Sr. Diane Tomkinson outlines the basic concepts of the Franciscan Moral Vision as presented by both Sr. Mary Beth Ingham and Fr. Tom Nairn.
Our 2018 Companion Retreat was held at Our Lady of Angels Convent and focused on the Franciscan Moral Vision. Our presenter, Sr. Diane Tomkinson, began her presentation with a reflective video based on the prayer/hymn, “The Breastplate of St. Patrick.” Both pictures and words captured Diane’s initial introduction in which she explained that “Franciscans encounter God in and through creation, Christ, and each human person.” The last photo was particularly striking when the picture of a homeless man sleeping on a bench “morphed” into a picture of the homeless Christ.
In her presentation Diane focused primarily on the Franciscan Moral Vision as explained by Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, and Fr. Tom Nairn, OFM. In Mary Beth’s view, we discern and discover morality (or the moral life) through the way of beauty. We move through a series of steps: awe, awakening, seeing anew, and ultimately the birthing of beauty. Fr. Nairn’s journey involves a “dynamic process of moral discernment which integrates moral aspects and engages the whole person in relationship with others to discern what I need to do in present circumstances.”
In looking at the various processes of moral discernment, Sr. Diane also looked at how Mother Francis Bachmann went through a process of moral discernment in her life. She asked each of us to reflect on stories and examples of what has shaped us as moral persons. We reflected and shared ideas on the following questions:
- What elements of moral discernment would the Franciscann Tradition highlight for us today?
- What is the Spirit calling us to? How does it relate to the ideas of Pope Francis?
- What are our lenses? Are we wearing Franciscan lenses?We also had time for personal reflection on the following questions.
- What do you find yourself attracted to/resisting in the Franciscan Moral Vision?
- Which elements of Franciscan discernment resonate with your own experiences of discernment and moral action
- Which elements of Franciscan Moral Discernment are most relevant to your life and ministry?
During their time of quiet reflection, Companions Eileen DiSantis and Jan Smith color and reflect on a form of labyrinth that reflects their own journeys of discernment.
Sr. Diane closed the retreat section of the day with another video selection, “Blessing for the Road.” In essence, her entire presentation was a “blessing for the road”— specifically for the road of life where each of us, by virtue of our human nature lives a life where we are always, consciously or unconsciously, making moral decisions. With Diane’s presentation we will, hopefully, be more cognizant of the Franciscan understanding and approach to making those decisions! As always the afternoon closed with Eucharistic liturgy presided over by Bishop Tom Gumbleton. During the liturgy the companions
renewed their commitment and the sisters blessed them by singing the “Blessing of St. Francis.” After liturgy we shared a delicious dinner and time to enjoy one another’s company.
Ann Marie Slavin, OSF