Today is Tuesday, March 31, 2020. We are now several weeks into the corona virus pandemic. The older I get, the crazier the world seems to be, but in the space of a month, things seem to have escalated exponentially. As a Franciscan who seeks poverty in all its many shapes and forms, I never expected to become a hoarder. And yet, my freezer and pantry are now stocked with enough goods to get me through at least the next month without ever leaving the house if it comes to that.
One of the unfortunate ramifications of this pandemic is that our fraternities are mostly restricted from holding regular meetings. I have been the formation director for my local fraternity and I am currently the formation director of the Our Lady of Indiana Region, which covers the northern half of our state. I have long hoped that one day I might find the time and energy to work on a website that is specifically geared toward ongoing formation for Secular Franciscans.
Well, in this craziness, it seems there is also opportunity. My role as the formation director for my region gives me plenty of cover to launch this website now, when there seems to be some need of it. Perhaps, if we cannot get together in person, we can at least get together and consider our vocation via the virtual world of the Internet.
As a local formation director, I put together a set of reflections on the Gospel of John for my brothers and sisters. As a starting point for this endeavor, I will share them over the next few weeks here in the hopes that some might find them comforting and inspiring in these troubled times. There will also be other pathways from other thoughtful Franciscans opened up in the next several days as well.
My greatest dream would be for people to begin to interact based on them. At the end of each post, there is the ability to make comments. If would be wonderful if we might have the charity and courage to share our prayerful thoughts and inspirations with each other. Then, even in this time of separation, perhaps “the fraternal bonds of community” might still prove to “always be our help.”
St. Francis does not appear to be practicing proper social distancing as he gives his mantle to the poor knight in the picture. Maybe, if we are willing to share our thoughts with each other here, we can still give each other something more meaningful and permanent than a cloak that will help us navigate this troubled time, and beyond.
Timothy D. Short, OFS