There will be an opportunity to Gift Aid your donation, and/or to direct your gift to the brothers, or sisters or a particular house, after you have completed the final page on PayPal (PayPal account not required).

Minister’s Letter

Dear Friends,

As I reflect on unexpected turns of events in several areas of the life of our Community over the past two years, I have been struck yet again by the wonderful reality of God’s generosity and faithfulness, of God’s creative energy breathing new life and opening up new paths in hitherto unpromising or bad situations.  This is indeed good news, not only for us as Franciscans, but for all Christians, for our wider society, and indeed for the whole of God’s world.

Our current situation in C/SSF embraces considerable uncertainty, some inevitable changes and the possibility or likelihood of others, most of which would impact each other. This of course is a reality shared in various ways and to very different degrees by people the world over.

Like many other religious communities, our First Order Sisters and Brothers are living with diminishment.  We are fewer in number and a higher proportion of us is older than used to be the case.  We do not have a ready supply of sisters or brothers to undertake new work, so sometimes we need regretfully to decline invitations to consider exciting new projects.

In this situation it would be understandable and in some ways easy for us to see no further than these limitations: the scarcity of sisters and brothers and of other resources, the projections of decline. We could allow our natural anxieties about the future to shape a fearful negative response to possible new opportunities.  We could choose to focus on keeping everything as it is for as long as possible, which would result in a dispiriting and probably rather grim rear-guard action against inevitable change.

However, instead we can choose to focus on the goodness and abundant generosity of God who is utterly trustworthy. Saint Bonaventure, a Franciscan friar and eminent theologian, who died in 1274, nearly fifty years after Francis, pictured this creative loving goodness of God as an ever–flowing fountain of water.  He offered the image of ‘fountain fullness’ overflowing from the inner life of God the Holy Trinity, streaming throughout the cosmos bringing transformation and new life, and through Christ gathering all creation back into the heart of God.

St Francis himself expressed a similar conviction about God’s unfathomable, mysteriously powerful and all-sufficient goodness, very clearly in a prayer: ‘The Praises of God’

You are the holy Lord God who does wonderful things.

You are strong, you are great.

You are the Most High, you are the almighty King.

You, holy Father, are King of heaven and earth.

You are Three and One, the Lord God of gods.

You are good, all good, the highest good,

Lord God, living and true.

You are love, you are wisdom.

You are humility, you are patience.

You are security, you are rest,

You are gladness and joy,

You are our hope.

You are justice, you are moderation.

You are all out riches and you suffice for us.

You are beauty, you are meekness.

You are our protector,

You are our guardians defender.

You are strength,

you are refreshment,

You are our faith,

You are all our sweetness.

You are our eternal life:

great and wonderful Lord,

Almighty God, merciful Saviour. Amen.

 

These Franciscan spiritual resources often help me to refocus on God when my negative thoughts and feelings loom large, and I commend them to you.  I believe we all need to be open prayerfully to new possibilities, and to be watchful and patient to see what emerges.  We are called to sit lightly to understandable fears and anxieties, and to encourage one another to trust in God’s utter and eternal goodness, going forward with that authentically Franciscan mix of humility and confidence, as we seek to follow where the Spirit leads.

 

May the Lord give you Peace.

Sue CSF