Sunday, March 25, 2012

At Rest

Back from a good weekend in Massachusetts with the friars and candidates. I'm ready to crash after all the social time and spiritual reflection.

A few spot impressions before going early to bed:

1. No personal epiphanies on this discernment weekend. Only a pause in my journey. That's only fitting -- for me, this weekend was all about the applicants to postulancy and affirming their intention to go forward. Last April, I came away from the spring discernment weekend feeling really eager to press on to what, God willing, would lie ahead. It seemed last spring that the brothers began to treat the applicants like they already were postulants. Indeed, this time around, the candidates who have applied are starting to look like postulants to me.

2. While I feel no different than I did before the weekend, I note that it did seem like the current postulants were being treated differently, too. Much of the time we spoke of how quickly the year went and how little time is left for us. It was almost as if the postulants had gotten everything they could out of the program, and there was nothing new left to assay. Question for further personal reflection: do the brothers regard the postulants like they are already novices?

3. A few mind-opening moments in the presentations on the vows. Consider this one jewel of intuition: Celibacy is chaste promiscuity. Discuss.

4. A fine homily this morning from one of the presenters, Fr. David Couturier. The mission of Christians, and Franciscans in particular, can be boiled down to four words: We preach Christ crucified. Again, discuss.

5. With our return to Brooklyn, we postulants have concluded our final long-distance trip of this program. I wonder how many miles we have travelled since setting forth in formation last August. I've said it many times before, and I'll say it many more times before this life is done: faith takes you places. And the faith of a friar takes him to many, many places. Thank God, there are at occasions for bodily rest!

Of course, the heart of a religious brother is never at rest spiritually. Because of this, he is led by the Spirit through city and country into crowded places, yet also into desert after desert, sometimes both simultaneously. He is led daily; he is led without relent; he is led into forever. Spiritually, there is little rest in this life. Perhaps there is no rest in the new life, either, or at least what rest may come is incommensurable with our earthbound imagination. For the moment, however, I am happy to embrace my earthiness, and it feels very good to be physically at rest.

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