Sunday, September 30, 2012

Still the Same Season

Lectio Divina

 “Don’t stop him!”

Mark 9:39 (New Living Translation)

The cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

James 5:4

(in honor of the United Farm Workers on their 50th anniversary)


Picked up a copy of the Robert Bolt play A Man for All Seasons for only a nickel at the Catholic Charities thrift store in Santa Maria. Read it in less than a day. I didn't read it so much out of piety (sorry, Saint Thomas More) as for making myself more culturally literate. It's one of those literary works that have secured a firm place in the canon of high school English class summer reading lists, though I successfully dodged it all those years ago. Now I am a little bit more educated, though I think I read through it too quickly to appreciate it or internalize it meaningfully.


Nine-thirty Mass this morning at San Roque Parish in Santa Barbara. Felt a little crabby about travelling for an hour to Mass and another hour back home before having anything to eat. Also, it's hard to remain in a prayerful and meditative state when you've got an hour to go, following morning prayer, until it's time for Mass. I'm such a creature of habit, accustomed as I now am to having silent meditation between morning prayer and Mass every day. Small deviations from the routine put me in a snit. I've got to get over that.

This afternoon, after lunch: reading and writing a few notes to friends. This evening, as for the last few evenings, rehearsing with a small group taken from the schola some special music for our celebrations of Francis later this week.


From Kansas to California, it's been hot for four months now, with no apparent change of season. At the end of September, it still seems unseasonably hot, even for California. When it cools down, and it will, will it be cool enough? Will I be comfortable with the late-year heat, in the meantime? The full moon, radiant last night, brought the relief of evening cool and mitigated my moodiness.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

With the Angels

Lectio Divina

In the presence of the angels to you I sing.

Psalm 138:1


Continuing research on the history of early monasticism and Dorothy Day.


Yesterday: ministry at Catholic Charities in Lompoc. Today: house chores; publishing the October issue of The Caperone; getting in touch with my sister. Hope to write a few letters and postcard-sized notes.


Gradually settling into a mild autumnal climate, but it still gets hot in the valley in the afternoon.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

At Thirty-Five

Lectio Divina

You turn man back to dust,
saying, "Return, O children of men."
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.

Psalm 90:3-4


In addition to the aforementioned reading, catching up on recently arrived Catholic periodicals. Looking forward to reading a keepsake edition from National Catholic Reporter on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.


At 12:04 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, I turned thirty-five years old. This is the second birthday I will be celebrating in the company of the Capuchins. Thank you ahead of time for your gift of prayers.

This morning: our fraternity went to Cachuma Lake for a tour and picnic, provided for through the generosity of Old Mission Santa Ines and the vocation office for the Capuchin Province of Our Lady of Angels. Cachuma Lake was created in 1950 when citizens dammed the Santa Ynez River in order to create a constant water supply. Given the droughts of recent years, their foresight is appreciated increasingly. For two hours we cruised the lake via pontoon boat. Ranger Rosey was our able guide, describing the miraculous biodiversity of the lake. Sharp-eyed, Ranger Rosey pointed out grebes, great herons, mallards, ospreys, and pelicans long before anyone else spied them!

This afternoon, after lunch, I accompanied a novice brother and Fr. Harold Snider of Old Mission Santa Ines to the U.S. penitentiary in Lompoc to see how to get there and learn about his ministry and ours at the prison. What the novices will be doing, providing one-on-one meetings for incarcerated men who seek a listening ear, is totally new and much-needed. Our orientation and training as volunteer religious service providers is Saturday, Oct. 20, and we hope to start our work shortly after, but first Father Harold will bring us to the facilities on a Sunday to be introduced to the men in the context of worship. More on all this later.

Now, to call my kid brother. I spoke to my parents by video call earlier. Hooray!


Morning fog gave way to light clouds and bright blue skies. The air is fresh, and the wind feels great.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Power of God

Lectio Divina

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.

Luke 9:1-2

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

1 Corinthians 4:20


Doing my research on Dorothy Day and the early monastic movement for class. Leisure reading, or reading for personal continuing education, is on hold at the moment.


Spent the day deeply in prayer and rest. Our day of recollection with Bishop Thomas Curry concluded this evening with prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and a birthday celebration for one of the novices. Tomorrow it is my turn to be feasted just for being here.

In a couple of days I will post some reflections that came out of some personal meditations on the power of God, the theme of the bishop's presentations. But not tonight. Tonight, I want to stay quiet in thought, word, and deed, because tomorrow will not be quiet.

Would that it could! Over the last several years I have come to prefer solitude on my birthday, and celebrating with only a few friends (or my family if I am near). But my life is not my own, as I well know, and this is being demonstrated to me perfectly tomorrow. We are making an outing to Cachuma Lake, here in the Santa Ynez Valley, as a group from the morning to early afternoon. We will go on a boating tour and then have a picnic lunch. After that, I will leave directly from the lake for Lompoc, Calif., with the Catholic chaplain of the U.S. penitentiary there, for a tour of the facility. I should be back at San Lorenzo in time for evening prayer, a quick video call to my parents, and birthday festivities....

Hold on ... say that again? Going to a prison? Now it can be told: I am changing ministries. I am being transferred from Catholic Charities in Santa Maria to the chaplaincy team at the federal prison later this fall. Informally, the assignment of two novices from San Lorenzo has been approved by the supervisor of the chaplains. Now I must submit the applications and complete a training on site before beginning my term as a volunteer provider of religious services. No promises, but if all goes as planned, I will probably begin my new ministry in November. More to be said about this, too, later.


Very clear and cool throughout the day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hear and Act, Family

Lectio Divina

"My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

Luke 8:21


Finished Priscilla and Aquila. Reading Dorothy Day intermittently for a class presentation next week on her spirituality. Also preparing to read sources on early monasticism for a class presentation the week after next on the development of religious life in the Catholic tradition. Keeping on with the Spanish textbook, maybe to return to the pamphlets on the Franciscan intellectual tradition.


This morning, continuing our class sessions on the history of Christian spirituality. This afternoon, just a little more work on The Caperone. The October issue is basically done pending a final review of content by the editorial director and formation team. Time to plan the November issue. Also this afternoon, watering the garden. An average day with light responsibilities.

My heart is reckoning with its passions, my mind is wandering toward the fundamental things, and I am dwelling, for the moment, in my shadow. A strong desire for solitude is coming over me.

This evening begins our next day of recollection. Our presenter is Most Rev. Thomas Curry, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Bishop Curry is a friend of the Capuchins; he gave the blessing before our meal at the gala fundraiser for San Lorenzo Seminary on Sept. 8.


Not what you would expect: calm and sunny on the coast, but stormy in the valley.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How Do You Hear?

Lectio Divina

Take care, then, how you hear.

Luke 8:18


Coming to the end of Priscilla and Aquila this evening. Reading Dorothy Day in snatches.


This morning: continuing our class sessions on the history of Christian spirituality. This afternoon, a little more work on the October issue of The Caperone. Got a lot done this weekend, and we're in good shape as we near our publish date of Saturday the 29th. This evening, watering the garden and rehearsing with the schola.


Remaining cool, with late warmth lingering into the evening.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Lectio Divina

O God, by your name save me.
By your strength defend my cause.

Psalm 54:3


Reading up on Dorothy Day intermittently. Continuing Priscilla and Aquila every other evening with the reading circle. We are going to finish the book this week, either on Tuesday or Thursday.


Yesterday: In the morning, house chores. Also, a meeting of the fraternity with the nurse who cares for our senior friars in residence. She led a discussion on nutrition and healthy dietary habits. She will return in a couple of weeks to resume her presentation. It is my hope that out of these meetings our fraternity in chapter assembled will resolve as a household to modify our consumption habits and lifestyle choices where it concerns what we eat and drink. This is, of course, all in the future and subject to the give and take of deliberation and negotiation, but I believe our desire to live better and aspire to Franciscan simplicity of life will bring about positive changes.

In the afternoon, much progress on The Caperone. All but a couple of the articles are in and edited. We will make our Sept. 29 deadline.

This morning, nine o'clock Mass at San Lorenzo. My turn to be the cantor, the leader of our liturgical song, came up! With great joy I rehearsed the night before the responsory, a musical setting of Psalm 54, and the Gospel acclamation, an Alleluia chorus. After worship, our formator in charge of liturgy as well as several parishioners gave me their compliments, which I received gratefully. I had been waiting with anticipation for this opportunity to sing my prayers before the assembly at San Lorenzo. I hope that God, the Lord of the dance, was pleased with the offering.

This evening, after holy hour and dinner, I begin my week-long turn at watering the vegetable garden. There has been some drama in the garden as of late: we found a rattlesnake lurking there this week. Thankfully, two of the friars captured the snake and drove it off our property yesterday. We don't think there are any other rattlesnakes in the vicinity of our patch; nevertheless, I will be wearing denims and heavy boots when I go to the garden every evening. Pray for me that I don't encounter any deadly serpents in our little Eden!


Cool and partly cloudy. The light is stronger than the darkness.


It has been two months since investiture and the beginning of the novitiate program. Occasionally some insight has hit me with the force of truth. Here are a few of them.


Love is more important than happiness.
Happiness is an ultimate value, but not an absolute value.
Seek after heavenly joy, not earthly happiness.
Joy is not the same as happiness.

And peace is more needed than happiness.

If love and peace do not bring happiness, so be it. That is all right.
Let us love instead. Let us work for peace instead.

Happiness is not the greatest value.
Happiness will destroy mercy and justice if it is made the highest good.
Happiness will lead to war if it is made the highest good.


There is an objective reality.
There is not an absolutely objective perception.
Our vision is not perfect like God's vision.
We do not see free from our perspective.
But we can ask God to broaden our perspective, to see as God sees, from within the totality of reality.


If your sisters and brothers were to make you change for the worse, or if they were to make it impossible for you to change for the better, it would be better to leave them.

If your family were to conspire to change for the worse, it would be better to leave your family.

If your family conspired to change for the better, but despite its good faith efforts failed to do so, you would do well to stay in the struggle with them, because of the faith that is there.


Finally, not an insight, but a question or three:

How do you obtain your daily bread without wringing it from the sweat of other people's brows? How do you make sure you do not benefit from ill-gotten gains, from those whose gifts, whether they know it or not, are a product of exploitive amassment of wealth?

Franciscans are always to be lesser brothers. At times in the past they have been (wittingly and unwittingly) put in service of the powers that be, as court prophets, as members of the Temple aristocracy. How do Franciscans today make sure they remain faithful voices in the wilderness?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Time With the Teacher

Lectio Divina

He wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them.

Mark 9:31


Continuing with the Dorothy Day literature and the Spanish lessons as before.


Today: ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria. A lot of activity, but more hands than work to do. The novice brothers provide a glad distraction for the staff and volunteers when they want to ask us about the Church, Scripture, and theology. We brought homemade hummus and falafel to the potluck lunch, and none of it was left over.

This evening: faith sharing, following the Sunday Gospel reading from Mark. Thinking about presence and absence: "They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but [Jesus] did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples" (Mark 9:30-31). It only seems like God is absent from the world, but the divine presence is with all who seek to learn from God. God is ever-present, always and everywhere, and by the light of faith illuminating us from within, we can "sense" this holy, life-giving presence and come to know who we are and what we are to do. At this moment, I am feeling grateful that the Spirit of God has pulled me aside from the busy-ness of life and has brought me here to California for a year to be taught. More than this, I feel grateful that the Spirit wants to be personally close to me, and awed that the Spirit can be with me, alone, even while attending in the same away, that is alone, to the countless souls the world over who also seek this intimate confidence, this friendship with God. Why would I want anything more, at this hour, than to get near the Teacher?


Cool and comfortable with light cloudiness.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good Weariness

Lectio Divina

Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.

1 Corinthians 15:10


Checked out the biography on Dorothy Day by William D. Miller (d. 1996), a history professor at Marquette University and the first major historian of the Catholic Worker movement. Reading it in snatches.


This morning and afternoon: Took a five-and-a-half hour hike with three of my novice brothers and one of the formators into the Santa Ynez Valley. We footed it all the way; we walked from our friary doorstep off the grounds and through our neighbors' vast property into the hills. Over dried up creek beds, past gullies, over flat stretches, off the smooths paths and into an arid, rocky riverbed, and then up a steep slope until we could get no further, we went on and on. Getting up the slope was tough enough with the poor footholds and sharp yucca plants pricking us; getting down was even harder! I would have taken an unfortunate tumble downhill and surely injured myself if my brothers were not there to steady my steps and loan me a walking stick. For my part, when the brothers were getting parched and hungry, I had extra water and food to share. We took care of each other and made it all the way home with only a few foot blisters and paper cuts from the yucca plants. The aches will go away; the soreness will stop. The tiredness is only temporary. We may not have gone as far up the hills as we wanted, but we went further than anyone from San Lorenzo has yet gone (I would guess at least 12 miles). We took good risks today, and we feel good about the journey done.


Bright; the sky is blue and clear, the sun is shining, and the air feels light.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bracing Prayer

Lectio Divina

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3


Going to check out, again, Dorothy Day's On Pilgrimage: The Sixties, as well as a biography on her life. With two other novice brothers, we will be giving a presentation on Day as a contemporary spiritual master in a couple of weeks, as part of our learning on the history of Christian spirituality. In the meantime, continuing intermittently with Priscilla and Aquila, the Spanish lessons, and the Franciscan intellectual tradition.


A frightening moment this morning in chapel during Mass. At the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist, one of the senior friars in residence apparently lost consciousness after showing difficulty breathing. With the attention of a couple of novice brothers, a parishioner attending our service, and our formators, our senior brother returned to consciousness but looked like most of his strength had left him. He was anointed and received Eucharist, and promptly taken to the hospital for examination and monitoring. Prayers for our infirm brother and for the doctors, nurses, and staff tending to him today.

I can remember, almost twelve years ago, the first Sunday Mass where I served as lector. It was either before the liturgy of the Eucharist began or before the communion rite itself that a person in the rear of the assembly collapsed. (I think it was the latter.) The presider called on all of us to kneel while the person received medical attention. When during the liturgy of the Eucharist this morning we all took notice of our elder brother breathing poorly and slumping into unconsciousness, instinctively I did what we all had done twelve years ago, and I knelt.

In Christian worship, especially in celebration of the Eucharist, you never pray alone. You are praying with and for your sisters and brothers, and you are praying with and for the Church all over the world. You never know who may be worshipping with you for the last time, in person or in spirit. Remembering this can really brace your prayers. Everything matters; everything we say and do, in ritual and in reality, has great significance.

The formators are accompanying our senior brother to the hospital, so our schedule today is altered: house chores now, in the morning, and class in the afternoon. Off to do some work on The Caperone.


Everything feels cold to the touch. The first genuinely cold day we have had since arriving here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marks of Jesus

Lectio Divina

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me."

Mark 8:34

From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

Galatians 6:17


Continuing Priscilla and Aquila. Continuing study of the Spanish textbook intermittently. Received some good educational materials from a radical disciple friend in Cambridge, Mass., on understanding wealth through the prism of Scripture and the vantage point of the poor, with revolutionary implications for Christian praxis. Excellent food for the soul on the first anniversary of the Occupy movement.


Saturday: House chapter, a plenary gathering of the San Lorenzo fraternity. We reviewed formation matters, quality-of-life issues in the fraternity, and our upcoming schedule. The meeting was very good for its orderliness and comprehensiveness, touching on many of the basic aspects of our life together as friars in formation. I feel that novice brothers' voices were heard in the chapter meeting, but I would like to know how our input on program quality and community life informs and influences decisions that are reserved ultimately to the formation team.

Sunday: Mass at St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Santa Maria, administered by Josephite priests. It was my turn to choose where the six novice brothers in my worship group would attend the Sunday celebration of Mass, and I opted for this congregation in Santa Maria because it is the spiritual home of many of the volunteers at the Catholic Charities office where I also volunteer. And during communion one of those volunteers did indeed tap me on the shoulder. In the afternoon: a slow walk around the environs of San Lorenzo Friary.

Celebrated two novice brothers' birthdays this weekend, and I prepared the dessert for our Saturday evening meal. We have two more birthdays coming up in the next ten days, including your humble correspondent's thirty-fifth.

This morning: turning now in class sessions to the history of Christian spirituality. I was mistaken last week when I said we would be spending two consecutive weeks of class sessions on biblical foundations of prayer. This afternoon: spiritual direction at Old Mission Santa Barbara.


Saturday: The sun was so hot, it could burn you in a minute. You had to be careful not to stay too long in its presence!

Sunday: The heat remained, but it was more tolerable. The evening brought the relief of coolness.

Today: Quite cool in the morning, but the passion of the day always brings a return of the heat.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review of Life

Lectio Divina

You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother's womb.

Psalm 139:13

Though he was in the form of God,
Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Philippians 2:6


Working slowly, steadily through the Spanish textbook. Going similarly through Priscilla and Aquila. Reading in Franciscan philosophy and theology on hold for the moment.


Yesterday: lunch with one of the local Capuchin priests (on loan to the California province from the New York province) in the town of Solvang, which surrounds Old Mission Santa Ines. Solvang was founded a century ago by Danish immigrants, and its whole economy is basically tourism. If you want to get a taste of Denmark, come to Solvang. I mean this literally: we dined at a restaurant specializing in Danish-American fare. Then we enjoyed some frozen yogurt before returning to Old Mission Santa Ines for good conversation.

Today: ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria.

This evening, the brothers gather for what they call a "review of life." It is similar to our faith-sharing meetings, except that instead of looking at our lives through the prism of Scripture, we are looking at our lives with the naked eye. We are the immediate subject of our reflection, not Scripture. Thus, instead of identifying what words or phrases from the Gospel speak deeply to us, we will identify experiences, feelings, and thoughts that speak deeply to us. Our brothers will have the opportunity to ask questions for clarification but not the opportunity to advise or evaluate us. As in the faith-sharing meetings, we are here to listen to one another, and to listen well enough to summon speech from our brothers. We will hold these review of life in lieu of faith sharing once a month on these Fridays. These meetings for personal reflection serve as a lead-in for our monthly meeting for business, known as a house chapter, the first of which is Saturday morning.


Temperatures rising out there, but within, spirits are staying cool.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brother Uncle

Lectio Divina

"Naked I came forth from my mother's womb,
and naked shall I go back there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”

I tell you, brothers, the time is running out.

1 Corinthians 7:29


Finished Resurrection. Plodding through Priscilla and Aquila about every other day. Reading a little of the Spanish textbook near daily. Catching up now on recently arrived Catholic periodicals. All this reading has been going more slowly since getting more material to read in our class sessions.


Been blue since yesterday on account of the Sept. 11 anniversary. Irritable and cranky. But light shined through the dullness today.

My sister, Jennifer, delivered her second child, a daughter, at 8:18 a.m. Eastern time. She named her Jade Adele. I am an uncle for the second time.

The arrival of my sister's first child, Jesse, in February 2010 prompted an examination of where I was in my faith journey. That summer, I renewed formal contact with the Capuchins through the office of vocation ministry.

Life is short. I will be thirty-five years old in two weeks, and for all I know I may have already lived half or more than half of my life. There is work to be done, and sometimes I feel like I have hardly even begun to do what God wants most for me to do. I have done many things, and it would be wrong to say I have frittered away all my mind, heart, soul, and strength on trivialities, but sometimes I feel that I am always on the verge of being and doing things differently but never truly changing.

It's funny how you get the congratulations when someone else in your family has a baby. It's not you did anything to merit the praise! But so it is, too, with the gifts God gives birth to and bestows on us. God has given so much to me, though I am quick to forget it. The Spirit of God has touched me and made me grow in wisdom and strength, and it won't be to no purpose.

Today: continued our study of the biblical foundations of our prayer life. Using Mark's Gospel as our departure point, we learned how to study a biblical text using commentaries, dictionaries, ecclesial documents, and the like. This afternoon: hermitage time, spent in part by writing letters to Boston friends. Finished a week of kitchen cleanup duties with the evening shift.


Holding steady as the new moon approaches. Its goodness, however, has been ignored. It ought to be praised.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Years

Lectio Divina

How long, O LORD, must I cry for help
and you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
and you do not intervene?

Habbakuk 1:2 


Almost but not quite finished with Resurrection. Continuing with the other readings as before. 


Full of memories and ideas this morning. The most basic of these thoughts is this: I am glad God has given me at least another eleven years since the day my employer and fifteen of my co-workers died in the World Trade Center. God let me live, and has continued to keep death away so that I may do the work I have been given to do. May I live well; may I live in, by, and for God alone.

So I am glad, but I am also feeling subdued and irritable, as is usual on this anniversary.

I understand why people want never to forget the day. I understand why they want to curse the violence. But when they curse the people they hold guilty and responsible for what happened, I will not go so far, because I do not want to curse anybody, for all have sinned and fall far short of the glory of God. When they bless the armies that have warred in the lands where our enemies are feared to lurk and destroyed so many lives and families, I hesitate. And when they use the day to seek a renewed blessing for the cursing and destruction of enemies, especially in the name of peace, I will not join them.

Let us work and pray for peace through just, merciful, and compassionate means. Without terror. Without violent revolution. Without the armed forces of the nations, ours or any other.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

This evening: a candlelight prayer for peace, organized by the brothers, with intercessions proclaimed in many languages. 


Beautiful, in a poignant way.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Don't Go to Egypt

Lectio Divina

They went to Egypt--they did not listen to the voice of the Lord.

Jeremiah 43:7


Finishing Resurrection. Reading two chapters of Priscilla and Aquila every other day in the small reading circle with the novice brothers. Continuing with the Spanish textbook as personal time allows.


Sunday: Mass at nine-thirty in the morning at Old Mission Santa Ines. The Capuchin priest who presided is the Catholic chaplain at the federal prison in Lompoc, Calif. Ordinarily he works there on Sundays, but he was at the mission church substituting for his Capuchin brother, the pastor, who was away for a family celebration. He has heard of my interest in doing prison ministry and will follow up with me about the opportunities to engage with the incarcerated persons he sees.

This morning: lectoring at morning prayer and Eucharist. I am the reader for today (yesterday I was the server and antiphonarian, and the prayer leader the day before). This week and next week in class, we will study biblical foundations for our practices of prayer. This afternoon: work on The Caperone and phone calls to New York. This evening, choral practice. Throughout the week: kitchen clean-up (I've been back on the shifts since Friday).


The air moistened Friday and cooled down a lot Saturday evening and was subdued on Sunday until the evening brought fresh breezes. Now, bright and clear from the dawn, and promising to stay fresh.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Lectio Divina

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick?... They should pray over him.

James 5:13-14


Continuing the same readings as before, with a focus on the Spanish textbook.


This evening there will be a fundraiser for San Lorenzo Seminary. At its peak nearly 200 guests have come to this annual benefit for the buildings and grounds. You can read a short history of San Lorenzo here. All the brothers are on call this morning and afternoon to help out with the final preparations and this evening to be their charming best in the company of their benefactors.

Not much to say today. Off to chores.


Clear and calm with temperatures on the rise.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Prayers and Sighs

Lectio Divina

For faith-sharing this evening, the Sunday Gospel:

Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!”

Mark 7:34 (New Living Translation)


Continuing with the aforementioned readings, though not all concurrently.


Ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria. Faith sharing this evening. I will be reflecting on the Gospel in light of today's experiences at the food pantry and thrift store, where a couple of times I was summoned to lead a prayer. When the people ask me to deliver a word from God, will I be ready and willing to give it? Will I want for the people what they want from God through my petition? Does it matter if our wills and intentions are not the same? Do I detect a reluctance within me to pray as people believe that I ought? A resistance, even? If so, what are these feelings of resistance? What is there underneath my resistance? Is it true humility, the conviction that all men and women have access to God through prayer, and that all prayers are worthy, not only those that come from the mouth of a so-called "religious"? Or is it a subtle and sinister kind of superiority arising, the feeling that my words should not dignify the somewhat simplistic or superstitious motives that I think may in some prayer requests? I feel an examination of conscience and consciousness coming on....


Much heat, and surely that means there is a lot of light somewhere.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rattlesnake Canyon

Lectio Divina

....That the mountains may yield their bounty for the people, and the hills great abundance....

Psalm 72:3


Continuing with the aforementioned readings, as given below.


Today: an eleven-mile hike north of Santa Barbara with one of the novice brothers in Rattlesnake Canyon, part of Los Padres National Forest. It was great exercise for the body and the soul. It was cooler in the canyon than I expected, and God brought the refreshment of rain at the end of the afternoon. We drove several miles into the hills, parked the car, and walked for a couple of miles in search of a trail. We found a four-mile path called the San Ysidro Trail and had enough time to walk more than three-fourths of it down near to the base of the hills, where the ground was rocky and clayey and moist. From the head of the trail and along the road, shared by automobiles, other motorized vehicles, and bicycles, we had wonderful views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. In some places on the horizon you could not tell where the ocean ended and the sky began.

My right knee was a little sore at the end of our expedition but my body felt good for having exerted itself. And I found I was able to meditate better this evening in chapel. When your body is tired, it is easy to be still! 


Pleasant and refreshing, like the canyon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Prayerful Silence

Lectio Divina

Same as yesterday, with a slightly different translation:

"What is there about his word?"

Luke 4:36


Continuing all the readings as noted below.


This morning: final lesson for now on discernment, with a focus on the methods of discernment pioneered by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, and Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan movement. Had a meeting with my formation advisor this afternoon, our regular check-in about the condition of my body, soul, and spirit. Wrote several letters to dear friends and partners in ministry back home. This being our day for hermitage time, I maintained prayerful silence throughout the day until the evening meal. A fast from food and from conversation except for common prayer and the formation advisor meeting. A good practice today.

Prayers for Capuchin Fr. Francis Gasparik, the provincial minister of the Province of Saint Mary, my home province (New York/New England). He was hospitalized today while attending the proceedings of the general chapter of the Capuchin order, the assembly of the worldwide Capuchin family held every six years.


Maintaining mild to very warm weather. A little more cloudy today, but comfortable and quite agreeable.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Powerful Words

Lectio Divina

"What authority and power this man’s words possess!"

Luke 4:36 (New Living Translation)


Continuing Resurrection and Priscilla and Aquila. Continuing the pamphlets on the Franciscan intellectual tradition. Reading the Spanish textbook whenever I can, as well as any Spanish I can get my hands on, from parish bulletins to junk mail. The language has got a hold on me!


This morning: continuing lessons on discernment. This afternoon: spiritual direction at Old Mission Santa Barbara.


Mild with few clouds. It remains summer in both the material and spiritual sense.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

Lectio Divina

Continuing to meditate on the Sunday Scripture readings:

Now therefore, Israel, hear the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you to observe, that you may live.

Deuternonomy 4:1

From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts.

Mark 7:21


Continuing Resurrection and Priscilla and Aquila. Continuing to study the Spanish textbook. The Franciscan pamphlets, too.


Happy Labor Day to all, with prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude for the working women and men of yesterday who risked everything to organize labor unions and worker organizations. Their courage and sacrifices for the common good have given many of today's workers fair wages and hours, unemployment insurance, health care benefits, workplace safety regulations and workers' compensation, and pensions and retirement benefits. Pray for today's low-wage workers who suffer persecution from their employers for attempting to exercise the right to organize and engage in collective bargaining for good wages and decent working conditions. Pray for the conversion of unjust employers who treat workers like property and punish those who dare to organize. Pray also for the conversion of political leaders who forget the dignity of labor and have made it harder for the working poor, which is most people but especially women, immigrants, and people of color, to live decently.

When you get a chance, please read this year's Labor Day statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Then, take action to support workers' rights, establish more democratic workplaces, and build a just economy -- a fraternal economy. In my opinion, getting involved in Interfaith Worker Justice is a great way to bring the values of faith to bear on the economic crisis of our times.

Make no mistake: the economic crisis is at heart a spiritual crisis. The relationship between workers and employers is broken and must be healed and transformed. A new kind of economic order must take the place of the old. To act differently, we must also think differently, and to think differently we must believe differently. Only faith in values that transcend the ideals that generated our flawed economy can redeem it from current sinful structures and practices.

This morning, continuing to study discernment in class sessions. This afternoon: some recreational walking/jogging and some studying. This evening, a barbecue with the brothers.


Mild and nearly cool. Bright and calm for a couple of days now.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Lectio Divina

No human being might boast before God.

1 Corinthians 1:29


As promised, proceeded with the pamphlets on the Franciscan philosophy and theology. Read much of The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: Washington Theological Union Symposium Papers 2001 (Elisa Suggau, ed.) Saint Bonaventure, N.Y.: The Franciscan Institute, 2002. Also read half of another pamphlet: Ingham, Mary Beth. Rejoicing in the Works of the Lord: Beauty in the Franciscan Tradition. Saint Bonaventure, N.Y.: The Franciscan Institute, 2009. Next week I will test my spiritual director's generosity and ask him to put more volumes into my hands!

Also retrieved the following from our novice library: Allen, Edward David; Sandstedt, Lynn A., and others. ¿Habla EspaƱol? Essentials Edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978. See Log, below.

Continuing Resurrection and Priscilla and Aquila intermittently, that is, every other day.


Friday: First day of ministry at the Catholic Charities office in Santa Maria with three of my novice brothers. We lifted up the spirits of the staff and volunteers and by our goodwill and easygoing nature added a blessing of harmony to the workplace. Our arrival was unexpected to some degree, so there were not many needful tasks for us in either the food pantry or clothing/thrift store. I am sure that will change in the Fridays to come.

Most of the souls who come to our center are Mexican nationals who follow the seasonal agricultural labor. They speak Spanish only or as their primary language. This means I will have to rely on my nonverbal communication skills, which are not nearly as honed as my verbal communication skills. I have concluded that it is about time I picked up Spanish. This is why I picked up the book in the novice library. I can figure out the pronunciation, the vocabulary, the grammar. I am good with language. I am good at word games. Let me treat this as just another word game, as if I did not already have enough motivation now to learn the language. I will pick up conversational Spanish before the novitiate year is through, no matter how many times I have to renew my resolution.

Today: house jobs, including an editorial meeting on The Caperone. This afternoon, I baked a dessert for the evening meal, a blueberry-lemon corn biscuit cobbler. I'm not through, either. In the next 24 hours I will bake a few more desserts for tomorrow evening, when we celebrate the birthday of our novice director!


Maintaining steady warmth and sun midday and afternoon, with cooler evenings and mornings. Excellent weather for beholding the blue moon.