Andy Buchleitner, ofs, writes thought-provoking articles and I've known him 15+ years, so periodically we put his stuff on our website. The following was received in Feb. 2018:
ARE YOU CONTAGIOUS?
by Andy Buchleitner, OFS
Flu season, what a drag. First, I caught it, then my wife and finally my son. On my recent trip to the ER to address my son’s very high fever the doctor said he was the one hundred thirty-fifth case – of the day! It was like going into an infectious disease combat zone with everyone running around with surgical masks on, people continually streaming in for treatment, all hoping for less than a six hour wait for relief. I understand some ER’s around the country have even set up tents to accommodate the overflow.
I always try to gain something from my experiences. What occurred to me after this memorable event was what it means to be contagious. The dictionary’s definition is: spreading something from one person to another. In this case it was the flu. But what about other things that can just as easily be spread, such as laughter or depression? Isn’t our attitude, as we share with others, passed on. Don’t they seem to “catch” whatever we are spreading?
I had the opportunity to attend a national Franciscan JPIC meeting a couple years ago that required the attendees to ride a train from the airport to the retreat center. The train ride lasted an hour and made stops at some very depressed locations throughout St. Louis. Our meeting was being held during a time of significant social/racial unrest in this city that, at the time, was even making the National news. The expressions of those that boarded along the way varied from fearful, downcast or aggressive to just plain tired. When I had first gotten on the train, I did not know any of the fellow Franciscans that were sharing the ride, but I quickly recognized them as our ride progressed.
I’m sure you‘ve heard it said that there is a dark cloud hanging over some people. It reflects their mood – unhappy. What I saw on this train were people with bright clouds hanging over their heads - Franciscans sharing with a smiling new acquaintance. The Franciscan JOY was contagious!
As Franciscans we are called, in a special way, to be peacemakers. Let us begin by not only living the Gospel ourselves but by sharing the Gospel with others. Be contagious! Let there be Peace on earth and let it begin with me but then – pass it on.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of the Spirit’s words as they come to us through our Holy Mother Church. Pray and work for Peace and Justice.
From the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution "Gaudium et spes" on the Church in the modern world
The promotion of peace
Peace is not the mere absence of war or the simple maintenance of a balance of power between forces, nor can it be imposed at the dictate of absolute power. It is called, rightly and properly, a work of justice. It is the product of order, the order implanted in human society by its divine founder, to be realised in practice as men hunger and thirst for ever more perfect justice.
The common good of the human race is subject to the eternal law as its primary principle, but its requirements in practice keep changing with the passage of time. The result is that peace is never established finally and for ever; the building up of peace has to go on all the time. Again, the human will is weak and wounded by sin; the search for peace therefore demands from each individual constant control of the passions, and from legitimate authority untiring vigilance.
Even this is not enough. Peace here on earth cannot be maintained unless the good of the human person is safeguarded, and men are willing to trust each other and share their riches of spirit and talent. If peace is to be established it is absolutely necessary to have a firm determination to respect other persons and peoples and their dignity, and to be zealous in the practice of brotherhood. Peace is therefore the fruit also of love; love goes beyond what justice can achieve. Peace on earth, born of love for one’s neighbour, is the sign and the effect of the peace of Christ that flows from God the Father. In his own person the incarnate Son, the Prince of Peace, reconciled all men to God through his death on the cross. In his human nature he destroyed hatred and restored unity to all mankind in one people and one body. Raised on high by the resurrection, he sent the Spirit of love into the hearts of men.
All Christians are thus urgently summoned to live the truth in love, and to join all true peacemakers in prayer and work for peace. Moved by the same spirit, we cannot but praise those who renounce violence in defence of rights, and have recourse to means of defence otherwise available to the less powerful as well, provided that this can be done without injury to the rights and obligations of others or of the community.
Here's another reflection by Andy:
Did you experience the intensity of joy that these recent Holy Days brought to me? If you had trouble finding that joy, let me share something that might help.
I recently read (re-read?) something from Franciscan Theology, Tradition and Spirituality on the Primacy of Christ, by Bl John Duns Scotus: “Until we understand that we stand alone and naked before God, without any accomplishments and without successes, and understand/experience that God is totally consumed with love for each of us, we cannot fathom the depth and passion of God’s love and His desire to share this love with us.” I was particularly blessed during the Christmas season with a debilitating respiratory illness that left me truly “alone, without any accomplishments.” I could do little but cough and hope for my next breath. But the words of a couple saints have always given me comfort in times of suffering: “Suffering out of love of God is better than working miracles.” (St. John of the Cross)” “We complain when we suffer. But we have more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing so likens us to our Lord as the carrying of the Cross.” (St. John Vianney)
At this time of the year I always like to go back and reflect on past events that have touched my life. Appropriately, I came across this reflection that just so happened to have occurred during a Christmas past and spoke very clearly about the joy that can come in spite of suffering. I call it:
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE
Our friend and faithful volunteer, Bob Foster, died on Christmas. While a man of significant accomplishment in the armed forces and business world, everlasting life in Christ will be Bob’s reward for how he lived his faith.
How many times in my ministry to the elderly I have heard, “Why doesn’t God take me? I’m no longer of use to anyone.” If we look to the world to measure our worth, our times of helplessness due to illness, physical handicap or advanced age can lead us to despair. Fortunately, “God sees not as we see; for we look on the outward appearance, and God looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) If we look to God, realizing He loves us just as we are, we need only believe that He will use us in our weakness; that our lives do indeed still have meaning.
Bob Foster knew God’s love. Even after he became homebound due to crippling arthritis, he accepted his weakness and continued to serve the Lord. Unable to leave his home, he began a telephone outreach to shut-ins. It began simply with Bob calling lonely seniors who had no family and very few, if any, friends. As my wife and I visited these same shut-ins, we began to notice a significant improvement in their attitudes. After a time they began to ask us, “How’s Bob? When is he going to call again?” Even though they had never met him, they now considered Bob an important part of their lives. As he shared his walk with the Lord, they came to understand how blessed and loved they truly were. They experienced God’s love through Bob’s weekly phone call.
God doesn’t look so much at the greatness of our works as at the faithfulness and love we put into them. Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others.” God must certainly be “well pleased” with Bob for being most useful in lightening the burdens of loneliness and despair that weighed heavily on his fellow man.
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