By now, most of us will have returned to our communities from retreats and holidays, and in tune with the rest of society we too take up the work that has been assigned to us. A few of us will have joined new communities and taken on new apostolates. This could be a profitable time for us to recall and reflect on Chapter 5 of our Rule.

"The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate. As wages for their labour, they may accept anything for their temporal needs, for themselves or their brethren, except money in any form. And they should accept it humbly as is expected of those who serve God and strive after the highest poverty."

Perhaps we could look, too, at some advice of Saint Paul, written for those aspiring to the Christian life (Romans 12: 6-16):

"Our gifts differ according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophecy, then use it as your faith suggests; if administration, then use it for administration; if teaching, then use it for teaching. Let the preachers deliver sermons, the almsgivers give freely, the officials be diligent, and those who do works of mercy do them cheerfully.

Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for one another. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need, you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care."

May we all 'begin again' our efforts to build up and strengthen our communities, so that we may "in a more catholic way observe the Rule we have promised to God".

Maurice West OFM