Sunday, October 5, 2008

Franciscan for a Day

I am Franciscan for a day! The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, AKA the Lake Franciscans, held their celebration for St. Francis today. The sisters are scattered all about the city and surrounding areas, but they came to the lakeside motherhouse to remember Francis.
I didn't quite feel like a Benedictine fish out of water; the presider at Mass was none other than Archbishop & Abbot Primate Weakland! He started Mass with a bit of humor. The sisters had set up a lovely environment to the side of the sanctuary--a statue of St. Francis surrounded by pots of fall mums. Weakland looked to the statue and quipped, "Well, he tries to look like Ben, but he doesn't quite pull it off." As I chuckled, one of the sisters I lived with elbowed me with a grin.
His homily felt more like a kindly grandpa sharing with his family and friends. He spoke of Francis being one of the great saints who lived a synthesis of all that it means to be Catholic. He spoke of the few who had been able to do such a thing, Benedict was another of his examples. Then he looked out at all the sisters and associates (oblates) and asked them, "Who among you is going to take the lead next?" The assumption is not if there will be another saint to live the call to life so that others can follow, but who will it be and when.
As we moved to lunch to continue the celebration, I assumed I would follow one of my house mates to a table of Franciscan folk. Nope, Apparently the Archbishop is like one of the family here at the motherhouse and he was joining them in the dinning room...since I was the only other Benedictine, I was to sit at the table with him, Linda (house mate) and some other folk. Now, take a guess a what deep theological issues could be discussed at table...Franciscan peace, Benedicitne stability? The hot issues were the Brewers playing game four today for the playoffs! He was rooting for them and Linda for the Phillys. Other conversation centered around his new cooking skills. Apparently, Weakland now lives alone and is learning how to use his slow cooker in a variety of recipies! He shared the fixings for his favorite apple dessert, I recommended adding cranberries for a bit more fall flavor...he thought it was a good idea. Finally the table talk moved to politics, sort of, he had seen the Saturday Night Live impersonations of Palin and wanted to know if we thought they were funny too! Not quite what I expected today!
We did follow some fairly Franciscan protocol throughout the celebration of Mass and meal. The responses and prayers were all tied to a deep awareness of the poor in their midst and a call to humble service. The Francis' peace prayer and celebration of nature were also found throughout the Mass. The meal was simple but wonderful. There were recycling bins for pop/beer cans, bottles, and the paper placemats.
I was also introduced to more sisters than I can count. Many of them had heard tell of me through Sr. Jane who works with the sisters at Claire Hall (our two west) and the care center. I also met a few of those who had entered out of Farmer and Salem, South Dakota. They were quite chatty once I explained who I was and where I was from. One even had the cheek to suggest I just move in and stay there after school.
I hope this Franciscan Festival finds you all well!

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