Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Franziska Notes November 2011

Anyone who has had the good fortune of visiting the lovely Bavarian town of Edling in the summer and contemplated the golden barley fields shining in the sun while red poppies and blue cornflowers danced with the distant Alps lending a contrasting purple haze, cannot doubt that little Fanny was nurtured by beauty. All her life she cultivated joy in herself and in the women who joined her mission. She knew that the good news of Jesus, which would lift up the sad and discouraged, that would strengthen the weak and encourage service and love of neighbor must be delivered with joy. No one will be attracted to the good news of the Gospel if its messenger is dour, depressing and proclaiming only restrictions and deprivation.
How do we find and cultivate joy in ourselves so that we can become a blessing to others? St. Paul in the letter to the Phillipians (Phil 4:4-9) tells us to rejoice and then instructs us how. We are to fill our eyes and thoughts with all that is true, noble, right and lovely. Today, modern media presents us with thousands of choices, but this demands discernment and responsibility. What kind of film, television, music and art do we support by our attention and money? Everything that enters our eyes and thought contributes to who we become. Our language and manners will subtly change according to these choices. Will we be gentle and kind, or bitter and cynical?
Mother Franziska, sending her sisters through the far reaches of the Empire to collect alms for their works, told the sisters to take time to see the noted sites in the places they stayed. They visited museums and beautiful baroque and gothic churches and saw unique formations of nature in the countries of Europe.
We have access to so much. We can ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to all that is good, true, beautiful and loving – the attributes of the Blessed Trinity made visible in Jesus. We can almost hear Mother Franziska say, “Your brain cells are too precious to waste on trash”.