October is a great month at Graymoor. Not only are we in a sea of color as the trees start to change, but we also get to celebrate two wonderful days: the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on the 4th and then what we have come to call Covenant Day on the 7th.
It was in October 1898 that our founders, Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, SA, and Mother Lurana White, SA decided to found the future Society of the Atonement, a community of Sisters and Friars. But soon after, Father Paul was assailed by doubts and began to wonder if it was not all a delusion. So, he took up Holy Scripture and asked God to speak to him. He opened the Bible to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews and he read, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.’”
In all of sacred scripture more powerful words could not be found to calm, reassure and heal the anguished soul of our Founder, Father Paul Wattson. From that day on his faith was strong and unshakable, and he continued the quest to found our community.
In the month of October, we also celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. I like to think that if Father Paul, that gentle follower of St. Francis, returned today he would be pleased to see the work of the Friars. I like to imagine what Father Paul and St. Francis would do if they were to come together at Graymoor. How wonderful it would be to have those two saintly men working together. 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 example and never preached differently from what he practiced.
St. Francis and Father Paul 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 their intercession to see how we can imitate Christ and live the Gospel in our lives every day, and perhaps, once in a while in these trouble times, think about the opening line of the prayer of St. Francis, “Lord make me an instrument of your peace.”