By Sister Ann Carmen Barone, OSF
Franciscans are alive with songs of praise in our hearts and thanksgiving on our lips. Melodies and words of gratitude fill our liturgies. Give thanks to the Lord who does wondrous deeds – Whose love is forever more. Deo gratias, Deo gratias, thanks be to God most high! Lord of all to you we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.
Gratitude is at the very heart of our Franciscan charism. Like Francis, gratitude is not just a virtue for us but a climate that enfolds and penetrates all of our waking moments. I find myself thanking Jesus often during the day. It becomes a litany of thanks as I walk from one building to the other, accidentally meet someone who makes me smile, look up from my computer and see a sunny day, welcome a family and new student who are so excited to become part of the Sisters and Lourdes.
Yes, everyone and everything is a free gift from God. “Let us refer all good to the Lord, God Almighty and Most High, acknowledge that every good is His, and thank Him, from Whom all good comes, for everything.” All is a gift from God to be shared in service of the Gospel – the Mission.
Francis and the brothers invited everyone to join them in this life of thanksgiving and praise. They began by thanking God for the gift of God’s self and then continued thanking God for the past and for God’s activity in every part of their history. What did they desire? Nothing else except God, “Who is the fullness of good, all good, every good, the true and supreme good.” What did they want to do? “To praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to God.” How do we follow their example?
Is Francis’ approach realistic? Will putting thanksgiving at the center of our gospel lives help us discover who we are and how to live our call? Yes. A group of pilgrims, faculty and staff from the university returned From Assisi and Rome on fire with a sense of “fraternitas” and the “bonum of God.” They could not wait to share their newfound truth. Their pilgrim leader helped them see the power that comes from being sisters and brothers sharing the mission to live the gospel. He challenged them to recognize the bonum-the goodness of God who shares that goodness with us. They had to become more aware of what their hearts had already experienced. Everything and everyone is a gift. God is generous and is sharing the “bonum.”
May our Franciscan hearts accept it and pass it on.
Alleluia, alleluia! Give thanks to the risen Lord. Alleluia, alleluia! Give praise to His name.