Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Oldenburg Franciscan Center

photo: Oldenburg Sunset

Of St. Francis & Brother Ruffino

Brother Ruffino was so absorbed in God he noticed nothing external.  He seldom spoke, and even when he did, he never had a gift for speaking.  Even though this was true, one day St. Francis ordered him to preach to the people.  Ruffino, surprised, asked that another friar be sent in his place.

To this St. Francis answered, “Because you did not obey immediately, take off your mantle and habit.” (This left Ruffino in his underwear!)   “Now go to Assisi and preach to the people in the church.  Do this out of holy obedience.”

Ruffino obeyed, and when he entered the church and went to the pulpit, people laughed at him saying, “These men do such penance that they are out of their minds.”

Seeing how quickly Ruffino, one of the noblest men of Assisi, obeyed the harsh command, Francis reproached himself, saying: “How could you, a humble son of a merchant send the distinguished Ruffino to preach as if he were a madman?  You shall do the same thing you have ordered him to do.”  And immediately he took off his mantle and habit, and went to Assisi, carrying his mantle and Ruffino’s with him.  People, seeing him in his underwear, believed he and Ruffino had truly lost their minds through too much penance.

Ruffino was preaching when Francis ascended the pulpit and began to preach on holy penance, on voluntary poverty, and on the nakedness of Christ and the shame of his Passion, so that all began to weep and were edified by the action of Ruffino and St. Francis.

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If you have ever “punished” someone, and realized how out of sync that was with the insult or mistake or… (fill in the blank), you might think how Francis inflicted himself with the same punishment he doled out!

Lent is here. We are asked to find that within ourselves that hampers God’s growth in us, and resolve to erase, scrape or cut it away to make more room for God.  Don’t make the mistake of judging your worth by looking at others who have done less. Remember, of the one who has been given much, more will be required.  And let the cross of ashes put on your forehead on Ash Wednesday be a proclamation to the world that you are getting rid of anything that keeps you from fully relying on God.

Peace in your penance,

S. Sharonlu, OSF


Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.


Take a Lenten Journey with Us!

Join the Oldenburg OSF Sisters in our upcoming Lenten series at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center:

March 1, 8, 15, 22 (Thursdays) 6:30-8pm
Lenten Series: Four Contemporary Stories of Discovering One’s Way
with Sr. Barbara Leonhard, OSF

Re-discover your call to discipleship!  During this Lenten series, we will look to four very real people who were drawn to discover and re-discover what discipleship was calling them to do.  Hearing their stories and the questions that would not let them go can prompt us to listen more closely to the call of discipleship in our own lives.  We will focus on one example per week:

March 1: Howard Thurman – a black minister, teacher, and mystic who established the first radically integrated intercultural church in the United States.

March 8: Edith Stein – a Jewish teacher, scholar, and mystic who became a Catholic and entered a Carmelite monastery.  She died in Auschwitz in 1942.

March 15: Thomas Kelly
– a Quaker teacher and seeker who discovered a mystical depth within himself and set about drawing others to their spiritual depths.

March 22: Jean Vanier
– Canadian founder of L’Arche Communities who has dedicated his life energies to creating homes and sharing life with those with developmental disabilities.

$15/session or $50 for the complete Lenten series. 
Or, come one evening and bring a friend, 2 for $25.
RSVP to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

We hope to see you soon!

Salt of Earth & A New Morning Song by Angela Roesler

March 3rd is coming around the corner, and our gifted Storyteller and Experiential Retreat Leader, S. Karla Barker, OSF will be honoring us with her reflective program, “What does it mean to be Salt of Earth?”

S. Karla’s retreats touch the soul through her most beautiful ways of helping others integrate beliefs and life experiences with imagery and rituals that enrich our spirits in deep and unexpected ways.

Last year, I posted this poem and reflection (shown below) on my personal blog.  I am sharing it with you today to give you an idea for the profoundly peaceful impact a single morning with S. Karla had on me, long before I worked for our retreat center!

I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I hope you’ll consider joining us on Saturday, March 3rd from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center for a peaceful day of retreat and personal discovery. We’ll discover the ways we can both savor and add zest to the life we’ve been given, and we’ll find encouragement in sharing our distinctive flavor as Salt of Earth so that others may relish our gentleness, creativity, and love of Life!

RSVP to 812-933-6437 or center@oldenburgosf.com!

Peace & joy to all,
Angela Roesler
Oldenburg Franciscan Center


Dear Shadow, Come Home ~ A New Morning Song

Poet’s preamble:  There is a Native American tradition that teaches its children that when we sleep at night our shadow runs off to chase our dreams.  In the morning before children rise and let their feet hit the floor, they are taught to whistle or sing for their shadow to come home.  Upon hearing the call, their shadow will return and reunite with them.  If they forget to do this, however, their shadow will remain in a distant dreamland, and the person will go through the day separated from an integral piece of their soul, and they will not be whole or fully present to give or receive what is needed that day.

I learned of this tradition while attending a program on Native American Spirituality given by S. Karla Barker, a Sister of St. Francis in Oldenburg, IN, and the story resonated deeply within my heart.  The poem and artwork that you find here are like prayers – calling my shadow home through difficult – and peaceful – times.

Dear Shadow, Come HomeArtwork:  Dear Shadow, Come Home

Poem: A New Morning Song
(Thanks to Sister Karla, OSF – Oldenburg)

Can you hear
The beat of the drum,
Dear shadow?
Come home.

The sun is
Arisin’ and 
I’m on my own.
Come home.

The world’s
And we’re full of dreams.
Come home.

Return and
Stand tall as the
New morning gleams.
Come home.

At night while
I’m sleeping,
We’ll ride your white steed.
Come home.

And you’ll
Keep me dreaming
So we’ll never need.
Come home.

But a new day
Is callin’ and
We must be true.
Come home.

You must follow me
I cannot
Follow you.
Come home.

Together we are
And together
We’ll be.
Come home.

And we’ll
Keep on seeking
Responsibly: free.
Come home.

My spirit, my shadow,
My heart,
And my guide,
My presence, my love,
My hope and my pride,

A new day is dawning;
Together we’ll ride.

Come home.


Artistic notes:   As for the artwork, I created this one weekend while on a mini retreat at a dear friend’s house.  She suggested that we do decoupage – to see through art where the Spirit might be moving within us.  I stayed up past 1am putting mine together, totally into the process.  I still love the images I discovered.  And while it might look like a bunch of random hodge-podge to others, to me, it speaks gently and happily to my soul.  If you want to make one of your own, it’s easy!

  • Paint a background on canvas with 1 or 2 colors… you can do a design, but it’s not necessary.  Pick color(s) that speak to you.
  • Choose a word or phrase that has particular meaning or a ‘catch’ for you right now and paint it on the canvas.  (i.e. Mine was “Dear shadow, come home.”  My friend’s was “Alacrity”)
  • Get out some old magazines and newspapers and start flipping and clipping out images that speak to you.
  • Arrange the images you cut out and adhere them to canvas with Modge Podge (or a similar project glue).  We first painted the surface of our (dried) canvas with the Modge Podge, placed our cut-out pictures one by one on the gluey surface, then painted another layer of glue on top of each picture.
  • Let it dry!  See what you think….. :)

Last but not least, I encourage you to come to the Burg on Saturday, March 3rd to spend a morning of reflection with S. Karla!  Come learn more about yourself and how God created you to be Salt of Earth!  She’s a wonderful retreat director!  Call 812-933-6437 or email aroesler@oldenburgosf.com for more information!

© ~AMNR~ 2011

Peace & Good Questions for YOU!

“And each one should confidently make known his/her need to the other.”
~ St. Francis & St. Clare

Won’t you take a quick minute to help guide us in the way of your needs and interests?

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Peace, Joy, and Everything Good to you this day!