It was October 10, 1898, that Fr. Paul Wattson, our founder, first came to Graymoor. Apart from a small chapel and a ramshackle shed, there were only trees covering the mountain. It must have been a wonderful sight for Fr. Paul, as October is a beautiful month at Graymoor. The hills and valleys are always covered with a blanket of red and gold as the trees change color.
I often wonder if Fr. Paul had any premonition of how Graymoor would grow and develop; that thousands of people would find peace and healing on this “Holy Mountain”; where countless numbers of men and women would be reconciled with God and with each other; how homeless and addicted men would be greeted with warmth and hospitality.
I like to think that if Fr. Paul, that gentle follower of St. Francis, returned today he would be pleased to see the work of the Friars.
As a Franciscan, I have to confess that Francis is my favorite saint. He was a simple man whose life was centered on Christ. There are thousands of books on the life and teachings of St. Francis, but I think one quote from him best sums up his whole life. He said to his friars, “Preach the Gospel always but only when necessary use words.” He believed in using good examples and never preached differently from what he practiced.
St. Francis lived an uncomplicated life following the Gospel to the letter. It might have been simple, but it was radical and difficult. This October may we ask His intercession to see how we can imitate Him and live the Gospel in our lives every day, and perhaps, once in a while, think about the opening line of the Prayer of St. Francis—Lord Make Me an Instrument of your Peace.