Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Resolution

For some time now I have been considering the manner in which Franciscans practice personal and communal penance through the means of fasting, that is, limiting our consumption of food and drink, and abstinence, that is, refraining from eating meat and all animal products, including dairy products.
Over the years I have practiced both fasting and abstinence, both in the name of Christ and for ethical and health reasons. But now I want to consecrate these practices more firmly and totally, as I am consecrating all of my being and doing for the sake of God and the kin(g)dom of heaven.
I have considered the documents that govern the Capuchin way of life.
All the friars are to fast from the feast of All Saints until Christmas. Those who voluntarily fast for forty days after Epiphany have God's blessing, because this is the period our Lord sanctified by his holy fast (cf. Mt. 4:2). However, those who do not wish to do so, should not be forced to it. All the friars are bound to keep the Lenten fast before Easter, but they are not bound to fast at other times, except on Fridays. However, in case of manifest necessity, they are not obliged to corporal fasting.
From the Capuchin Constitutions:
103. Christ the Lord, the exemplar of all, after accepting a mission from His Father and being led by the Holy Spirit, fasted in the desert for forty days and forty nights. His disciple, Saint Francis, burning with the desire of imitating the Lord, also spent his life in fasting and prayer. The time of Advent and, above all, the Lent before Easter, as well as every Friday, should be considered by us as times of more intense private and communal penance.

Moreover, [the observance of] the Lent, commonly called the 'Lent of Benediction', and of the vigils of the Solemnities of Saint Francis and of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also recommended.

On these days let us dedicate ourselves more readily to those works that favor conversion: prayer, recollection, listening to the word of God, bodily mortification and communal fasting. In a brotherly spirit, let us share by our greater frugality with other poor people whatever comes to us from the table of the Lord, and let us practice works of mercy more fervently according to our traditional custom.

As regards the law of abstinence and fasting, let the brothers observe the prescriptions of both the universal and the particular Church.

It is the responsibility of the provincial chapter, however, to determine more precisely both days of fasting and abstinence as well as the manner of fasting according to various circumstances of place and time.


What the Rule and Constitutions prescribe about fasting as a form of penance, I mean to do, starting now. I will begin a fast at the conclusion of the solemnity of All Saints and continue it until Christmas. Furthermore, this fast will entail a complete abstinence from all meat and animal products.

I hope not to say much more about this, because I don't want to draw too much attention to myself. But I did want to make an announcement so as to enable you to hold me accountable to this resolution. Thank you as always for your support, especially for your continued prayers.

Keeping on the Way

Lectio Divina

Wait eagerly for the LORD,
and keep his way.

Psalm 37:34


Continuing with Crosby, Celibacy, and Miller, Dorothy Day, as before. Got the new issue of National Catholic Reporter.


My folks in New York are all right, despite damage to utilities. They lost electricity but either got it back or employed backup power. Telecommunications are spotty, but they got e-mail messages to me. My family is okay, but there are a lot of people in need right now. Thinking about what I can do from where I am without access to personal wealth or other immediate means to relieve suffering.

Today, the day of recollection, led by the provincial minister of the Province of Saint Conrad, on the theme of Capuchin saints, including the virtues of our officially (and unoffically) recognized saints and the characteristics of a distinctly Capuchin Franciscan holiness. Our conferences included an examination of the Capuchin Constitutions for wisdom concerning our way of holiness. Would have liked to hear about the connection between personal holiness and social holiness, or of the spiritual unity we share with all the churches of Christ, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox, through the communion of all saints in Christ, whatever their tradition. Maybe a word or two about women saints, too, but the time is short, and this is among the first occasions I have had to reckon with the holy men of the Capuchin tradition and the Rule and Constitutions that charter for us a pathway to salvation.

We have had three days of recollection so far in this novitiate year. Generally I get as much if not more out of the great silences of the days then from the conferences themselves. This is to take nothing away from our presenters, but after all, our first teacher is the Spirit of God, and I have "heard" her "speaking" to me, sounding in the deepest parts of me on these days. What I suppose is that the form of the day is just as important if not more so than the substance of the presentations. It goes to show that our hours can be organized in such a way as to dispose us toward, or distract us from, the presence of God. This God is like a wave of water, is lapping always gently at the edges of our consciousness. Will we keep mounding berms to keep the water of life outside, or will we build canals to let it flow, let it wash over us and into our souls?

Spent my time in between the conferences, Eucharist, and holy hour walking around our spacious grounds, taking some trails I had not walked before. How beautiful, and how fleeting this time in novitiate. It's going to be over so quickly.

Going gently into the evening. Tomorrow, a trip to Oso Flaco Lake, a California state park, for some hiking, picknicking, and gazing at God's created wonders.


Storms are fleeting. The sun is everlasting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Always Storms

Lectio Divina

Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken
and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,
Though its waters rage and foam
and mountains totter at its surging.


Continuing with Crosby, Celibacy, and Miller, Dorothy Day, as before.


Many prayers speeding to my family and friends and loved ones immobilized by the cyclonic storm. It's hard to know what to say or do when you are removed so far from the danger and, consequently, you are far from being able to provide direct assistance or solidarity. We do what we can, and when we do not know what to do, we should pray for enlightenment. And when we cannot or do not pray as we ought, then we should at least make of our desperation for prayer a prayer in itself.

Our friar has returned from the hospital and is ambulatory, self-medicating for the blood clot and going about his routine gently. We pray for him and surround him with good cheer.

This morning, house jobs in lieu of classes, the same as yesterday. We will return to our Franciscan studies when our brother is able to lead them. This afternoon, personal time for reading, reflection, revision of our self-evaluations, recreation, and rest (and maybe other words that begin with an "r"). This evening, beginning our next day of recollection, with a focus on the communion of saints and the Capuchin community that is surrounded by this cloud of witnesses.


In this place, at this time, no storms within or without, but mindful that around the world, there are always storms, and always will be, until the end of time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another Hundredth Day

Lectio Divina

"Master, I want to see." 

Mark 10:51


Continuing with the same readings as before, and finishing the latest Catholic periodicals.


On this day, the hundredth day of the novitiate:

We are praying for one of the friars who has been hospitalized for a blood clot and is getting treatment.

We are praying for novices' families from the East Coast, because Hurricane Sandy, still stewing in the Atlantic Ocean, is going to make a left turn very soon.

And we are praying for the brother who is leaving us tomorrow morning. He is the second of our class of twenty-four to depart.

And we all have our own intentions, which, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, we bring from the silence of our hearts into the silence of God. This afternoon at holy hour, I am praying especially for all the incarcerated men, women, and juveniles in prisons, jails, and detention facilities around the country, for this nation of captives, our cities of prisoners.

This morning, Mass at San Lorenzo, with our newly arrived senior friar presiding. This afternoon, calls to my family, correspondence, and the Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword. Still on kitchen chores through Wednesday; also beginning a week-long turn watering the vegetable garden.

Life has its storms, but ultimately life is steady, because it proceeds from life eternal.


Dry and temperate. But deep within, the springs will never run dry.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

To Each a Special Gift

Lectio Divina

He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.

Ephesians 4:7 (New Living Translation)


Continuing with the same readings as before.


This morning, house chapter, with a welcome to our newest resident professed friar and a discussion, among other things, of our nutritional habits and food choices, water conservation concerns, and the holidays to come.

This afternoon, house jobs. The November issue of The Caperone is finished, and I will post a web link to it in a few days. No rest from the keyboard for your humble correspondent: on to drafting the self-reflection for the first formal evaluation of my progress in the novitiate.


Highs in the 80s, lows in the 40s. California, you call this autumn? Regardless of the swings in temperature, on the inside we are maintaining equilibrium.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Over All, Through All, In All

Lectio Divina

... one God ... who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:6


Continuing with the same readings as before.


Today, ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria. Our formation team has informed the office that I am being transferred to the prison ministry in Lompoc. Knowing this, I think the staff were pleasantly surprised that I appeared today. They must have thought I would be starting immediately. (Would that I could!) Folks are happy for this new opportunity I will have, and they wish me the best.

This evening, in lieu of our hour of faith-sharing, it will be our review of life at the novitiate in preparation for tomorrow's house chapter.


Just when I thought the cool air was here to stay, it warms up again. Mind you, this is not a complaint.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meet You at the End

(A song for my sisters.)

In the summer darkness, feasted, full,
In the garden that you till
We remembered love invincible
Firm rock of holy hill

With bread to break and cloak to lend
You commissioned me from here
And I said I'll meet you at the end
And go living without fear.

When you sing a minor allelu
I will take you at your word
At the speed of light I come back to you
As if no time had occurred

Where are you sister loving friend
This cooling night of year?
I'll come round to meet you at the end
And the rising will appear.

For religious brothers I won't lack
Ten thousand at my side
But the day when I to you come back
Shall fill the soul inside

O say the word -- I shall attend
It gives me warmth and cheer
I said I'll meet you at the end
What I will, I shall, my dear.

Every day the sun dries up the earth
The rain washed clean before
And the air roars with the breaths of birth
Life renewed and life made more

My head I bow, my knee I bend
To glory come so near
On the day I meet you at the end
Everywhere will look like here.

Sister, like the mother full of grace,
I hail you as you are
God forbid I should forget your face
When we walked the road so far

Not to anyone but you my friend
Does your fair name inhere
On the day I meet you at the end
I will sound it loud and clear.

Arrival and Evaluation

Lectio Divina

... be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self....

Ephesians 3:16


Grazing Crosby, Celibacy, and the Miller biography of Dorothy Day while noshing on the latest issues of America and Commonweal.


There are three formal evaluation periods during novitiate. We are entering into the first one now. At this time the novices are writing self-reflections under the guidance of their formation advisors.

Today I will attempt a first draft during my extended personal time. It is to be submitted for revision to my formation advisor at our meeting next Tuesday or Wednesday, but I would like to have it ready before my next meeting for spiritual direction on Monday in Santa Barbara.

Meanwhile, the professed friars of San Lorenzo will give input to the formation team about each novice, which the formation advisor will take into account in composing his own written evaluation. The formation advisor will present this evaluation to the novice, who may submit written comments. Then novice and advisor will sign the document, copies of which go to them and also to the provincial minister, provincial director of formation, and the provincialate where the novice's formation file is kept.

For the self-reflection, novice brothers are asked to look back on the first hundred days of the program and make observations pertaining to their sense of calling to the Franciscan way of life in this Capuchin community. Among other things, we are invited to look back on the transition itself; explore our feeling of being "at home" and our growing Capuchin identity; name helpful and unhelpful aspects of the program; describe our sense of belonging in the fraternity and "investment" in the program; and discuss our feelings about the vows and the vowed life.

As in the postulancy evaluations, I think it is important to be affirmative and critical, to recognize positive personal developments and identify places for further growth. This I will aim to do in three typed double-spaced pages or less.


In addition to the community of novices and our formation directors, there are three professed friars who reside here. Our fraternity is awaiting the arrival of a fourth professed brother, who is moving in this afternoon. To welcome him, we will have a social hour in his honor before the evening meal. At Mass this morning the novice director said we will be like a whole new fraternity with our brother's arrival, and he urged us to go about life together with renewed vigor in gratitude for what our new housemate brings and for what we offer to each other.


Put the second blanket on the bed last night, and it kept my body heat from escaping. Outside, it is crisp. Inside, it is warm. Deep inside, the fire is alight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sing, Live, Find

Lectio Divina

I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles....

Ephesians 3:1


A new addition to the bookshelf:

Crosby, Michael H. Celibacy: Means of Control or Mandate of the Heart? Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1996.

Brother Michael is a Capuchin priest of the Province of St. Joseph. I want to read more works by my brothers in religion, and I would like to read at least one book about celibacy every year. Thank you, Brother Michael, for indulging me!


This morning, continuing our class sessions on the Franciscan movement, although in the absence of the formator giving us instruction. We were assigned into small groups and directed to compare and contrast chapters of the 1221 and 1223 editions of the Rule of Saint Francis that established the Order of Friars Minor. Reflection and written responses led into small group discussion, then large group discussion.

This afternoon, for hermitage time, a slow, meditative walk off the beaten path in the valley surrounding our campus, with periods of near-contemplation. Deep blue sky, firm rock of earth, rushing winds, and sunlight saturating everything. What a gift. What delight. Word of God on my mind and heart, body of God beneath my feet and all around me. There are songs to be sung, a life to be lived, risen life to be found. I will sing; I will live; I will look for and find the resurrection and the life.

Would that every day could be as still as this one.


The season has definitely turned. Sister Chill is our near-constant companion from sunset until mid-day. Now it is time to open the windows during the day and close them at night. The heat escapes easily. We intend not to burn energy heating our campus. I can't wait to snuggle under two or three blankets at night.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prayer for Understanding

Dear God,

You are the knowing we hope for
and the wisdom we seek.
From a spirit of prayer and devotion
we seek to know you as you know
and be wise as you are wise,
so we can know and love you
and all your children
and all your creation better.

Help us learn from your prophets
who speak the truth
and your saints
who do the truth in love,
especially Francis of Assisi
and all who walk as he did
in the footsteps of Jesus.

As you open our lips to speak your praise,
open our ears so we may hear your truth
and open our eyes to see your truth
alive in your holy people today.

Now, inspire our study of Francis
and his religious movement;
help us learn from him and from each other;
and let us go forth from here
to imitate Jesus
as perfectly as he did.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ
who called you Father
and through the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,
who teaches us all things. Amen.

Not From You

Lectio Divina

... and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8


Perhaps I'll get to those program statements of the Bureau of Prisons this evening.


This morning, resuming our class sessions on Francis and the religious movement he initiated. I offered the prayer to open our class, which I will post separately. Now, to continue work on the newsletter. Just a few more parts and pieces to hone and put into place. We'll make our Saturday deadline, but it will take a little more "getting there" to get there. This evening, schola rehearsal and a gentle night.


As cool as it's been, and feeling colder because of the dampness.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Change of Season

Lectio Divina

But it shall not be so among you.

Mark 10:43


Continuing with the Dorothy Day biography as before. Getting to the policies and procedures from the Bureau of Prisons.


This morning, Mass at San Lorenzo with the provincial ministers and the provincial directors of formation. Gatherings of the North American Pacific Capuchin Conference are customarily buoyant, and it was a festival atmosphere during liturgy and afterward at brunch in our refectory. I had good conversations with the provincial minister and vicar provincial of our province, Fr. Frank Gasparik and Fr. Michael Marigliano. They briefed me and my fellow novice brothers of the Province of St. Mary on developments relating to our finances, mentoring (of recently ordained and professed friars), and ministry. Very, very good to catch up with our provincial leaders.

This afternoon, a quiet walk in the warm, husky air, and the Sunday crossword from the Los Angeles Times. Soon, off to our holy hour of adoration and evening prayer, then a gentle evening.


The air is getting moister every day. That's the way you know the seasons are changing.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Know What You Are Asking

Lectio Divina

Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking."

Mark 10:38


Still reading the biography of Dorothy Day. Soon to be plowing through the program statements issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons for volunteers on employee conduct, sexual misconduct, and illegal substances.


Yesterday, ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria. Today, initial volunteer training at my future ministry site, the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex, where men are incarcerated at low, minimum, and medium security levels in three different facilities. Got fingerprinted (the old-fashioned way: still got ink on my thumb) and sat through a two-and-a-half hour slideshow presentation on the policies and procedures of the Bureau of Prisons. Honestly, not a very inspiring morning, what with all the dos and don'ts (mostly don'ts). And people say the Church has a lot of rules; try on for size all the regulations governing your local prison or jail. I try to remember that God works even through the ministrations of a secular state. And if all goes as planned, the agency will issue me and a fellow novice a volunteer badge by Thanksgiving; then, under the supervision of the head chaplain, we will be able to talk one-on-one with any prisoner who needs someone who will listen to him.

Since Friday our fraternity has been entertaining the prefects of formation from each of the provinces of the North American and Pacific Capuchin Conference. They have been meeting to discuss the overall program of initial formation. This weekend they are being joined by the provincial ministers, too, who have their own business meetings in Santa Barbara. Tomorrow, the provincials and the provincial directors of initial formation will celebrate the Eucharist with us at San Lorenzo, with a brunch following. I look forward to checking in with my provincial leaders about the progress in our formation as well as simply enjoying the company of brothers from the New York/New England province. For them, I hope the feeling of catching up with us will be something like what proud parents feel when they visit their children at college, rejoicing quietly in their progeny's newfound maturity.


Cloudy, misty, and cool, getting cooler.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Healing of Ills


(Intended to be an occasional addition to the blog.)

Discipleship is play, not a diversion.
Love is service, not sentiment.
Prayer is attention, not escape.
Sacrifice is creation and gift, not destruction and loss.

Lectio Divina

....Who pardons all your sins,
and heals all your ills.


Plowing through Miller's biography of Dorothy Day. This is a monumental book fitting for an amazing life. I am growing deeper in love with this saint. Indeed, Dorothy Day is really the first saint I have ever loved with a genuine "feeling" of respect and reverence for her holiness and her powerful, truthful witness to faith, hope, and love in Christ. Not even Francis of Assisi has moved me as she has. But the spirit in Dorothy Day was also in Francis, and it is none other than the Spirit of God, the Holy One that was Christ Jesus. So all the saints are, in the end, really one, and they all lead us to the God of Jesus Christ.


Yesterday was hermitage time. I prayed, I read, I rested, and I voted. My absentee ballot awaits delivery to the local post office, along with some letters to friends. This hermitage time was much needed and much appreciated; it cleared away the ill humor I was in since Tuesday afternoon (for reasons that did not concern the formation program or the fraternity).

Today is extended personal time. I will exercise, I will pray, I will read, and I will write.


There was a fire in Santa Barbara County yesterday. The air remains warm after the cool snap of last weekend. Now a mighty wind has been stirred up, carrying with it a slightly humid air. It feels fresh, it feels clean, and it feels good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Working Through Love

Lectio Divina

... but only faith working through love.

Galatians 5:6


Continuing the Miller biography of Dorothy Day.


Continuing our class sessions on the history of the Franciscan movement. We are moving from preliminaries on the historical and social context of the Church in Western Europe, the air Francis of Assisi was breathing, to his life and times and the economic, political, and religious revolutions of his day.

This afternoon, catching up on The Caperone. 


The sun is shining, and the sky is blue. This weather is good for my health.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Stop judging the world.
Stop positing a dualism of church and world, that is, church versus world.
No one will be saved that way.

The light of God will lead all people to a better way of living together.
But it is in the world. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Stop judging Christians of other traditions.
Stop telling us what they get wrong. What is that to us?
If there is individualism, denounce it first in your own community.
If there is bad theology or no theology, denounce it first in your own community.
If you are not prepared to recognize other followers of Christ as your sisters and brothers in Christ,
then judge not, because you have no business telling us how they get it wrong.

Christians should not be proselytizing other Christians. Conversion is a cooperative work; proselytizing is a work of conquest.


Witness leads to ministry.
The power of God is not something only to be admired, adored, or worshipped.
It is to be used, by us, fully and consciously.
Consider how to witness, yes, and then consider how to act and what to do.
We should be admonishing our brothers and sisters on how to act, and what we are to do.
That is why we worship Christ and follow in his footsteps: above all, he is the way.


Do not puff yourself up with pride, telling the world how countercultural you are, how communitarian you are. Be a disciple, and do what Jesus did.

Never mind who is countercultural or mainstream. Ask yourself, Is the culture good, right, true, beautiful? Is its substance the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or the gospel of Caesar? And has Caesar invaded and conquered your culture, even the culture of your Christian community?


God, give me your power, to give away.

Stay Free

Lectio Divina

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1


Taking the Miller biography of Dorothy Day to chapel, to spiritual direction, and prayerful silence.


This morning, beginning a three-week module on the history of the Franciscan movement. This afternoon, spiritual direction at Old Mission Santa Barbara. This evening, rehearsal with the schola and prayerful silence.


Never lived in a place where the high temperature was in the high eighties in the middle of October, until now. But the warmth is comfortable, and with the rainy season yet to come, I look forward to a green Christmas. Praise be to you, O God, for Brother Heat and Sister Water.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Living, Effective, Divine Word

Lectio Divina

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword.

Hebrews 4:12


Continuing William D. Miller's biography Dorothy Day with a little more intention now. Her life is so rich, and even her life before conversion, in Miller's telling of it, is radiant with grace. May she be one with the prophets and the saints.


Today, Mass at nine-thirty at Old Mission Santa Ines. It was a "family Mass," so the Scripture readings came from the lectionary for children. The hymns, too, were simplified for children, simple refrains with hand motions to accompany the songs. A heartening sight, to see the children play-acting the proclamation of the Gospel, and a cheerful sight to see them gathered around the altar during the liturgy of the Eucharist. The Church needs to do more of this sort of worship, never mind my personal preferences for a more orderly, more sedate, more cerebral service. We are to receive the word of God and the bread of heaven like little children. And while adults will always need an intelligent, mature, and trustworthy presentation of the Gospel, the word of God must never be buried under theological erudition or de rigueur dogmatisms. (One of my theology professors once assigned her students, for their final examination, the task of writing a homily for children explaining one or another Christian doctrine.) Likewise, the re-presentation of Christ at Eucharist must be done with utmost reverence and respect for the rituals handed down to us, but the presence of Christ must never be occluded by excessive liturgical scrupulosity.

Read this afternoon and talked to my brother Nicholas. This evening, my family is nearest to the heart of my prayers, and Nicholas most of all. Now, to rest in prayerful silence before compline.

Promised a while ago to post some more "insights," and I will, but that will be another day. Perhaps tomorrow after my meeting for spiritual direction.

O Word of God, be our wisdom.


A sudden rise in temperature. The heat has risen. But I sense it will escape very soon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Finger of God

Lectio Divina

But if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Luke 11:20


Catching up on recently arrived Catholic periodicals. Continuing the Miller biography of Dorothy Day ever so occasionally.


Today, ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria, where a couple of persons approached with requests for prayer. Families are estranged or separating. Mothers lose their children; children lose their fathers. The repercussions of unangelic behavior compound one another and they buffet and break us. God, have mercy on all your poor children. May your Holy Spirit be with them all. May your hands gently touch us with hope and your power course into us.

Also at Catholic Charities, many a conversation on the electoral contests before us and the affairs of church and state. Whatever beliefs and values we hold dear, whatever we say, whatever we do, let us act with compassion, with mercy, and then with justice.

This evening, faith sharing on the Sunday Gospel, and a gentle night.


Fair, as the clouds linger and the coolness becomes a fixture, not an exception.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Give Them Whatever They Need

Lectio Divina

He will get up to give him whatever he needs.

Luke 11:8


In an electoral frame of mind, I found the 2012 platform of the Green Party and have been studying it. I could not find a PDF version of it, but the 2010 platform is available in PDF format. Meanwhile, continuing the Miller biography of Dorothy Day.


Last evening at Old Mission Santa Barbara, we listened to Gerry Straub, formerly a producer of television soap operas and now a chronicler of the world's worst poverty. He told us the story of his conversion, inspired by the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, and he showed us scenes from his short films. Here is a man who has heard his vocation and found his ministry. His encounters with and sharing in the experience of the homeless, the hungry, and the sick make my pretensions to poverty laughable. His call to compassionate solidarity with all peoples sets the bar for every Franciscan's call to minority. I left the mission with the urge to remain silent and start being or doing something more than I am or have.

This morning, left San Lorenzo for our meeting with Dennis, Tensie, and Jorge of Beatitude House, the Catholic Worker community in Guadalupe. Shared their baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and apple pie, while we shared our garden-grown cucumber-and-tomato salad and dairy-free fettucine alfredo. We learned about the origins of this community; talked about the challenges of living the way of Gospel personalism and raising children to consider doing likewise; and speculated about the ways a committed personalist could or should engage with the powers of state to bring about the kind of society ready to receive the reign of God.

The good vibrations of the Catholic Worker movement were still resonating in my mind when, on a stop at the shopping complex in Santa Maria on the way home, I met a family of Romanian immigrants who were begging money for rent and food. The mother and father had come here less than a year ago with their three young children; they had skills but limited English and no employment. Despite all my formation, I had to strongly resist the urge to walk on by and find my brothers. I stayed, prayed, held their begging sign for them and urged shoppers to give. I stayed with them long enough to offer them a little cash and the way to the Catholic Charities office in Santa Maria and Beatitude House in Guadalupe.

I probably did a little good, but I could have been more to that family in spirit. The words of Jesus in Luke today sear me: "I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence." Will I? Do I?


It's always sunny in the valley, but God knows how and when it rains down elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Also Work Through Me

Lectio Divina

For the same God who worked through Peter ... also worked through me.

Galatians 2:8 (New Living Translation)


Finishing Torjesen, When Women Were Priests, and continuing to read the Miller biography of Dorothy Day.


This morning, concluded our class sessions on the history of Christian religious life. Our formators note that through the ebb and flow of history, religious movements have arisen to respond to the challenges of the times. I note that the responses of these religious movements have not always met with a resounding response from the world we seek to love into the life of God. In this generation, in my time, I strive to be a witness to the mercy and justice of God breaking into and confounding this world. To the body of Christ that is the Church, as one of only several thousand lay religious brothers in the U.S., I strive to live in such a way as to invigorate the many millions of lay secular men and women and spur them to more radical discipleship, as several outstanding disciples among them have inspired me to advance in discipleship. To "the Gentiles" of this age, both my goodwill partners in the construction of a new creation and those who are indifferent or hostile to all movements of the Spirit in our lives and times, I strive to promote an encounter with the living God, the God of Jesus and Francis, and conversion and penance, both personal and social.

This afternoon is hermitage time, beginning with my regularly scheduled meeting with my formation advisor. Looking forward to a long meditative walk.

This evening, the fraternity is going to Old Mission Santa Barbara to sing and recite evening prayer with our Franciscan brothers, share the evening meal, and hear a lecture on poverty, prayer, and social justice from a fellow named Gerry Straub. I look forward to the sharing of fellowship in faith and a renewal of purpose to speak and do the truth to power in love. And so to speak and do for, with, and as the poor.


Feeling how good the chill is.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Set Apart and Called

Lectio Divina

God, who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me.... I did not immediately consult flesh and blood.

Galatians 1:15-16


Recently read this article in America by Emil Wcela, retired auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, on women deacons. It prompted me to look further into the less-than-well-known and much-contested history of women as church leaders. Found a book here titled When Women Were Priests, by Karen Jo Torjesen, a professor of history at Claremont Graduate University School of Religion. I'm moving through it now.


This morning: the small groups continue their presentations on the history of Christian spirituality. This afternoon: more work on the newsletter and more exercise. And more intentional prayer during personal time and evening silence.


Appreciating the consistency of the Southern California climate while thinking of the weather in New York.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Lectio Divina

A reality check, useful especially for night prayer and examination of conscience:

You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News....

Galatians 1:6


Continuing intermittently with the texts concerning Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker, particularly in advance of an outing on Thursday from San Lorenzo to Beatitude House, the Catholic Worker community in Guadalupe, west of Santa Maria.


Yesterday, Mass at St. Mark University Parish in Isla Vista on the campus of University of California-Santa Barbara. Then, cooking the evening meal, fettucine alfredo, but dairy-free; garlic bread; spinach and mushrooms sauteed in olive oil; and tossed salad. Despite the death of one of the two convection ovens and the blender, we made it to dinner time, albeit 15 minutes late (not on account of kitchen appliance malfunction, but my understimation of how long it takes for a large pot of water to boil!). Made way too much pasta, but at least everyone had their fill last night, and again at lunch this afternoon. Whatever is left over later this week, I will bring to Catholic Charities to share with the staff and volunteers on Friday. The key lime pies, made Saturday night, were a big hit (they're all gone); and the tofu pate I made for the appetizers was as popular as hummus, which guaranteed its swift disappearance.

This morning, gave my presentation on early monasticism with my small group. Many small compliments received for my teaching abilities, both for last week's presentation on Dorothy Day and today's. This afternoon, some light work on the November Caperone, and a brisk walk. This evening, a brief meeting of the schola, and prayerful silence before night prayer.

After several days of heightened classroom activities and more intense domestic duties, looking forward to stretching, relaxing, and entering into contemplative repose.


A delightful coolness throughout the day until the afternoon, when the warmth descended, delightful, too, in its own way. Praise be to God for blue skies and shining sun.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Disown and Repent

Lectio Divina

I disown what I have said,
and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:6


Finished reading A Church Reborn by the National Catholic Reporter. Once I am through with my next class assignment on early monasticism, I think I may turn my personal time toward study of the Second Vatican Council documents.


This morning: a brief consultation with my editorial team on The Caperone. Also, the second meeting of the nutritionist with our fraternity on health and wellness. This afternoon, house chores and preparation for the small group presentation on early monasticism in class on Monday. This evening, getting an early start for the Sunday evening meal, with dessert and appetizer preparations.

Began the day in a pensive mood; in between and within the work that has to be done, I wish to remain there, even if it makes me a little cranky, as often happens when I try to surrender and think as God thinks. Oh, God, help me to disown frivolous talk (and frivolous deeds), be still, be silent, and do what you desire.


Yesterday I typed too soon: the faint breezes became great gusts during our commemoration of our deceased Franciscan ancestors at evening prayer. May that wind be at my back, and may I face the right direction so as to be carried along on the way God wills.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Lectio Divina

Looking ahead to the Sunday Gospel reading, the text we are using for our faith sharing this evening:

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her."

Mark 10:11


Reading A Church Reborn, the special issue published by the National Catholic Reporter on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. This issue is indeed a keepsake; I'll share it, but I'll not part with it. Most of the time I believe firmly that I was meant for these times -- I was born into my age -- but when I read a retrospective like this one in NCR, sometimes I wish I had come of age and into the full powers of mature adulthood during the 1960s.

It is nearing the time for me to take up the adventure of discipleship with the people of God anew on a radically higher level. Time for a deeper, indissoluble commitment. That's why I am here; it's why I remain with the Capuchins.


Today: ministry at Catholic Charities in Santa Maria. Unpacking food deliveries, sorting clothes. The work is light, and the day went quickly, with occasional conversations on matters spiritual and secular with staff and volunteers. But I won't lie: My mind and heart are looking to the horizon and the prospect of ministry at the federal prison in Lompoc.

This evening: our commemoration of all the deceased members of the global Franciscan family (always the day after the solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi) culminates with a procession from our chapel to the cemetery for prayer, followed by meditation.


Cooler and cloudier, with faint breezes. But the warmth of the California sun remains under my skin, deep within my bones.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blessed Be You, for Brother Francis

Lectio Divina

Greatest of his family, the glory of his people ...
In whose time the house of God was renovated,
in whose days the temple was reinforced.

Sirach 50:1


Rather than recite again what I am reading, here is some reading for you: the October issue of The Caperone.


It is the solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the religious movement I have chosen to join so as to be a better follower of Jesus. Peace and goodness, the true peace and goodness of Christ, be with you all. Let our worship Christ and reverence of Francis lead us into ever-greater love of God and one another, ever-greater practice of divine justice and mercy, and ever-greater life in the mystery of the kin(g)dom of heaven, here and now. Blessed be you, O God, for our Brother Francis.

This morning: morning prayer followed by a big breakfast prepared graciously by a few novice brothers who woke up before the sun got up. Off to Mass in a few moments, to be celebrated in high style. This afternoon, after lunch, a casual on site at San Lorenzo. This evening, prayer and a social and dinner with the fraternity at Old Mission Santa Ines.


Cloudy at first but clearing and brightening, as it always does.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Departure

Lectio Divina

Should one wish to contend with him,
he could not answer him once in a thousand times.

Job 9:3


Continuing to read Dorothy Day, even though I have given my presentation with the small group today. The Catholic Worker movement continues to inform my understand of the Capuchin Franciscan charism to minority.


This morning at the conclusion of Mass, one of the novices announced he is leaving the Capuchin formation program. He was gone by nine-thirty. God be with him on his journey. His future is waiting for him -- life is waiting for him -- even if it is not from within the Capuchin community.

The announcement was like a bolt from the clear blue sky. I think none of the novice brothers expected this, not from him, and not so early from anyone in our year together. But the hand of God moves us in ways not wholly to be expected, no matter how perceptive we are or how well we think we know the secrets of our brother's soul.

It seemed to me the fraternity was a little jittery this morning after the announcement, lit up with a nervous playfulness, but we are settling down again, and we will continue walking forward in the light of God, as God gives us the light through Jesus Christ and all of his prophets and saints.

This afternoon, during hermitage time, recentering myself. Also rehearsing with the schola and small group for our celebrations of the solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi. Now, about to head to chapel to observe the transitus, our ritual enactment of the passing of Francis from this life to eternal life. Having abruptly bid farewell to a brother in Francis, now once more we bid farewell to the angelic founder of our movement. But we remain ever in Christ, and so we don't really lose the presence of Francis.


In the excitement of the day, one almost forgets how beautiful the sun and sky are, how clean the air, and how gorgeous the golden hilly earth around us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Before You On the Way

Lectio Divina

See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.

Exodus 23:20


Brushing up on my sources for tomorrow's presentation on Dorothy Day. I know no better summation of the "spirituality" of Day then the following manifesto of the Catholic Worker movement, which, though not to be identified completely with Day, is as good a reflection of her spirit, and as concise a distillation of it, as any statement I have found.


This morning, continuing our class sessions on the history of Christian spirituality, with small groups giving presentations on the following spiritual masters: Teilhard de Chardin, Catherine Doherty, Teresa of Calcutta, and Therese of Lisieux. Tomorrow it is my group's turn to present on Dorothy Day.

This afternoon, house chores. This evening, resuming our rehearsal of music for our celebrations of Saint Francis of Assisi.


Still hot; still enduring.

Monday, October 1, 2012

In 'All This'

Lectio Divina

In all this Job did not sin.

Job 1:22


Continuing research on the history of early monasticism and Dorothy Day. The presentation on Dorothy Day is this week; the one on early monasticism next Tuesday.


This morning: continuing our class sessions on the history of Christian spirituality, and preparing to present on the distinctive sources and aspects of Dorothy Day's spirituality with my small group. This afternoon, spiritual direction at Old Mission Santa Barbara. This evening, schola practice and another very short rehearsal with the small combo singing for our commemoration of the death of Saint Francis of Assisi, on Wednesday evening.

Assuming kitchen and liturgical duties concurrently this week. Kitchen duties began this morning; tomorrow I am prayer leader, and Wednesday I am the antiphoner and server at Mass.


Keeping cool in spite of the lingering summer heat.