Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cry Out!

Heading to sleep, following our day of recollection in Philadelphia with the brothers of the Province of St. Augustine. It was, for me, also a happy reunion with a couple of the St. Augustine friars, whom I first met while I was a volunteer in the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps in Baltimore from 2002 to 2003. I was mistaken about our meeting the brothers from New Jersey in the Province of the Stigmata of St. Francis. Perhaps we will see them in the new year. Today we took a quick trip through the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke with a Capuchin priest of the St. Augustine province. As the friar understood these Gospels, he said they called the disciple, respectively, to adventurous faith, surpassing righteousness, and compassionate service for salvation.

It is my turn to lector at St. Michael-St. Malachy Parish tomorrow morning for the 9 o'clock Mass. It will be my privilege, and burden, to proclaim the poetry of Isaiah and the exhortation of 2 Peter. It's almost beyond my ability. So familiar have these texts become to me and to the faithful who have heard them all their lives. How do I speak them in a way that carries the immediacy of God's true Word? I don't know ... I don't know. I want these words to live in my soul, so that when I say them they sound like words to live by, not like cliches for an insignificant ceremony. The greatest words of history always end up enveloped in the laminate of careless repetition: "I have a dream...." "Ask not what your country can do for you...." "Our Father, who are in heaven...."

The words I speak must carry heat, or I should just shut up and save my breath. In the same way the words I write must give light, or I should just put down the pen, close my laptop, and fold my fidgety fingers. Sometimes I think it would be best not to say or write anything for days on end, because the more often I use my voice, the less powerful it is, and more of what I voice is meaningless. Speak now or forever hold your peace? It is better to forever hold your peace. Then, if and only if the moment of inspiration comes, offer your speech-act.

Ahhh ... I don't have anything great to say now, and I don't have any great act to make. But I wish I did. Why? Why this sudden surge of impatience within? Is it because of Advent and the pious desire to be expecting? Having conceived religious life in candidacy and now gestating it in postulancy, do I wish already to be in vows and living the charisms of Capuchin life in world-altering ways? At this moment, my steps are very small, my speech is slow and simple, and my acts are not very important. That's fine -- I don't mind that they are unremarkable little things. But where is the great love in them?

Do you hear what I am saying? I don't just want to speak. I want to Speak!

A voice says, "Cry out!"
I answer, "What shall I cry out?"

Isaiah 40:6

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