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A Franciscan Perspective
By Holy Name Province Leadership
Source: Holy Name Province Today
Published: Thursday, May 5, 2011
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The electrifying news that Osama bin Laden has been killed has gripped the attention of our nation and the world, occasioning powerful and conflicting emotions and reactions. It also invites us, as Franciscans, to stand back and reflect prayerfully on what God might be inviting us to in the wake of this death.

Like so many, perhaps our first response, on a very human level, was a sense of relief. The sinister attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are still deeply embedded in our national and personal consciousness. These images surface not only anger but also fear and unease at the precarious nature of life. On Sept. 11, we lost one of our own brothers, Mychal Judge, OFM; many people we serve also suffered the deaths of relatives and friends in the attacks.

Since 2001, we have felt the emptiness of the loss of loved ones, as well as the darkness of fear that 9/11 opened in all of our lives: Will we be attacked again? Osama bin Laden in many ways became the embodiment of our fears. The announcement of his death, then, may have produced an understandable dimension of cathartic release — a sense, or at least hope, that things may be better. Such a release may initially express itself in joy. But, if we are honest with ourselves as Christians, we quickly feel quite uncomfortable with a joy that comes from the death of another human being — even one we call our enemy. Isn’t this discomfort the sting of conscience reminding us that as Gospel people, as Easter people in this season of hope, we are called by God to something more?

We are reminded in the Word of God: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the LORD will see it and be displeased.” (Proverbs 24:17-18a) So, if we are not to rejoice at this event, what is the invitation of God?

In this Easter season, we are reminded that all good things we hope for, even overcoming death itself, are possible through the love and mercy of God. The risen Christ’s words to his followers, “Peace be with you,” invite us to remember that, as evil as the actions of Osama bin Laden were, he was still a beloved child of God. Yes! While God would never condone the hateful actions of bin Laden, never was God’s love withdrawn from him. This sobering truth of the Gospel is a call to us to reinvigorate our efforts to resolve conflict at all levels of our own lives: personal, political and social. The killing of Osama bin Laden means that there is no opportunity, at least in this life and in his case, for reconciliation with an “enemy.” However, we are left to contemplate those people in our lives, at all levels, with whom working toward reconciliation is still a possibility.

Reflecting on this decisive moment in our country should move us to prayer. We pray for Osama bin Laden, his family and those who follow his leadership: that they may not harden their hearts at his killing and seek revenge. We pray too for ourselves: that we might not rest in joy or harden our own hearts at his death.
Second, we are called to redouble our efforts to seek peaceful solutions to international and domestic conflicts, enjoining our leaders to seek lasting peace in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Israel-Palestine, Sudan, Congo and other locations torn by warfare. As Franciscans, we are particularly aware that reconciliation can repair the broken relationships of humanity — as such, it must be one of our highest goals.

Finally, in our own lives, we are called to do all that is within our ability to reconcile with others with whom we have conflict or disagreement. Perhaps this is also an invitation for greater interfaith dialogue. We must not allow any opportunity to seek reconciliation to pass by unanswered.

Easter reminds us that reconciliation is always possible because of the steadfast love of our God who remains forever committed to us. We pray that we may never lose hope and that we may have the faith and openness to seek to journey with all others of good will. We offer these reflections with humility, believing that as we respond to the invitation to imitate the love of God revealed in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ, more wondrous and unimaginable gifts await us all.

May the Lord give you peace.


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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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