Festivals/Seasons & Holy Days

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Minister’s Letter

page 7 Clark for Ministers LetterDear Friends,

In a couple of friaries the brothers have adopted the practice of having a brief time of Bible sharing every morning—telling each other which passage of the Scriptures that were read and prayed through at Morning Prayer, was most meaningful, and why it impressed them. Sometimes it is a bit perfunctory, pre-coffee and breakfast. Anyone can ‘pass.’ But most rise to the occasion. I love listening to the brothers sharing about the Scripture in this informal way. You might like to try it—after the Office, blurt out which passage moved you and why!

When we have more time, our sharing can be intellectual or even a bit of a performance. As I have listened to the practically spontaneous sharings over the past few years, sometimes we get a jeremiad if he hears something that taps into an old wound or preoccupation. Still I hear, over and over, the brothers picking up on messages of love and worship, messages of hope: the very heart of our vocation as Franciscans.

It is healing and reassuring to listen to brothers fumble around trying to say how they love God, or are happy to be a brother. The Scriptures open a way for us to see each other from a bigger perspective. Otherwise it is only too easy to allow the stresses and strains of community life to cloud the way we see each other.

It also happens that a brother will share much the same thing, day after day: moved by different passages of Scripture that tell of God’s love and forgiveness. This consistency can penetrate the consciousness and inform the prayers of even the most despondent or discouraged brother. It is a beautiful thing to be tuned into that message.

Today, February 5, according to the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s lectionary, we heard St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians: ‘You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky’ (Phil. 2:15b). I was moved by the image of stars, and reminded of the call to let my light shine to give comfort and direction to others. In the same way, I get my bearings from both the Bible and from others around me. In their light I see light. It is the light of Jesus Christ shining in all our hearts.

I once visited the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome. As a young man showed me around, he told me stories of their work for peace, their work with the poor and homeless, and other initiatives. ‘This is so beautiful!’ I exclaimed. ‘How do you get the community to adopt these initiatives?’

He paused for a moment. Then, nodding as if confirming the truth of it, he said: ‘Bible Study. We share the Scriptures and the Spirit guides us.’

I am sure, community life being what it is, that there is a lot of talking, planning, praying, negotiating. But what better way to live a Gospel life?

I heartily recommend the devotional use of Scripture. And don’t be afraid to talk about it with your friends. God is depending on it!


May the Lord give you peace.


Clark Berge SSF