This second week of November, three of the Franciscans who work at St. Anthony Messenger Press are together on retreat with 40-some other friars. With me are Fathers Pat McCloskey, editor of St. Anthony Messenger and Jack Wintz, editor of Catholic Update. We’re staying at the guest house of the Benedictine monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey, in southern Indiana.
This time away is a required annual “getwaway” for friars, to find inspiration, renewal and fraternal support. The program for us this week is a series of talks by two major superiors, our own “provincial minister,” of St. John the Baptist Province, Father Jeff Scheeler, and the minister of our sister-province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Father Leslie Hoppe. Their talks have all been about rediscovering the “dream” of St. Francis, which inspires our life together, as well as exploring new dreams for the future of our religious life.
Other friars have offered reflections at the various liturgies. My colleague from Eastern Kentucky, Brother Jerry Beetz, give us a good start on Monday evening when he used a quote from the Book of Revelation. There, the visionary John appeals to one of the early churches of Asia Minor to, in effect, rediscovering its “first love,” namely the relationship of the Christians there to Jesus Christ.
It fell to me to preach the next morning, from a similar text in Revelation. Jesus “stands at the door and knocks,” bidding us to invite him in to dine with us. My sharing picked up on Brother Jerry’s: We friars need to rediscover the passion of our relationship with Christ, and allow him to enter our lives in a new way.
For me, this challenge—to allow Jesus into my life—is key to my ministry in faith formation at St. Anthony Messenger Press. In our radio program, American Catholic Radio, and in the other media efforts I am helping create, our first task is to invite one another to conversion to Christ. That must be the purpose of all we do.
A retreat such as this is key to helping me, as a “creator” of media, to go back to my own relationship with Jesus. With the time we have here in these days, we can step away from daily routine and see our ministry with some distance. Where is Jesus present? Where has my own “agenda” shut the door to him? How can I turn over my ministry to him?
The input of this week and the presence of my Franciscan brothers here will, I believe, with God’s grace, inspire me to renewal. I hope some of the “passion” will in turn be passed on to listeners and viewers of Franciscan Media in the coming months!