There is (kind of) a joke among us Franciscans. If you ask us, “Who is the minister general of the Franciscan order?” we would say, “At this moment, it’s Friar Massimo Fusarelli from Italy. But who’s been the REAL minister general at all times is the Holy Spirit.”
Claiming that the Holy Spirit directs our Franciscan order has difficult consequences. It means letting go of our narrow personal agendas and expectations. Every decision also has to come from deep discernment in order to truly listen to what the Holy Spirit wants us to do.
The same is true for our Church. Pope Francis gives the image of a Church that always goes forward, giving space to the Holy Spirit that continually renews the Church. The Pope admits that newness can make us fearful because we may feel that we lose control.
There may be some of us who give in to this fear by becoming more rigid and trying to create a Church that is more self-referential and closed in on herself. We may daydream about the return to the great Christendom or the “good ol’ days”. Or we try to insist on keeping the old structures that do not work anymore for our children and grandchildren, and we lament that the Church is losing them.
Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?
Do we really mean it when we pray today’s Psalm: Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth?
Peace and good.
Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
Associate Pastor, Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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