Thursday, August 25, 2011

Work, Ministry, Time

Postulants have free time from their schedule of prayer and work from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. I hope to use some of that time to do a little backtracking on the blog. My aim is to write more in depth about my general studies and offer you, my readers, some theological reflections as they are inspired. It is my desire to incense you with aromatic traces of life from the grounds I pass while the scent of the trail is still fresh!

This morning, in lieu of class, the postulants worked in the courtyard weeding the garden and pruning badly overgrown bushes. The courtyard features a grotto for Mary, mother of Jesus, and statuettes of Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Michael the archangel. Bushes, shrubbery, ivy, and covering plants insulate the high-walled perimeter. We finished our chores moments before tanks of rainclouds spilled their fill. With our garden given a more orderly appearance, we are more ready to render hospitality to the friars who will descend on Brooklyn for our annual Labor Day barbecue.


Shortly I will begin a tour of possible ministry sites. They include a nursing home, a parish, a parochial school, and a soup kitchen. The postulants work four afternoons a week at one of these institutions. Other sites are possible, but these have become the preferred options of recent years. Postulants are encouraged to select a ministry that will challenge them to use their talents fully and stretch them where they may feel less gifted for a particular form of service. Without prejudice to my fellow postulants' preferences and skills, it is my hope to assume a ministry I have never done before, one that I have usually taken for granted -- and even discounted as to its real worth.

First up in our tour today is the nursing home. Later this afternoon we will do a walking tour of downtown Brooklyn and eat at Junior's, one of NYC's best restaurant-diners and home, so they say, to the "World's Most Fabulous Cheesecake." Tasty treats, here we come!


Earlier today I got a wonderful request to visit Boston to speak about my experiences in the Capuchin fraternity. Had I the freedom, I would jump at the chance. Unfortunately, as a postulant, my schedule is very restricted nowadays, and especially from now until the first week of October, when we gear up for the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4). Again, my only free time is weekends, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

Resources are also an issue. I don't have the greater means to get around beyond the NYC area. In addition, although my formation directors would not absolutely prohibit it, I suspect they would be disinclined to permit me to travel out of the area unless I am making an excursion with the Capuchin fraternity or to be with family. The whole point of postulancy is to integrate the initiates into the life of Franciscan community over the next nine months.

All of this is to say I'm not really available for the present. Thus, on the one hand, what I am telling you is, if you want to know about my adventures in religious life, come soon to St. Michael Friary! On the other hand, I will be returning to Boston in the fall of 2013 for the post-novitiate years of formation. I will be living in Jamaica Plain during that time. By then I will be living my temporary vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, and I will have had two years' experience living in Capuchin community. I think any showcase of religious life we make would be much richer by then and more illuminating for you!

So to one and all, Bostonians especially, keep me in your e-mail address book, and let's revisit this very good idea in two years! Blessings on all that you and your friends do to build vibrant communities of peace, spirit, and light.


PS -- Please pray for my postulancy director, whose father is ill with stomach trouble. He was called away from the friary last night to handle his father's medical emergency.

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