I spent my evening tonight as the guest of the Friars at Mt. Irenaeus. I was invited there along with nearly two dozen other folks. The group was decidedly Franciscan. Some were students at St. Bonaventure University. Some were Seculars from the St. Irenaeus Fraternity. Some were faculty at St. Bonaventure University. We all had one thing in common. A love for Mt. Irenaeus and the ministry of the friars there. What sets Mt. Irenaeus apart from nearly every other place I’ve gone to Mass is the Franciscan charism as it’s practiced at “the Mountain.” All guests are received as Christ, no one is excluded. All homilies are open. That’s right you actually get to share what is on your mind at Mass as though you really mattered, and you do.
Our evening began with some snacks followed by a lovely dinner prepared by a couple of the Friars. The theme of the evening centered on St. Luke’s Gospel and “The Road to Emmaus.” We were invited by the friars to an open dialog about the theme and it’s relation to ministry at Mt. Irenaeus. It seemed to be consensus that Franciscan spirituality was really the key to all our lives. Living apart from the Mountain as we all do we had ample opportunity to share the fruits of that spirituality with a hungry world. In almost every other corner of Christianity I hear that Jesus came to earth to redeem us because we are imperfect and in need of redemption. The love of God is almost an afterthought and only after we’ve been redeemed. Franciscans believe that the Universe is for Christ and not Christ for the Universe. It’s a slight but important distinction and it’s what sets Franciscans apart. The emphasis at Mt. Irenaeus is shining that light of love on all that is done here. The mission of Mt. Irenaeus is to join with Jesus Christ in “making all things new!”
I’ve been coming here for over seven years now and the friars have shown me so much love that it spills into other areas of my life. They’ve opened my eyes to a world that needs love and people that need to be told over and over again that God loves them. When you start looking at all creation as brother and sister you start to realize that we’re all dependent on each other. That’s the way God intended. Seeing each other as brother and sister is one way to end war. The Franciscan movement ended the crusades eight hundred years ago. We need another movement like that today to scuttle the military industrial complex that threatens to ruin us.