By Cliff Garvey
Saint Francis of Assisi once said: “Let us begin again for until now we have done nothing.” Francis said this during a time of turmoil in the growing community of followers whose lives were transformed by his message of faith, service, and simplicity. With these words, Francis says that we are never as good or as faithful as we think we are. He says that every day is a new day for us as individual disciples.
Every day is a new day to rediscover God’s grace and be changed by it. Every day is a new day to be renewed by God’s love, mercy, and friendship. Every day is a new day to grow closer to Christ through prayer, fellowship, and service. Every day is a new day to embark on the journey of faith with all of its ups and downs, joys and pains, consolations and disappointments. And every day is a new day to make a difference in the lives of others by living the Gospel, sharing God’s love and mercy, and rebuilding our wounded Church. So let us begin again!
Ultimately, this is all about those moments that comprise every person’s faith journey; every person’s conversion story. A conversion can be defined as any change or turn from faithlessness to faith, from sinfulness to holiness, and from laxity to vigilance in our personal relationships with the Risen Lord. If we accept the gift of faith, then we have taken the first step toward a conversion of heart. If we rely on the gift of conscience, then we accept that we are all sinners; that we are all called to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
What about the last step? What about our personal relationships with Jesus? Is going to Mass a chore, just part of life’s weekly routine? Is volunteering in our parish a social endeavor just to get out of the house? Is our relationship with God and the Church born of guilt or just habit? In our hearts, we know the answers to these questions. So, let us begin again!
Pope Francis says: “In your relationship with the Lord, if you do not feel that he loves you tenderly, then you are missing something. You still have not understood grace; you still have not yet accepted the gift of grace which is God’s tender love.” Many people struggle with this part of the spiritual life. How do we accept God’s love? How do we grow closer to the Lord? It is not always easy. There are no simple answers. But the dawn of each new day reminds us that it is time to begin again. It is time to begin again the work of conversion. It is time to wake up, stoke the fires of faith, and grow closer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Christ comes into the world to remind us that God is love. He reaches out to us every second of every day. He longs to embrace and envelop us in his endless love, mercy, and friendship. He offers this embrace to every single one of us: no matter who we are, no matter where we are from, and no matter what we have done in our lives. So, let us begin again!
Reflecting on God’s universal call to holiness, Pope Benedict XVI once said: “Holiness does not mean never making mistakes or never sinning. Holiness grows with the capacity for conversion, repentance, a willingness to begin again, and above all with a capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness.” But what about about our loved ones who do not know the Lord? What about our friends who have left the Church? What about those who have lost their way? How do we share the joy of our faith with them? How do we share the joy of our conversion with them?
Well, sometimes we don’t. Ultimately, God does that. But we can help. We can help by not judging them. We can help by not being angry with them. We can help by not making them feel guilty. We can meet them where they are for who they are. We can invite them to join us. We can welcome them with open arms and open hearts — no matter what. And if they don’t come along, then we can still love them. We can still pray for them. We can pray for hearts that are open to God’s loving embrace. And whatever happens, we can still strive to live the Gospel with every thought, word, and deed.
God is always near, always present, and always ready for us to reach back. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” This Good News is the light of the world. It is the light that shines in the darkness. It is the light that transcends all shadows. It is the light that creates and redeems all things.
Pope Francis recently said: “It is never too late. There is always the possibility to begin again. Take courage. Jesus is close to us and this is a time for conversion. Jesus is beside you. Begin again. There is always the possibility of taking a step forward. He is waiting for us and he never grows tired of us.” At the break of a new day, at the start of a new season, at the ringing in of a new year, let this be our hope. Let this be our joy. Let this be our prayer for ourselves, for our families and friends, for our workplaces and neighborhoods, and for everyone we meet along the way. Now more than ever, let us begin again!
Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
About the Author & Presenter
Cliff Garvey is a co-founder of the Assisi Project. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Saint John Seminary College, and the Catholic University of America. Cliff is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader, and university lecturer. He also serves as Associate Minister of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in Massachusetts where his ministry focuses on adult faith formation. Thank you for listening to Begin Again! The Assisi Project Podcast is produced by the Assisi Project, Inc. For more information about the Assisi Project: A Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit and our programs and ministries for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. May the Lord give you peace!
Art Credit: Anastasia Malinich | Photo: 194154666 | Dreamstime.com
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (see links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. May the Lord give you peace!
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