catholic all my life and for the last several years, I’ve been a Secular Franciscan. I’m a Lector and cantor at St. Gabe’s. I’m saying all this to make a point. I have a basic familiarity with Scripture. I was choosing the hymns I would sing at last Sunday’s Mass by going through the readings. The second reading came from the first letter of Saint Peter. When I read through it, I was blown away! I don’t remember hearing this message before. I know Saint Peter didn’t suddenly write a new letter, so the message has been there a long, long time. I just never took it in before. It goes like this…….”Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.”

You never know who is watching and being influenced. There is a woman in my parish that is severely crippled up from a stroke. She walks to Mass every day – every day! I can’t imagine what effort that takes. There are many times I have looked at her and thought, “if she can get through this day, so can I”. I see God’s hope in that woman. But the real challenge, the real vocation and call to being a Franciscan is, is anyone seeing God’s hope in me?

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