Monday, August 4, 2008

Secular Franciscans, Father Beiting and "Doing"

I am in formation to become a member of the Secular Franciscans, a religious order founded by St. Francis. Our Fraternity, the Holy Family Fraternity is awesome. The members are dedicated, knowledgeable and committed. While we are called to be humble it must be said, we are also pleasing to the eye (it would be wrong to lie, wouldn’t it?)! Some of our members have been in the Seculars for a long time.

One of our older members was expressing her frustration over not being able to do all that she use to be able to do. Age and health issues had taken a toll and now she is less physically active. I found myself thinking she can still do plenty. She can pray. If we believe that the Desert Fathers were Fathers of the Church, leaders of something profound then praying is doing. If we use the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration as one of our models than clearly we acknowledge that praying is doing something.

Lately I have been reading works by Father Ralph W. Beiting, the founder of Christian Appalachian Project. He is a hero of mine. His life is a model of giving, creativity, flexibility and servanthood. Yesterday I was reading Pilgrimage of a Country Preacher…A Journey to the Holy Land of Appalachia.

In one of the chapters he is talking to a woman in her 90s who is questioning her worth because she can no longer physically contribute. Now the Father is writing this while he is in his 70s so he has slowed down a bit and can empathize with the women. However, what he says struck me. The good father stated…”
You aren’t looking at your worth and value. You’re only looking at the tasks you are performing. Your value to God and this world is every bit the same as it ever was. You’re being asked to take on a different task, that’s all. You are being asked to suffer. This is the hard part of life, and God wants to know if you have the courage to accept this part. Youth was easy because you were in charge. Now God wants to know if you’ll let Him run the show.”


I hope our member is able to embrace her value. She is a model to all of us, her prayers are not simply words, they are a communication with God. Her wisdom guides us. I hope she realizes that while she sits she is doing.

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