Mea Culpa, I am a little late with my corner this month. The semester here at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been going full steam and I have been running to try and catch up. It is such a blessing to be assigned here with my Franciscan brothers to witness our students on Fire for their Catholic faith. Jesus prayed in Luke’s Gospel,“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49) And here on our campus, that fire is being kindled, praise God.
Fire is tied to the topic I wish to present to you this day. The month of February can be one of the coldest and most challenging of winter months. This year has been no exception. As I write this, the forecast tonight is for a negative air temperature with a double digit negative wind chill. We can find ourselves in these dark cold days, struggling to be warm. I certainly mean physically warm, but I think we can struggle just as much with feeling warmth in our hearts. As we continue to hear about the violence and hatred that takes place in our world, we can find ourselves growing cold in our hearts and may be also growing cold in our faith.
The month of February begins with the Feast day of our own Beloved Saint Brigid of Ireland, who is held in such beautiful regard by our sisters of the LAOH as well as by the lads of the AOH. The First of February marks the beginning of the Celtic Spring: a time to celebrate the arrival of longer days that will hopefully bring greater warmth. It was in ancient days, one of the Fire Festival Days that marked the change of season on the Emerald Isle.
Our ancient Celtic heritage was sanctified by the evangelization of Ireland. Our patron Saints, including BrigidandPatrick, witnessed to the Truth of the Catholic Faith and brought the True Fire of the Holy Spirit into our people to warm their hearts and to burn brightly for the world to see. Christ Jesus is the Light of the World and the Holy Spirit brings the Fire of the Fathers Love into our lives.
Are we on Fire with our Faith? Do we reflect the Light of Christ in our homes, offices/work places, and communities? Or are we simply cold and icy in our hearts? As one of your chaplains, I join my prayer to that of our Lord Jesus and ask the Father to light a Fire in our hearts this day, that our hearts may be set ablaze to not only warm us in His love, but to fill us with passion to witness to our Catholic Faith with the same desire as our Hibernian ancestors of the past. Stay warm and well fed this winter, but also embrace the Celtic Spring of February and Fire Up Your Faith life.
May the Lord Give You Peace! Fr Timothy, T.O.R.