This morning the Associated Press is reporting that the death toll of the horrific earthquake in Syria and Turkey has surpassed 11,000. Franciscan communities in Syria and Iraq are providing much needed material and spiritual aid to families reeling after the destruction of their homes, communities, and daily lives. The Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land in Turkey reported, “We are using the parish structures and the Terra Santa College to welcome the parishioners left homeless. Thanks be to God, the friars are well!” In a February 6th statement, Br. Massimo Fusarelli, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.) expressed, “In the name of the General Definitory and of the entire Order of Friars Minor the deepest condolences and the closeness of the Franciscans to the affected populations, to the families, to those who have been left homeless and remembers the victims in prayer. May the Almighty and Merciful Lord have mercy on everyone and keep everyone in his love for him.”
The Order of Friars Minor also report, “The Friars Minor are present in the areas affected by the earthquake, especially in Aleppo. The Syrian city, already battered by the war, now faces a new, terrible test. There are no victims among the friars, who have opened their own structures to welcome people left without a home.” In addition, “The friars are active to face an epochal emergency. They welcome the wounded and displaced in their facilities, providing them with basic necessities. In addition to material help, the friars offer everyone that word of comfort that every person involved in the catastrophe needs.”
The Order of Friars Minor (Ordine Frati Minore) have a website set up for donations to the order’s Syria-Turkey Earthquake Emergency Project.
In his Life of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure recounts God’s calling of St. Francis to mission:
For on a certain day, when he had gone forth to meditate in the fields, he was walking nigh the church of Saint Damian, which from its exceeding great age was threatening to fall, and, at the prompting of the Spirit, went within to pray. Prostrating himself before an Image of the Crucified, he was filled with no small consolation of spirit as he prayed. And with eyes full of tears he gazed up, and he heard with his bodily ears a Voice proceeding from that Cross, saying thrice: “Francis, go and repair My House, which, as thou seest, is falling utterly into ruin.”
Consider the Voice and words St. Francis heard, and that on February 7th, Fr. Antuan Ilgit (S.J.) reported from Alexandretta (Turkey):
Now the living stones that need attention are here, and with the help of God we will be able to rebuild everything. We continue to trust in God and in his holy providence. It’s raining, it’s cold, and the tremors are very strong. We feel your closeness and count on it. We also hold beloved Syria in our hearts. May the Lord keep us in his love and be gracious to us!
Are you a person looking for a way to be a “living stone” in a building up of spirit for both yourself and others (1 Peter 2: 4-5)? Do you feel a Voice is calling you, “…go…and repair My House”? Are you considering whether joining the Order of Franciscans Secular (O.F.S.) would bring and grow the spiritual dimension in your daily life and work? We would love to hear from you! E-mail the St. Cloud Fraternity of Secular Franciscans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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