Sunday, June 30, 2013

First Final Farewells

Lectio Divina

"No one who ... looks to what was left behind is fit...."

Luke 9:62


Continuing Fischer, Reclaiming the Connections, and beginning other spiritual readings this week. Hoping also to step up my reading of Scripture itself during our remaining evenings of prayerful silence.


Said goodbye yesterday afternoon to several of the novices' spiritual directors and ministry site supervisors. The first final farewells have begun.

Mass this afternoon at FCC Lompoc for the final time. Thirty men crowded into the classroom in the chapel wing of the medium-security compound, and I eyeballed at least eighty souls at the low-security chapel. As Bro. Harold Snider gave his final benediction and blessing, the men interrupted his dismissal to offer him a blessing. How touching; what a gesture of reverence and affection on the brothers' part, and what a sign of humility for Brother Harold to receive it. I will miss this church.

This week during class sessions, reviewing (reliving?) our vocation stories and describing how the year and our experiences have shaped us. Sounds at first blush like a how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation assignment, but it is more than that, and of course each of us in turn will make more of it than that. It is another opportunity to share our faith and give an account of the hope that is in us as we approach the taking of simple vows.

Off now to prayerful silence and to meditate on the story I will tell in class on Tuesday.


Beat the heat by being in Lompoc today. No such luck this week!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Lectio Divina

 ... sent his angel and saved me....

Acts 12:11 (New Living Translation)


Not much time to read today, at least not until late afternoon or early evening. Going to finish National Catholic Reporter. Reading Fischer, Reclaiming the Connections, in chapter installments in my chapel stall.


Celebrated the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at Mass this morning and, following our novice director's homily on the yin of Peter and the yang of Paul, meditating, appreciatively, on the often contradictory multitudes the Church (fortunately) contains.

This afternoon, a luncheon in appreciation of the spiritual directors and ministry site supervisors who have mentored the novices this year. They have played as much a part in our formation as our novice directors. Each has in his or her own way has been instrumental to our becoming the Capuchin Franciscan friars we are. They are a part of our heart, for we are all connected.

Last night, quickly prepared two more lemon-lime cakes for our guests -- we expect at least 15 persons. Had to search for the recipe online because I packed away all my recipe clippings for baked goods save for my stalwarts Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero. God bless the duo from the Post Punk Kitchen.

Catching up with my house chores as I can. The final edition of The Caperone will not be published this weekend because we are going to include photos of today's celebration and our Independence Day visit to Old Mission Santa Ines. Moreover, the retreat in Malibu put production on hold for a full week. No matter: we will publish next weekend and still be timely. After all, we are a monthly, not a weekly or daily!


Here it comes: 102 degrees in Santa Ynez. Tomorrow: one hundred four. Santa Barbara County has told its residents to avoid using open barbecues, chain saws, and tractor mowers. I am learning a healthy fear of Brother Fire.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Paring Down

Lectio Divina

... nowhere to rest....

Luke 9:58


Continuing Fischer, Reclaiming the Connections, in the chapel stall, and National Catholic Reporter, laying in the night-table.

In the wake of the historic decisions by the Supreme Court on the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, I have returned to the book Secular Marriage, Christian Sacrament by Michael Lawler (Mystic, Conn.: Twenty-Third Publications, 1985). It is refreshing to step back from the current maelstroms over same-sex marriage to examine marriage itself as a human institution and Christian marriage as a sacrament. His distinction between secular marriage as a reality of the social order and Christian marriage as a living symbol of the covenant between Christ and the Church is clear and powerfully persuasive. The former pertains to the mundane, while the latter concerns a life of faith. While consent between spouses is enough to make a marriage, only the faith of baptized believers can make marriage a sacrament.

Without getting into issues of the morality of same-sex relationships, let me say that I agree with Lawler when he writes: "Human marriage is one of those created realities that enjoys its own meanings and values apart from the Church. To acknowledge that simple fact would free marriage to be a truly human reality which, in its very created humanness, can become the basis for the sacrament of covenant marriage." The Church did not invent marriage; it does not enjoy a monopoly over its meanings and values; and it can neither define nor dictate them for others who do not share faith in Christ.

Citing the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious freedom, Lawler writes, "It is hard to see how a Church that proclaims and believes in such an exalted vision could continue to deprive the baptized, believers and nonbelievers alike, of a right to secular marriage, a human reality for which they were created by God." It seems to me that proponents of same-sex marriage have no wish to redefine marriage as a sacrament for the Church or as a sacred institution for any body of believers. They seek only the liberty to enter into marriage as a human reality, a secular reality, one which has been and continues to be evolving. The decisions of legislatures and courts touch the reality of civil marriage alone; they do not and cannot touch the reality of Christian marriage as a living symbol of the presence of God, and a holy covenant of love.


As of this moment, my worldly possessions fit into three boxes, one small, one medium, one medium-large; and two pieces of baggage, one small and one large. The boxes go off to the post office this afternoon; the luggage will fly with me to New York on July 13. In storage with my family in New York are a few boxes of theology books and papers, a box of compact discs, a boombox I've had since I turned 14 (my oldest material possession), and a winter coat and a few sweaters.

Thanks be to God, I'm leaving here with fewer things than I brought. My hope, a year or two or three from now, is to fit my belongings into half as many boxes and one piece of luggage.

One more afternoon of faith-sharing with the men at the federal prison in Lompoc. We will see them again for Mass on Sunday, and then we must part. Perhaps we may meet again in this world; faith tells me we will meet again in the world to come. Then faith sharing in our own fraternity this evening.


It is expected to hit 95 degrees in the valley today. And then 101 degrees tomorrow and Sunday. Watch out, watch out! I will be taking extra time on my weekend rounds to water the grounds.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Never Separated

Lectio Divina

... only the one who does the will....

Matthew 7:21


Continuing Fischer, Reclaiming the Connections, in the chapel stall, and National Catholic Reporter on the night-table.


This morning, Mass combined with morning prayer. Today, continuing the packing project and working on the newsletter. I shall recycle ruthlessly and edit gently. On this day for extended personal time, I opt to stay home and make it a day for getting things done.

These days, I am feeling disinclined to go out much -- novitiate has made a hermit of me. I can count on one good hand the number of times I will be leaving the grounds of San Lorenzo over the next seventeen days, excluding the occasional three-and-a-half-mile walk I like to take in the evening around the neighboring ranches. I will be going to the federal prison in Lompoc two more times -- for ministry on Friday and for Mass on Sunday. The fraternity is going to Old Mission Santa Ines on the evening of Independence Day for food, fellowship, and fireworks, and again on the last day of novitiate, July 13, for the profession of the two California province novices. And on Tuesday, July 9, the fraternity is going on a day trip to Refugio State Beach.

So that's five more excursions. Except for Mass last Sunday, I've been staying put since our return from the year-end retreat in Malibu. And I like it that way. Soon enough, I will be able to go out into the world every day, and I will be able to make a difference being who I am and doing, I hope, what God wills me to do. But our excursions here are so carefully vetted that, even when we are off site, it feels to me like we remain cabined at San Lorenzo. This is true whether we go off site for ministry, recreation, worship, or other approved appointments. So we never really leave the novitiate environment, for it follows us wherever we go, and we are never separated from this fraternity.

A gift? A challenge? Yes.

In about three weeks, everything will change.


The heat is rising to the highest highs we have known here. Come Saturday and Sunday, I'll be thankful it does not get humid here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Haircut for the Hermit

Lectio Divina

And Abram believed the Lord.

Genesis 15:6 (New Living Translation)

As I wrote in a song last year, daring to speak in God's name: "Will you believe the world, or what I say? Oh, hang on every word, or hang on anyway." This Scripture verse reminds not to put my ultimate trust in myself, in the United States or any nation, in any party, persuasion, or power, or even in institutional religion, but in God alone.


There is a room next to the novice library where we have stacks and stacks of uncatalogued books. Many of them will eventually make their way into the collection and database, thanks to the work of the novice who was our librarian this year (and the novice(s) to come). In the meantime, I picked up from this store room the following title, which I opened today:

Fischer, Kathleen. Reclaiming the Connections: A Contemporary Spirituality. Kansas City, Mo.: Sheed & Ward, 1990.

It is my intention to do a little more spiritual reading by women writers before I leave here.


This morning: concluded our class sessions on the history of the Capuchin provinces of North America. With that, we have no more mornings of instruction. Next week, we the learners will learn from each other how we grew spiritually and otherwise during our novitiate.

Early this afternoon: got a haircut from one of my novice brothers. Feeling cooler on top; my head is in shapely again, just in time for profession and the paparazzi. Mid-afternoon, hermitage time for the next to last time during this novitiate. I spent this prayerful silence on a long walk and in the Fischer book, while also meditating on the above words from the book of Genesis.

Now, to a gentle evening, perhaps getting a head start on the packing I intend to complete tomorrow. Anything I don't need here for the remaining two and a half weeks is going to San Lorenzo Friary in Jamaica Plain, Mass.


Just breezy enough to take the burn off the rising heat.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summons and Unsettling

Lectio Divina

How narrow the gate ... that leads to life.

Matthew 7:14

There is no compromise with the Sermon on the Mount. We who follow Jesus must use only the means Christ gave us to bring God's love and justice into the world. May all Christians remain faithful to the means Jesus gives us to build peace and work for justice, and let us not be tempted to use coercive power and violence to resolve conflicts and solve social problems.


Read a little more of Caught by Jesuit Fr. Michael Kennedy of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative. His vignettes of life at California state prisons and juvenile halls are tough reading, both in content and (unfortunately) form -- his writing is ungainly. I may be putting this one down.

Done with America; going to open National Catholic Reporter. The Capuchins are much on the pages of NCR, with features on Bro. Charles Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia, and Bro. Sean O'Malley, cardinal archbishop of Boston. (Click here and here.) And the Province of Saint Joseph has made a splash by releasing an audit it conducted voluntarily of its personnel files in order to document how it handled allegations of sexual abuse over the last 80 years. (Click here and here.) I invite you to read these articles and draw your own opinions.


Although the path is clear for me to begin new adventures in faith as a vowed religious with the Capuchins, I am feeling pessimistic these days about the world, and the United States in particular as a purveyor of violence. The so-called "compromise" that lawmakers in Congress have arrived at in order to pass a bill to reform our immigration policy -- increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, retributive measures in the form of back taxes and denial of social benefits paid into, intrusive surveillance of employers and employees, a lengthy process toward citizenship -- trades on the misery of millions of families. It is a comprehensive reform bill; it is not even close to being a just and humane reform. God forgive us for putting sovereignty and the security of a border over humanity and the safety of millions of women, children, and men who cross the border illegally not because they want to, but because they have to in order to survive.

We cannot pass a farm bill because we refuse to spend the money we must to feed millions of hungry neighbors. We cannot pass an infrastructure bill because we refuse to spend the money we must to repair our roads and bridges. We should not pass an immigration bill that puts border security above human rights, but we will spend the money -- taken from the pockets of the poor immigrants themselves! -- to prevent any more of their kindred from coming here. God will not bless us for what we are doing.

This morning, continuing our history lessons on the Capuchin provinces of North America. This afternoon, watering the grounds and slowly composing and designing the newsletter. This evening, in a few moments, reading the news of the Church and the world and reflecting.

After today, eighteen days left in California. Life here is serene, and God continues to speak to me through and in spite of me. But life here is also moving too slowly. Our lingering and gazing on the transfigured Jesus is coming to an end. I hear the summons. It's time to go!


A little warm, a little breezy. Calm out there, but within God stirs an unsettling storm.

The Request

Just a moment ago I posted my provincial minister's letter approving my request to be admitted into temporary vows. Here is the letter of request to which he responded.

Fr. Francis Gasparik, OFM Cap., Provincial Minister
Capuchin Franciscans, Province of Saint Mary
Saint Conrad Friary, Provincialate
30 Gedney Park Drive
White Plains, NY  10605-3599

May 24, 2013

Dear Father Francis:

God’s peace and goodness be with you and all the brothers of the Province of Saint Mary.

With this letter I formally request admission to temporary vows in the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor in the Province of Saint Mary. I am asking to make this commitment of my own free will and without coercion from anyone.

I understand the seriousness of the commitment I am about to make. With all my soul I desire to live by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to do this after the example of Francis of Assisi and his Capuchin descendants. With all my heart I desire to live the consecrated life. I firmly believe God has given me the grace to love others in chaste celibacy; to share my talents in poverty, without anything of my own, holding back nothing I receive from God for myself; and to heed the divine will in obedience.

I come to you as a brother in Jesus Christ who is eager to share our charism of fraternity with the whole world; as a person of prayer, a cultivator of holy silence and solitude; as a servant of the justice and compassion of Christ, God-made-human for the sake of all peoples; and as a lover of simplicity who strives to be authentically poor with the poor.

The prospect of professing vows fills me with peace, but it is not a peace of stasis. It is, I trust, the peace of Christ, who has unlocked potential energies within me. In initial formation God has increased my longing to be a brother in a spirit of true minority, and God has pushed me beyond the previous limits I put on charity toward others.

I commit my life to the God of Jesus Christ as a Capuchin Franciscan friar. May it please God for me to embrace this life of penance for my good, the good of the Capuchin order, and the good of the Church and the world. Thank you for considering my request, and may God bless your ministry to the brothers.

Fraternally in Christ,
Bro. Anthony Zuba, OFM Cap.

Official From the Province

Two correspondences. First, from Fr. Francis Gasparik, the provincial minister for the Province of Saint Mary:

Capuchin Franciscans
Province of St. Mary
Saint Conrad Friary
30 Gedney Park Drive
White Plains, NY 10605-3599

June 20, 2013

Dear Anthony,

May the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

After careful review of the results of your recent final evaluation, supported by the Novitiate Formation team's recommendations, I am personally grateful for your desire and courage to continue your vocation discernment journey with us.

In consultation with the members of the Provincial Council at its June 19, 2013 meeting, I formally approve your request to pronounce first vows in the presence of the friars, your family and friends on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at Sacred Heart Church, Yonkers, New York at 11:00 a.m.

Anthony, please be assured of our fraternal support and personal prayers as you continue to seek God's ill, journeying in the footsteps of our Holy Father Francis of Assisi.

Francis J. Gasparik, OFM Cap.
Provincial Minister


The following message is from the provincial Office of Communications.

With gratitude to the Most High God the
Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Mary
announce with great joy the

First Profession of Vows of our brothers

Anthony Zuba, OFM Cap.
Linneker Marin, OFM Cap.
William Tarraza, OFM Cap.
John Alvarado, OFM Cap.

On the
Twentieth day of July
Two Thousand and Thirteen

11:00 a.m.

The Church of the Sacred Heart
110 Shonnard Place
Yonkers, NY 10703

A reception will immediately follow in the 
Schools of the Sacred Heart Cafeteria


Consider yourself invited to the celebration! I would ask you kindly to contact the Office of Communications of the Province of Saint Mary, (914) 761-3008 ext. 223, by July 13.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Make Way!

Lectio Divina

He made my words of judgment....

Isaiah 49:2 (New Living Translation)


In between spiritual and theological reading. There is a pamphlet by a Jesuit priest, Michael Kennedy, titled Caught, with reflections on life in prison that I intend to begin this afternoon during meditation.

Almost caught up on the latest issue of America. It's time to forward all subscriptions to San Lorenzo Friary in Jamaica Plain, Mass.


The lights went out last night just after nine-thirty and returned after midnight, perhaps one o'clock. With nothing else to do, I went to bed.

Returning to a normal schedule of class sessions and chores and ministry this week. We will conclude our series of mini-histories of the various provinces of the North American and Pacific Capuchin Conference.

It is the solemnity of the birth of John the Baptist, and his spirit is simmering in my blood this morning. Ah, a (holy?) impatience is gripping me once again. (If it is not yet holy, God, make it holy. In fact, give me both holy patience and holy impatience.) Let us who call ourselves Christians keep in front of our eyes the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, and make a way for the Gospel to transform our society. Let us speak out courageously for love and justice and against the words and works of persons and institutions that criminalize immigrants, starve the hungry, and crush the poor. Make way, make way!


Mostly cloudy last evening. What harsh weather we are having!

Another San Lorenzo

With the future now presenting itself, I can confirm where I will be living when I move to Boston in August. It is San Lorenzo, again! But whereas this is San Lorenzo Seminary, the post-novitiate house of formation there is San Lorenzo Friary.

Noting that subtle difference, here is the address:

San Lorenzo Friary
15 Montebello Road
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

The telephone number is (617) 983-1919. I will have a personal extension -- what it will be, I don't know yet. In addition, I will be issued a cell phone (gasp!). My e-mail will remain the same:

Most likely next week I will ship a few belonging there from California, and when I return to New York other items now in storage, mainly books and papers, will be "shipping up to Boston."

More transitions to come!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


About an hour ago, I was outside watering the trees and bushes around our Stations of the Cross when Brother Johnny came out of the friary, made the long walk to where I was, and told me Bro. Francis Gasparik, the provincial minister, called and spoke to our novice director.

It's official. I am taking vows.

It feels good to know. Now waiting for the official letter to arrive.

Back now from retreat, back in the desert for three more weeks. And back to work: I'm helping with the evening meal tonight.

Monday, June 17, 2013

O My God, Pardon Me

O my God, pardon me, pardon me for my coldness, my cowardliness, my wasted time, my pride, my love of my own will, forgive me my weakness and unfaithfulness, the confusion of my thoughts, my forgetfulness of your presence. Forgive, forgive my sins, all the faults of my life.... I thank you for your many graces.

My Lord and my God, come to my aid, help me on whom you have showered your gifts so that I might me converted, and let me use the gifts that you still offer me so that I may do whatever you ask of me, whatever, in your infinite goodness, you call me to do, I who am so unworthy.

Turn my heart toward you, my God, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.... You are all-powerful over your creatures, you can do all things in me. Give me a right mind, give me the wisdom that you promise to all who ask for it. Convert my heart and let me glorify you to the utmost till my last breath and through all eternity. I ask this in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Charles de Foucauld of North Africa (1858-1916)

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Lectio Divina

... my guilt I did not hide.

Psalms 32:5


Sped through the remainder of the recently arrived Catholic periodicals.

Absorbed in Miranda, Being and the Messiah. This is living theology.


Feeling melancholy today. Inhibited and turned inward. The world is not moving quickly enough. And it is only turning in place. My impatience, is it holy or not?

There could not be a better time than now for a retreat. Tomorrow morning we leave for the Serra Retreat Center for a week of quiet conversation in reflection on the vows we will take imminently. ("the vows we will take imminently": That is for me a hopeful statement: the novices of the Province of Saint Mary have not yet been formally admitted into vows.)

Our schedule this week will be different. Our hours of common prayer and celebration of Eucharist are abridged and modified. We will spend the mornings in prayerful silence while meditating on the meaning of the vows in our life. (Among other helps for our meditation are Capuchin documents like the Constitutions and the documents of the seven Plenary Councils of the Order.) We will spend the afternoons in gentle quietude or in one-on-one conversations until gathering in small groups for deep sharing. The evenings will be spent variously: Mass on Monday, Eucharistic adoration on Tuesday, viewing a pertinent movie on Wednesday, a social on Thursday. We will visit the Santa Monica Pier and sup at a soup and salad buffet in Camarillo on our way home Friday.

This is not a silent retreat, but given the opportunity to make much of it a time of hermitage, I intend to be scarce and in solitude to the maximum extent possible.

And I will be offline until my return to San Lorenzo Seminary on Friday evening.

This morning, Mass at Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish in Santa Maria. My body was there but did not know where it was; my soul was way off somewhere else. This afternoon, finishing the watering I began yesterday. Then, Eucharistic adoration and evening prayer, our social, our evening meal, and prayerful silence before gathering one more time in prayer and recreation at the end of the day.

Let us unite in prayer, friends. And even as we pause, let us surge forward to what lies ahead.


The sky is clear and blue. The light and warmth are all around us. Penetrate me, flood me! Not as dry summer heat, but as the warmth of spring softening and quickening every cell, tissue, and member of a dull, dormant body.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sharing and Swelling

Lectio Divina

... no longer live for themselves....

2 Corinthians 5:15 


Continuing Miranda, Being and the Messiah. Finishing recent issues of Catholic Agitator, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter.


Many blessings last evening at the federal prison in Lompoc in the sharing of spiritual gifts (and snacks) with the men at the low-security compound. Conversation, confession with Brother Harold, and testimonials on the cusp of Brother Harold's departure for San Francisco. How good to be able to relax with the brothers unencumbered by a strict schedule! We could breathe; we could talk; we could listen; we could sing. When Brother Harold said he would remember the men of this church community at every Mass he celebrates for the rest of his life, I believe it.

What good feelings swelled in our hearts. Would that I could have come around to the prison for more of these once-monthly Friday social gatherings! A high point of novitiate.

House chapter this morning, the final chapter of novitiate. We will hear more about the vowed retreat we are taking next week in Malibu. Although the New York/New England province has not yet officially admitted me and my brothers into simple vows, we are of course going on the vowed retreat. No brother left behind!

Watering the grounds this afternoon. Perhaps a vigorous walk or even a jog later in the afternoon. Rotating back into the kitchen cleanup crew today and the liturgical leadership tomorrow. Looking for a gentle evening.

Twenty-nine days. Freedom and responsibility beckon with greater importunity.


The clouds are lifting as we speak.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Love and Forgiveness

Lectio Divina

... loves little.

Luke 7:47

The story from which this phrase comes has to do with forgiveness. With forgiveness comes the ability to love. Without it there is no love. So the questions for me are simple: Do I believe in forgiveness? Do I believe in God's great forgiveness? Do I receive it fully and love fully?


Received the latest issue of Catholic Agitator from the Los Angeles Catholic Worker and devoured it. Commonweal is mostly read, and National Catholic Reporter, too. Miranda, Being and the Messiah, beckons me.


Off to Lompoc and the prison for the rest of the day. Faith sharing in the afternoon, and a return to the low-security compound in the evening for prayer, song, and social time as we send off Bro. Harold Snider, the chaplain who leaves for San Francisco at the end of the month. It is also a kind of send-off for me and my novice brother, as we have only one more Friday of ministry and one more Sunday worship visit planned.


Missing today's desert heat by staying cool on the coast.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Birthday, Name Day

Lectio Divina

... where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

I am much drawn to the person of the Holy Spirit in my prayer these days. Today, this verse will lead me.


Eager to continue Miranda, Being and the Messiah, this afternoon. Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter await from the night-table.


It is the feast of Anthony of Padua, who with Bonaventure is one of the earliest Franciscan theologians. It is only a coincidence that I share the same name as this Franciscan saint. I was named after my paternal great-grandfathers, Anthony Ulanowski and Lawrence Zuba. However, I believe firmly that everyone's name truly becomes them, and uncannily so. Without being fatalistic about it, I can believe that names do in fact augur our destiny and carry a peculiar power and influence on our lives. Thus, whatever their motivation for naming me -- familial loyalty, piety, tradition -- God inspired my parents' decision, more than they could ever know.

Last night, baked two pans of non-dairy brownies, one of them from an off-the-shelf vegan brownie mix, the other from scratch with a recipe I found on the Internet. (It contains eggs, so it is not vegan. I found the flax seed, an egg substitute for its binding properties, in our kitchen only after the fact.) It's for our birthday brother, Brother Joe. May your 86th year of life be your best year of life, a life lived more perfectly in Christ.

This morning, I sent my province a list of addresses. The brother in charge of the communications office is sending invitations to the July 20 ceremony for first profession of vows.

Please note that having sent the province my invitation list does not mean I have been admitted into simple vows! Still waiting for official word with thirty days to go. But the preparations for the ceremony are moving forward, and being asked to submit an invite list must surely augur well.

Later this morning, going to Old Mission Santa Ines for lunch cookout with Bro. Brendan Buckley. Put a veggie burger and corn cob on the grill for me, brother!

This evening, the birthday social and dinner. Let the day go gently.


Unusually gloomy-looking this morning with sky overcast. But guess what? The sun has returned. The sun always prevails in these parts. Now the temperature is rising five degrees hourly. That's life in the desert valley.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Lectio Divina

"... your wickedness is removed, your sin purged."

Isaiah 6:7


Found inspiration browsing through the classroom library. From the night table, now featuring....

McFadden, Thomas M. (ed.). Does Jesus Make a Difference? New York: Seabury, 1974. (Proceedings of the College Theology Society. Twelve articles, originally delivered at the 1973 meeting of the College Theology Society.)

Miranda, Jose. Being and the Messiah: The Message of St. John. Trans. by John Eagleson. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1977. (A Mexican scripture scholar in the tradition of liberation theology. Wow. I've read only the first two chapters, tantalizingly titled "Revolution and Existentialism" and "The Vindication of Atheism." Sorry, Bonaventure--you lose for now. This is what speaks the Gospel and the Christian commitment to me.)

Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter also beckon from the night table.


Last night during the announcements at the end of the evening meal, one of my novice brothers announced cheerfully that he is leaving the program. Just when I thought this community had shown all the cards in its hand.

He will be with us until Friday morning. His departure is easily the happiest and least conflicted of the five I have witnessed this year. It puzzles me why he is leaving, since it is clear he is so happy in the company of the Capuchins. But far be it from me to question the prompting of the Spirit in my brothers' lives.

Are there any more shoes left to drop? Thirty-one days to go, and still waiting, and waiting poorly, in the desert for the word to return home to take vows.

This morning, concluded our class sessions on Bonaventure, ancestor of our movement and a founder of the Franciscan intellectual tradition. His theological work has the touch of a poet, but I must confess that his way of talking about God and the mystical journey to God doesn't move me. His meditations are carefully crafted and skillfully worded, but they are dense and difficult to penetrate. Reading The Vigilance of a Poor One in the Desert (known more commonly as The Journey of the Mind Into God) is like deciphering a James Joyce novel or solving a New York Times Sunday crossword. The "payoff" doesn't seem to be worth the work it requires, and it requires a lot.

But then again, I've had only a few days to read Bonaventure. Scripture, too, once seemed too obscure and therefore hardly vital to me. So am I being too harsh on my Franciscan ancestor? Probably. Had I encountered Bonaventure fifteen years ago, when God was first stirring my spirit with the Holy Spirit, and I was looking for all things mystical, I would have ate up this stuff. However, the reality is I have learned to appreciate all that Bonaventure champions -- the virtue of contemplation, the necessity of living by faith, and the urgency of doing good theology (read: God-talk) -- by other means, through other voices and other communities. With all kinds of scaffolding already surrounding the edifice of my soul that rises to God, Bonaventure's ladder seems superfluous at this time.

This evening, we celebrated a brother's birthday, the last such celebration for a novice in this long year together. (But we have one more birthday song to sing. Tomorrow, we celebrate the 85 years of Bro. Joseph Slominski, the senior friar here, who has dwelled at San Lorenzo since he joined the order in 1971. You can read about him on Page 7 of the June Caperone.)


Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley....
In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there.

Yes, "Roundabout"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Receive the Holy Spirit

Lectio Divina

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

Matthew 10:9


In between spiritual reading and theological reading. Weil, The Need for Roots, is closed; will I re-open it? Mumford, The City in History, has been closed for months; will I re-open it. No periodicals in the mailroom.


On this day in 2000, it was Pentecost. I received the sacrament of confirmation. I received the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God, the giver of all good things. On this day in 2004, I was attending my class reunion at Cornell University. On this day, walking up the North Campus, I had a powerful experience of re-orientation, and I was filled from within with light and warmth. I knew I was going to study theology, and I knew I was going to live in Boston. Thanks be to God, who leads me and guides me.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me life, wisdom, courage, and strength. May I give everything I have received from you.

Continuing our class sessions on Bonaventure. Continuing our vigil as we wait for official admission into vows.


Spring in the morning, summer in the afternoon, fall in the evening and night.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Lectio Divina

Why are you downcast, my soul;
why do you groan within me?

Psalms 42:6


Weighing whether or not to continue reading Weil, The Need for Roots.


Waiting, waiting for official admission into temporary vows.

With our brother and presenter, Bro. Regis Armstrong of the Catholic University of America, present, we are about to begin a week of class sessions on the theology of Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, a seminal figure in the early history of the Franciscan movement. The way we see Francis of Assisi is largely under the influence of Bonaventure. And although it is the form and substance of the theology of Thomas Aquinas that has became normative in the classical and early modern tradition of Western Christianity (and magisterial in the institutional Roman Catholic Church), the work of Bonaventure continues to be a dominant strain among the men and women of the Franciscan family. And, after all, he is a doctor of the Church.

This afternoon, working on the grounds, watering, watering. Will the schola rehearse this evening? We shall see.


What a delightful breeze wafted through the refectory this morning. A breath of life.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Keeping Vigil

Lectio Divina

I praise you ... for you raised me up....

Psalms 30:2


Finished The Ecumenical Revolution, thanks be to God. Maybe I will finish reading The City in History before novitiate ends!

Opened the pages of a book by the French philosopher Simone Weil (you must at least read a capsule biography about her): The Need for Roots: Prelude Towards a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind (London: Routledge, 2002). I don't like all her ideas, but then again I am having difficulty following her reasoning, so I need to slow down with this one. I may put it down pretty soon, but I hope to stick with it.


Five weeks left in California. This class of novice brothers has lived together day and night without separation or vacation for 54 weeks. Talk about intimacy!

The plumbing in the kitchen is being repaired. It's a significant undertaking that will shut down the entire kitchen next week, the week we are on retreat in Malibu. For this week and perhaps until the end of the month, the dishwasher will be shut down. We are being asked to use disposable cups, plates, and cutlery. No, they are not biodegradable. I am distressed about this. We are Franciscans: we can do better than this.

This morning, Mass at Saint Raphael, a parish in Goleta, close to the city of Santa Barbara. A good liturgy and a heartfelt homily from the deacon, but I was feeling too preoccupied to be really present with the people of the parish.

This afternoon, began, with my fellow Province of Saint Mary brothers, planning the liturgy for our first profession ceremony. Felt odd to be doing this, since we have not yet been formally admitted into vows! But, we went ahead anyway, hoping for imminent good news this week.

So there we are: Keeping vigil until the provincial minister makes a decision on my request for vows. Feeling moody and a little melancholy today.


Cool and cloudy in the morning, and I rather wish it had stayed that way. But who is truly human who would begrudge the sun for shining?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Turn in the Sun

Lectio Divina

... I have been looking for you....

Luke 2:48


One chapter left in The Ecumenical Revolution. The book has stimulated my prayers for the unity of all Christians, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. May common dialogue flower into common action for the building of a better world, and progress into common worship. We are after all sisters and brothers, daughters and sons of the one God of Jesus Christ. And I pray that the Franciscan family will take its needed place in the ongoing ecumenical movement. Thank you, Robert McAfee Brown; God rest your soul, and may you live in the new creation in unspeakable joy in the unity of Christ and all his sisters and brothers.


Today is the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the patronal feast of the Province of Saint Mary, my home province with the Capuchins. So there will be a social for us, the New York/New England novice brothers, after evening prayer and before the evening meal. We have celebrated in like manner on the patronal feasts for the other North American Capuchin provinces, so it's only fair we of the Northeast get our turn in the sun!

Speaking of turns in the sun: This morning, watering the thirsty grounds. I am rather enjoying the time I get to spend outdoors doing this light but much-needed work. One of my novice brothers has observed that my hair, which is a dark brown, looks a bit lighter these days. This afternoon, a little Caperon-ing. This evening, a film with the novice brothers.

Also, at some time today, though I don't know when, we are expecting the arrival of the vicar provincial of the Province of Saint Mary. 


It's spring leaning into summer.

Friday, June 7, 2013

He Is Our Heart

Lectio Divina

... at this the bearers halted.

Luke 7:14


Two chapters to go in The Ecumenical Revolution.


The acknowledgement form and deposit are on their way to Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Waiting, as are all the novice brothers, for formal acceptance into first vows.

This morning, celebration of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a feast that has its origins in devotions dating to the eleventh century. Click here for a traditional explanation of the devotion. Now looking back on what I wrote last year about this devotion and surprised by the wisdom. Where did that wisdom come from, and where did it go?

Jesus, human one, divine one, be our heart, the Heart of the World. Be the heart of my heart. Be the love that is always loving, emptying in love, receiving in love. Let me so love as to forget about myself in the loving. Let me love so that it is no longer I who love, but you in me.

This afternoon, faith sharing with my brothers at Lompoc. Then, this evening, faith sharing with my brothers at San Lorenzo.


A few degrees warmer than warm.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Admitted ...

... not yet to vows, but to Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. I have been admitted into the Master of Theology program. This is gratifying news, and I am grateful for the longstanding support of my mentors and friends and Boston University School of Theology, as well as the current and continuing support, both spiritual and material, of my Capuchin brothers. I look forward to continuing my intellectual development in a religious key with the academic community at Boston College. Let there be many new adventures in theology to come!

Lectio Divina

"Why are you testing me?"

Mark 12:15

Meditating on these words of Jesus in light of a friend from the Catholic Worker house in Guadalupe, whose case concerning his right to protest on an easement (public property) in front of Vandenberg Air Force Base is going to the Supreme Court. Prayers flying off to Dennis Apel and the Catholic Workers, who refuse to allow Caesar to take from them what is to be rendered only to God.


Three chapters to go in Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution.


This morning, concluded our week of classes on Clare of Assisi by examining her rule of life, especially in contrast to earlier forms of (monastic) life imposed on her by ecclesial authority. The story of Clare's perseverance in attaining the privilege of living according to the radically new form of Gospel life Francis of Assisi patterned, codified in a rule written by her own hand, is worth telling and re-telling. Her success in securing for herself and her order a form of religious life of her own design, without diminishment or diversion, by well-meaning but not always understanding authorities (and fellow sisters), is a watershed in the history of the Church.

This afternoon, lunch in Solvang, near Old Mission Santa Ines, with Brother Harold and a couple of novice brothers who see him for spiritual direction and theological reflection. I will see Harold a few more times at the prison in Lompoc before he begins his new assignment at the Franciscan shrine in San Francisco. It is a privilege to be in his company a little while longer. He is a plainspoken, plain-dealing friar, approachable and wise. He is all about taking a back seat and letting Christ do the work through him. A good example for me.

Tomorrow: Looking forward to a heart-to-heart visit to Dennis, Tensie, and Jorge at Beatitude House in Guadalupe. Faith sharing, lunch, and brainstorming about the future: we would like the community of San Lorenzo to be in relation with the Catholic Worker community. It will probably be my final visit to Guadalupe, but our friends will be coming over on Friday for a day of renewal and re-dedication to their work in peaceful solitude and prayerful silence.

Now, to reflect on the day and bake a vegan lemon cake for my co-workers in Christ!


It is a delight to be out in the shining sun, under the clear blue sky.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Under Review

Lectio Divina

"See! Your true character is finally showing itself!"

Tobit 2:14


Four more chapters of Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution. Also the rule of life prepared by Clare of Assisi for her religious community of sisters committed to the Gospel life patterned by Francis of Assisi.

In my mailbox this afternoon I received a photocopy of a treatise by Saint Bonaventure, one of the early theologians of the Franciscan intellectual tradition. I will say more about this figure next week, when we have class sessions on his life and thought.

Now, for you, the June issue of The Caperone.


With thirty-nine days of novitiate left, I have completed my application to Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. It is now under review. So, too, still, my request to take vows. Patience, brother....

This morning, continued our class sessions on Clare of Assisi. This afternoon, after a lunch-hour nap, a conference with my co-editor on the final issue of our novitiate newsletter. Our proposal has been okayed by our formator who is the editorial director, and we are Caperon-ing away.

A quiet day. Our routine is holding me up and holding at bay a creeping torpor of body and spirit. The ardor in my heart remains capable of impressive flares.


It is keeping calm.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Clare Revisited

Lectio Divina

... never forsake those who seek you....

Psalms 9:11


Making good progress on Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution. Caught up on my periodicals.

Just printed out an article of no small interest to me: a report by John Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter from the Capuchin Province of Saint Augustine's chapter just concluded outside Pittsburgh. He writes about the two Capuchin bishops of the United States, Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston, and Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Both Capuchin friars were reared in the Province of Saint Augustine.


This morning, the first of three class sessions this week on Clare of Assisi. Today we limned the contours of her life and set her days in the context of war, economics in 13th-century Europe. Tomorrow we will turn to her religious thought as known through her writings, and on Wednesday we will conclude with an examination of the spirit of her movement as known through her rule of life for the Second Order. I hope to write more about her life and times later; I don't want to exhaust all my computing time in one blow!

This afternoon, after a good and brisk mind-clearing walk in the mid-day sun, a good conversation with one of the friars on the oversight committee given the responsibility of evaluating the interprovincial novitiate program. I felt "listened into speech"; that is, the brother heard what I was saying and heard me so affirmatively that it summoned deeper sharing from me. I hope that what I had to say will be taken well under advisement by the provincial ministers and provincial directors of initial formation, so that our program may be improved in its structural aspects and make of tomorrow's novices more faithful sons of Francis and more faithful followers of the Gospel that is to be our way of life.

This evening, after two Mondays of rest, the schola comes together again for rehearsal. I am now off the kitchen team. I have two more eight-day rotations on the kitchen chores until the end of novitiate.


Dry as ever, but not so hot as before. But I am circumspect. The sun is never to be underestimated.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Give What You Receive

Lectio Divina

... I received ... what I also handed on to you....

1 Corinthians 11:23


You know by now what I'm reading, or attempting to read. Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, in the chapel stall; America and Hospitality on the night-table.


This Sunday is a special solemnity: the celebration of the institution of the Eucharist, the memorial of Jesus Christ's gift of his body and blood as signified by his offering of bread and wine to his followers in a ritual meal of fellowship. Christians believe that in offering himself through the bread and wine, Jesus was offering us the very life of God; and that in our celebration of the Eucharist, our commemoration, memorial, and re-presentation of Jesus' offering, we continue to receive God in Christ, who is made manifest in our ritual. Let us receive with gladness what God has given to us in Jesus Christ; with Saint Paul, let us hand on to others what we received; and in our ritual offering of the bread and wine made Christ, let us become a real offering, as truly made Christ as the bread and wine, to God and our neighbor.

The brothers from the Province of Saint Augustine have returned from their triennial chapter in Pittsburgh. We are at full strength as a novitiate fraternity again. I'll miss the serenity of a smaller household, but what we lose in solitude we may gain in solidarity when we live in concord, no matter how large, and at times unwieldy, the fellowship.

Published the latest issue of The Caperone yesterday and will have a link for you in a few days. Also coordinated the evening meal, but I didn't bake or cook new dishes. (My novice brother fried some plantains, but that was all we did that was fresh.) We had so many leftovers from the celebration for Brother Harold and from our own meals the previous week, that it would have been a sin and a shame not to consume what we had been given! With roast chicken and gravy, red potatoes, white rice, mixed vegetables and plantains, biscuits, cranberry sauce, and assorted desserts, we had a Thanksgiving meal in June, a little eucharistia.

Today, Mass at with the men at Lompoc. This evening, we receive the company of the friars who comprise a committee for the oversight of initial formation for the North American and Pacific Capuchin Conference. They will be interviewing the novice brothers and the solemnly professed friars this week in evaluation of the novitiate program. Now it's our turn to be evaluators!


Much less heat than yesterday. Spring is back again.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Table Overflowing

Lectio Divina

... they said to Jesus in reply, "We don't know."

Mark 11:33

Hearing this Scripture in light of a recent Commonweal column by John Garvey. How refreshing to hear a confession of uncertainty; how I hope that my sisters and brothers in faith never let uncertainty get in the way of holy and humble confidence.


Brown in the chapel stall, periodicals on the night-table.


House chores and work projects this morning, including, for a few of the brothers, digging in the new vineyard being planted. And on the hottest day of the year to date! May God bless them and cool them.

A good time at Old Mission Santa Ines last evening in the company of the parish as we honored Brother Harold. He deserves what he has received: love outpoured from a grateful community.

Our tables were overflowing with good things to eat. But, my goodness, how much food the good people insisted we take home to San Lorenzo! Let it never be said that a Capuchin friar ever went hungry involuntarily. Indeed, no Franciscan friar I have ever known ever starved against his will.

It seems my culinary talents will not be needed today. Rather, I will perform the fraternal service of preparing the leftovers for our community.

I pray that the measure of stupendous generosity our benefactors give to the Capuchins, they may also give to those who are genuinely in need. And I pray that we who know better than anyone else what we truly need, may have the courage to show our benefactors where their surplus may supply outstanding wants, and thus bring the justice of equity (and equality) to the body of Christ.


Ninety-eight degrees! I'm going to stay in the kitchen.