Saturday, June 28, 2014

Freely you have received, freely give.

I stood over the bed of my grandmother.  It was my turn to say good-bye.  Tears began to form as I held her hands; words were so hard to form.  I became overwhelmed as I told her one last time that I loved her.  A week later, I stood amidst my family, her friends and friars who had gathered for her wake.  I wept with them, not out of grief, but out of overwhelming gratitude. 

I experienced a love lavishly poured out upon me through my grandmother.   A love that was freely given and undeserved, a love I could never repay.  It was in that moment I understood how much God loved me.  I stood there in the abundance of thankfulness, giving thanks for God's love expressed through my grandmother. 
The heart of our faith is Eukaristos a Greek word translated into English as Eucharist, which means to be grateful and is now usually translated as "thanksgiving."  To give thanks is at the heart of our Catholic faith.  We gather around the Lord's Table to celebrate the Eucharistic, to give thanks for the gift of His sacrifice:  There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:13).

We experience the greatest love in the sacrifice of the Mass.  Therefore, Mass is essential for men and women in discernment for religious life.  Mass is where we encounter Jesus' real presence.  The Church teaches that Jesus' presence is found in the community gathered (Read: Camp Emmaus), in the Word of God (Read: The Word of God), in the priest or bishop who is presiding (Read: I Confess to Almighty God), and in the Eucharistic species (Read: Theological Reflection).  To know God's will is to know God.  God is Love (1 Jn 4:8). Therefore, there can be no greater place to encounter God's love than the Sacrifice of the Mass.
The only way to really know God is through the experience of love.  We will never be able to choose the way of God if we are not in some way familiar with God's presence, God's voice, and God's touch.  Discernment is experiencing how God is calling us to love and be loved.  Am I being called to love and be loved as a religious brother or priest?  Am I being called to love and be loved as a diocesan priest or deacon?  Am I being called to love and be loved by a spouse and children?  Or am I being called to love and be loved as a single man?  Love is the key to discernment because God is love (1 Jn 4:8). 

I know I am blessed.  I was afforded a love that some haven't because of life circumstances.  I rejoices at the love of my grandmother; a love like Jesus that was freely given and underserved.  It would be at my grandmother's funeral that I would come to understand that I was called to share this love with others.   Freely you have received, freely give (Mathew 10:8).
Jesus isn't simply talking about giving of our time, talent, or treasure to help others, but to share the essence of His love.  Freely we have been forgiven of our sin, and freely we should forgive others.  Freely we have been shown mercy, and freely we should show mercy.  Freely we have received redemption through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and freely we are called to live and say, "I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).  Lastly, I can say and do because my grandmother shared God's love.  I can honestly say, "I am a Franciscan friar because I was loved into this life. "

Christ knows it is not always easy to be like our Heavenly Father.  He offers us His Son, so when we eat and drink of the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass, we are nourished to go forth and continue the work of Christ.  The word Mass comes from the Latin meaning "dismissal" or "sending forth."  We are reminded of this at the end of Mass when the priest or deacon dismisses us with these or similar words:  Go forth to love and to serve the Lord.   That is our mission as Catholic Christians.  

Freely you have received, freely give (Mathew 10:8).
Peace and all good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

St. Francis of Assisi, had a deep devotion to the Eucharist and Saint Bonaventure commented that Francis would be swept up in ecstasy after receiving Communion.  For Francis the adoration of the Eucharist amounted to "seeing Christ".  St. Francis is credited with starting Eucharistic Adoration in Italy, which soon spread to other parts of the world.
Personal Reflection:
To announce and realize the good news of the kingdom of God is the vocation of the Friars Minor, it is our mission.  The Order of Friars Minor exists for its mission (Constitution of the Order of Friars Minor). 
Being Friars Minor does not consist in living for ourselves, but for others.  The Fraternities of the Order of Friars Minor are outward looking Fraternities, not groups closed in on self.  Our cloister is the world and our mission is to make the Kingdom of God known (Constitution of the Order of Friars Minor).
Do you feel called to our mission?

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave
Oakland, CA 93105
Phone:  (408) 903-3422


  1. Oh My God! I am sitting in a camp site, on the edge of a lake, in AL. And this post reminds me of my confusion when my Grandma passed. She was a homebound member of her local parish. New and never had the joy of sharing the host with others. Her priest faithfully came weekly, but she never new her new community. I was young then and didn't understand why ladies I never met, and I know my Grandma never knew, would weep at her mass. Now I know she was a warrior for Christ my Lord and Savior, in prayer. I never understood why she grabbed her missel and rosary so quickly. Thank you so very very much Brother.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Grandmothers are true blessings. They are often the ones who plant the seeds of faith within our lives. May your grandmother's continued prayers in heaven bring forth life within that seed.

      May the Lord bless you on your journey of faith called life.

      Peace and all good,
      Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM