Friday, May 31, 2013

Already, But Not Yet

Lectio Divina

"... we are in a deserted place here."

Luke 9:12


Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, in the chapel stall; America, another issue of Commonweal, and Hospitality from the Open Door Community on the night-table.


A sign has appeared in the classroom and the hallway bulletin board:

44 days left!
until Saturday July 13
a Saturday 1 month and 12 days from

Brothers can see the future presenting itself. By declaring a public countdown, it would seem the future is already here, but it is not yet. As of this moment, none of the novice brothers have been officially accepted into vows; only a few have been accepted into undergraduate or graduate studies. We must continue to be patient.

Ministry at the federal prison in Lompoc this afternoon. This evening, the novitiate community will go to Old Mission Santa Ines to celebrate the life and work of Bro. Harold Snider, who for the last three years has been the Catholic chaplain at Lompoc. Brother Harold is moving to San Francisco this July to assume leadership of the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, which the novices visited on pilgrimage in February. We expect over 200 parishioners of the mission to be there to fete him. I am grateful to Brother Harold for opening the doors of the prison to me and my novice brother, so that we could share our faith with, and receive faith from, the children of God who are incarcerated there with Jesus. My ministry partner and I will probably celebrate the Eucharist with him two more times at Lompoc before the three of us conclude our ministry at the end of June. 


I hope you are enjoying weather as pleasant as we are right now. But the temperatures steadily rising. They will rocket up tomorrow. And I'll be in the kitchen, to boot! Can I stand the coming heat?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Works Into Being

Lectio Divina

... he accepts the one who does his will....

Sirach 42:15-25

Speak your human creation, God, into new being, your little word into a work peculiarly your own. May your creature be pleasing to you and in doing your will bring to others the well-being, happiness, security, and peace you give.


Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, in the chapel stall. Now making steady progress.


Morning prayer and Mass combined this morning. I read the passage from the wisdom book of Sirach about the glory of God the creator who knows and sustains us from eternity. The earth did not move, the sky did not fall, and the hills did not burst into flame. But we received the body and blood of Christ. As we pray that we may be better brothers to creation, we hope we will be ready to receive who we are in the new creation.

There is a lay secular volunteer who joins my novice brother and I occasionally for the Friday faith sharing groups and Sunday Mass at FCC Lompoc. He offered to take us out to lunch, and of course the hungry friars accepted! Later this morning we will go into Santa Ynez to an Italian ristorante to sample the pasta. This afternoon, perhaps to exercise, definitely to write (perhaps to finish!) a letter or two.


The heat is rising again. But it's still cool and comfortable at this hour. On Saturday the temperature will soar! Ninety-five degrees? Look out....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Lectio Divina

Give new signs and work new wonders.

Sirach 36:6

But not like the one we received this morning!


Now making progress in Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution. Finished Commonweal in an evening.


At 7:38 a.m. this morning, just after we began the liturgy of the Eucharist, we heard what sounded for all the world to me like a gigantic rodent pounding the chapel timbers. The pounding became a rapid jackhammering, and all the space around us began to vibrate.

What on earth? Precisely. The earth moved under our feet.

The chapel rattled for about four seconds. Everything appeared ready to collapse, but we were frozen -- nobody moved. What would we do?

Never had my heart rate jumped so quickly as at that moment. Then the rattling stopped, and everyone and everything was silent and still.

Those of us who weren't from California asked the innocent questions. Should we go outside? Should we continue Mass? One of the California novice brothers said it was only an aftershock and it was probably all over. We continued, and the earth stood still.

"Welcome to California," said another of the California novices to me after Mass. Well.

The U.S. Geological Survey says it was a temblor of 4.6 magnitude centered three miles west of Isla Vista in Santa Barbara County, which is only a 45-minute drive from here.

For all the power of that quake, not a thing fell in the chapel. I am reflecting now on how gentle and yet how tremendous the energies of creation are.

In a little while, we're going to Old Mission Santa Barbara to tour the Franciscan archives, which I am told also hold many documents on the history of the state and the county. We will also have lunch with the friars, including, I hope, my spiritual director, whose birthday is today. I expect it will be a light and amusing day.

To Sister Mother Earth I say: Don't move!


Sunny, windy, clear. However, as regular as nature is, it is also unpredictable.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Lectio Divina

... for my sake and for the sake of the gospel....

Mark 10:29


The new issue of Commonweal is here, confirming my subscription has been renewed ... huzzah! Now, if I am not continuing lectio divina on the above phrase, I will open Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, after the Office of Readings this evening.


It is Tuesday, but it feels like Monday because of Memorial Day being yesterday.

Shortly after my brothers returned from their picnic by Paradise Road, a vegetation fire blew into a great blaze in the Los Padres National Forest. The furious winds made the fire something fierce, quickly consuming a thousand acres and more. Hundreds of holiday campers and area residents were evacuated. Numerous fire-fighting agencies came to the scene, but it seemed the fire was only marginally controlled by the evening.

We are grateful our brothers returned to us safely, before danger broke out. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported, and it does not seem that any residential property was destroyed.

Today, back to our normal schedule except we substituted prayerful silence this morning for instruction. It makes little sense to hold a class on anything when a third of the novitiate community is in Pittsburgh attending a provincial chapter. This afternoon, more than two hours of watering our grounds. It's so dry because of the rising heat and wind that the hem of my pant legs, which I accidentally soaked with a hose, was dry within an hour.

Back on kitchen duty this week and liturgical leadership, too. With one of my novice brothers I will be preparing the evening meal this Saturday. Back to the vegan cookbooks.... 


How strong the wind, how great the fire.

Monday, May 27, 2013

One Year

Lectio Divina

... to the penitent ... a way back....

Sirach 17:24


Whether or not I finish books like Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, or Mumford, The City in History, is an open question!


One year ago today, and fifty-two weeks ago yesterday, I touched down in Hays, Kansas, at the end of a very long day of travel (and a short but harrowing airplane ride from Denver through turbulence, thunder, and lightning). Thus began the interprovincial postulancy program leading into the novitiate here in Santa Ynez.

To say our year of religious life has been intense is naked understatement. Keep in mind that since that evening touchdown one year ago, this formation class of twenty novices (it was once twenty-four) has been together 24 hours a day, every single day. We have prayed together, eaten together, worked together, ministered together, played together. Everything, everything has been done in common, all the time. Where else but in the military or in prison or in certain boarding schools do groups of people remain constantly in the presence of one another? Not even families, married couples, or life partners spend this much time together! When I consider this, I marvel at how well we relate to each other. And how we have grown.

To celebrate this is by no means to invite complacency. I concluded my blog entry of May 28, 2012, with these words: "Spirit of Christ, call me here; plant me firmly on this ground; make me really present to you and to my brothers." Many things have changed, but some things do not. I am still making the same prayer to the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, Spirit-Sophia. Let us strive to live the Gospel better as a religious family.

Today, several of the brothers are having a picnic. They are going to Paradise Road on the way to Lake Cachuma by the Santa Ynez River. Others will be keeping quiet at San Lorenzo, with a few preparing the obligatory Memorial Day cookout. I will be remaining here for a quiet day of Caperoning. One article to edit, one article to write.

Yes, today is Memorial Day. To my fellow citizens: as you remember the generations of U.S. service members, please also pray for all the civilians, innocent children, women, and men of other nations, who have died in the wars our nation fought in their countries. They were never our enemies, even if their nations' leaders were aggressors. Let us see other people as Christ, and see no enemies.


Temperate and clear, with mighty winds on the way. This land is beautiful.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Holy Wisdom

Lectio Divina

... you cannot bear it now.

John 16:12

For me, Jesus is referring not only or even primarily to the truth as proposition, but truth as relation, truth as it is embodied in persons, who are creatures in relation. Indeed, I cannot handle the truth. The truth is a fire, and when I use it, I burn myself and other people. Holy Wisdom, Spirit-Sophia, guide me always on the right path, and show me, gracious Mother, how to speak the words and do the works of your son, Jesus Christ. Teach me how to do the truth in love.


If I am going to finish The Ecumenical Revolution, I am just going to have to bring it into the chapel. Paging through National Catholic Reporter and not much else at the moment.


Our community is diminished by a third this week as the novice brothers from the Province of Saint Augustine attend their triennial chapter in Pittsburgh. Earlier this season the brothers of the Central Canada province and the Colorado province were given leave to attend their respective chapters to observe the election of their provincial minister and definitors and deal with the business of their whole province. The next chapter of the Province of Saint Mary is in May 2014.

Mass at San Lorenzo this morning. This afternoon, calls to the family, and settling in to write a long letter to a dear and beautiful friend who wrote a beautiful letter. She is far wiser than me and many. Knowing her makes me want to be better to others. Knowing her shows me how to be better.

Eucharistic adoration later this afternoon, then the evening social, dinner, silence, and fraternal recreation.

I have sent my letter to the provincial minister requesting admission to temporary vows. The application to Boston College School of Theology and Ministry is all but finished. Seven weeks remain in novitiate. Yet the work of becoming a just and compassionate person has hardly begun. Be patient, bright Spirit-Sophia, with your melancholy, impatient son.


Still chilly in the morning. It had been this way all last week. Strange that the warmth that comes does not linger through the night as I thought it would by now. I wish my hands were not cold to the touch in the morning.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Neither Wealth Nor Power

Lectio Divina

Do not rely on your wealth,
or say, "I have the power."

Sirach 5:1

I don't want the gold of empire, the spices of life, or the slaughter that has been the way of all civilizations. I want the peace of Christ.


Finished Friends of God and Prophets by Elizabeth A. Johnson. Hoping now to return to The Ecumenical Revolution by Robert McAfee Brown. Caught up intermittently this week with America.


My letter to the provincial minister has been vetted, revised, and approved. It is now awaiting delivery. Tomorrow, I intend to send off my personal statement to Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and thereby conclude my application to graduate school, pending documents being submitted by my recommenders and provincial minister.

Yesterday, a good day of recollection as Bro. James Gavin broken open the Word of God in the Gospels in his inimitable way. I want the same intimacy with the Word that he has cultivated over a lifetime of study, meditation, and contemplation.

Hanging around San Lorenzo this morning; among other things, working on the June issue of the newsletter and watering some of the thirsty grounds. This afternoon, a social at the home of one of our community's most generous benefactors. 


Feeling chilly, though it really isn't that cool out there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Season of the Spirit

Lectio Divina

The world will surely stand in place,
never to be moved.

Psalms 93:1


Two chapters away from finishing Johnson. A long way to go on Brown; perhaps during prayerful silence this evening.

Our Pentecost observance ended gently and joyfully in the evening with a celebration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our novitiate fraternity. In the intimacy of our back chapel we sat in choir in two long rows facing each other. After we listened to the words of Scripture (Psalms, Paul to the Corinthians) on the gift of friendship in God and the many members of the body of Christ, we brothers named for one another the gifts we see in each one. As meditative music played we circulated pages of stationery, each imprinted with a Spirit dove descending, each with a brother's name written on it. On each page we wrote a word or phrase or sentence naming the gift we see in that brother's soul. We spent a few moments in grateful silence reading what our fraternity had written to us. Those who were so moved expressed their thanks. Then we exchanged the heartiest peace of Christ with one another before moving into night prayer and the beginning of an all-night vigil of Eucharistic adoration. A beautiful, therapeutic, and upbuilding moment, and exactly the right way to conclude the season of Easter and our season of evaluation. Now we enter the season of the Spirit.

Extending our class sessions on the prayers written by Saint Francis just a little further, concluding tomorrow. This morning, we examined the most well known of his works, the Canticle of the Creatures. A watershed in Italian literature -- this poem was one of the earliest to be composed not in Latin, but in the Umbrian dialect -- and as definitive an expression of Francis' mature spirituality as we have. I am hearing it anew, not only because we today we heard it recited in its original language, but also because it was written in the midst of intense physical suffering. I am pondering the significance of this song as an expression of joy in spite of the evil of sickness and absurdity of death.

This afternoon, I went to Santa Barbara for my final meeting for spiritual direction of the novitiate. With my spiritual director we debriefed on my final evaluation and the outlook for post-novitiate, including studies and ministry. My spiritual director will be abroad for all of June, returning in early July, by which time we will be winding down our program and remaining on-site for the duration. I thank him for his listening ear, wise words, and fraternal warmth.

Just after departing Old Mission Santa Barbara, my novice brother and I headed to the airport and picked up an elder brother from my home province. It is our dear friend, Bro. James Gavin. He will be leading our day of recollection, which begins tomorrow evening and concludes Wednesday evening. I am eager to hear him break open the Word of God he loves so well again.

Now, into the prayerful silence.


Nothing can block the sun, whose light today is indeed brighter and whose heat is stronger than many places I have been.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Lectio Divina

... will give life to your mortal bodies also....

Romans 8:11


Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, anchoring the chapel stall; Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, anchoring the night table. America awaits, too.


Received the third and final evaluation from the formators last evening. I am still here with the Capuchins. The way has been cleared for me to formally request admission to temporary vows from the provincial minister of the Province of Saint Mary.

Feeling subdued and pensive today. We have come this far with the Capuchins, but there is still so far to go. Resolved to become a "lesser brother," I want to be more than who I am. There is no contradiction in this. However, I cling so much to who I am as I am. Only to this me, not to the One who makes me. This is not faith. This is a negation of my religion. The Holy Spirit will make me fully who I am to be, if only I let go and surrender to the One creating something out of nothing, ordering out of chaos, present in the creation and the nothing, present in the chaos and the order. Present in the death and in the life.

Thank you, friars, for saying yes to my yes as we struggle together to say, with the groaning spirit of God, Yes.

This morning at San Lorenzo, a good celebration of the Eucharist on this solemnity of Pentecost, the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the inauguration of the Church, active and visible in the world. Now, to call family in New York and a friend in Massachusetts suffering from cancer and recovering from spinal surgery. This afternoon, perhaps some reading and long, long delayed correspondence. This evening, as we close the season of Easter, a special service of worship leading into night prayer and silence until the morning, with an all-night vigil of Eucharistic adoration.


Last night, the half moon beamed like a friend catching sight of me from afar. And in the cool dark night, I could only look up in relief.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Lectio Divina

... the doors were locked....

John 20:19

The doors were locked, but Jesus Christ appeared anyway to his friends. The doors were locked, but Jesus did not wait to be let in. However, he did not knock (as one might expect to read in Matthew, had the community of Matthew been telling this part of the story), and he did not break in and castigate the disciples for being afraid (as one might expect to read in Mark, had his community been telling the story). No, this is John's Gospel, and John lets the doors remain locked, and he lets Jesus pass over the locked doors without further comment except to say, "Peace be with you." Lots to consider here.


Johnson writes about Friends of God and Prophets. The Pilgrim acquaints me with them, the saints of the church of God that is in Boston.


Physically, feeling much more like full strength. Spiritually, in a restive stasis. What I prayed yesterday, I repeat today: "Do not desert me, spirit of God."

Waiting for the formators' final written evaluation. We will receive them tomorrow. It's like waiting for final grades. Only this is a pass/fail course, and it's real life. I am huddling in the upper room, waiting for a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit.

Faith sharing at the federal prison this afternoon. Review of life with the brothers this evening in advance of our monthly house chapter tomorrow morning.


Cloudy enough to be overcast. Where there is no sunshine, everything is in shadow. Still, there is light enough to see.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Remain, You Who Name

Lectio Divina

I will make [your name] known, that the love ... may be in them....

John 17:26 

Do not desert me, spirit of God. No matter how self-absorbed or withdrawn I get, no matter how short of the mark I land in my daily being and becoming—even when I desert myself, spirit of God, do not desert me. Remain in me.


Continuing with The Pilgrim and Johnson in the chapel stall, Brown and National Catholic Reporter on the night table.


Mass combined with morning prayer. My singing voice has returned, praise God.

Spending today's extended personal time grinding away at the personal statement. The curriculum vitae, such as it is, has been sent off. One transcript has arrived, and another is in transit. Will be talking to one of my theological mentors this afternoon. I am looking forward to a warm conversation.


It is springtime in California again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

To Be Sent

Lectio Divina

... so I sent them into the world.

John 17:18


The latest issue of The Pilgrim has come in from Boston, and it rests in my chapel stall. Prayers fly off to the people I love in the city where I will live again. Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, remains my conversation partner during evening prayer. National Catholic Reporter beckons from my night table.


Five of the novice brothers sent our brother off to Ohio early this morning. We are now a class of twenty. Sixty days remain in the novitiate. Sixty days, and all of us will leave our cloister in California for the world. Jesus has spoken: we are all meant to be sent.

Concluding our class sessions on the prayers of Saint Francis this mid-morning, followed by hermitage time this afternoon. Perhaps a long meditative walk awaits. Or an afternoon of stillness.

Longing for a strong voice so I can sing again. We're getting there.


Fair and very fine. This kind of air restores me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Matthias and His Children

Lectio Divina

... join us as a witness....

Acts 1:22 (New Living Translation)


Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel. National Catholic Reporter on the night-table.


Still dealing with a sore throat. I can speak, but I cannot sing as I would like. That frustrates me.

Today the Church celebrates Saint Matthias, chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve, as an apostle, "as a witness of Jesus' resurrection." My meditations on the communion of saints, assisted greatly by the Johnson book, were deepened by the homily this morning. We commended not only Matthias -- about whom nothing is known reliably except that he was appointed formally to take his place in the company of witnesses to Jesus Christ -- but also all the unnamed and hence "unofficial" disciples, true followers of Jesus who also witnessed by their lives to the life-giving words and works of the Son of God. A saint like Matthias represents for me the great multitude of anonymous women and men whose thoughts, words, and deeds have been effaced over time or suppressed by the powers that still stand in the way of God's reign, but whose witness remains a beacon for those who wait with great longing for the fulfillment of the promises of Christ. Known by God and by God's friends, like Matthias they bring to its full number the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. They complete the body of Christ.

This morning, continuing our study of the prayers of Saint Francis. Now, to watering the grounds and taking a vigorous walk this afternoon.


Cooling off.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Francis' Theology of Prayer

Lectio Divina

"Did you receive the holy Spirit?"

Acts 19:2


I did not finish Johnson when I thought I would. Time to return to Friends of God and Prophets with renewed vigor. America and National Catholic Reporter get in the way, though in a good way.


Battling springtime allergies. I am doing much better than I would be at this time in New York and New England -- the climate is dry, the air is clean, and above all the vegetation is different -- but I am still dealing with a hoarse voice and sore throat. Looks like I will be listening to, but not singing with, the schola this evening.

This morning, resumed our classes on the prayers of Saint Francis, that is, those prayers authenticated by Franciscan scholars as having been without a doubt composed by the holy man himself. We are learning how the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church influenced his prayers, and how in turn his prayers have shaped the prayer of the Church.

Know this much about Francis: it was inconceivable for him to follow Jesus Christ without the Church. For all the Church's faults and failures, he was convinced that Christ was known most perfectly and made most truly present through the visible sign that it was and would always be. Conversely, the Church, from the clergy to all the faithful, was not being Church unless its members turned to Jesus Christ in word and deed, acknowledging their poverty of goodness and complete dependence on the surpassing power and intimate justice and mercy of the God of Christ. All of this was for Francis a work of grace, the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of souls who desire to conform their will to God's will. I have been given good things to reflect on concerning desire and happiness, love and the good.

Now, to keep cool around the friary, and to continue "visioning" theological studies. We have barely two months of novitiate to go.


How many ways can we say the heat is hot?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Parting, a Hope of Blessing

Lectio Divina

As he blessed them he parted from them.

Luke 24:51


Slowing down with Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets. Brown is travelling with me when I go to ministry or to worship. The Catholic periodicals are turning their pages slowly.


We began the novitiate with 24 brothers in formation. Two brothers left the program in October, and a third brother departed in mid-February, during the second period of evaluation. It was announced yesterday at evening prayer that another brother will be departing.

Like the last time, this news comes during a time of evaluation. Like the previous occasions, this news came like a stealth torpedo into our still waters. Every time a brother leaves, it remakes the community; we will be like a new fraternity. We will have to be like a new fraternity. Our group dynamics will be changed significantly.

Each departure is more challenging than the last. We have been weaving our tapestry of fraternity for nearly a year. The threads run long and criss-cross in all sorts of ways. If you pull out one of the threads now and do so incautiously, you could unravel more of the weave than you intended.

For many of the novice brothers, it is not what they expected. It is not as they hoped. But may it be as it ought to be, and may it lead to the better and even the best of all good things, both for the brother leaving us and for the brothers who remain.

We pray our brother's departure will be an occasion of blessing for him and for us. We may not finish our earthly pilgrimage in the same small fellowship we call the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, but we will finish it together. This is fact, not speculation. For better and for worse, in our joys and aches, we have been formed in this walk of faith together. We are a part of each other. Moving apart cannot change that now.

Watering the thirsty grounds this morning. It is doing some good for the bushes and potted plants I check, much good for the ground-cover plants edging the residence halls and the trees shading our Stations of the Cross, and great good for the fruit-bearing trees near our compost heap. Now computing and corresponding and Caperoning, and later this evening baking a fake cheesecake, for tomorrow we celebrate a novice brother's birthday.


We've got that heat.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hebrews 10

Rise up out of the shadow
See what father and mother could not see
Sing the end of the bloodshed
Come away with the one whose voice was heard
When he said

You desire no sacrifice
Not another alien offering
You prepare a body for me
What I give will live forever
Like the sun

Highest in all the priesthood
Warrior bold, shepherd wise, fair prince of peace
See the love in his sad eyes
Bearing our fearful memories to the void
He prevailed

I ascend in a cloud of the blessed
To no temple but to heaven
Who I am is coming to be
I have done and I will always
Do your will

Wash yourself with pure water
Read the word on your heart he planted there
See the day drawing near you
Enter it by the new way through the veil
He has torn

Glory to the Father and Son
Glory to the Holy Spirit
It forever and ever will be
As it was in the beginning
And is now, amen.

Melody: "The Shepherd," Genesis

Here in This Place

Lectio Divina

"I have many people in this city."

Acts 18:10

Thinking, then meditating, on the significance of the city as a place peculiarly God's own. When will I return to reading Lewis Mumford?


Continuing Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel. Continuing Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution. The latest issues of America and National Catholic Reporter await.


Yesterday, spent the day in Ventura County. First, lunch with a dozen of the novice brothers to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of them. Then, an excursion to the bookstore to purchase a jigsaw puzzle for the community (we have a few avid puzzlers among us). Then, an hour walking on the beach in Oxnard.

This morning, we celebrated the Eucharist en espa├▒ol. This afternoon, ministry at the prison. This evening, faith sharing with the novices. Now, returning to the personal statement and curriculum vitae.


The cool spell is about to be broken. Here comes the heat. Here comes the feeling of summer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vote 'All of the Above'

Lectio Divina

... you unknowingly worship ...

Acts 17:23


Continuing Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel. Continuing Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, in my room. 

For your virtual library, here is the May issue of The Caperone.


Done with class sessions on Saint Francis and prayer for now. Entering into hermitage time with the intention, among other things, of drafting a personal statement for Boston College, and doing so prayerfully.

The solemnly professed friars are meeting today, tomorrow, and Friday to evaluate the twenty-one novices one final time and conduct their votation to recommend us for admission into temporary vows (or not). I imagine their recommendation carries a lot of weight with the provincial ministers. Pray for us that the Holy Spirit will inspire the friars to vote "All of the Above."


Cloudy and cool but still mostly dry.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Return to Prayer

Lectio Divina

... the praise of God ... and a two-edged sword ...

Psalm 149:6 (Athanasian Grail Psalter)

What do I say when I speak with my lips "the praise of God"? What do I do in God's name when I take into my hands "a two-edged sword"? And what is that two-edged sword? Are there indeed words and deeds fit for each other and pleasing to God? (And good for the community of humanity?) A true being and a loving doing?


Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel stall. Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution, on the night-table. And whichever of the newspapers the U.S. Mail brings to me this week.


Felt grumpy going into chapel this morning. But the Spirit arrived for me (or, I became present to the Spirit) at around 7 o'clock or so, and then I felt better. If only friars weren't so determined to be morning persons! I don't know how it is for others, but sometimes I find it very hard to have to rise well before I shine.

Aiming, in prayer, to renew intentions concerning the quality of my interpersonal relationships, both within the religious community and with my friends and relatives afar. From there, I can pray rightly for and with the community of humanity and the transformation of society. From personal charity to the corporate compassion and justice of Jesus Christ: this is the spiritual way I proceed currently.

Moving associationally along: This morning, we are to begin two weeks of class sessions regarding Franciscan prayer. What that means I hope to unfold, as it is presented to me, in posts to come.

Later, work on the grounds. Though rain misted the area, I am sure I need to keep up the watering I have been doing. Mid-afternoon, I expect to have a telephone conversation with a person from my province inquiring into religious life with the Capuchins. This evening, schola rehearsal. In between all this, making the case for why I should pursue graduate theological studies at Boston College.


Just a little rain over the last 24 hours, but that is a lot more than anyone has seen lately.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Settled Heart

Lectio Divina

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

John 14:27


Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel stall. On my night table, the following volume:

Brown, Robert McAfee. The Ecumenical Revolution: An Interpretation of the Catholic-Protestant Dialogue. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubelday, 1967.

Browsing through the 80th anniversary issue of The Catholic Worker.


The solemnly professed friars will confer this week about each of the novices and prepare their evaluation reports. They will vote on whether to recommend us for admission to temporary vows. A time of vigiling begins. As Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled." God, give us faith and settled hearts.

Attending two Masses this afternoon at the federal prison in Lompoc. Returning to San Lorenzo late this afternoon in time for the latter half of our holy hour, then after the evening meal a gentle transition into evening silence and communal recreation.

Now, to telephone my brother, because it's been too long since we last talked!


We've gone from hot to very warm to cool in a couple of days. The wind is strong, and the clouds are heavy, though there is still no rain in sight. (There is no moon in sight, either.) The fires that consume the world are dying down. But, as I keep saying, let the fires within never die. Those fires, they purify the world. They clear the way for new growth. Indeed, may they blaze all the more.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Let's Go!

Lectio Divina

Paul wanted him to come along with him.

Acts 16:3


Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel stall. If I read a chapter a day, I will be finished within a week. The books in my bedroom are going to be opened soon, I just know it!


Published the May issue of The Caperone. Hooray. Submitted the third and final evaluation. Hip-hip hooray! Treated myself to the Saturday crossword in the Los Angeles Times, and took a brisk jog out in the seasonal air. Now, in the week to come, to make progress on graduate school application materials. Let's go!


We haven't had a drop of rain in the valley since sunrise on the morning of Easter Sunday. Two hours, two days a week minimum to adequately water the grounds I have been assigned to tend. Surely I will be adding a third day as the drought goes on.

It is cooler than yesterday, which is a relief to all those who live in fire hazard zones (that's most of us around these parts). All the same, the spiritually attuned among us are still praying for the fire to blaze within.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Make a Dwelling

Lectio Divina

... and make our dwelling with him.

John 14:23

It is not enough for Jesus' followers merely to love others enough to live with them -- that is, to tolerate them. He asks us to do something greater -- to love others so fully as to let them live within us. Wow. I can't do that on my own. To let others who are in Christ, and all people of good will, live within me? My body? My sense of privacy, of an instinctive self-possessiveness kicks in right about here. But even my body is not my own: this is Christian poverty. My prayer is to let my heart be widened a little more every day so that I can assent to letting all others -- not merely the souls I like, not merely my neighbors, but also those I dislike, and even my enemies -- in with the welcome with which I would welcome Jesus himself.


Continuing Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel. Breezed through America and Commonweal. I also have in hand the 80th anniversary issue of the New York Catholic Worker. I have plucked other books from our novitiate library, but I will not be able to get deeply into them until next week, once I send off the next novitiate newsletter and my self-evaluations. Be done, I say!


Today, ministry at the federal prison in Lompoc. Lately we have seen a succession of departures or transfers of men to other compounds at other facilities. We rejoice over the shrinking of our incarcerated congregation; we pray for those who are headed to other complexes. I am reminded of the transience of human communities. But the kin(g)dom of God is forever.

This evening, faith sharing with the brothers. Still working on the May issue of The Caperone. Still working on the third and final evaluation. Be done, I say!


The fires are burning in Ventura County. But I am waiting for another kind of fire to sweep Santa Barbara County. It is hot and dry at San Lorenzo. All we need is a spark.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Warming to the Saints

Lectio Divina

... thinking he was dead.

Acts 14:19


Reading Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, in the chapel. Very good for renewing my belief in the communion of saints. Finished the April issue of Hospitality. Also just read the latest issue of America. Confirmed this morning that my subscription to Commonweal was renewed.


It is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, International Workers Day, and the 80th anniversary of the public debut of the Catholic Worker movement. Joseph of Nazareth, Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, all you co-workers in Christ, pray for us. I hope that at this time next year, I will be in such a place and space as to celebrate once more in the streets with my sisters and brothers of the labor movement, in faith and solidarity, the glory of God made manifest in a people fully alive for justice, peace, mercy, and the common good.

Concluded our week of class sessions on the Capuchin Franciscan approach to ministry and mission. We devoted this morning to a look at our saintly Capuchin brother of Detroit, Venerable Solanus Casey. Having spent the first two days taking a deductive approach to our understanding of ministry, it was refreshing to take an inductive approach and learn from the personal example of one of our honored predecessors in the faith. You should check out the educational and spiritual center built in his memory. How refreshing that the Capuchins have chosen to present Solanus in a way that does not merely built a cult of devotion to him but instead points all comers to the One he followed, Jesus Christ.

Hermitage time this afternoon spent mostly at Old Mission Santa Ines doing theological reflection on ministry with our Capuchin brother, the Catholic chaplain at FCC Lompoc. This evening, relaxing with the brothers watching a film classic, The Wizard of Oz. In the opinion of the film critic for America magazine, the 1939 original has no comparison; and, unfortunately, no imitators.


Warming, warming. We expect to surpass 90 degrees tomorrow and/or Friday.