MERIDEN—Saint Francis of Assisi said, “It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.” The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist not only lived this instruction of Brother Francis, but helped the Seminarians of the Diocese understand how this can be done. The last week of June, the Seminarians assisted the Sisters and the Brother of the Eucharist during their annual mission trip. During the week, they helped to make their land more beautiful and helped with a Bible camp. The labor was intense and the days were long and hot. Despite this, there was an atmosphere of peace and joy. Bishop Caggiano noticed and reflected with the seminarians on how there could be such a spirit of joy, even though the days were tough. His Excellency remarked that it was the spirit of prayer that made each of the Franciscans incredibly joyful. It was that spirit which spread to each of the seminarians.
The idea of ora et labora, pray and work, did not make the work more enjoyable in itself, but it allowed us to approach the work in new ways. Most of the work was a new experience for all of us; some were baling hay, others were laying stone dust paths, and the rest were working with highly energetic children. The Franciscan Sisters taught, through their witness, the powerful connection between working with creation and showing love to our Creator. What greater joy is there than to show the one you love how much you love him/her? To show our love in romantic relationships or in our relationship with the one who came from Heaven to die for us is not easy. Love is hard work. Love does not always feel good. But love lived out in an ordered and proper way is always joyful. Our prayer cannot be separated from our work and vice versa. Each act of our lives ought to be an act of charity, an act of love. The labor of love that is all that these Franciscans do resonated with all who worked with them. Saint Francis was not wrong when he said that is it ill-fitting to have a gloomy look when in God’s service because that is not the face of love. Rather, the face of love is joy. Or to use another Franciscan saying, the face of love is pax et bonum, peace and goodness.
By Colin Lomnitzer
Colin is a seminarian for the Diocese of Bridgeport from St. Catherine of Siena in Trumbull.