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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Have you ever wondered why the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week don’t get a special name? I have. We have quite the entrance on Passion (Palm) Sunday by publicly processing, singing and carrying palms. We read the very long Gospel and wince as we shout out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” After the celebration of an intense liturgy, it feels like we are just getting started, and then we have to stop for three days, only to rev up again for the big line up of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and finally Easter Sunday.

Holy_Week

For many years, my Community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, have put a special spiritual focus on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. By looking at the readings and the Gospels and meditating on the life of Christ as He anticipates His passion, we take each day and focus on a particular mystery to help us prepare for the Triduum.

Monday is a day of extravagance. “Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (Jn 12:3). Mary Magdalene gives all to Jesus, not merely the expensive oil, but her very self. She uses her hands and hair to anoint Him, affecting each person present. This extravagant gesture of her love for Jesus is merely an imitation of His extravagant offering of Himself.  We too are called to imitate Christ in offering our lives to the Father. We are challenged on the Monday of Holy Week to look at our own acts of generosity and pouring out of self. Are we giving our best to serve God and others? Are we grateful and receptive to the extravagant love of God and others?

“So Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’” (Jn 13:27). On Tuesday, we ponder the reality of what must be completed in order for the chain of events to transpire for our redemption. Jesus Christ knows what must be done in order to declare: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (Jn 13:31). This day may offer us an opportunity to put into order those obstacles which might be hindering our openness to the graces of Holy Week, or to tasks that need to be completed to free us to pray and be present to the liturgies of the Triduum. This might be the day we stop procrastinating and decide to go to confession, forgive others or make a discernment that we have been avoiding.

Mary-Washes-Jesus-s-Feet-jesus-11078625-635-450Wednesday’s reading from Isaiah speaks of the Man who has been anointed to be a voice for God, will be abused, yet with the Father’s help, will complete the mission of redemption. Jesus tells the disciples: “My appointed time draws near,” as He orders the Passover meal. As Jesus instructs his disciples, and confronts Judas, there is a sense that Christ has embraced His mission. He knows that He alone can redeem man in accordance with the Father’s Will. Wednesday of Holy Week is a perfect day to spend time reflecting on our own God-given mission. We share solidarity with Jesus in the joys, fears and determination that accompany embracing our personal cross. This is a day of “aloneness” before the Father. We are preparing to say: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

I am so grateful that my Community has looked to these “unnamed” days as a way to enter into a deeper understanding and celebration of Holy Week. The sequence of the week is a natural progression in preparing our minds and hearts for the sacred Triduum. On Passion Sunday, we publically show that we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the King and Son of God, who exemplifies the Father’s extravagant love. How fitting to have the next day to ponder this mystery. We instinctually would want to respond to that love and know the compulsion to complete the tasks and events which will set in motion an adequate response. Quickly, we become aware that we alone, with the help of the Father, must complete this act of love. It is with this in mind that we enter into the Triduum, reflecting on the cost of our redemption and the profundity of Christ’s body and blood freely given to us in the Eucharist. Blessings on this sacred week.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

With the Hobby Lobby suit going on in the Supreme Court, there is a great deal of “The Pill” in the news. It is certainly a hot topic, with statistics, medical information and lots of personal opinions coming at us left and right. Environmentalists and scientists have been warning us for years that women’s use of artificial hormonal birth control is not a private matter. In fact, it has worldwide effects. Not only are there moral implications regarding the use of artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy, but what about the moral implications of using a drug that can cause cancer in others, or change the ecosystem?

Studies show that birth control pills have a negative effect on the environment, and primarily the water system. Scientists report that “many decades of research have shown that when released into the environment, a group of hormones known as estrogens, both synthetic and naturally occurring, can have a serious influence on wildlife. This includes the development of intersex characteristics in male fish, which diminishes fertility and fecundity.”[1] Water treatment plants are not able to break down the hormones excreted by women who are using the Pill: High estrogen levels have been found in rivers in Paris, and studies seem to show that in some places the levels of estrogen found in waterways are high enough to affect human health.[2]

Prescription NeededHere’s a fascinating study that questions the link between prostate cancer in men and the Pill. David Margel and Neil Fleshner, of the University of Toronto in Ontario, looked at contraceptive pill usage and incidence of prostate cancer in 88 countries around the world. In every case, they found a significant correlation between the two.[3] Although studies continue to look at various possibilities, and findings are inconclusive, the scientists consider this a valid and strong component in the mystery of the increase in prostate cancer; the fact is that estrogen-like chemicals pass into the urine and ultimately make their way into the water supply.

There are consistent reports that show that the environment and human health are being detrimentally affected by women’s use of chemical contraceptives, which has environmentalists around the world searching for solutions. If findings continue to reveal these links, govern­ments will need to step in to enact laws and regulations to protect innocent citizens and future generations.

The Catholic Church has spoken consistently on the need to protect and care for creation, as it is God’s gift. Pope John Paul II stated: “Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.”[4] There is a moral responsibility to care for God’s creation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”[5]


[1] Susan Jobling and Richard Owen, “Ethinyl Oestradiol in the Aquatic Environment,” in Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation (Copenhagen, Denmark: Europa Environment Agency, 2013), 279.

[2] Wynne Parry, “Water Pollution Caused by Birth Control Poses Dilemma,” Live Science, May 23, 2012; and “7 Surprising Facts about the Pill,” Live Science, June 21, 2011.

[3] David Margel and Neil E. Fleshner, “Oral Contraceptive Use Is Associated with Prostate Cancer: An Ecological Study,” BJM Open 1.2 (2011), http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/1/2/e000311.full.

[4] John Paul II, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace (January 1, 1990), n. 15.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2415.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Have you seen this yet?

It has been out for a month, but I missed it: “Kid President’s letter to a person on their first day on earth.”

Taking a break from the heavy pro-life news to just say: “You, you’re awesome. You’re made that way….”

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

In God’s providence, I am spending National Catholic Sisters Week (March 9-16) in Lowell, Michigan, at the Franciscan Life Process Center. I am with a group of college students and staff from Marymount University on their Spring Break service trip. Hence a trip to snowy Michigan, where the low last night was negative one, to work and pray with 14 Sisters from my Community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.

sistersThe students have spent the week serving schools, nursing homes, and programs where the Sisters provide counseling, education and music therapy, amongst many other experiences. For many of the students, they have never met nor interacted with Sisters before.

The questions are abundant! This will become more common with the decline of Sisters in the nation. As the culture moves away from God-centered lives, it will become harder for men and women to hear God asking them to sacrifice marriage and family and to radically follow Jesus in poverty, chastity and obedience as Religious Sisters, Priests and Brothers. To be sure, the “vocation crisis” includes ALL vocations. In addition to a decrease in priests and Sisters, we have a decrease in practicing Catholics, sacramental marriage, and men and women rejecting parenthood. …Not to mention the increase in divorce, cohabitation and birth control.

photoIn our nation, Sisters were the founding mothers of education, catechesis, healthcare, social services, and evangelization. Yes, they have been “successful” and done much. On Tuesday, I had the chance to visit with Sister Rita, who has been a Religious Sister for 82 years. As we visited, I marveled at this most accomplished woman, now blind and mostly deaf, now faithfully serving the Church in constant prayer and offering her suffering for others. Sister Rita is a woman — a mother, of prayer. Exactly what all Religious Sisters are called to be.

How many of our lives have been touched by Sisters? Personally, it was because of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist that my parents returned to the Catholic faith — something that saved their marriage and allowed them to provide a strong Catholic identity for their six children. While here at the Franciscan Life Process Center, I thought I would ask others how Sisters have affected their lives.

  • Allison: “I had never met a Sister until I was in my 40s. Then, when my husband died unexpectedly last year, it was Sister Colleen Ann who came within 20 minutes of his death. She was the only one who could get through to my son. Truly, God had a plan for me to meet them.”
  • Dottie: “My daughter went to preschool here, and she now has a family and is a wonderful mother. I know it was because of the Sisters. And I even have a grandson who wants to become a Priest.”
  • The five Cole girls had a variety of reasons they love Sisters: Hannah, 7, and Monica, 4, like their veils. Alyssa, 12, is grateful that Sisters pray for people and help those in need. Olivia, 10, is happy they have helped her learn to play the piano, go camping and ice skating. Mikayla, 2, said they are nice. Their mother, Beth, finds that her daughters are more prayerful and strive to behave because of spending time with Sisters, adding that it would be alright with her if all five became Religious.
  • Kim: “I’ve learned patience! The Sisters have taught me how to slow down and not to waste. I was always taught that Sisters were unapproachable. I sent my children to preschool here and they fell in love with the Sisters…and I did too.”

As we celebrate Religious Sisters, let us pray in gratitude for the many ways they have ministered through service and in prayer, and ask God to bestow the graces young women need to say “yes” to this supernatural calling.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

In a world where parents can choose to abort their child, yet:

  • Killing a pregnant woman is a double homicide;
  • There is no such thing as gender, but we fight for a woman’s rights;
  • It’s a baby if you want it, but a product if you don’t;
  • Marriage is no longer marriage and sexual intercourse has nothing to do with producing a new human life;

…It is refreshing to have a logical conclusion emerge.

newborn-babyThis 2012 Slate article describes how two philosophers in the Journal Of Medical Ethics gave a pro-choice argument for infanticide — or delicately termed “after-birth abortion” (the words don’t even make sense). The piece is terrific and argues that the philosphers’ arguments are not a threat to those who call themselves pro-life, but only a threat to those who go by pro-choice.

It brilliantly illustrates this quote by Flannery O’Connor: “When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror.”

O’Connor then shares the famous conclusion with Walker Percy that “tenderness leads to the gas chamber.” In the name of tenderness, killing children pre- and post-birth is the most loving thing to do. It is the only choice in some nations.

Once we reject God and His natural law, then creation becomes obsolete. The Enlightenment rejected mystery. Modernity rejects God. Now in Post-Modernity we finally come to what is left to deny: the mystery of God’s love and most precious image — man.

There should be no shock that infanticide has become an option. When human life is based on opinion, and the value of a person is dependent on convenience, productivity and cost, then it follows that there is no way of defining and protecting human life.

Once you believe you can kill a child before it is born because it is handicapped, then it is logical to be able to do so after it is born. …Or a bit later, when the child might become terminally ill, as is the case in Belgium, where a child can commit suicide. …Or in the Netherlands, the state can kill a child regardless of parental consent. This is what must follow once you believe that killing a life can be justified.

Has this “freedom” from the “Source of tenderness” brought us greater happiness? Has the rejection of moral absolutes, of natural law and basic biology brought about a more loving and peaceful world? Not by a long shot.

We have ample proof that exterminating the unwanted, sick, weak, handicapped and irritating races did not improve Nazi Germany, Russia, China, Syria or the United States of America. But it has brought about the killing of untold numbers of innocent victims — all in the name of compassion, choice and progression. The logic that eliminating human life is the solution is not logical.

Why is it that in our amazingly advanced technological world, our only solution to problems continues to be killing human beings? Call me crazy, but I would think it would be logical for a human person — who started out being a human person when sperm from a human male and an egg from a  human female united — would get that all human beings come about that way, too. I would think it would be rather logical for human beings to help other human beings not to kill human beings.

Can we call the experiment over yet? Killing human beings is not making sense.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

On the Lord’s Day, Sunday, January 26th, America had the opportunity to view:And the Grammy Goes to

  • Popular artist Katy Perry dressed as a witch with a red Cross on her bosom as she used a broom as a strippers pole, cast a spell and was then “burned at the stake.”
  • A married couple and parents of a 3-year-old girl express their martial love through a rap duet dressed as a stripper and a pimp.
  • Robots win Record and Album of the Year. Or are they humans? Or are they robots? Or are they human? They told someone to thank their families, because they are robots and can’t talk, but they can make music and win awards.
  • Best Rap Collaboration gets a Grammy for lyrics:

Blue told me to remind you niggas
F**k that sh*t y’all talkin’ about
I’m the nigga, caught up in all these lights and cameras
But look what that sh*t did to Hammer
G-d damn it I like it

  • Grammy for Best Song of the Year given to a 17-year-old who goes by the name of Lorde and represents her generation by singing:

And we’ll never be royals.
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

  • And perhaps the most bizarre of all, rapper Queen Latifah officiated the “marriage” of 33 couples—heterosexual and same-sex—while songs about love and acceptance were sung in the background.

And the Church, before going to bed, prays for the world:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

And abides in the shade of the Almighty

Says to the Lord: “My refuge,

My stronghold, my God in whom I trust!”

It is he who will free you from

the snare of the fowler

who seeks to destroy you;

he will conceal you with his pinions

and under his wings you will find refuge. (Ps. 91)

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Yesterday, I was actually perspiring. However, the weather changed so rapidly that I spent most of this morning angry that the 40th March for Life is tomorrow, after a “snow storm” and on a day with a projected high of 15 degrees, which we all know means it will feel like zero. I will confess I even whined, “Why is God doing this to us?” Now, thousands will not come to the March for Life. Of course, even with smaller numbers, the events will still go on. The beautiful Mass for Human Life will be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Arlington Diocese will host the Life is VERY Good night of prayer tonight at the Patriot Center, with a concert with Matt Maher and an hour of Adoration. The crowd will not be at the expected capacity of 8500, but it will be full of love, life and prayer. Tomorrow morning there will be three rallies and Masses for teens at the Verizon Center, D.C. Armory, and the Patriot Center. Each venue was sold out, expecting to host 40,000 youth from around the nation. The rally at the March for Life will be wonderful, and the crowds will still be impressive.

March for LifeOf course, God is not to blame for bad weather. On the bright side, maybe those who do come will impress the media, and they will give coverage to the March for Life, which has been profoundly missing from media outlets for years. The March for Life will happen regardless of the numbers. And in fact, maybe the sacrifices made by the thousands who will not be able to attend, and the thousands who will brave the bitter cold, is the very thing that will save a child from being aborted, stop a mother and father from making the worst decision of their lives, and cause hearts to be thawed, and changed, that laws in our nation will protect human life.

Today at Mass, the homilist reminded us that we do not know how God works, and that we must trust that the intentions of our hearts, our will for the good, is His very desire. Of course, in my opinion, it should be His desire to have hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million, come to the 40th March for Life. The success of record crowds at Masses and rallies throughout the area would impress the nation, solve all our problems, and change the world!

The notion that God might have other desires and plans that do not make sense to me reminded me of the story of Gideon’s Army. The Lord told Gideon he had too many men to fight (not the typical strategy for winning battles), because should they win, they would consider the victory a success of their power, not God’s. And so God ordered Gideon to shrink his army from 22,000 to 300 men. Thus, the glory and power of God shone forth through the 300 men chosen to fight and win the battle.

We will miss our friends who will not be able to join us tonight and tomorrow, and we join you in the battle for life in prayer and sacrifice. We offer special prayers of safety for those of you traveling tonight and tomorrow. And we especially pray for the trust to say, “God’s will be done!” Those of us who will be at the March for Life tomorrow must trust that there is a reason we are there, bodily, and offer our physical sufferings and sacrifices to God, reminding ourselves that to Him alone belongs the victory.

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Say it with M&Ms

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Only a king was lucky enough to get the one pound bag of M&Ms! At least as kids that is what we thought when we gifted my dad with one three times a year: Christmas, Father’s Day and his birthday.  As far as we knew, those were the only days he got his favorite candy. For us, it was not merely the size of the bag, mind blowing as that was, but that on a tight budget, mom would splurge and let us get them for him, an inconceivably extravagant treat that we truly believed meant the world to him. We could hardly contain the excitement as we handed him the wrapped bag and never lost the amusement of watching him feel the gift and start guessing what might be inside – “socks? A new tie? A hammer?” There was always the little brother who started to panic and broke down and yelled “no, it’s M&Ms!!!!” Followed by the ritual shove and “now you blew it!” stare from one of the older siblings. He opened them, and never let us down with his joy and surprise, “How did you know this is what I wanted?”  Then he did the unthinkable….he opened the bag, and all six of us got a handful. Not only had we made him happy and given him the only thing he ever wanted, but he shared them with us! We were the luckiest kids in the whole world!

gift-giving1My mother made this happen. She is one of the most talented gift givers I’ve ever come across. I truly believe she has a special charism, a gift from God, to teach others the significance of being able to gift and receive. How much did a one pound bag of M&Ms cost back then? It could not have been more than $5. It was never about the M&Ms, the thing or the money. For my mother, it is about the whole process.  She taught us to think about the person, to notice that our father liked M&Ms. Can you imagine taking six little kids to the store to pick out a bag of M&Ms? But it was important for us to learn how to shop for someone. Although we could never wrap gifts like my mother (extraordinary talent!), she taught us that wrapping and presentation is part of the gift. Most important, though, is the moment of presenting the gift: how you hand it to them, eye contact, patience while watching it be opened, and joy in their joy. We may have started with M&Ms, but gift giving and receiving in our family has taught us invaluable life lessons, and not just with tangible things. And my father, while playful, certainly witnessed for us the need to be an active receiver, to affirm us in being thoughtful and generous, and then teaching us to be generous in what was received. It was also affirming to be missioned by dad to spy on our mother, so that we could tell him what she might like for Christmas. He never did fall for the “she really likes Lucky Charms.”

Please trust that I am not trying to promote materialism, nor suggest that gifts are the only way to show love. But I do think there is value in children getting gifts for parents, even watching their parents give gifts to each other, as all participating in the vulnerable and even humbling experience of giving and receiving. More and more, I am so appreciative of my mother’s lessons in the “gift-giving process” and the importance of learning how to graciously gift and receive and experience real joy in watching another receive and open a gift, which we might all need to examine and work on this Christmas. And lastly, part of the joy in giving my father M&Ms was that we really believed that was the only time he had them. Maybe parents might even think of holding back, or denying themselves a simple treat, knowing that their children could feel they are the ones who can provide a little something to the people who provide everything for them.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

I’ll confess, though not a devout Facebook user, I have it, and I learn from it. A scan of the news feed shows me pictures and news of friends (um, real ones) and family, articles on faith,  recipes, videos, and world news. My “friends” happen to give me a lot of information about the Arlington Diocese, life issues, sexuality, and Pope Francis. Overall, it has become my go-to place to get a quick view of what is going on. I can see why they don’t have options to click “dislike,” or “pathetic,” or “this is sick.” I suppose I could put that in the comment section, but that would be a lot of work, and un-Sisterly. For the most part, my “friends” are quite tame as far as information goes, but I have run across a fair share of links that pose the question: “how much crazier are things going to get?”  There is some whacked stuff out there! In the spirit of generosity, I thought I should share a few. Feel free to reassure me that I am not completely insane.

 Two different stories coming out of the Big Apple: an animal rights group is filing a petition in to make a law which would establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees; meanwhile, New York City currently holds the national record for highest percentage of black and hispanic babies aborted at 81.9% of the 83,750 babies aborted in 2010. According to the report issued by the Centers for Disease Control, New York continues to hold the record for most abortions annually at 115,724, as reported by those abortion facilities participating (which makes one wonder about those not in compliance and not legally required).

 About a month ago an inspiring and tear-jerking story went viral about a “Mother’s Love” and her premature baby boy’s fight for life, which he won through the love of his parents. Please watch this video made by his father as a gift to his mother: Ward Miles – First Year. Meanwhile, in Belgium, they are fighting to pass laws to euthanize children.

 I had to read this one twice and call a friend to verify I was reading it correctly. Apparently, there is the proposal of the A.B. 460 law that would allow for same-sex couples to get insurance coverage for their, er….”infertility problem.” Read more from the National Catholic Bioethics Center Commentary here. There is something to be said for the moxy of individuals or groups who, once biological realities are eschewed, push the limits to what would be a logical outcome of such a denial. It follows that once we change the definition of marriage, sexual intercourse, or decide being male or female is an option, we have to change the definitions of fertility and infertility. I feel naïve for being surprised. If a whole kingdom did not say anything when its Emperor paraded around naked, but rather admired his clothes, this should seem rather normal.

 Okay, let’s end on a few fun things provided by my Facebook education:

Pope Frodo?

I am Emma Woodhouse in: “Who in Fiction Are You?”

Fr. Lundberg reminds me: Millennials Are the Hopeful Generation

Catholic Memes – Great job on St. Nicholas

 

stnicholasgum

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

I wonder if he flinched. The disfigured man, not Pope Francis. From the first moment I took in the image, I’ve wondered how long it had been since that man – whose name we now know, Vinicio Riva – had someone embrace him with love. Had the absence of touch, of years of embarrassment, the voice inside that repeats the mantra, “you cannot be loveable like this,” made him cringe at the Pope’s embrace? Maybe he can’t even touch his own face. In a recent interview, Mr. Riva shares with the world the pain of his experience living with this disease, and of his encounter with Pope Francis. How many of us, without such a disease, can identify with Mr. Riva? How many of us feel the same about some aspect of our bodies, our memories, our wounds, ourselves? How many of us have quietly asked ourselves, could I embrace that man?

Pope Francis' General Audience

Like many, I immediately thought of the pope’s patron, St. Francis, and his famous conversion experience in “kissing the leper.” It always stuns me that of all the profound divine experiences St. Francis had, the one he recounts on his deathbed for the brothers, for all the world to remember, is his conversion through lepers. The saint actually heard the voice of God tell him exactly what to do: “Go rebuild my Church!” How many of us beg God for a direct mission statement? He received the gift of the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ, his flesh pierced by rays emanating from a heavenly seraphic figure. Legends of miracles abound. Honestly, those are the ones I’d want to remember. But of all the encounters with the divine, the experience he recounts over and over is the miracle of loving and caring for lepers, without repulsion, horror and fear. How often St. Francis recalled, “The Lord gave me, Brother Francis, thus to begin doing penance in this way: for when I was in sin, it seemed too bitter for me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body.”

Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., the author of Francis of Assisi: A New Biography, shed a bit more light for me on this intimate encounter. As we see in the words of St. Francis, his work with the lepers is enmeshed with his own sense of his sin, penance, and mercy. Fr. Thompson confirms that Francis had a lifelong fear of disfigurement and lack of beauty, including nightmares as a child, which was deeply rooted in his own sin of vanity. For most of us, the rotting flesh, stench and missing body parts would understandably explain the repulsive reaction. This is true for St. Francis, yet it goes so much deeper, as he knew it was his sin of vanity that was blocking his ability to truly love the lepers. Those individual men and women that he could barely be near reminded him of his own spiritual disfigurement. Before God, Francis saw himself as a leper, rotting and stinking in sin. The miracle of his repulsion turning into “sweetness of soul and body,” freed him from his prison of self-loathing. His openness to God’s mercy mirrored the mercy he had shown the lepers, which allowed him, as the legend recounts, to run and kiss a leper begging along the road.

And so I pose the question: “Who is your leper?” What about those in our lives who repulse, annoy, or cause such an emotional response in us that we cannot even be civil, let alone loving. Are they reminding us of what we cannot accept in ourselves, our own sinful nature, so much so that we distance ourselves even more from them, and from God? For St. Francis, it was his deep desire for union with God and imitation of Christ that urged him to care for lepers, in spite of his feelings. His fidelity to Christ allowed for his conversion. Maybe we should all print that picture of Pope Francis and the Mr. Riva and take this opportunity to ask ourselves how much we love God? Are we imitating Christ? Are we ready to order our lives so that we can be free to “kiss our lepers?”

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