May the Lord give you peace. I’ve been on the road for the past ten days, coming and going is part of my ministry so I guess I could be called ‘an itinerant friar’. It’s always great to get back to my own Friary in Galway and to be with my own brothers for some days. I didn’t bring my lap top with me this time and so that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t updated my blog. The ‘Vocations Sunday’ event organised by ‘Vocations Ireland’ in Killarney went extremely well. You can read about it on the Vocations Ireland website www.vocationsireland.com and also on our own website www.franciscans.ie where you can see under ‘gallery’ some of the photographs taken by one of our novices, Feidhlim O Seasnain. I don’t like boring people with my daily travels so I’ll just leave it at that. When I was in London last week I picked up a gem of a book in St. Pauls Bookshop by Westminister Cathedral. The title of this very interesting book on Franciscan Spirituality is ‘Wisdom From Franciscan Italy- The Primacy of Love’ by the famous David Torkington. The book is published by O-Books and I’d recommend it hightly for people interested in Franciscan Spirituality and particularly for those discerning a Franciscan vocation. David was the author of a very popular book on prayer ‘Peter Calvay-The Hermit’. The following extract will not only be helpful to those who don’t think themselves worthy of pursuing a Franciscan vocation but for those others who are considering priesthood or religious Life‘Before I continue the story,’ said Peter, ‘I want to let you into a secret. It is the secret of sancity. St Paul was the first to pen it. It is simply this: “God’s power works most perfectly in weakness.” That’s why God always seems to choose the wrong person for the job, the person we would all think was not fit for purpose. Take Abraham and his wife as a case in point. He was a hundred years old and his wife was ninety yet Abraham was chosen to become the father of God’s chosen people. Moses had a speech impediment yet he was the one God chose to be his spokesman before Pharaoh. The stripling David was chosen to fell the giant Goliath. The whole point of God choosing someone who we would think was unfit for purpose was to make it quite clear that it was not this man’s potency, or that man’s eloquence, or this boy’s strength that triumphed but God’s power working through humand weakness. It was the same in the New Testament.”
David Torkington then goes on to illustrate by referring to Peter and Paul in the New Testament before writing:
“Over a thousand years later, God chose a small, insignificant draper’s son who Brother Masseo thought was quite unfit for purpose. The truth of the matter was that Brother Masseo was everything that Francis wasn’t. He was so tall, good-looking and eloquent that when he arrived at a new destination, people who had never seen Francis before assumed that it was Masseo who was Il Santo.
‘It must have made Masseo wonder why God hadn’t chosen him to do what he was far better equipped to do than Francis. He was to learn, and Francis was to teach him the humility that he was wanting, but that was for the future; for the present he couldn’t help voicing his misgivings. He didn’t mince his words; he came straight to the point: “Why is everyone running after you?” he asked his master. “Why does everyone come running to see and hear you? You are nothing to look at, you are not learned and you haven’t a drop of noble blood in your viens.”
‘Far from being annoyed by his words, Francis was sent into an ecstasy of delight, as he saw more clearly than ever before what he already knew was this – that it was precisely because he was so unfit for purpose that God had chosen him in the first place. He knew this because, as Bonaventure tells us, God spoke to him when he was praying and told him in words that could not be misunderstood, “The very reason why I chose you was because you had nothing to boast of, and so what I did in you would be attributed to divine grace and not to human effort.” (Life of St Francis, chapter 8).
‘So, like his illustrious predecessors, nobody, least of all Francis, could be in any doubt that it was God’s power that would be seen working in his weakness. Of himself he was nothing. That’s why Bonaventure continually emphasized more than anything else his total dedication to prayer. ‘
Torkington goes on to give a quote about Francis
and his prayer life. p.164ff
I believe there is a great message in this extract of this very readable and powerful book for people discerning their vocation, particularly for those who think they are not worthy.
If you are interested in discerning your vocation to follow this poor, humble man, St. Francis of Assisi why not e.mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you.