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.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your next step in your journey. We are praying for you at the Mass Council of Churches.