Monday, January 23, 2012

Settling Down

Hello again, friends and faithful readers. Just a quick note before I head off to ministry at Neighbors Together, and later this evening to a reception in Manhattan for alumni of Boston University School of Theology. To recap:

From last Monday afternoon to Friday morning I was on retreat, staying in Beacon, N.Y., at St. Lawrence Friary with the Capuchin Franciscans of the Province of the Stigmata of St. Francis, several of whose senior friars reside there in retirement. From Friday until Sunday afternoon I was attending the latest candidate discernment weekend in Saugerties, staying at St. Joseph Villa, a retreat house run by the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill. It was beautiful most of the week. For those who love snow, which arrived on Saturday, it made our environs on the Hudson River all the more charming.

It's amazing, but I felt no itch to check e-mail or Facebook or write for the blog or even pick up a phone or newspaper. It was good practice for the novitiate, when all of the brothers detach a little more from the world. What did a week of detachment, contemplation, and discernment bring? It brought peace, quiet joy, and other powerful sensations. The retreat felt good, though it surfaced some curious feelings, too, but in the end it always felt right to be where I was. As you may guess, I hope to write about the week that was on the blog soon.

Upon returning online yesterday afternoon, I received a couple of compliments about the blog. Thank you, friends, for the affirmations. It encourages me to keep writing.

For your encouragement and consolation, I close with an e-mail response to one of my friends and brothers in spirit:

You can depend on my prayers for you and the congregation, and I hope to visit for worship next Sunday. Indeed, this faith is hard to practice. God hears our prayers, but I firmly believe other spirits are listening in, too, and they conspire to whisper words of despair to us in our times of trial. Whether they are internal to our psyche or external and cosmic, or both, it doesn't matter -- it is so easy to get demoralized or numbed into practical disbelief. God give us the grace to persevere in faith in bad times and good.

Postscript: Now that I'm back in Brooklyn, I'm done travelling for a while. Our next big trip won't be until late March for a weekend with the friars and candidates for the order in Duxbury, Mass. It will be nice to settle down! In the meantime, the friary is open and available for guests. Don't be a stranger!

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