Concluding the blog post begun on Monday:
8. Brothers -- can't pray with them, can't pray without them. Bob Dylan said, "You can't make love all by yourself." Well, prayer as an intimate conversation with the God who is love is nothing if not a love-making exercise. Christians cannot pray to the living, loving God who is a communion of persons without their sisters and brothers in the Spirit-filled communion of friendship and fellowship. The prayer of the Church to the God of Jesus Christ, the One who is more than one, is a harmony of voices. Unless you have the gift of singing two notes at once, you cannot harmonize solo. And though God can hear one voice well, God can hear many voices better. I never got adjusted to the sloooow pace of common prayer of novitiate, but I will have to keep trying to pray with the brothers, no matter how off our rhythms may be, because when we harmonize, it is miraculous.
9. "Give them some food yourselves" (Luke 9:13). The silent retreat revealed to me that I must share what is mine to give, not offer what I stole from someone else. The only things that are mine to give are the things God has given me. Thus, a holy offering is an offering that comes from what God gives to you, not what you took from another person and passed off as your own. A gift, to be a personal gift, must come at a personal cost. God's gifts are personal gifts and are given in order to be given away. You cannot share in riches; you can only share in poverty. Understanding this truth and putting it into practice, to me, is a key to the Gospel life Francis followed.
10. Impatience postpones everything. Because of Jesus Christ, God is known now, precisely in the now. But it is also true that no one has seen God; indeed, God has yet to be known, to become real existentially for all of humanity. The God of Jesus Christ is going to be God in the future-made-present. This is why the name God gives to Moses is "I will be who I will be." Impatience, unholy impatience, keeps the future in the future just as much as an erroneous concept of end-time, a unholy complacency, and a sinful procrastination converge in us to put off the realization of the kin(g)dom of God already come. Only a holy patience brings God's reign here, where the brothers (and sisters) are. This phase of initial formation, novitiate, is ending. But I am still training for being with the brothers now in the Now of God's rule. Ready or not, they and I are going together; we are going to stride toward the freedom of the children of God who live in the new creation.
11. My brother is more important than Francis of Assisi. That is, my brother is more important than my idea of him as a son of Francis. Neither he nor I can be compared to the saint, prophet, and founder of our form of Gospel life. Let's face it: we cannot approach Francis as he was when he could be regarded as a person alone and not also an icon of Christ. Useful as they are, icons can also be distancing. My brother is too important to let Francis the icon get between us as persons. I forget this all the time, 77 times a day at least. My brother is more real than my image of Francis; he is bigger than Francis. I will go so far as to say that my brother is more real than my image of Jesus; like The Beatles, he is bigger than Jesus. My brothers, or my sisters, or any neighbors, for that matter, are more real than my concept of them. And so I must consider carefully my thoughts, words, and acts toward them. They are more real than my words to them or my gifts to them, but these pale and poor things do have an effect on them. The kin(g)dom is revealed and arrived, or obscured and departed, in the relationship between me and another person.
12. Brothers are saints and sinners, prophets and liars, angels and devils. They are becoming human and become divine. And so am I. Enough said.