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.
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
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
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
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.