The Spirit of my Father
A Reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS
“What you say of me does not come from yourselves; it is the Spirit of my Father speaking in you.” Ant. Common of Pastors, Canticle of Zechariah
This Antiphon gives one much inspiration, food for thought. For when we discuss Jesus Christ in Evangelization, what do we know of Him? We know what we read in Holy Scripture, and what we learn from our liturgical prayers. In prayer and meditation/contemplation, we hear the Words of the Spirit speaking in us, and guiding us in our knowledge about God, about the Father, the Son and the relationship between them, the Love of the Father. That Love is the Holy Spirit without whom we cannot understand that precious relationship of the Holy Trinity.
To listen to the Father takes much practice. It requires inner silence. For me it often takes listening to well-sung Gregorian Chant, while I am composing a reflection. If I did nothing but listen to the chant, I would not hear His Word, but chant as background to keep my mind still, is very useful. After years in Religious Life, I have learned to keep my mind on track, to listen to the inspiration of the Spirit. This gives me a deep satisfaction that I am somehow doing His will. It is a prayer in the making. Talking to one or more people in person is another story entirely. I have great trouble staying on-topic, but writing reflections, while reaching many, is easier because there are fewer distractions.
The chapel we used in Religious Life, particularly in wintertime, was bone cold. That too can be a distraction. One retreat weekend at Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky, the church was also bone cold. There was under-seat heating in the visitor gallery but I could not feel it. I was so distracted that later in the morning I went outside where it was 2 degrees F., but not much wind, and I felt closer to His Love than I did inside. Sometimes one needs to seek an environment conducive to prayer and meditation. I sometimes long to sit by a pool in the sun or at the beach. I assure you, that doesn’t work at all because of counter-productive distractions. Much of my life has been alone, not lonely necessarily, but being alone with God. There is much beauty in this depending where this relationship occurred. The desk where my Laptop is located is and always has been generally messy, but that does not bother me. Some people need to have nothing on the desk in order to concentrate. Well, if I first had to prepare the desk to work at, I would forget what I was going to write about. Being a “neat-freak” has its moments, but not when serious writing is in progress.
Many "Franciscan Reflections" have dealt with God's Love, Catholic traditions, and the sunnier topics of life. I try to write upbeat things in order to lift up my sister and brother Franciscans and/or address everyone else with a little Evangelization. I am not trying to convert anyone, but I am trying to gently direct your attention to Our Lord, prayer (our conversations with Him), the Blessed Virgin, St. Francis, and the angels and saints we look up to and try to emulate (follow their example) to serve God in a way beneficial to ourselves and other people.
There are, however, many people who face the reality of everyday life, who aren't in the mood to read my writing even though (people tell me) it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. You'd be surprised if I said that most people have lots of problems in everyday life. Some people know how to accept and deal with their problems, and then there are others, who haven't the faintest idea how to cope. To those I'd say, accept Jesus Christ as your personal friend, for He is! He loves you more than I can express in words, don't ever forget that. As I've stated a few times, I used to be involved in prison ministry, that is, visiting inmates at a local jail on a one-to-one basis, praying with them, but mostly listening to them and occasionally point out what they can do to get out of their depression. This is not to infer that all of them are depressed, but they are certainly not happy they are where they are, whether they deserve it or not (which isn't my concern as a minister). These folks are basically waiting for their trial, their time before the judge, so they are in a lot of anxiety and have many fears of what the future may hold. Nobody knows this until the judge reads the verdict and pronounces sentence. I am praying for a son of a friend of mine, who is serving a long sentence. Having had some experience with inmates through this ministry, I have some insight what it is to be lonely in a prison. But not only that, in my life as a single man vowed to Chastity, I have other insights on loneliness, and what a life with Jesus has and does mean to me. I had to give up the jail ministry in 2015, because of medical considerations, but not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on their misery in one way or another.
There is real hardship out there. That is where we can reach out and offer a helping hand. St. Francis of Assisi, whose Rule we follow, knew something about poverty, about living frugally, about doing with little, but many people who are now in a money-jam have no idea how to live on very little and when they are suddenly confronted with the reality in their lives, they can use a helping hand. How does one help others? People's problems are too complicated to be "sugar-coated". You know, there are people who give a quick solution they have no business of giving, because they don't know what they are talking about. About all you can do is pray for people whose hurt seems too deep to help by ordinary means. Also, I have found out, that in dealing with other people, I loathe folks who endlessly beat around the bush. Maybe that's a trait I got from my Mom, she was very direct, and very to the point, often to point of annoyance when it did not suit me. (but I love her for it!) Neither of my parents is still alive; both went to their Heavenly rewards many years ago. I often think of them, of the courage they had when times were tough.
How blessed I am for having grown up in a family that was not dysfunctional. When Dad passed on, my parents had just celebrated their 25th Wedding anniversary. That, my sisters and brothers is another side of today's reality, so many, many people are hurting because they never knew what a family bond was. Their lives went awry because their parents' lives were a mess. We all know marriages that clearly were not made in Heaven ... and we should pray for all people who carry that burden through life, parents and offspring alike.
There are also, many, many people who have had brothers or sisters who were aborted by misguided parents. We cannot bring the children back, but we can offer a great deal of help to those who caused or lived with all this grief in their lives. There are so many people in this world who are hurting in one way or another, probably many more than whose life is placid and joyful. Please ask Our Lord Jesus to help you through all your problems and tribulations in life. When asked, I will pray for you, of course.
May God bless you and make your day at least more joyful than in the past. The past cannot be changed anymore; the future hasn't happened yet; it is important to take life one day at a time. Begin with today. Praise God!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
August 3, 2019
A Gift of a New
by Fred Schaeffer, OFS 2019
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
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Donna Haro, OFS
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Fred Schaeffer, OFS
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