I left for St. Louis last Thursday morning at six AM.
The evening before I left, I told my grandmother, Tony, who is 87, how fortunate we are to have each other. I also told her that I was going to the OEF convocation in expectation and with an attitude of gratefulness of what God has done and is doing for us. She concurred how she could not manage on her own, especially since her three falls last year, and with the household upkeep. We are family, and as a Franciscan at heart, I believe that my grandpa Spaulding is happy that we are taking care of each other. The US is the only culture in the world, it seems, that casts off the family these days, especially the elderly. I observe families from the mid-east and Asia especially who migrate here, and with three generations living under the same roof. The interaction of the generations is what keeps the legacy of faith alive and the respect of a culture dignified.
Therefore, I left for St. Louis with these thoughts in mind, wondering what lie ahead. When I arrived at the Pallottine Renewal Center in Florissant, North East of downtown, I saw 83 acres of plush green pastures and woods, with a chapel in the center at the peak of the hill. The chapel is in “the round.” The steeple raises high above the center, and inside, underneath the cross is the altar. Surrounding the nave is about 3 to 4 feet of stained glass windows that wrap the area, uninterrupted except for the area of the tabernacle, where the Pascal candle and the reserve host is.
Engraved into the stained glass with lead lettering are the seven corporal works of the body of Christ; feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead, visit the sick, shelter the homeless, and to comfort the fatherless and widows. All of these work surrounded by the many colors of the rainbow in the glass are at any given moment illuminated by the sun shinning in. The bright rays pass through them and then on to the Altar. It serves as a beautiful pictorial and reminder of both those in need and we who are to serve them. People of all backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and creeds have needs and need to serve.
It is no wonder that our first evening prayer service and then Eucharist was so inspiring to me. It further convinced me of the call to the Franciscan way of life and the identity of service it affords. As I sat with my eyes closed, listening to the message from the minister general, I was thanking God that I had found such a wonderful place full of wonderful people. From the moment I arrived, I felt as though I had know each of the 48 or so there all of my life. We are kindred spirits, that of St. Francis and Clair. As I was praying, seated next to me was a brother who is autistic. He is unique and very spiritual. He does have his idiosyncrasies, but he is delightful. As I was thanking God silently for bringing me to St. Louis and my new spiritual family, I opened my eyes to find his had stretched out in front of me, to take mine. Like I said, he is very keen to the Holy Spirit, and seems to be quite in tune when God is moving. I took his hand gratefully and continued to worship.
The entire weekend was a blessing so when Sunday came, it was getting hard to think of departing that place. It was Pentecost. The day when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit from on high to indwell the believer and empower the church for service, (part of which are the 7 corporal works mentioned above). Our Eucharist was awesome. Something quite unexpected happened, planned, yet left me in wonder and with a renewal of spirit.
As the newly elected minister general began to read the account of the day of Pentecost from Acts chapter two in English, simultaneously something else began to take place. One by one, our brothers and sisters from abroad began to stand and consecutively read aloud parts of the passage in their own tongue. First, Damien from Ireland began to read in Gaelic. Then our sister from China, Miranda read. Then our brother from Arizona read in the American native tongue, then our brother from Tokyo stood and read in Japanese, then others followed in their respective languages. I lost track of how many read, as I began to rejoice in excitement and awe. I looked around at the sunny stained glass illuminating the Altar, the seven corporal works of the Body of Christ written around us, listening to the sound of the many tongues. I realized how Christ has empowered us to serve. I realized the message that Peter stood and preached that day when he said, “This is that which Joel prophesied, I will pour out my Spirit on ALL flesh…..” (Acts2) ALL FLESH. I would that the Anglican global south were there with me last Sunday. I wish that the Arch Bishop of Canterbury could experience it from my perspective. I hope that the Romans will consider this message. ALL flesh. All people; your sons AND daughters shall prophesy. Dream Dreams. See Vision. Wow. I pray that the Episcopal Convention Columbus will have such a vision and yearning for Ecumenism.
The drive back to Lexington was joyful. I am enriched and revived, and I thank the OEF for acknowledging me as a postulant to the order. Now the journey begins. This Franciscan at heart begins a new path on the journey in eternity. I thank those of you who have lifted me in prayer, your support is priceless. There is much work to do and God willing we shall prevail. If you are interested in showing future support for my work toward the Franciscan journey and wish to make a donation in my name, please do so to either St. Michael’s Parish or The Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. Just follow the links provided below. Both works are tax deductible.
May God radicalize your life this week with love and power!
I left for St Louis
I left for St. Louis last Thursday morning at six AM.