Our Minister’s Message1 March 2013 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Sometimes it is a struggle to find the right words when there is some kind of deadline. Is it best to be a disseminator of information such as the upcoming Annual Minister’s Meeting in June, mention the appeal from our National Minister for Syrian refugees, or talk about hot topic issues such as climate change, gun control, pro-life events, etc. coming from FAN; is it to be a historian telling about such things as our Epiphany gathering with farm worker families and our ongoing formation; is it to be pastoral sharing our contemplative and active tradition and calling one another to a greater sense of the life we have chosen; is it to be instructive and perhaps call to mind the gifts of living great teachers such as Fr. Richard Rohr, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, and Fr. Thomas Keating to name a few; is it to be mindful of the seasons of the church, especially Lent and Easter that are upon us and which ask for our conversion; is it to be consoling towards our Franciscan brothers and sisters family life struggles, struggles with illness, struggles to be meaningful in life, or speak of the little miracles we share? Sometimes when there is so much on our plates and we don’t know which direction to go, we just have to sit in poverty of spirit, keep putting one foot in front of the other trusting in the Holy Spirit’s action within us. Rilke once wrote that “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.” Perhaps we have lost the poet within us some days, but Francis – a poet in the greatest sense – forever calls us and stirs us to want to be more loving, and faithful to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s do that for one another; to be kindling that lights new fires for our Franciscan brothers and sisters as reminders of our professions to this wonderful way of life – and what better time than Lent into Easter into Pentecost. Since poetry is one of the growing themes, here is a good Lenten poem that is by an unknown author. Hope it puts a knowing smile on your face. Matt Talbot was a drunkard
Dismas was a thief
Magdalene was a playgirl
and Thomas without belief.
But there they are in heaven
looking down upon us now
each holding a tilted halo
to a badly battered brow.
And so the sins of all you sinners
don’t definitely damn
for your was-ness doesn’t matter
if your is-ness really am. Let our “is-ness” be lives lived for our Lord Jesus Christ who we see through the eyes of our Father Francis, for one another, and for our wanting world. (………..Carol, you are constantly being lifted up in our prayers) Peace and All Good, Michele OFS
Spring Fraternity News
Our Winter Season proved to be filled with challenges and change. Besides moving the place of our monthly gatherings from Shepherd of the Valley in Central Point to Sacred Heart in Medford, we also changed the day to the third Sunday of each month and the time to 1:30 PM. So far these changes have met with general approval, especially from those fraternity members who must travel great distances to attend and who found the previous time of Thursday evening inconvenient.We have also had our share of illness and challenging weather. Our Christmas party in December was cancelled, however we were able to meet our goal by raising enough funds through Christmas offerings to purchase a goat for a needy family through Heifer International. Though we all missed the Christmas fellowship, the most important item on the agenda was serving others through offering a family a source of food and income through our Franciscan goat! On Sunday, January 6, we joined Sister Mary Pat at her “casa grande” to celebrate Epiphany with the migrant farm workers and their families. Once again, illness reduced the numbers that were able to attend, but those who were there reported that the event was a great success. Our Franciscan presence was truly appreciated. We were all saddened at the passing of our dear Franciscan brother Arnold Paradis OFS. Arnold will be greatly missed for his quiet yet powerful presence, his sense of humor and love of music. Our prayers are with Arnold, his wife Catherine and the entire Paradis family. Arnold became a Secular Franciscan on August 1, 1968. He worked with Saint Vincent de Paul of Medford and was a member of Sacred Heart parish. The Franciscan Family Chaplets were completed by Cecilia Rayburn OFS and distributed to Fraternity members. They are beautiful and certainly a work of Love. We now pray the chaplet at the monthly gatherings and I encourage each Secular Franciscan to pray the chaplet daily. We are expanding our OFS information through brochures in the Klamath Falls area. Joanne Kraan OFS, a resident of Klamath Falls, has offered to distribute them to both Catholic churches in town. Our next goal is Roseburg and then the Southern Oregon Coast. We must let our charism be seen by all so they can make the choice to join our Franciscan family. Glenn and Gloria Ray OFS, two “distinguished seniors” of our fraternity, were recently honored by Saint Vincent de Paul with a 30 year pin. Though members of the Secular Franciscans, Glenn and Gloria were founding members of Saint Vincent de Paul in Medford. Helping out in the dining room in the old rectory, starting the budding food bank, voting to lease the building where the office and dining room are now located, creating the men’s shelter in an old garage and working in the new Urban Rest Stop, the impact of Glenn and Gloria was (and is) widely felt. Volunteering comes natural to these two and it was wonderful to see their years of work honored by SVDP. Knowing Glenn and Gloria I can say that none of their actions throughout the years were done for praise. The praise they are given makes visible to the rest of us how much more we are called to do. Though the Ray’s spent many years with Saint Vincent de Paul, they are Franciscans. Once when Glenn was asked by a fellow at SVDP if he was a “fellow Vincentian” Glenn simply replied, “I am a Franciscan.” And that says it all. The Franciscan charism is “Action and Contemplation.” Saint Francis, in following the footprints of Jesus, lived this twofold life. Yet in our modern world there seems little time for contemplation. More and more books and articles are appearing which state the case for contemplation as being an integral part of maintaining a spiritual center while being active in life. In the March issue of Sojourner’s magazine there is an article by Richard Rohr, OFM, in which he says, “As a general spiritual rule, you can trust this one: The ego gets what it wants with words. The soul finds what it needs in silence.” On Sunday evenings in the Conference Room at Sacred Heart Church, Medford, at 6:30 PM (directly following the 5 PM Mass) there is a contemplative prayer/study group. This Centering Prayer group involves mostly Franciscans, though it is open to all. At present we sit for 20 minutes in silence and then read from and discuss “The Cloud of Unknowing.” Come join us for a break from the business of modern life and take a taste of silence. “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.”
Meister Eckhart Lord, Hear Our Prayer………….. We are asking for continuing prayers for our Franciscan sister, Carol Pyle OFS, who is battling a very severe illness. Let us uplift her in this challenging time with our thoughts and prayers. We are hoping that she will have the strength to visit a monthly gathering this Spring. We also ask for prayers for Katie Paradis as she moves on with her life without Arnold. We can all make an extra effort this Lenten Season to be supportive of those who need our thoughts, prayers and physical presence, especially Carol and Katie.
Natalie Ettlin, OFS As part of the JPEC presentation at the November meeting, small group discussions were held to go over key topics covered in a film produced by the Humane Society entitled “Eating Mercifully.” A synthesis of the group discussions shows the wide range of concerns and understanding that our Secular Franciscans have. A common consensus was that as the need for greater food production began in the 1960’s, a growing devaluation of animal needs also grew. The increase in animal production led to the increasingly inhumane treatment of the animals. There is also a concurrent problem of the heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. These product affect soils and water run off, creating more pollution. The world is not a simple place. As one of our members said – what can we do about all this? The groups gathered many concrete, practical things we can do, individually and collectively. They are: •buy grass fed meat
•avoid farm raised animals
•try to eat lower on the food chain
•use more plant food
•start with one meatless meal a week
•share vegetarian recipes
•develop a garden or share in a community garden
•share your produce and your surplus food with those less fortunate
•consider your use of chemicals
•join your local water conservation group Above all, make a statement! All people should be free of hunger and have access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food. SNAP should be funded to meet the needs of the struggling. Contact your federal representatives frequently to voice your concerns. Sandal Prints, December, Natalie Ettlin, OFS
Ongoing FormationOur monthly ongoing formation is the group study of the book “The Foolishness of God.” We are reading one chapter each month and following the suggested dialogue at the end of each chapter, which has resulted in some very dynamic discussions. As of our February Gathering we have completed the first six chapters. We will continue March through May with chapters seven through the epilogue, which will finish the book.
Vietnam Wells ProjectSaint Francis of the Rogue Valley works with Food for the Poor to help provide water wells to villages in Vietnam. Most villages do not have access to good water and often have to walk miles to gain access and then carry the water home. Having a well in the village supports a healthier lifestyle. At present, the cost of a single well is $100. We recently added one well, which means that as of February 2013 we have given enough to provide for 59 wells.
The EnvironmentChasing Ice Patricia Doyle OFS On February 8, 2013, Tom and I and a neighbor went to the 2013 Siskiyou FilmFest (11th Annual) at Grants Pass high School. Again, as when we attended last year, there were films on two days which one could attend on either or both days on one ticket. I zeroed in on Chasing Ice after reading an article in our newspaper. James Balog, who long was a skeptic of climate change, found that photography was a satisfying way for him to use his scientific education and background. He pursued photography, and became an environmental photographer. He was CHANGED! Conversion! A timely thought, now, in our Lenten Season. (I relate to Lent and the environment, as one year I attended a Lenten Retreat, which had a theme on Conversion but in regards to the Earth – not oneself.) His intention is to offer people a chance to see the effects of climate change in real time. People have a hard time relating to changes happening during their own lifetime. The film fest brochure offered that the film is a portrait of James, a man on a mission who moves us not by showing us what we’ve already lost, but what we still have at stake. James started EIS, Extreme Ice Survey. He and a few other men set out to install 25 time-lapse cameras that were to shoot photos in specific places for three years, and had to be checked periodically. These were placed in the harshest conditions on the planet – in Alaska, the Arctic, Greenland and Montana. After all their grueling effort they found after the first season that the cameras all had to be replaced because of a couple of serious defects. National Geographic helped the team get the cameras right. This tiny group of men climbed high and trudged through snow in extreme temperatures, and traveled for long periods of time. I was struck by their enthusiasm to shoot pictures in unbelievable places, like being lowered down an ice cliff with water running way below them, and looking bottomless. Or just wading waist deep or in bare feet on ice and rocks. James, the main scientist, has knee problems, having had 2 surgeries on one knee before this project, and another during it and more surgery involving his own stem cells after. But, his passion for this project kept him in the lead in all their effort. The film follows the team around the world, placing cameras, checking them and offers wondrous pictures of the earth. In the film, twice, the team first-hand watched ice sheets calving (when ice breaks off from a glacier). One was five football fields long. The other was mountain-high and way bigger. All of that collapsed right in front of their eyes. People can comprehend global warming better with a visual. This film provides it. During the film they show an area on the top half of the screen and on the bottom half what the same area looked like maybe three years later. There are shocking differences every comparison viewed. The film also provides some eye-opening statistics. I see from their website it was in theaters in November, 2012. The website offers so much, even a trailer of the film. The website is www.chasingice.com. James travels with the film, speaking about his EIS project. He would tell his future generations he did what he could do. The aim of the fest, our newspaper offered, can be summed up in a quote from a Canadian scientist and environmental activist, David Suzuki. “We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” The fest coordinator said they want to help people in Southern Oregon realize that there’s a different direction they could take. He explained, “That brick wall is getting closer and it’s time for some action. Even small changes can be helpful.” Note that it was offered that scientists believe there IS global warming. That’s not even an issue anymore.