Amazingly, it’s not my kids to whom I’d like to address that statement. (Usually it is, but not this time.)
It’s my Franciscan brothers and sisters in my Secular Franciscan Fraternity.
Next Friday we will begin our year together with our traditional Extraction of Saints. At the Extraction we receive not only the name of a saint (often a Franciscan saint, but not always) to study and even emulate during the year, but also a virtue which we should try to cultivate, a Franciscan quote to inspire us, and the name of another member of the Fraternity or a friar or Sister from our parish to keep in special prayer during the year.
Doesn’t that sound nice? It really is nice. But there’s something that’s been going on in past years that frustrates me, and I’m stewing about how to head it off at the pass.
I really should be praying about it. And I will.
Here’s the situation. Everyone winds up winking and nodding about the virtues that come up. Sometimes it’s a compliment, like “You are already so patient, why would you need to work on that?” and sometimes it’s more like “wink wink nudge nudge, God sure knew what He was doing when he picked that for you.” And worse than that, it winds up being an evening of “what’s in it for me” as people only want to know who is praying for them. Sure, it’s nice that someone in the Fraternity is going to hold you and your intentions in special prayer this year. But what you really need to remember is that you are expected to the same for someone else! It has gotten to the point that someone in attendance is asked to keep a list of “who prays for whom.”
Well, I don’t want to do that. I don’t think that’s what we’re there for, to be so busy worrying about “who prays for me.” If we all work to foster a connection (through prayer and maybe even an occasional note, phone call or verbal wish of encouragement) with the person we are keeping in prayer this year, we won’t need that list.
I find it hard to take a stand in my Fraternity because of my age….it’s a “don’t disagree with your elders” thing. I can write very diplomatically but don’t put me in a room and ask me to correct the behavior of another adult, especially an older adult.
Tomorrow night I will be bringing this issue up at our Council meeting. Please pray that I will find the right way to approach this issue at Council and on Friday at our Extraction of Saints, so that it will be a prayerful and fruitful experience for our members and guests.
UPDATED: I really appreciate the comments I have gotten on this post and I have been thinking of how to handle all of this nicely. I did come up with one suggestion that I will make to Council tonight: put addresses and phone #s on the card with the names. We can announce before we begin that we have done this, so that it will be easier for us to contact our “prayer partner” to ask if they have prayer requests, or send an encouraging note.