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All of Us Are Holy

Holiness comes in all shapes, sizes and walks of life. The father gazing on his sleeping child has as much potential to be holy as the monk gazing upon the tabernacle. There is no great divide between the prayer of the monastery and the prayer of the marketplace. There is no fundamental difference between the frantic pre-exam prayer of the college kid and the quiet prayer of the monk contemplative. Contemplative prayer is not about leaving this world. It is not an otherworldly experience. Those who pray contemplative prayer accept and embrace this world and the Creator who dwells therein. Contemplative prayer is not exclusively for monks and nuns. The college kid, the father, the lawyer and all everyday people can pray contemplatively.

—from the book Armchair Mystic: How Contemplative Prayer Can Lead You Closer to God by Mark Thibodeaux, SJ

Saint Joan of the Cross

Wooden statue of Saint Joan of the Cross | A l’école des soeurs de Jeanne Delanoue | unknown
Image: Wooden statue of Saint Joan of the Cross | A l’école des soeurs de Jeanne Delanoue | unknown

Saint Joan of the Cross

Saint of the Day for August 17

(June 18, 1666 – August 17, 1736)


Saint Joan of the Cross’ Story

An encounter with a shabby old woman many dismissed as insane prompted Saint Joan to dedicate her life to the poor. For Joan, who had a reputation as a businesswoman intent on monetary success, this was a significant conversion.

Born in 1666 in Anjou, France, Joan worked in the family business—a small shop near a religious shrine—from an early age. After her parents’ death she took over the shop. She quickly became known for her greediness and insensitivity to the beggars who often came seeking help.

That was until she was touched by the strange woman who claimed she was on intimate terms with the deity. Joan, who had always been devout, even scrupulous, became a new person. She began caring for needy children. Then the poor, elderly, and sick came to her. Over time, she closed the family business so she could devote herself fully to good works and penance.

She went on to found what came to be known as the Congregation of Saint Anne of Providence. It was then she took the religious name of Joan of the Cross. By the time of her death in 1736 she had founded 12 religious houses, hospices, and schools. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1982.


The downtown areas of most major cities hold a population of “street people.” Well-dressed folks usually avoid making eye contact, probably for fear of being asked for a handout. That was Joan’s attitude until the day one of them touched her heart. Most people thought the old woman was crazy, but she put Joan on the road to sainthood. Who knows what the next beggar we meet might do for us?

Saint of the Day

The post Saint Joan of the Cross appeared first on Franciscan Media.

Call Forth the Good News in Others

In their dramatization of the Gospel, the brothers rewrote the script of life that included: the primacy of God, a spirit of prayer and penance, a life of simplicity and poverty, ministry to lepers (the outsiders), brothers from every walk of life or social status living together, living among the little people, the poor, working with their hands and caring for the needy, being messengers of peace and reconciliation and doing all this within the church. From this new style of life, the Good News of the gospel was once again made visible. This shocked the people and made them wonder. We all believe we have the ability to give—love, friendship, the Good News. But the ability to receive the treasure buried in the heart of another who looks and thinks and believes differently than I do is quite something else. We have to call forth the Good News inside another by humbly coming before that person in our weakness and receiving the treasure of life, the beauty of God’s gift that is there.

—from the book In the Footsteps of Francis and Clare by Roch Niemier, OFM


Living the Gospel Every Day

The Gospel is only ever lived out during the seemingly little things of the everyday. In office cubicles, on subway cars, along rural highways, at home or at play—in these places is where the quotidian reality of Christian life unfolds, or it doesn’t, according to our choices. Too often we look to saints or other exemplars of Christian living and romanticize their famous actions or behaviors. We forget that Francis and Clare of Assisi, Ignatius Loyola, Catherine McAuley, and Dorothy Day all woke up each morning, went to bed each evening, and tried their best to follow Christ during the hours in between. What makes them models of Christian life is not some singular display of faithfulness, but instead the culmination of a lifelong effort to make the little things, like lunch or work, into moments of encountering others that then help proclaim the good news of God’s love to the world.

—from the book God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

Like Mary, We Bring Christ to the World

Francis recognized that there are two moments in our life with God. There is the moment when we are passive, when God’s grace overwhelms us, when we are forgiven, when we receive our new life in Christ. At this moment God is active; God does for us what we could never do for ourselves. But there is another moment when we become active, when we respond to God’s grace, when we become sources of blessing in the lives of others, when we share the new life we have received, namely, Christ. We are then the Mothers of Christ. We receive Christ as Mary did, by God’s grace, but then like Mary we are to bring Christ forth, to present Christ to a world in need. Francis’ Marian spirituality was not limited to singing Mary’s praises. It moved Francis to action, to share with those in need. Our shrines to Mary ought to be the shelters for the homeless who share her poverty. Our words in praise of Mary ought to be the words and deeds we say and do to bring an end to war and terrorism in the name of the Queen of Peace. Our pilgrimages in her honor might be a walk for the poor. And although Francis’ words about Mary are steeped in the sentiment characteristic of the church of his day, his piety went far beyond mere sentiment.

—from the book In the Footsteps of Francis and Clare by Roch Niemier, OFM


Learn to Fail Well

If you want to be a successful painter, you will at first fail on numerous canvases. And if you want to be a successful mathematician, you will at first fail in solving the equations. If you want to be a successful writer, your manuscripts will be rejected endlessly until one of them isn’t. But there will never come a point when you stop failing, because that’s what creativity is about. What works can only be known against the backdrop of what doesn’t—and if you’re too afraid to ever risk establishing that backdrop, personally and professionally, then you’ll never know what success is like. In the Hebrew Bible, we have the beautiful images in Jeremiah, for example, in the potter’s house where he comes to understand that even as Israel screws everything up over and over again, God—like a potter with clay in hand—is patient and allows the remodeling to take place, allows us to try again, to become the beautiful creation intended from the beginning. If we cannot live because we fear failure, then we cannot be good Christians because it is a faith predicated on being often diametrically opposed to worldly success. If you want to be successful, you need to learn to fail well.

—from the book God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

The Risk of Appearing Foolish

The risk of appearing foolish never stopped Francis from embracing the Gospel as best he could, protesting the injustices of certain social systems, and letting nothing get in the way of his relationship with others. The virtue between the two foolish vices of avoidance and exploitation is the embrace of evangelical foolishness to become one of God’s fools. It is the counterintuitive and gratuitous foolishness of God’s love revealed in the healing of the broken and brokenhearted, forgiving the unforgiveable, and loving the unlovable. So becoming a fool for God’s sake isn’t something to avoid out of fear or exploit for personal gain, but a vocation to embrace in revealing the love of God in our lives. I challenge you—and remind myself all the time—to consider why, where, and how to be a fool for Christ.

—from the book God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude by Daniel P. Horan, OFM

Empty Your Pockets

When we allow others to do things for us, God’s goodness shines through them. Poverty is not so much about want or need; it is about relationship. Poverty impels us to reflect on our lives in the world from the position of weakness, dependency and vulnerability. It impels us to empty our pockets—not of money— but the pockets of our hearts, minds, wills—those places where we store up things for ourselves and isolate ourselves from real relationship with others. Poverty calls us to be vulnerable, open and receptive to others, to allow others into our lives and to be free enough to enter into the lives of others. While Clare (and Francis) call us to be poor so that we may enter into relationship with the poor Christ, they also ask us to be poor so as to enter into relationship with our poor brothers and sisters in whom Christ lives.

—from the book Clare: A Heart Full of Love by Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio

We Depend on God and One Another

Clare of Assisi did not elaborate on the poverty of the human person but she knew it in the depths of her soul. She fought for the “privilege of poverty” because she knew that if she failed to be dependent on others, she would ultimately fail to be dependent on God. Like Francis, she firmly believed in a God enfleshed in fragile human nature— Incarnation. Had she sought a nice, clean, fresh, minty type of God in heaven, she might have opted for more autonomy. But she believed that God has come among us and revealed to us, in the poverty of being human, how to live united in love, to God and to another. She realized that only the poor and humble can share in the poor and humble love of God. Clare’s path to God through the depths of poverty impels us to admit that real relationship with God requires true humble humanity. Only when we come to the truth of who we are (and who we are not) as poor persons can we come to that place of vulnerability in our lives where God can enter in. Only then can we know what it means to be a human person embedded in a world of goodness.

—from the book Clare: A Heart Full of Love by Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio

Are You Becoming a Mirror for Christ?

Clare’s emphasis on the person of Jesus Christ is an emphasis on the human person as well, what we are and what we are called to be. Christ crucified is the mirror in which we are to see our reflection, our strengths and weaknesses, our failures and our capacity to love. Clare is not interested in the flight of “the alone to the alone.” Rather, she asks, are you becoming a mirror of Christ for others to see and follow? She wants us to reflect Christ in our lives, to help build up the Body of Christ through transformation in love, and to participate in the church. She is a mystic who calls us to go forward into God by letting Christ take on our flesh so that we may reflect the face of Christ to the world. She tells us not to be dissuaded in the path to God, to be resolute in our convictions and trust the guidance of the Spirit in our lives. Her thought is centered on the essence of human identity: Be yourself and allow God to dwell within you. Christ will then be alive and the world will be created anew.

—from the book Clare: A Heart Full of Love by Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio