Today began the sixth week of my postulancy, and it was a surprisingly warm day in New York City. This morning I was lector at the 9 o'clock Mass at St. Michael-St. Malachy Parish, next door to our friary. This is where I worship when we the postulants are not traveling or otherwise obligated.
After worship and breakfast I rode the subway into Manhattan and up to Harlem, where I met a friend who studies in the master of divinity program at Union Theological Seminary. My friend is on the track to ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but is also considering doctoral studies. Over lunch and then a personal tour of the Union campus, we had a great conversation about conversion and social transformation. (I've begun reading Fr. David Couturier's book.) We took a leisurely walk around the Union cloister, through its common areas and classrooms, into its chapel, and the student quarters. We saw the Burke Theological Library, whose catalog, I am told, is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, surpassed only by the Vatican Library. I also learned a lot more about my friend's work with the Poverty Initiative, which is headquartered at Union. You should check it out.
Every Sunday one of the friars or postulants prepares dinner. (During the week one of the members of St. Michael-St. Malachy Parish does the cooking for us.) After evening prayer we had a feast of a meal prepared by one of the postulants. Next Sunday, it will be my turn. I can promise only that what I serve will be edible.
Now all is quiet this evening, and I am looking to the week ahead:
We will have our usual schedule of common prayer, Eucharist, and ministry, as well as assorted house chores and projects. This week we will have a class on meditation, following on our discussion of the Capuchin charism of contemplation. We will also begin our study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which will continue intermittently through the year. The choir director of Sacred Heart Parish in Yonkers visited us last week to give us a lesson in liturgical singing, and we will continue with those lessons this week.
Toward the end of the week, we will prepare as a fraternity to celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, which is Oct. 4. It is the tradition among Franciscans to celebrate the transitus, or the passing of Francis from this world to eternal life, on the evening of Oct. 3. This year, rather than join a public commemoration of Francis' death and birth into new life at a parish, we will hold our own transitus service at St. Michael Friary.
Finally, on Saturday the 1st, we will participate in an affiliation ceremony at Sacred Heart. Affiliation is an honor bestowed upon persons who have demonstrated great service to the Capuchin Franciscans, who have helped significantly to advance the mission of the province, and who exemplify the spirit of Francis and the charisms of our order. Affiliation is like becoming an honorary brother, and it confers distinct privileges within the order, such as invitation to all fraternal events. This weekend we will honor the recently retired office manager of the vocation office, who gave over a decade of excellent service to this important ministry of the province.
Let the week begin!