Tuesday, July 31, 2012



This morning: orientation presentations from the formators. More basics to know about novice life.

This afternoon: house jobs. My primary job is the newsletter for the Capuchin novitiate. Took a couple of hours examining last year's issues of The Caperone. Also fixing up the workshop area, including the recycling bins. And a quick video call to my mother and brother.

Tomorrow: a trip to the beach with the fraternity. More on this later....

Lectio Divina

We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness,
the guilt of our fathers;
that we have sinned against you.

Jeremiah 14:20

Monday, July 30, 2012

From Postulancy to Novitiate

At the beginning of this blog I published a reflection on the transition from candidacy to postulancy, which also appeared on the website for the Province of St. Mary of the Capuchins. Recently, the province's vocation office asked me to write another reflection, this time on the transition from postulancy to novitiate. The final version of that reflection will appear on the Capuchin website, as the earlier reflection. I post a draft version of that reflection here for your benefit.

From Postulancy to Novitiate: Remaining in the New

Postulancy in Brooklyn ended three months ago. It feels like three years ago. Since the Interprovincial Postulancy Program in Victoria, Kansas, Johnny, Linneker, Will, and I have been fully absorbed in the present moment within a nexus of novelties -- a new home, 20 new brothers, new formators, new schedules, new rules, new prayers, new ministries. Just when we got to know Kansas, and each other, we all got up and moved to California. Thus God, working through the  Capuchin family, has made all things new again.

At the time of this writing I have been a Capuchin novice for five days. It was 12 years, 1 month, and 16 days ago that I was confirmed and completed my initiation into the Catholic Church. I have been in this world for 34 years and 10 months. An old soul? Maybe. A newborn saint and prophet, certainly. As Francis said to his brothers on his deathbed, "Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress."

As Capuchin friars in formation, as disciples of Jesus, we begin again, constantly. This is as it ought to be for a people who believe in a God who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). My goal in novitiate is to remain in the new. No conversion is real if it is not renewed daily. No penance is accomplished once for all time; it is taken up in every moment. To encounter the living God is always to meet God for the first time. To meet Jesus is to be constantly surprised by his face, and startled by his voice. To feel the Holy Spirit in your soul is like the delight of hearing something in you favorite song that you never heard before, even though you listened to it a thousand times before now.

This is what it feels like to be a follower in Francis' footsteps at this moment. I am hearing God's song for me with fresh ears. For another beginning, I feel only gratitude.

And novitiate has begun very well. The evening I arrived at San Lorenzo Friary, I could feel my soul relax and expand. From the moment I crossed the threshold into my dormitory, I knew something was different. The first night I slept in my new room, I slept as soundly as if I had been in that place for fifteen years.

Each day is tightly organized, but each day feels free. The pace of life is insistent but unhurried. Within our routine we are discovering the space where God dwells. Within our schedule we are finding the time beyond time and beginning to notice how God erupts into time.

I aim to live every day of novitiate like it was the first day. I want to give and, if it please God, receive the joy I felt when my brothers and I donned the habit of probation at investiture. I want to give, as I have received, that peace of soul which comes from a life centered in the God of Jesus Christ and lived like Christ's, a peace that Francis knew intimately.

And when this year is completed, I hope to go, go and speak the Word I have heard afresh; go, and serve, from worship into service, from contemplation into action; go, to and among the people who bear the marks of Jesus today -- immigrants, prisoners, and workers, and especially women and people of color; go, in the love of the One who became human, who so loves us that, even if humanity had not sinned, would still come to us.

In this love I will go, always as if for the first time.

Usual Weekly Schedule

From the novice manual. For those who would like a glimpse into the typical daily and weekly routine of a Capuchin novice. Note well the blocks of personal time, for these would be the best periods for telephone calls and personal calls!

All times Pacific.

8:00 Morning Prayer
9:00 Eucharist at San Lorenzo Friary or Local Parishes
Personal Time Until Evening Prayer
4:30 Evening Prayer and Eucharistic Adoration
5:30 Fraternal Gathering
6:15 Dinner
8:45 Night Prayer
9:00 Communal Recreation

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
6:30 Morning Prayer
6:45 Meditation
7:20 Eucharist
8:00 Breakfast
9:30 Class
11:45 Midday Prayer
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Work Projects (Monday)
         House Jobs (Tuesday)
         Hermitage Time (Wednesday, Until 5:00)
3:00 Personal Time (Except Wed.)
5:00 Office of Readings
5:20 Meditation
5:45 Evening Prayer
6:00 Dinner
7:45 Prayerful Silence and Study (Choral Practice on Mon.; Personal Time on Wed.)
8:45 Night Prayer (In Private on Wed.)
9:00 Communal Recreation

8:00 Eucharist With Morning Prayer
9:00 Personal Time
5:15 Evening Prayer
5:30 Meditation
6:00 Dinner
7:45 Prayerful Silence
8:45 Night Prayer
9:00 Personal Time

6:30 Morning Prayer
6:45 Meditation
7:20 Eucharist
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Ministry
5:15 Evening Prayer
5:30 Meditation
6:00 Dinner
7:45 Faith Sharing
9:00 Communal Recreation

6:30 Morning Prayer
6:45 Meditation
7:20 Eucharist
9:00 Work Projects
11:45 Midday Prayer
12:00 Lunch
1:00 House Jobs
5:00 Office of Readings
5:20 Meditation
5:45 Evening Prayer
6:00 Dinner
7:45 Personal Time
Night Prayer in Private



This morning: Journey to Santa Barbara. Brief stops at a monastery of Poor Clares, where we met a community of about a dozen Franciscan nuns living in strict enclosure; the Old Mission Santa Barbara, which among Franciscan missions is the oldest to be continuously operated by them in the United States; and St. Mark's University Parish at the University of California-Santa Barbara, one of the ministry sites for the Capuchin novices. We had lunch with the chaplains and student ministers.

This afternoon: reading and rest.

This evening: choral practice!


Lectio Divina

Sunday: When they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised.

2 Kings 4:44 (New Living Translation)

Monday: Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people;
I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles.

Deuteronomy 32:21 (New Living Translation)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

John 15:9

A wedding song. For S. and M.

We are marching in the light of a lesser god
The way and truth and life we live are odd
We always knew the levee wall would break
When the flood comes down next time, it won't be God's own make

All our stricken soldiers tear the veil
While orphaned mothers plant their boots and wail
The city and the desert will not pass
Until every blade of steel turns to a blade of grass

We have rounded every corner of the earth
Crossed the border linking death and birth
We have found an answer for our pain
Should all the world burn out, we shall remain

You and me, we're done with brand new starts
Let's surrender to domestic arts
War is in the cupboard that is bare
Peace is every sip from the cup we share

Come fill our kingly chapel for a spell
Who emptied tomb and upper room as well
The two of us await you to proclaim
In other words from one without a name

"Nothing means a thing until I do
I spoke of you before you even knew
Will you believe the world, or what I say?
Oh, hang on every word, or hang on anyway."

Melody: "Abandoned Love," Bob Dylan

Good Housekeeping


Last night: received house jobs. I am splitting my time between manual and mental labor. Manual: sweeping the walkways, straightening up the exercise room, and keeping in order the workshop, where we keep hand tools and power tools. Mental: I will be putting together The Caperone, the monthly newsletter of the Capuchin novitiate. You can call me a managing editor if you like (I do), but I will be reporting to one of the formators, who is the executive editor, editorial director, editor-in-chief (what you will).

This morning: Got to work on the manual labor, sweeping the walkways and tidying the exercise room and workshop. I will receive direction on The Caperone in a few days.

This afternoon: baking and cooking ... for about 45 hungry persons! In addition to the 24 novices, the formators, and senior friars in residence, we had several last-minute guests, friars and friends of friars. This is extremely uncommon, especially at the beginning of novitiate. Oh well ... we rolled with it, and we flourished under pressure. My kitchen partner took the lead preparing chicken curry, Indian rice with raisins and walnuts, roasted vegetables, and salad and yogurt. I assisted him, and another novice brother graciously helped out even though he was not on kitchen detail. I took lead on desserts: four summer fruit buckle cakes (two apricot, one blueberry, one raspberry). We had plenty of food, and by all accounts all were happy with the meal.

I am feeling a little spacey after five hours in the kitchen, but I feel good about what my brothers and I were able to do. As the first to take our turn cooking for the novitiate, we acquitted ourselves well, with grace and good cheer.

One week into our new program at our new home, I can say in good conscience that I am working honorably to keep our house in good order.


Lectio Divina

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie!

Jeremiah 7:8 (New Living Translation)

Going forward, unless otherwise specified (as today), all Scripture citations will be from the New American Bible Revised Edition.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dreams and Hopes and More


I dream of seeing the reign of God in person -- in the person of Jesus Christ, within me and my brothers and sisters. During novitiate, I pray for an increase in desire to perceive the Christ-like presence of the kingdom of heaven in the persons of my novice brothers.


This novitiate year, I hope to walk like a disciple of Jesus and to speak in God's name: a little more truly, a little more deeply, and even a little more madly -- and to recognize it when my novice brothers are doing so.


I aim during novitiate to see and hear in my novice brothers living parables of the kingdom of heaven. I aim to show in my words and deeds good hospitality in the household of God and practice good citizenship in the city of God. Let Francis of Assisi, the model steward and citizen of the world to come, be my example.


I wish not to comment on what I expect of my novice brothers. I would not (and need not) add to what their God and mine requires of them and me -- to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.


The evening I arrived at San Lorenzo Friary, I could feel my soul relax and expand. From the moment I crossed the threshold into my dormitory, I knew something was different. The first night I slept in my new room, I slept as soundly as if I had been in that place for fifteen years.

Novitiate has begun very well. Each day is tightly organized, but each day feels free. The pace of life is insistent but unhurried. Within our routine we are discovering the space where God dwells. Within our schedule we are finding the time beyond time and beginning to notice how God erupts into time.

We drove for four days through the desert, across mountains and hills and plains, to be here in this holy place. We are done traveling. We will be stable. We will be still. But we are moving, moving with direction, moving in the light of God, moving with our brothers. We are going, going forward, going to the New Jerusalem, to the Assisi in our hearts, to the cave in our souls, to meet God, to meet Jesus, to meet Francis as ourselves.


Here begins another new mini-feature of the blog, which I will simply call "Log." 


This morning: Caravan tour of the Santa Ynez Valley, passing through the center of Santa Ynez itself, as well as Buellton, Los Olivos, and Solvang. Tour of Mission Santa Ines, founded 1804, one of the 21 historic California missions planted by Franciscan friars. Controlled by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it has been in Capuchin hands since 1924. I want to return and look longer at the museum, church, garden, and cemetery. I will definitely return to worship with what is very much a vibrant parish community.

This afternoon: rest, then assisting our kitchen manager with the evening meal, which includes setting the tables and serving areas in the refectory.

This evening, we will be given the names of our formation advisors and spiritual directors. We will also receive our house jobs for the year.


Lectio Divina

The LORD shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from a hand too strong for him.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Today: Reading the novitiate manual. Writing a reflection on novitiate for the Province of St. Mary vocation office. Interview with the formators in the afternoon. Simple sharing of biographical information and vocation story. This will help the novice directors select a spiritual director for me.

This evening: choral auditions. We need cantors for daily and special liturgies. We are also forming a schola, or choir for occasional services, such as feast days and solemnities. I discovered my voice at St. Martin Parish in Baltimore with the Cap Corps in 2002. I was the drummer in the gospel choir, and one day the director asked me to take a solo, and he didn't mean drum solo. Who knew a drummer could sing? God knew my voice, and God bid me to share it beyond the confines of the bathroom shower. I honed it with the Seminary Singers at Boston University School of Theology. Now my heart cannot keep from singing. I look forward to leading song and raising my tenor in the schola.

Continuing kitchen duties. Today, I am refectorian, which means wiping the table tops, bench tops, and chairs, and mopping the floors, then helping the other kitchen crewmates clean remaining dishes and crockery.

Another birthday: today, we celebrate one of our novice directors. Blessings of hope and good health to him!


Internet time is tight, as you know. Blogging time is precious. Accordingly, I will introduce mini-features to give you glimpses of novitiate life in its emotional, intellectual, ministerial, and spiritual dimensions. Here is the first, which I will call "Lectio Divina." I will share with you a Scripture verse, or a phrase or sentence from a spiritual reading I am meditating on that day.

Lectio Divina

Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

Matthew 16:13

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Interviews with the novice directors today and tomorrow. This is so we can get acquainted! The interview will also provide our formators some information that will help them assign each of us a spiritual director and delegate to each of us house jobs and work projects for the year.

Up to now the formators have been talking to us, mostly, orienting us to the program and showing us around our new home. One-on-one conversation with our formators has come in brief snatches, like during meals or group recreation. Tomorrow, when my interview comes up, I will have a real conversation with them.

This morning: a trip to Santa Maria, a town about 40 miles to the north and west, to purchase toiletries and other personal items. This afternoon: some personal time. This evening: we celebrate the birthday of one of our novice brothers! Tomorrow, another birthday: one of our formation directors! For now, the festivities are seemingly without end....

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day One, Again

We begin again, on the first full day of novitiate.

Investiture was a beautiful and moving ritual. Waiting yesterday for the ceremony to begin felt like New Year's Eve. When the moment arrived, it was better than midnight of New Year's Day. Watching the brothers get robed brought a wide grin to my face. It brought tears to other faces.

The novitiate class posed for photographs after the ceremony. I hope to obtain several of the pictures soon. Send me your e-mail address if you would like to receive them, too.

One of the brothers, long a professed friar, told me the habit looks natural on me. I take that as a high compliment and a sacred trust to uphold.

Now, on to yet another beginning. Morning prayer, meditation, and Eucharist in the main chapel at San Lorenzo Friary. Already I had liturgical parts to play, reading the antiphons bracketing the psalms and canticles at prayer, and assisting the presider at Eucharist, serving at Mass. In all, we spend 90 minutes together in the chapel. Worship was followed by breakfast, then two hours of orientation around the way we do liturgy here. Some practice of our liturgical roles, and a tour of the chapel and sacristy. Midday prayer (15 minutes) and lunch followed. I am doing kitchen cleanup most of this week, and with another novice brother, I will be aide-de-camp to the staff cook this weekend. That means we are responsible for planning lunch and dinner on Saturday. We have already conferred and planned the menu. Vegan desserts, here we come!

Been trying to keep up with e-mail correspondence with diminished computing time. It won't be easy. You can help wean me from the Internet by choosing snail mail more often than e-mail!

Orientation resumes in 15 minutes with a tour of the friary buildings and grounds. Later, another "hour" from the Liturgy of the Hours called the Office of Readings, followed by meditation and evening prayer. (Another 60 minutes in chapel.) Dinner, and then an hour of silence for spiritual reading and reflection, concluding with night prayer (15 minutes; three hours for the day). A brief time for group recreation on site, then bed. A full day for Day One.

All right, enough computing for now. Peace and all goodness to you, sisters and brothers.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inhabiting the Habit

The Capuchin Franciscan habit is the symbol of our servant-leadership in the Church. It is a symbol of our sister-brotherhood with all peoples. In two hours, it will be given to me, and I will learn to inhabit it.

For the investiture ceremony I will be wearing my Interfaith Worker Justice T-shirt and a pair of khakis I bought two years ago at a Goodwill store in Boston. On my person will be a rosary, handcrafted in Mexico, that my sister Jennifer gave me. I will also be wearing, as I have daily for six years, the bronze cross of Ecclesia Ministries. These articles are a part of me. Now the habit will be, too.

The clothes do not make the person. The person confers meaning on the clothes. Every stitch of the Franciscan habit bears the story of saints and prophets. They have given the garment the powerful symbolism it has. Only icons of Jesus Christ could have made the Franciscan habit the iconic article it is. Now, with their eyes on the God of Jesus Christ, the God of Francis, another twenty-four men will pick up the thread of history and stitch their patch upon it.

May this garment never conceal me or cloak the image of God coming into focus in me. May this garment never cover faith, hope, and love, but let it reveal compassion. Let it inspire me to become, in my poor and humble fashion, and like Francis, an icon of Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


From Victoria to Santa Fe to Flagstaff and Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park to Santa Ynez. A journey has been completed. Another one, of a new and different order, is beginning.

Arrived at San Lorenzo Friary last night. Slept well, unusually well for a first night in a new place. The place is vast and quiet and beautiful. Here in the golden Santa Ynez Valley, I feel like I've never been so far removed from civilization, but I feel grounded and at ease. A good beginning.

The habit has been tailored, and it fits all right. I learned how to knot the cord, too. We're ready to go ... investiture is tomorrow at 4:30 Pacific time.

If you've ever been in the practice of praying, please lend me your prayers now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Go (Farther) West, Young Man

This is it -- our last full day at St. Fidelis Friary, Victoria, Kansas. The postulant brothers have re-organized the common spaces in the friary, moving furniture and chairs back to where they were before our arrival. We have recycled all recyclables; we have brought out to the scrap heap old computers and obsolete electronics, too. We have cleaned the kitchen and cleaned out the walk-in refrigerator of most leftovers. The place is as good as we found it -- maybe a little better -- but it is at least good enough.

We have stayed long enough. It is time to go farther west. Spiritually, we are going further, too. Pray always for us; we will pray for you.

In case you didn't have my California contact information, here it is again:

Anthony Zuba
San Lorenzo Friary
PO Box 247
Santa Ynez, CA 93460

If you send any parcels by UPS or FedEx instead of U.S. Mail, use this street address: 1802 Sky Drive. Anything else sent by U.S. Mail should be sent to the PO Box only.

Telephone at San Lorenzo: (805) 688-5630

This is my last blog for several days. I'll be off the Internet while on the road beginning tomorrow morning (Tuesday). Remember, when I get to California I'll be on a strict limit of 90 minutes a week, so please be patient as it may be a while before I can backtrack through e-mails.

I will have a whole new schedule when I move into San Lorenzo Friary. I don't know what it will be yet, but when I know it, I will post it here. I do know one thing. At 4:30 p.m. Pacific/1:30 p.m. Eastern this Sunday, the postulants and I will receive our Capuchin habits and officially become novices. There will be much merrymaking afterward, I can promise you.

Once I get a handle on my schedule, we can arrange telephone and/or video calls. It will probably be easier to reach me by telephone in the early going. Get your finest stationery and stamps ready!

God's peace be with you, friendly readers, sisters and brothers of good will, friends of Jesus, friends of God. Blessings on all your journeys.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Dust Off Your Feet

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick--
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
"Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them."
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Just finished cleaning my bedroom, straightening up the place and sweeping up the dust under my feet. There was not much of it. The Kansas soil is dry and wispy; we never tracked much if any into the friary.

What sort of testimony about the people will the Capuchin postulants bear from this place?

We've stayed at St. Fidelis Friary for seven weeks only. Many of us may never see Kansas again, much less live here. We have been welcomed here, welcomed as guests. The people of Ellis County have listened to us, hearing the voices of travelers.

But I have to wonder how welcome we would be if we were not known as Capuchin postulants. And I wonder whether we would be listened to if we were not known as Franciscans. If we sought to stay permanently, would we be welcomed as family and fellow-citizens? Or would we wear out our welcome? Would our words and be deeds be heard and seen positively? Or would they be interpreted with suspicion? 

The people of God dearly love their friars, their men of God. I am thankful for their warmth and kindness. But sometimes I felt like the affection we received from the people was not for who we really are, but for what we represent to them. The friars are like totems for the community. In honoring us, the people honor what they believe is best in themselves, their families, and their way of life. If the brothers accept this adulation uncritically, this can cause both a distortion of their identity and a diminishment of their powers. How do you preach repentance to those who wait on you hand and foot? How do you drive out the demons from a community that treats you so respectfully that you will feel guilty for chastising them? I think about the reception we got at church, our ministry sites, and anywhere the Capuchins' reputation goes before them; and I contrast that with the welcome we got at Walmart. I think about it often. Will the people of God still love you when you dare to point out where they betray their Lord and the Gospel? What will they do when you refuse to be idolized and subvert their unfaithful practices?

Speaking for myself, I have to say that I do want to be loved; and I do want my witness to Christ to be seen and heard, and to be honored for the glory it gives to God and the life it brings to others. However, I need to be loved as a person; I want to be loved as a brother. Religious men and women must resist being adopted by the people they serve as totems and insist on their adoption as children of the living God.

Let me be clear: there is good soil under my feet. It has blackened my soles, and I have no desire to scrub it off my skin. Kansas and its people are more than dust in the wind. But as with all the places I have known, there is some debris to shake loose. Shake it loose I will.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Novena for Novitiate

Nine days from now, by the grace of God, the Capuchin postulants will be novices. For some time now, we have been praying for a safe and joyous journey from Kansas to California. We ask God and our sisters and brothers for travelling mercies on the way, and we hope to be a blessing to the people we will encounter.

One of the devotional practices in the Roman Catholic Church, called a novena, is to recite a prayer or series of prayers for nine days. Novenas are dedicated to saints and can be recited in advance of a feast day; for instance, Capuchins say a novena in honor of Francis of Assisi in the run-up to his feast on Oct. 4. Novenas can also be prayers of petition; those who say particular novenas seek specific favors from God. There are numerous novenas formally recognized for public prayer in the Catholic Church, and innumerable novenas used informally for private devotion.

What follows is my poor attempt at an abbreviated novena prayer for my Capuchin brothers on the cusp of our novitiate. Its language is not churchy or fancy, but it speaks out of depths of my soul, and maybe it speaks for my postulant brothers, too.

Novena for Capuchin Novitiate 2012-13

Spirit of God, in the name of Jesus Christ we call on You,
God of Abraham and Sarah, God of Moses and Miriam,
God of the prophets, God of the apostles,
God of Francis and Clare and all the saints.

Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
with sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
your holy and true command.

Good and gracious God,
You are the Most High who dwells among us;
You are the Holy One who goes before us.
You are where our going is going to;
You are making us who we are.

Hear the prayers of your children;
hear the prayers of Francis' little brothers.
Bless our journey into fraternity;
grace our steps into minority;
illuminate our path into contemplation;
strengthen our bodies for service;
encourage us to walk the peaceful road of righteousness.

Lord of the pilgrimage, protect us on our travels.
Guard our coming and going; guard our souls.
Be with us in the people who host us;
be in us that we may be Good Samaritans to those we meet in need.
Let nothing keep us from our destination;
let everything conspire to achieve your holy work and our realization of it.

As we begin again our formation,
help us live joyfully into the new creation, the life of resurrection.
Help us remember we are the clay,
You are the potter.
Make of us what you will.
Most of all, make of us true brothers of Francis,
brothers of Christ,
brothers to the world.

With trusting hearts,
bursting with treasures
stored in the kin(g)dom of heaven;
with pondering hearts,
like Mary whose Yes and Amen
fires our faith;
with longing hearts,
aflame with passion
like Francis and Clare
for a world transformed
by the poor and humble Christ,
we make our petitions to You,
God forever and ever. Amen.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting Out of Dodge

Low on energy after a day of high-density social activity. First, the funeral for Regina Dechant, sister to one of our resident friars, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hays. Then, our final day of ministry at Via Christi Village. The staff had ice cream and cake to celebrate our going away to California. Then, another social and dinner this evening for all our ministry supervisors and partners. Whew. Tuck me in, tell me a bedtime story, and kiss me good night, because I've had enough!

Would that I could find the ways to give more of myself on days like these. God, when will you grant me more grace and gifts for situational extraversion?

With all of today's rituals, religious and social, our time in Kansas now feels quite complete. I feel like I have permission to "let go" of the place and move on. Excuse the lazy allusion, but it is time to get out of Dodge.


Postscript: Not that I expect a deluge of mail in the next few days, but if you are planning to write, please do not send any more letters to St. Fidelis Friary. From this point forward, send your correspondence to California. Just to remind you:

San Lorenzo Friary
PO Box 247
Santa Ynez, CA  93460

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Investiture and the beginning of novitiate are in ten days. The road trip to California begins in five days. A few desires, great and small, for the last few days in Kansas:

1. To eat at a local restaurant in Hays this weekend.

2. To see a little rain relieve the thirst of the land.

3. To call Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who represents Kansas' 1st congressional district, which includes Victoria, and denounce the actions he took in the House to make deeper cuts to an already-weakened food stamp program.

4. To be a little more patient with everybody. To examine what lies beneath the feelings of anger whenever they arise.

5. To meditate, really meditate, when in chapel, and to remember that spiritual reading or theological reading, good things though they are, can and should be done at times other than meditation time in chapel.

6. To have one or two more video calls with family and friends before departure.

7. To send a few more letters. It would be good presently to get more into the habit of snail mail.

8. To welcome fraternal distractions, and not to scheme for the purpose of avoiding them. To become aware of when I am so plotting.

9. To bake something, even though I have no more kitchen duties in Kansas. Maybe something snackworthy for the road?

10. To write more poems, prayers, and songs ... especially more songs. The tap from which that kind of expression flows turned off about two years ago and has dripped with rarity. But with the song that came to me this week and a new phase of life beginning at the end of the next, I can feel a hand turning. Who knows but that to show you what novitiate is like, I will have to do it lyric by lyric and verse-chorus-verse.

11. To pray for anyone, everyone who asks for my prayers. I mean, really to do it. Also: to give thanks for the people who pray for me.

12. To sleep, perchance to dream: and not to be disturbed by what I dream, and not to dismiss out of hand what rises up from below and beyond my conscious. After all, dreams and visions are what come when God pours out the Spirit upon our flesh. Help me, God, to know the meaning of my dreams, and show me the way through them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It Was Two Years Ago Today

... when this journey got underway.

Combing through my old e-mails, I found this message I sent to the vocation director of the New York/New England Capuchin province on the evening of July 11, 2010. I reprint it in its entirety.

How life has turned since then. And yet -- still, I am who I am. More of who I am, I hope. There are many ways I can be and become the person -- the brother -- God has created, but this is the way it is working out: not perfectly, of course, but it is a way in service of love's perfection, and that is good enough.

While my motivations for being in religious life have evolved and will continue to do so, this letter speaks truly, both today and to my once-and-future yearnings.


Dear Brother Tim:

Peace and all good things -- this is Anthony Zuba. Do you remember me? I attended Capuchin Franciscan vocation weekends from 2000 to 2002. You may recall that I was a candidate in 2002, and [the province] did not accept me into postulancy. After a year in the CapCorps in 2002-03 in Baltimore, I concluded I was not being called to be a friar, and I did not apply for postulancy again. I returned to New York from Baltimore in 2004 and worked for a year in journalism, my former vocation. Feeling a strong call to theological studies, I enrolled at Boston University School of Theology in 2005. (If I remember correctly, you provided a favorable letter of recommendation.)
I've had the pleasure of being in touch with the brothers residing in Jamaica Plain. Bro. Thomas McNamara and I were classmates at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in the fall of 2005 in a course on sexual ethics. For several months from 2006 to 2007, Bro. James Donegan and I were volunteers together at St. Francis House, the largest daytime homeless shelter in New England. I remember prayer and dinner with the friars in Jamaica Plain on the weekend of the Super Bowl in 2006, when I got to meet Bro. Sean O'Malley!
In 2008, I got my M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology. I am still living and working in Boston. For two years now I have been a community organizer. I lead the Massachusetts Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, a faith-based non-profit that organizes religious communities to support workers' rights campaigns. We're a lot like the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which many of the friars in Jamaica Plain are involved in, except we focus exclusively on economic justice issues like access to living wages and good benefits, the right to join unions, and immigrant workers' rights. I have had the occasional privilege of working with Bro. Jack Rathschmidt, and recently I met Bro. Martin Curtin.
Being a faith-based community organizer is great, but something is still missing in my life. I spend my time building community and ministering to working families, but I don't have a community or family to call my own. Community organizing is great mission work, and I feel fulfilled as a disciple that way -- I feel like I find the Church and God's kingdom in this work. But the Church is also about communion, gathering in, as much as it is about mission, sending forth. Boston is my home, but I do not have a group of intimates to go home to. While I have found wonderful communities of faith to worship with and communities of faith to work with, I know I need a community of faith to live with. In short, I need brothers. And I need to be a brother to others.
I am surprised to be thinking and praying about religious life once again after all these years, but there it is. I am now 32 years old, and I will be 33 in September. "Born" Catholic, I came into faith as an adult, and I have been a practicing Catholic for 13 years. I am an educated Catholic, with a Master of Divinity. I have lived in intentional communities, Catholic and ecumenical, for six of the last eight years. I am not the wide-eyed, naive, and uncertain young man who applied for postulancy in 2002. I have experiences, both good and bad, of living in community and doing ministry that I did not have in 2002.
My life is in flux at the moment -- I will be moving into new housing within a month or two; my organization is struggling to stay afloat financially -- but I would like to have a conversation with you in the next week or two, if that is possible. I need to put these daydreams into focus. I need other ears to help me hear God's call....
Thanks, Brother Tim. As you closed so many of your letters to me in a Franciscan spirit, so I close....
With God's love and mine,
Anthony Zuba

Letter From Victoria

I’m the son of a man who never settled down
I left New York to find a Kansas town
I rambled far from everywhere that day
When your breath blew ’neath my wing and lifted me away

I walked up Highway 40 on my knees
A-burnin’ in your bright forbidding breeze
The old cathedral towers on the plain
No horse would drag me away, no car or train

The brothers of a new Jerusalem
Are waiting for me to be kin to them
A prayer, a meal, and sin are what we share
If we’re not family yet, we’re getting there

The harvest work was done before we came
We gleaned the fields and filled the night with games
A holy fool is welcome in this town
But a prophet gets no peace, just a thorny crown

You marked me with your arrow of desire
You pulled my brothers out of the lake of fire
Oh, get up, friends, the hour is getting late
And proclaim a jubilee at the market gate

The elders told me how it used to be
They’re sitting on the edge of eternity
If heaven is tomorrow’s earth today
In your kindness let me die, not fade away

Everyone knows everyone round here
They built the towns and watched them disappear
The city is the soul of who I am
There’s no room for you or me in dusty Bethlehem

There’s fire in the Rocky Mountain sky
In Florida the water’s getting high
The California hills are evergreen
And I’ll see my brothers there, with a God unseen.


Melody: "Abandoned Love," Bob Dylan

This song is a picture postcard from Kansas, a love letter to the spirit of God, and some kind of a love letter to the people, too. A young man formed by and saved in the city looks at a country town. It is an impressionist painting in words. It is a little journalistic. It is a blending of American folk lyricism and Hebrew poetry. It's literal and proverbial. It's ambiguous. It's definitely ambivalent. Maybe it's visionary, but I don't want to be bragging about things in which I have no right to boast. Most likely it's honest.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hebrew Poetry

Looking at the Book of Psalms through the lens of literary analysis with one of our formators. By way of introduction to these foundational prayers of the Jewish and Christian people, we breezed through two thousand years of ancient Israelite history; examined the narrative of the wilderness travels in the books of Exodus and Numbers (with a little help from Walter Brueggemann); and unraveled the sources of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, the Pentateuch (with considerable help from Julius Wellhausen). A more concise introduction to Jewish history and biblical scholarship you could not find.

I skip the details of our foray into the form and function of the Book of Psalms, and its place in both Jewish and Christian worship, to tell you about the most interesting homework assignment I have had in a long time. The postulant brothers were asked to write their own psalms as a memorial of their stay in Kansas. We can rhyme them if we want; we can even put them into a musical setting and sing them if we are feeling so inspired. But we are to employ, as best we can, the elements of Hebrew poetry as we know them through the biblical psalms.

My heart beat faster when the formator announced this assignment. This is the kind of challenge I warm to most.

Since last evening I've been honing some lines. I knew the melody I was going to use right from the start. I have had to transpose it down to a key suitable for my voice. The lyrics scan and fit the tune well enough. I can sing this song without embarrassment, but I'm going to raise the risk and accompany myself on a keyboard in our classroom. At the least, I think I can plonk a few chords to put a floor under this air of mine.

Have I caught the spirit of the Book of Psalms? More like the Song of Songs, I suspect, but that's all right. We're reaching for Hebrew poetry in general. My work leans as much on Dylan as it does on the Bible, but that's all right, too -- Dylan is as close as we get to the Hebrew prophets.

I'll post the lyrics to my song, my love letter to Victoria, tomorrow, after class. No leaks or bootlegs here!

Monday, July 9, 2012


I continue to receive feedback on the prayer my brothers and I performed at Walmart last Tuesday. From a correspondent in the Northeast:

I've been ruminating about your actions at Walmart for the past week or so.  I do admire your zeal and passion -- but I wonder if the time and the place were the most appropriate.  On one hand, I do agree with the "point" of what it was you were doing -- workers' rights and on a broader scale economic justice are all too often ignored by the church.  My best experiences with the friars (and beforehand) have been when I've been serving the poor.  I believe that as a church we haven't done a good job articulating what is at stake, nor have we, for the past thirty years, put our money where our ecclesial mouth is located.  Such failures haunt me.

Yet on the other hand, I wonder how closely you took into account the prevailing culture of Hays and the services that Walmart provides to the local community (i.e. affordable goods and jobs, albeit ones that don't pay well).  Moreover, I need to question a group of "outsiders" dropping into a locale for two months, stirring things up and then leaving.  It will be the friars and the local church that remains which will deal with any long-term fallout. 

From my reply:

Doing the prayer vigil was a good thing, and not only because it gave voice to my brothers and me. In the aftermath, it is making me think once again about how to speak in God's name. The Word is sown in human culture, but the Word does not take root in every culture. The prophetic word must be spoken in context, relationally, to the people and not at the people. But it must be a word from God for the people, not a merely human word proffered as divine. I teeter: the organizer in me sees the sense in making concessions to the culture in order to preach effectively, but the radical in me wants always to resist the culture in order to preach faithfully.

The readings from Amos this past week and Ezekiel and Mark today stir my mind and heart. The Capuchins are quite at home in these parts of Kansas ... are they too much at home? Have they long since ceased to do mighty deeds here? Are they too much at peace with "red state religion"? Shouldn't they risk their bourgeois respectability and speak like prophets without honor? Is there merit in speaking as an outsider, in opposition to the culture and its institutions, like Amos? Is there virtue in regarding the people you love as inglorious rebels, like Ezekiel?

Part of me feels for the friars who live around here and may eventually hear unpleasant whisperings about some the postulants who made a scene at the Walmart. (I suspect they'll hear nothing: Walmart's local and regional managers want to act like this never happened.) But another part of me feels like the postulants did the friars a favor. We have given them a new connection to the drama of liberation and salvation playing out among peoples in places far beyond Hays and Victoria. Ah, but I worry I cannot say this without prideful boasting....
Friends, I appreciate your comments as inspiration for fraternal discussion. As these conversations continue, let us work and pray faithfully for a revolution in our souls. Let others worry about what to call us. Whether we are prophets or protesters, saints or zealots, let us live the Gospel. Trusting in the irenic and ironic victory of the Lamb of God, we look forward to the transformation of this world and all peoples, for whose sake Jesus Christ lived and died.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Death Notices

One of the residents at Via Christi Village has died. His name is Gilbert Joseph "Gib" Kuhn. He passed away Friday evening at the nursing home.

He had been out of the home at the hospital until it was decided there was nothing more that could be done. On Friday morning I saw him being led out of the elevator on a stretcher and respirator and back to his bedroom on the second floor.

A few of our postulant brothers who visit Via Christi are on their way to greet the Kuhn family at the nursing home. While they gather at St. John's chapel, I will bring prayers for Gib to our chapel for night prayer.

The sister of one of the friars of St. Fidelis Friary has also died. We expect to attend her funeral, as many of us as we can, formation schedule permitting.

In small towns such as Hays and Victoria, these passings are felt like the sacramental events they are.

For Gib, our friar's sister, and for all the souls flown recently from earthly life as we know it, eternal rest grant to them, O God, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Sabbath Afternoon

Keeping still on a Sunday sabbath afternoon.

Last night I visited the annual Wild West Festival in Hays with several of the brothers. One of the St. Fidelis friars gifted us with complimentary tickets to the four-day event. We strolled the fairgrounds and sampled the carnival foods. Ten dollars bought me a walk through a mirrored funhouse and a dose of adrenaline stimulated by the g-forces from the Hang Glider and Orbiter. With an audience of a few hundred we watched a young country musician, Easton Corbin, do his thing on the concert stage until about 10:30. My untrained ears did their best to distinguish Corbin's sound and the songs, but it was with little success. I've had many more years of experience listening to and performing rock, jazz, and classical music: I can hear it better. The spirit of music that originates in the souls of black folk, the river of music that has the blues as its source: this is the spirit and spring that lives in me.

Arose this morning at quarter to nine; one of the last weekends I'll be able to sleep late. Attended 10 o'clock Mass at St. Fidelis Church, as I have done every Sunday since arrival. Late breakfast and the syndicated crossword puzzle, followed by computing and corresponding. Now, to edit a vocation story for one of my postulant brothers, perchance finally to write my own this evening. In between I will return to A Theology of Liberation by Gutierrez and The Secular City by Cox. I have one week to finish these books. They belong to the friary library; I can't take them with me to California. Going to drop Love and Will by Rollo May; there is not enough time to read it and digest it well.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Personal Best

Results from the Wild West Festival 5K race, sponsored by the cross country team at Fort Hays State University:

Time: 27:42.3

Position by age and gender cohort (males age 30-39): 11 of 14
Position by gender: 78 of 110

Finish position: 117 of 222
Pace: 8:56 per mile

Not a world-beating time or even a local record of any sort, but for a skinny guy with low bodily-kinesthetic intelligence and high inhibitions, today's modest feat of physical endurance was a milestone -- a 3.2-milestone.

Though I was breathing heavily at the end of the race, I felt good. My body felt fit for another go-round, or at least part of the way around again. I've been accustomed to jogging 5 miles per hour on the treadmill under controlled conditions, so imagine my surprise when I did the arithmetic and found that I was jogging at 6.7 m.p.h. Going into the race I was hoping to finish within 40 minutes. I performed better than I ever imagined.

Five of my Capuchin brothers jogged and ran the race with me. Two others came along to cheer us. It was gratifying to be welcomed by them at the finish line, and it was fun to discover our times and performance data. Each brother's accomplishment was the fraternity's accomplishment. The good of one was the good of all. And everybody broke a sweat, including the two brothers who waited at the finish! In the festive atmosphere of the morning, even the most individualistic of entrants would have to concede that he did not run this race alone, or that her steps were guided by the good will of those whose stood watch at the water stand and kilometer markers.

If only the Holy Spirit could document for us our progress in the spiritual life in quantifiable terms. Perhaps some of us would become more eager to excel in our pursuit of her divine fruits. Not that we should look to compete against others for a greater "share" in the fruits of the Spirit, but that we should strive to live a more strenuous Christian life confident that, when we cultivate our gifts to the fullest, each of us does receive a share in the harvest of the Spirit. That each of us is blessed richly unto sufficiency, whatever the measure may be, should free us from all anxiety about our share in the glory of God.

When all have done their personal best, those who have "accomplished" great acts of faith, hope, and love and those who have "achieved" less are reckoned equally meritorious. To paraphrase Scripture, the one who gathers much does not gather too much, and the one who gathers little does not gather too little, but when all is collected we share greatness: a goodness in excess.

Pray for me and my Capuchin brothers that we carry on our continuing experiment in religious life with vigor, inspired by God's grace to do our personal best, even when we cannot see or measure the fruits of our labor. Pray also that what we reap in the Spirit, we share with all peoples. What is sown in the fields by men, women, and children belongs firstly and lastly to the God of jubilee, who will return it all to us.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Easing Off

Been falling behind on the blog. What happened to unpacking the metaphor of sister-brotherhood, key to Franciscan spirituality? What happened to the joy (and pain) of self-discovery found through the gift of the enneagram? What happened to telling you about the 5K race I am jogging tomorrow morning at Fort Hays State University?

Falling behind on the blog, indeed. At least, falling behind in the way I have been accustomed to posting. Things are changing, and they will continue to change. Of course, with the cap on Internet usage coming soon, it is just as well not to worry too much about this. It is time to ease off.

Time to treat the blog like a virtual telegraph. Get ready, readers, for in two weeks it will be cables from the Capuchin novitiate.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Prayers for the Country

Happy Independence Day to all the U.S. readers of this blog. Had a good evening with the Capuchins who live at St. Joseph Friary in Hays. We had a spaghetti dinner, which was, to me, a nice change of pace from the usual Fourth of July fare of hamburgers and hot dogs! I hope you are enjoying good company this evening among your family, friends, and brothers and sisters in spirit. If you are reading this from Kansas or some similarly parched part of the country, please be careful with fireworks, and observe the burn ban in your area!

One of my prayers for this nation is that we will stop pouring so much of our wealth into armaments and all the tools and weapons of war. I pray our people will stop preparing young men and women to mindlessly defend the "interests" of the nation through force of arms.

I pray that we may achieve peace among our own and with all nations through nonviolent means. From the top down and from the bottom up, let us build peace and cease to do harm to creation, to our communities, and to our kin. If the United States as a country is worth living for and dying for, then let us advance this country through the force of compassion and the strength of our virtues.

If we are to have democracy, let us have it thoroughly, in the economy and society as well as in the affairs of state.

Let us pursue our interests by looking first to our neighbors' needs. I pray that citizens -- especially fellow Catholics -- will think twice before concluding that what is good for the United States is the same as the common good. When the two are in conflict, and often they are, we must decide who we will follow, Caesar or Christ.

We ask God to bless America, but even God is powerless to bless that which refuses to be blessed. God will not bless our cruel and inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants. God will not bless us for punishing incarcerated persons far beyond proportion to their crimes. God does not bless so-called retributive justice. God does not bless our violence against women, children, seniors, and the mentally ill. God does not bless our prejudice against minorities, the poor, and the working class. When we ask God to bless America, let us also ask how we may make America a blessing, a light to the nations.

As Catholics in the United States, let us give thanks for the blessings of freedom and justice that have increased over centuries of struggle in this land. Let us resist the temptation to end our pilgrimage and build cities of empire, and repent whenever we do fall into sin and idolatry. Then let us renew daily, in faith, our witness to the definitive liberation of humanity inaugurated by God in the Exodus and fulfilled by Christ on Calvary.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:19

Postscript: I am thankful today for my brothers' encouragement, kind affirmations, and conversations in the wake of the Walmart prayer action. It has generated a good multi-logue with the postulant brothers, especially among those who have usually held mixed feelings about the propriety of using prayer as protest. Seeds are being planted everywhere.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jubilee at Walmart

Had one of my most exciting days thus far in Kansas. We raised up some holy rabble at the Walmart!

I alluded to a "liturgical project" in a previous post. Let me fill you in:

I get updates all the time from Interfaith Worker Justice. Well, IWJ called for prayer vigils this week at Walmart stores across the U.S. It's the 50th anniversary of Walmart, so in the spirit of the biblical jubilee, religious groups have been calling for a "Jubilee at Walmart," with living wages and better treatment of the company's 1.4 million workers.

The Capuchin postulants do most of their shopping at the Walmart in Hays, next door to us in Victoria. We really have no other option. Many of our groceries come from Walmart, too. As regular customers, we have a stake in Walmart, and we must accept responsibility for tacitly approving, with our dollars, the business practices of the company. (For a "people's perspective" on the impact of Walmart on workers, women, the environment, and small businesses, among other issues, click here.)

My conscience would not let me rest. So, I organized a prayer vigil for Jubilee at Walmart with my postulant brothers.

I was a little nervous about doing this. First of all, a prayer vigil for economic justice in a red state? Nuts, right? Most of the people here in Hays like -- no, love -- Walmart, which has been in business here for almost 30 years and employs about 700 people just at this one store. And although public prayer is a part of the Kansas culture, I don't think they've seen anything like this kind of a prayer before!

Second, most of the postulants never did anything like this before. I know the risks involved in prayer actions, and I know how stressful it can be confronting the almighty dollar with the almighty God for the first time. Nevertheless, seven Capuchin postulants formed our group. Bless them for their courage, doing something they never did before.

Here is a summary of the event:

We came with leaflets and an open letter for the store manager, signed by many of the postulants. Though we alerted no one ahead of time, management was ready for us, with police cars outside and employees inside watching us. (Walmart must have known about the IWJ-sponsored prayer vigils and sent memos to all the store managers.) We went inside the vestibule, formed a ring, and began singing "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love" while handing out leaflets. Instantly the store manager swooped in and got on his walkie-talkie, presumably with upper management or legal counsel. We finished our song, and I went to the store manager to introduce ourselves. He explained that we could not do flyering because it was solicitation. I explained who we were and that we were there just to pray for him and the workers, and I invited him to join us. He declined.

We all waited while the store manager was receiving instructions from his higher-ups. He told us that if we leafleted outside on the public sidewalk (about 100 yards away), we could pray inside. I asked him to please take our letter and pass it along to the Walmart CEO and the Walmart board of directors. He declined.

While he and his assistant managers and other employees looked on, we continued our prayer indoors with full voice. All the while, the store manager ushered customers in and out of the store, keeping them at some distance away from us, and the employees who push the carts were bringing in rows and rows of them, kind of barricading us from the customers. We read a reflection on jubilee; we said our petitions for the Walmart workers, the CEO and the board of directors, the Walton family, the store managers, and the public; we sang a Magnificat, and we left. In all, we were there for about 20 minutes.

I wonder what the customers thought. I wonder if they really believed we were being Christian, acting the way we did. I wonder if they believed we were being Catholic, praying the way we did. I wonder if they believed we were being Franciscan, pulverizing any preconception they might have of friars as only meek and mild lovers of Jesus, Mary, and nature who stay out of the way of the idols who stand astride the rough-and-tumble world of consumer capitalism.

I wonder what the store manager thought. He would not be drawn into conversation with us. This was a missed opportunity. What would he say, if he were at liberty to do so? I invite him to think about our words and our gestures and why our action had religious motivation. If he is feeling disturbed by what we did, then I invite him to speak to his pastor and to fellow believers about the meaning of jubilee.

Like I said, I am so proud of my Capuchin postulant brothers, because this was the first time many of them ever did such a faith-based action like this in public. There was tension and worried nerves, but in the end everybody felt fired up and glad they went. And the thing we wanted most -- to be seen and heard by Walmart management and by the customers -- we got. We were visible. We were audible. We were brothers to the workers. We were witnesses to jubilee!

You shall treat this fiftieth year as sacred. You shall proclaim liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to your own property, each of you to your own family.

Leviticus 25:10

Sunday, July 1, 2012


It was a strenuous week last week, and there is no slowing down at the start of this week.

On Monday evening I will tell my vocation story. Most of my brothers have already given theirs, and they have raised high the expectations for the few who have yet to speak. I hope to give a compelling oral account of the faith I now hold, the hope I have, and the love I have found. In the end, this story must be not so much my life story as a testimonial of what the Holy Spirit has done, and is doing, to me.

This will be the first time I open up in an intimate way to all the brothers at once. No doubt, a few of them have been waiting for me to get more personal with them. Well, the moment is arriving. I can guarantee you that I will feel a little nervous and perhaps vulnerable for some time afterward. This introvert likes to protect his mysteries, and he's good at it. Let's see how he good he is at self-revelation.

Still haven't moved beyond a messy half of a first draft of a written account of my vocation story. The formators told us on Friday that it is advisable but not necessary to complete the story before the beginning of novitiate. In other words, we have more time to write these stories for our future spiritual directors. I welcome the extension, but all the same, I would have liked to be done with this assignment. Sigh. Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.

Working, too, on another project, a liturgical project, involving several of the brothers, which occupied me all this weekend and will keep me busy until Tuesday afternoon. More on this later.

Wednesday is Independence Day, which, though a holiday, probably means we'll be stepping up the fraternal interaction. I believe we're joining the Capuchin friars who live in Hays for dinner and frivolities of a patriotic kind.

As I say, there is no slowing down yet. We may pause a little later this week or next weekend. Truthfully, we won't be slowing down until we get to California, and then begins the hurly-burly of adjustment to novice life. No rest until October?