It is easy for Christians to criticise Christmas with its consumerism and sentimentality for example. But as a Franciscan, I resist giving oxygen to the negativity of the Christmas critics.
St Francis was positive. The San Damiano crucifix told him to repair the church, not point out its ruins and its faults. So, I have compiled a list of the 10 Things St Francis would approve in our culture’s celebration of our Lord’s Nativity.
1. Christmas cribs and other Nativity displays which show the birth of Jesus in poverty.
2. People filling churches and flocking to Carols by Candlelight to be touched in some way by the story of Christmas.
3. Christmas lunches put on for the homeless and the poor.
4. Politicians taking real action to help the homeless.
5. The financial system reflecting on the fall of Wall Street, and looking for ways to lift the poor in developing nations out of poverty.
6. Families are gathering in joy.
7. Donors to Christmas Bowl, Christian Blind Mission, and countless other charities.
8. Artists, singers, writers of carols and poems communicating the Gospel story.
9. Peacemakers in Palestine/Israel… and everywhere else.
10. Muslims, Hindus and others, who love Christmas as well as Christians do.
The ‘Friends of the Monastery inc.” is a non-profit organisation which was formed to care for the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Stroud, after the Second Order Sisters vacated the premises and it’s future was uncertain.
We aim to preserve it’s Franciscan ethos, promote Franciscan spirituality and provide an oasis of spiritual and physical refreshment for weary souls and bodies who seek respite there; and a sacred space for parishes and other groups to hold retreats or workshops etc. We are committed to praying for the future of the Monastery. We work closely with the First Order Brothers, whose Hermitage is on the same piece of land, and who care for the grounds; and the Society of St Francis Association, Inc. who own it. We rely on income from hiring the Monastery out and on our ‘Friends’ membership fees to maintain it.
The unique mud-brick buildings of the Monastery, including the beautiful Chapel with it’s hand-made stained glass, rock and camphor laurel altar and Sister Angela’s woodcarving, are resonant with the prayers of the many hundreds of spiritual pilgrims who have found solace and strength there.
A labyrinth has recently been constructed, and everything lies peacefully in a natural bush setting. Please find a membership form below!
God’s peace be with you.
Pirrial Clift, tssf,
Chairperson of the Friends of the Monastery, Inc.
Friends of the Monastery Brochure
If you are within a couple of hours of Stroud, north of Newcastle, NSW, you may like to attend the “Seeking St Francis” Day being held on August 11. For more information, see the brochure
Rev Ted Witham is the present Minister Provincial of the Third Order Society of St Francis. He has produced a Powerpoint resource on Franciscan Spirituality. Members who deliver talks on Franciscan Spirituality may find this a valuable resource. The file can be downloaded from the resources page or here Franciscan Spirituality