April 2004

Easter Joy! Glorious Resurrection! New life! My understanding of Lent and Easter was changed forever last year, as I spent Lent dealing with my motherís critical illness and heart surgery, and my fatherís death. It wasnít until I saw my mother at Easter Ė still in intensive care but vastly improved Ė that I really knew she was going to recover. She was able to talk by then, despite still being on a ventilator, and we talked for hours that weekend. After the trials of the preceding two months, Easter brought me joy and a sense of new life Ė a joy which helps me realize how much more I should rejoice every Easter at the new life Christ won for us! The human events of our lives can be signs of the eternal, if we have eyes to see.

A very different sign of new life was the group of about 45 candidates who attended the first day of the Candidates Retreat on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. This was truly a diverse group, united by their desire to follow the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis. Remember that it is our responsibility to encourage our brothers and sisters in formation, and in turn to be renewed by their enthusiasm for a way of life that is truly new and exciting. We meet again on May 1 for the second half of the retreat; again, please keep the candidates, especially our own Nick and Gingie, and the retreat leaders in your prayers.

My family crisis last year was made easier by all your prayers which sustained us, and the many little things that demonstrated Godís presence in our trials. As Secular Franciscans, we need to continually cultivate that awareness of the Lordís active presence in our lives, both in good times and bad. See Aliceís article elsewhere in the newsletter for more about the theme for our April meeting. May you always know that the risen Lord is truly with you!

Vickie