In the past 20 years, Fred has written more than 750 spiritual reflections. Many still could be added to this website. Keep checking the menus at the left for new titles.
Tree to Heaven?
by Fred Schaeffer, ofs
This morning, I was singing (choir) at a Mass of Christian Burial, something I volunteer to do as often as I can. Opposite to where I sat, was a large decorated Christmas tree. Seeing this tree gave me the inspiration for today's reflection. As we begin life, we are at the very bottom of the tree. The base of a fir tree, is very spread out, and likewise, in our lives, we are among a great many people. There are parents, grandparents, sometimes brothers and sisters, and cousins among these various generations. As we reach the age of knowledge and reason, we recognize a greater circle of people, teachers, mentor, school friends, people in social clubs we may be a member of, and so on. And among and above all these various people is a loving God who not only has created us, but who wishes above all for us to love Him as he loves us. And through His love, He asks us to spread His Good News around to our sisters and brothers, which means everyone we encounter.
As we mature, learn to live a purposeful life, a business life, perhaps married life, or life as a deacon, priest and/or religious, the number of people around us become fewer and more centralized, just as the width of the tree slims down the higher one reaches. Hopefully by that time we have learned how to pray, to communicate with Jesus all the time, so that we do not need all these other people, we need only Him, His Mother, conceived without sin, and the Father and Holy Spirit. That may not sound practical in the business world, but I assure you that without Him, you and I just cannot function at all. And when we think we know better, we slide down a little and there are again many people in our lives, indeed empty people, friendships that could be but just aren't. There are people who seek to destroy us, rather than to build us up. They are cluttering up the view that will keep us separated from Our Lord, more and more. We want to go up, to reach the very top of the tree.
We climb higher, as we come closer to Our Lord. To do this, we do not need more people, we need fewer. We must now concentrate on what God wants of us, for He has for us a plan, for all of us, and for no one that plan is exactly alike. That plan was shaped when we were still in our mother's womb, in fact earlier than that. For God desired to create us, and mold us, into His image. He created us to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit, and His wish for us was that we maintain this Temple as the holiest of holies. That's difficult for many. That is when we feel most alone, as we find ourselves about three-quarters up the tree. We have been given a purpose, to follow His plan for us, and now we must do what He tells us. There are very few people around us to whom to mitigate His wishes, it is a task purely our own, God and each one of us. And then we get old. We break seventy, seventy-five, even eighty, and life is still tough, but in our deepest soul we seem more aware of His plan for us, a plan which we must carry out in time, and there isn't much time left. We are completely aware of his wishes for us, His wish for us to be strong, and have lasting love. His wish for us to be honest and forthright, obedient to Church and civil authority, and to be loving to one and all. For if we do not possess this love, which Our Lord has shown us throughout our life, because our heart is closed, we will not be with him forever, and that is not that He wishes for us. God's plan includes salvation for us, but we have to accept, to say, Yes, God, I want to be with you forever.
Soon, we're at the very top of the tree, and maybe there is an Angel to lead us further toward Him. Hopefully, there is someone you were able to grow old with, or in case you lived a single life, that this life was one of humility, sacrifice and purity. Then there will be a union between self and Our Lord, we will have said and continue to say "YES Lord, your servant is waiting..." And, we hope, he will tell us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
So that is what this tall Christmas tree was telling me this morning, after I had received Holy Communion, and made an attempt at recollection, adoration and form an expression of gratitude to Him whom we love so much. Where along the tree are you? Are you getting on in years but you are still muddled among many, without an identity or purpose in life, or, are you coming closer to Our Lord in word and in action?
Temptation and distraction happens along the way, but the closer you come to love God, the less it is that you will slip and sink. And when you are on even ground, you will be pained less and feel greater peace. Keep climbing, go closer to Him, and experience each year a more holy Christmas than at the last. I wish all of you a very peaceful and holy time with our Lord and His Mother.
To the best of my knowledge that's what the large plant below is.
When it is at it's peak it is darker puple. This was an experiment how to take the imaqe with a small flip-top phone and email it to myself to transfer the .jpg file to this website. It worked after a fashion. Here's that image. This large plant or bush is located in the garden between the Webmaster's house and the next house.
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
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS