This post from Thinking Faith, the British Jesuits’ website, is very timely and not just because our Jesuit pope took the name of St. Francis of Assisi. You may already know that Ignatius of Loyola esteemed Francis of Assisi. Father James Hanvy, S.J., explains that affinity through his examination of the philosophies of these two great saints and the communities they established. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Father Hanvy’s article has a particular relevance for me because of a place where I was yesterday. I wish you could have been there.
I’ve just returned from a wonderful experience at Mt. Alvernia in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. This spirituality center, situated south of Poughkeepsie, is a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the New York Province of the Immaculate Conception and offers a range of retreats and other spiritual experiences in the Franciscan tradition. The retreats are primarily for Catholics but those of other beliefs are warmly welcomed.
While I was at Mt. Alvernia, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my colleagues and with Fr. Roch, the retreat director, who led us through Francis’ Canticle of the Sun. It really opened my mind to Francis and how his relationships with his brothers and with Clare, with all of creation actually, enriched his life and ministry. I began to see the origins of the Ignatian call to find God in all things. The more Fr. Roch spoke of Francis, the more I understood why Ignatius was drawn to him and why our new Bishop of Rome chose his name.
I had to leave early and could not stay another day but when I returned home, I checked the Mt. Alvernia website. I suggest you take some time and do likewise. There are retreats upon retreats. Some are overnights. Some are one-day experiences. There is an experience for almost every need, all delivered with the matchless Franciscan hospitality. As the Franciscans say, peace and good.