Becoming Him Whom We Eat and Drink

By on in

My novitiate year as a Capuchin Franciscan was one of the best years of my life. One of the best things about my year of novitiate was that it was also one of the more challenging. Where I was once able to find and experience God, I no longer did. Things like adoration, Mass, and the rosary were no longer consoling me in my prayer life. This obviously bothered me and so I took it to my spiritual director. In our discussions together he helped me to realize that I had tried for so long to fit God into my own little box. My spirituality was so “me” focused. It was directed inward instead of outward. He suggested that I start trying to find and experience the presence of God outside of myself: in nature, in the company of my brothers and in the people I ministered to and others who I met through the course of my day.

One day a group of us were walking through the streets of Santa Barbara when we came across a group of homeless people. We began to walk by when I heard one of the ladies calling after us. I turned around and as I started walking towards her I began to reach for my wallet, thinking that she obviously was just going to ask for money. However, as I got closer she ended up asking me if I would pray with her. This took me by surprise. Apparently she saw the habit and knew I was someone who would pray with her. She reached for my hands and as we prayed she held my hands in hers. I’ve talked to homeless people and I’ve shook their hands, but never had I embraced anyone in such a way. It was as I began to pray with her that I felt a peace come over me I can’t explain. It became very clear to me in that moment that God was present through her and in our praying together. I am never good with remembering names, but I will always remember hers and I can still see her face. 

If there is anything that we should celebrate on this Feast of St. Francis it is the way in which he fostered relationships with people, especially with the poor. When Francis heard the call from God to rebuild His church, he literally thought God meant the physical church of San Damiano. Eventually God led him outside of that church and outside of himself to realize it was God’s people that He meant. The poor, the lonely, the outcast: these people were the church God was calling Francis to build up again. I think that Francis realized that it wasn’t just about him and his own personal relationship with God. I think he realized that his relationship with God required a relationship with other people. 

I would say that today we have a pope who understands this, and even though he’s not technically a Franciscan, he’s definitely one at heart. He understands, like St. Francis, the importance of relationship and that without it what we do in our own private spiritual lives doesn’t really matter all that much if we aren’t able to care for the least of our brothers and sisters. St. Francis was a man who was in love with the Eucharist, but he also understood that it didn’t matter if the bread and the wine were transformed if his own life wasn’t being transformed right along with it. 

We are all called to become He whom we eat and drink during the Eucharist. We are all called to move out of ourselves and to be the presence of Christ in the world around us. On this Feast of St. Francis let us all celebrate our relationships with others and try to find Christ, and also to be Christ in each one of those relationships. Amen!

Br. Jason Salisbury

About Br. Jason Salisbury

Br. Jason Salisbury is a simply professed friar of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. From Fort Wayne, Indiana, he is originally a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish and was also active in the Life Teen program at St. Vincent's Parish. He Graduated from Bishop Dwenger High School in 2006 and from Marian University, in Indianapolis, in 2010 earning a B.A. in Religious Education with a minor in Philosophy. He is currently in his second year of the Masters of Divinity program at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL.