“He has been raised!” Our Fifty Days of Easter lead us to the Gift of Pentecost, the Gift of the Fullness of the Spirit. The Spirit that raised Jesus fills us with new life of graced friendship with God. Here and now our own share in the glory of His Resurrection begins. We Christians understand these days as our great Passover, finding symbol in the passage of Israel through the waters of the sea to new life and freedom.
These Easter days are days of great “transition” into new life. Ultimately, we are called to “transition” in the Spirit to take a new place with the Risen Christ at the right hand of the Father. We “believe in the life of the world to come.”
Leading us to this greatest of transitions, our entire life is structured with many transitions.
Our birth itself is a transition away from intimate security of our first home in our mother’s womb into a strange new world. Who does not remember their first day at school? After that, the transitions just keep coming.
The Hindu tradition is helpful. It identifies the four broad transitions of our lives: Student, Householder, Forester Dweller, and Recluse. Must not all of us after our first day at school learn responsibilities, spend the majority of our lives carrying responsibilities for others, withdraw from responsibilities, and ultimately find our space alone, within the depths of our own heart and soul?
Within those broad strokes, there are many smaller and even daily transitions. We friars, punctuate the transitions of our lives through regular periodic chapters. A “chapter” is a gathering of friars to reflect upon, assess, and govern our own lives as a fraternity. Hopefully, this keeps us from getting “too settled” and thereby resistant to the normal transitions appropriate to the journey of our lives.
In May 2022, we celebrate a regular chapter here at Mount Saint Francis. We do these every four years. During these last four years I have had the privilege and honor to serve as Provincial Minister for my brothers. Now it is time for me to “transition” out of this responsibility. Within these last four years, there were many unexpected and difficult transitions for all of us, especially as related to COVID.
As we now move into our province chapter, we already have a Provincial-Elect, Friar Martin Day. It is time for him “to transition” into new responsibilities. We congratulate and welcome him. These two transitions, his and mine, occasion a call “to transition” for all of the brothers and all of those who work with us. Every transition, however, is toward our one goal: to live and proclaim the Gospel ever more concretely and effectively, as St. Francis would say in word and indeed.
We are not alone in charting the way forward into new transitions. During these last four years we have been given guidance by Pope Francis. His two encyclicals, Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, (both of which are also based on his earlier message: The Joy of the Gospel) articulate the vision of St. Francis of Assisi. His message is simple: we are all brothers and sisters, within the beauty of creation and within the whole of the entire human race. Therefore, we neither exploit nor abuse the other. All are connected, and together all manifest the great sacrament of God’s very Self manifested in his Word, who pitches his tent among us.
Let us pray for each other. May the transitions of our upcoming “chapter” and many transitions within the lives of all of us lead to the greatest “transition,” the Passover of the Risen Lord into the glory of God. How else may we allow the Spirit of Pentecost to empower us with new courage and make the transitions necessary for peace on our small planet earth?