Franciscan Sisters Founders Day is Ever New

by fscc on November 11, 2014

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Chaplain, Father Placid Stroik, Franciscan Friar of the Assumption of the BVM Province, shared these words on our recent 145th Founders’ Day anniversary, November 9, 2014 (also the Feast of St. John Lateran Basilica-dear to history of the Franciscan Order.)

Living Stones, Holy People, Holy Places, Empty Chalices

Ez 47:1-2, 8-9,12 Water flows to the whole cosmos.

Ps 46:2-9 There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the most high.

1 Cor 3:9-17 dissension in the community destroys the unity of Christ.

Which one does what party of the ministry is not important.   “The arrogance of entitlement of privilege”. Robert Coles, Harvard Psychiatrist. You are God’s temple.

John 2:13-22   Jesus embodies God’s ardent love, not any building.

Welcome to the first celebration of Founders’ Day, not the 145th.

Edmund Wilson says “No two persons ever read the same book.” And it has been added that “No person ever re-reads the same book.”Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations wrote in the 1950’s published in Markings.

And on that basis it can safely be said: “No Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity ever celebrates Founders’ Day a second time. It is always and only a first time.”

If you would rather not try to figure out what those statements mean, you could spend the next few minutes, figuring out “How many days of the week start on the “T” or add up how many seconds there are in a calendar year of 12 months and multiply that by 145.” Your celebration of the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and Founders Day would still be spiritually nourishing.

The last few days I have been away some of the time. That away time was filled with a fervent search for a chalice created by one of our artist Franciscan Friars for his First Mass in 1961.

Many sacristy cabinets and vaults had beautiful chalices in them wherever I went, but not this one special chalice.

Today’s feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, on this Founders’ Day, Nov. 9, 1869 when Sister Mary Coletta, Sister Teresa Gramlich, Sister Mary Gabriela, Sister Rosa Wahl, Sister Odelia and others were received into consecrated religious life and the community was founded,   is a feast of “Living Stones, Holy People, Holy Places and especially Empty Chalices”. To be a Basilica, to be a church there must be at least a few empty chalices.

At a recent Zimmer Forum gathering at the Franciscan Education Center, here at Silver Lake College, Bishop Morneau presented for consideration a number of the meditations and reflections Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations wrote in the 1950’s published in Among them was the following

Franciscan Consecrated Life before Vatican Council IIEach day the first day. Each day a life. Each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being to receive, to carry and give back. It must be held out empty – For the past must only be reflected in its polish, its shape, its capacity.”

The chalice I went looking for was a silver one with a sturdy stem and at the base 12 very recognizable artistic renditions of the 12 apostles. The chalice was Fr. John Bosco. Each day he welcomed all that came his way: opportunities for creative art work; prayerful celebrations of our sacraments; generous moments of conversation in community and with people he served, and often humbling experiences of his own wounded personhood.

Nevertheless each day was lived as it truly was the “first day of the rest of his life.” And all that was collected in the chalice each day was taken and added to the polish, the shape and the capacity of his person becoming an empty chalice for the next day.

But today we are going back to 1869 and the young women in Clarks Mills who said their preliminary “yes” to consecrated vowed living. It was the chalices of their being that they held out empty, after the pattern and mind of Jesus who moved about in this world having emptied himself of divinity, ready to receive all that came as he lived among us.

It was the travel over rough terrain, the joy of new beginnings, the vision of serving the people of God through living the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus; they welcomed all that came into their daily life. And each evening as in an examination of consciousness they sorted the events collected in the chalice of their being and neatly arranged them into a new shape and capacity for the next day. And as the seconds of the year (3 million, 535 thousand, 310 seconds) ticked away the whole cosmos was being watered by living waters that were received, carried and given back by them.Franciscan Sister Regina Rose and Sister Monica renewing their vows

And  each new day was really a first day, absolutely different than the previous day because they, the sisters were totally new and different because of what was received in the “empty chalice” and placed on the outside so the inside was readied for more.

What a joy it is in 2014 to celebrate Founders Day for the first time. Each Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity because of receiving in the empty chalice of their being all that took place these many years has become a new being, quite different than the previous day.

This approach to each day as it were like an empty chalice, modeled on the self-emptying of the Lord Jesus is creating a temple of the Lord, not made by human hands and indestructible by human cruelty or natural disasters.

Happy 145 years of being empty chalices. Congratulations on celebrating Founders Day of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity for the first time, today. You will do it many more times again, each time, a first time, each time a life

The Lord bless you.

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