Happy feast day to my friend Andrew and to all Andrews, Andreas, and their various forms on the new calendar!
If you plan to go to the Holy Land, you may find the Franciscans’ Christian Information Centre very helpful. The Franciscans have maintained the Latin presence in Palestine for centuries, but they offer useful pilgrimage information for all Christians. Perhaps it is due to my own family’s Franciscan heritage, but I find Francis’ disciples to be the most genial of Rome’s orders—the most Orthodox, dare I say. Franciscans manifest a sacramental, cosmological approach to the world, and they combine heart with their intellect. Their love, joy, and gratitude reminds me very much of Orthodoxy. One sometimes finds Orthodox criticism of Franciscan spirituality, wherein the polemicist contrasts Francis with Seraphim of Sarov. Yet, I think that the comparison is fitting, though not in a negative way. Both men typify the best of their traditions. May they pray for us and for Christian unity in truth and in charity.