Holy Ground (2)

by Fred Schaeffer, OFS


I love reading various spiritual books by the Dutch author, Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996) because he writes in a very methodical yet very spiritual manner.


In "Reaching Out" - subtitled: "The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life," (1986, Image, Doubleday), Fr. Nouwen writes about Holy Ground as in being the "space" between God and us, more specifically, between one friend and the other. He talks about a friend he recalls from many years back, someone who Fr. Nouwen, had met as a student sitting in one of the classes he taught. They met, they talked a little, and then there was only silence, presumably because neither one knew of anything else to contribute to the conversation. But it was not an embarressing silence but rather a warm, gentle and vibrant silence. Once in a while they looked at each other and sort of simultaneously they began to smile pushing aside any fear or hesitation. The smile turned to great joy as they both realized they saw Christ in each other. Thus the Lord was there with them. That's indeed something to smile about.


By the way, the reason this is not a quotation from the text on page 45 of the soft-cover edition, is because I paraphrased the actual text. If you have the opportunity, read the whole chapter, "A Receptive Solitude." Better yet, read the whole book!


In dealing with me, (Fred), you will find that I am more easily the listener than the talker. I was never a big talker. That may have been because I never had many friends starting with my time in World War II as a child, where there just weren't many friends to talk to. Be that as it may. One thing is for sure, however, I always felt the Presence of the Lord. Maybe I did not reciprocate openly but He was always on my mind. That is still the case for the most part, and it is true for a great many of us. Many, however, are sort of private about it, when in fact we should really be more vocal about it and evangelize!


There are a few special people in my life, even more than a few. But these are not folks I am in love with, which is a whole other thing than loving them. Being "in love with" is a concept that belongs between husband and wife. In non-marital friendships, we can enjoy each other's company but the line has to be drawn somewhere. So suffice it to say that there are many people I love and that love is really in that I see the Lord in them and according to Henri Nouwen that means that there is Holy Ground between us, because Jesus is there between us.


That, to my way of thinking, is the same as a group of people meeting in a chapel, to adore the Father, Jesus, the Holy Trinity in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, where He is between them and among them. That is Holy Ground. That is where we enjoy Him among us as we praise Him as friends.


Fr. Nouwen writes, "From now on, wherever you go, or wherever I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground." That is the true meaning of community - and when we are engaged as a group in a Secular Franciscan Fraternity, we are on Holy Ground because the Lord is among us, just as St. Francis is among us. So let us keep the Fraternity Holy by never forgetting that we are on Holy Ground. Why? Because Jesus is there with us and between us!


Fred Schaeffer, OFS

May 27, 2013



Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

Vero Beach, FL


Officers as of 1/10/2016


Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS

Formation Director: 
Donna Haro, OFS


 Joanne Giordano, OFS


Fred Schaeffer, OFS

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