Back in 1978, when the College of Cardinals selected Karol…
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Fear is something we all experience in life. It is also something that manifests differently in each of us. We may fear not living up to expectations or fear for our future. Increasingly, as we look around the world, we may fear living in a society that sees us as outsiders. I vividly remember my initial fears when I entered the Franciscan TOR community—particularly when it came to leaving my devotional books behind during Holy Hours, relinquishing my desire to control the way God would speak to me. Through all of our fears, Christ’s words in the Gospel resound: “Be Not Afraid” (cf. Matthew 14:27).
Our theme for the 2018-2019 academic year is this familiar refrain, often quoted by St. John Paul II and Pope Francis. In his recent apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, the Holy Father reminds us to “not be afraid to set your heights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God” (No. 32).
Oftentimes, this means learning to listen to God in a state of complete surrender and attentiveness—something my old spiritual director referred to as “growing up.” When we do this, maturing in a faith that recognizes our own humility, we find that the noise and confusion in the world around us, so often the cause of our fears, fades behind the steady beating of our own hearts in union with God. It is in this union, in which we allow Jesus to truly make his home in our hearts, that we become the people the Father had in mind when he created us. Through this union, we seek holiness in our daily lives and embrace a love that leads to true joy and true happiness rather than a life dominated by fear. It is both my hope, and my prayer, for us as we begin this year. May we listen to the Lord attentively, and liberation from our fears.
In Christ and St. Francis,
Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR
President, Franciscan University of Steubenville