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Week 1: Celebrating Our Heritage and Creating Our Legacy

Today begins our month long focus Celebrating our Heritage and Creating our Legacy. This first week we are reminded of the rich heritage we hold as followers of St. Francis of Assisi in the spirit of Mother Clara Pfaender.

The dictionary defines heritage as “Something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition: … achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group.” A spiritual heritage is defined as “the spiritual tradition associated with the founding.”

St. Francis of Assisi handed down a unique view of the world and God’s creative presence. God is not a distant ruler … God is Love. Francis saw the love of God and the presence of God in ALL … in all of life and all of creation.

“You are Good, all Good, supreme Good, Lord God, living and true.”

As Franciscan hearted people we share in St. Francis’ belief that “We are all creatures of one family,” and as such, ALL of God’s creation is to be treated with respect and compassion. Mother Clara shared this inheritance from St. Francis. She also held an expansive view of God’s love and meeting the needs of the times. In the founding constitution she wrote “Furthermore, no manner of loving service for which the Lord gives them opportunity shall be excluded from their loving concern …”

The unique spiritual heritage of a religious community animates its “charism” … that is the gift or grace given for the sake of others. Charism is the lens through which we live, pray, and serve the greater good. Charism is not necessarily the ministry focus of a congregation. It is the underlying energy or essence that challenges us to change so that we continue to meet the new needs of the times. In a meeting with the USIG in 2014, Pope Francis said “A charism needs to be lived according to the place, times and people. The charism is not a bottle of distilled water. It needs to be lived with energy.”

This week we celebrate our spiritual heritage that continues to provide a firm foundation and energy for the on-going creation of our legacy.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does Francis of Assisi continue to inspire and energize you for the sake of all God’s Creation?
  • What does “any manner of loving service” look like in your life/in our lives now?

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