Franciscan Federation: A time to embrace the cosmos

Annual gathering emphasizes God's creation of everything and our interconnectedness

by Sister Mary Kabat
published Fall 2013

On July 19-22 the Leadership Team and I attended the the annual gathering of Third Order Franciscans in Pittsburgh. We heard the word "cosmology" from our presenters Sister Ilia Delio, OSF, and Brother Keith Wanner, OFM.  Cosmology is the study of religion, science and culture as a whole.  Our loving God created the cosmos and created everything in it to be connected, to be in relationship, to be a whole.

St. Francis knew this in his soul even though not in the words we use today or with the expansive knowledge of the universe that scientific study gives us today. His devotion to God was expressed through his love for all of God's creation.  Honoring each person, each bird, each rock, showed his understanding of God as all in all.  As St. Francis recognized that all creatures come from the same source, God our Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he related to Christ and all creation as brothers and sisters of the one universal family.  We can say that St. Francis prayed with the Book of Scripture in one hand and the Book of Nature in the other.

Sister Ilia and Brother Keith challenged us to see that we are part of a whole, not separate, not individuals.  As humans, we are blessed that God who is the Source of our lives desires us to know him intimately, be in communion with him and all of creation.  Growing in this relationship opens our minds, our eyes and our hearts to know our connectedness with every person and every aspect of creation.  We then know that all we do affects other humans, affects creation and affects the very future of the universe.  

This way of seeing all as one in God leads us to deal with ecological problems, political and religious differences, the distribution of the earth's resources, and other problems affecting the Earth and all people in a more God-like way.  How can we not pray for and speak up for all God's creatures and creation suffering often due to human choices and actions?

We left the conference with a new level of consciousness and relatedness.  We left with a new charge to live up to our Franciscan values, to be inclusive, to be contemplative, to be gatherers of all those who have been left out of the universe's abundance.  We could hear St. Francis' words echoing in our hearts, "Let us go forward for onto now we have done nothing."

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