Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

To Preach or Not to Preach

To Preach or Not to Preach
Feast of our Patron Saint renews a call to share the Good News

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

Each year as the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi approaches, I feel a bit overwhelmed. There is so much about him and his life on which to focus: his conversion, love of Christ crucified, life of poverty, relationship with all of God’s creatures, founding of a religious order. Which aspect of his life should I concentrate on during my personal prayer? What would I share during a small group discussion?

One of my favorite things to do in the month of October is to teach a course in the Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. This year I am teaching “Formation and Focus of the Gospels”. In the past I have overheard people remarking that they know so little about the Sacred Scriptures and they are reluctant to read the Bible. Those statements gave me the incentive to prepare this course. People from various denominations will attend the classes, along with those who claim no religious affiliation. Their sharing with one another has always generated a lot of energy and thought-provoking questions.

Many of the early Franciscans were not ordained priests or deacon. They were aware of a vast ignorance of the life and teachings of Jesus in their medieval society. Aware of this great need, they traveled from town to town, preaching on street corners and in the market squares, inspiring the crowds to embrace the Sacred Story and return to celebrating it in their local churches. What happened in the secular world translated into a greater attentiveness and devotion during the sacred liturgy.

St. Francis has been quoted as saying that we must preach always, and if necessary, use words. Sometimes it is necessary. The time is now. The people are waiting. I seem to know what my focus will be as this feast day dawns.


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