As the Province — and Franciscans around — the world prepare to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the gathering of leaders of world religions in Assisi, a friar who is arranging a commemoration at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, shares his thoughts.
The Spirit of Assisi refers to the Franciscan Charism of peace and harmony with one another and all creation, and Assisi of course is the revered location where St. Francis and St. Clare were born and lived out their profound commitment to Gospel love and peace.
The celebration of the Spirit of Assisi helps us to become more actively involved in promoting peace, especially among those who profess a faith that differs from Christianity and also among those who do not profess any particular faith but are interested and invested in the establishment of peace in the world.
Capitalizing on the Spirit of Assisi strengthens us all to commit ourselves to confront the many threats to peace that exist in our world today. May we do so in that humble, joyful and all-embracive spirit of the poverello of Assisi.
This 25th commemoration of Assisi Peace, initiated by the late Pope John Paul II, is an occasion for people from various faith traditions — particularly within Judaism, Christianity and Islam — to foster a dynamic spirit of compassion and peace in a world that is often driven to exclusion and violence.
Each of these Abrahamic religions has very strong traditions of peacemaking indelibly marked in their sacred writings. Our efforts toward peace must be fostered through humble dialogue and prayerfulness in the Franciscan spirit so as to underscore what major religions have in common rather than what differs among them.
On occasions such as this, adherents of all religions can be a convincing witness to the world that intolerance, extremism and narrow self-interests cannot ever bring peace and harmony into the world.
— Fr. Gene has served as a spiritual director at St. Anthony Shrine since 2005. He is also a regional vocation assistant, where he helps men in the New England area with their discernment process.