Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why a Franciscan?


St. Francis - whose name I share - has always been a hero to me.

When my faith wavered, G. K. Chesterton's biography of St. Francis was one of the books that saved me.

The focus on Christ, and on the Church, the Bible, and Tradition.

The order's devotion to Mary.

The gifts of Humility and Poverty.

The first Christmas Crèche.

The Stigmata.

Reaching out to the lepers.

The appreciation of the common man and woman, and of their spirituality.

Brothers and Sisters throughout all of creation.

The Wolf of Gubbio and the Sermon to the Birds.

The Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.

St. Francis's meeting with the Sultan of Egypt to seek peace.

Being a Troubadour for God.

Being a Fool for Christ.

Pax et bonum

Friday, April 11, 2014

"Wuthering Heights" not a reading highlight


Yes, I know, it's a literary classic. I know they made a highly regarded movie out of it back in 1939. I know that Cathy and Heathcliff are considered one of literature's great romantic couples.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte did not make it for me.

I just could not believe the characters. I thought the plot too contrived. I found nothing likable or romantic about the leads - both of whom I found to be cruel and selfish.

I only read it - and finished it - because it's part of the curriculum I inherited and I had to teach it.

Now mind you, there are other gothic-tinged romantic books I have read and enjoyed - Jane Eyre or Rebecca, for example. I thought they were well-written and I found the characters interesting.

Wuthering Heights does not belong with them. If I teach this course again - still up in the air - I plan to substitute another book - maybe Great Expectations.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Franciscan and Writing Focus for the Summer


As I wait to find out whether or not I have a job next year, I've already begun to think ahead to this summer and what I may/should accomplish.

First, the "may."

My department head is already talking as if I will be back, and if so my taking over some honors classes she currently teachers in anticipation of her retirement next year (and, I suspect, to get me with the higher functioning students with whom I tend to do well). If that does happen, I will have a lot of reading to do this summer in preparation. Some of the works for the course I haven't read in years - Jane Eyre, The Odyssey, The Merchant of Venice, for example. Plus we are turning the course into a pre-AP course, so the writing requirements will have to change.

As for "should" - two things.

No matter what happens with my job, I plan to get up several HubPages articles - I'd like to see 6-8 posted. That will involve a lot of research and writing. I look at that as just a start - creating a presence on the HubPages with the long-term goal of generating income down the road. I have a couple of ideas and have already started gathering notes and material, I just need  the time to get writing.

I also plan to do some Franciscan studies. As a Secular Franciscan, there is so much for me still to learn. I have several manuals - For Up to Now: Foundational Topics for Initial Formation (which replaced the manual used when I was in formation); Handbook for Franciscan Servant Leadership; and A Guide for Franciscan Youth/Young Adult Ministry. There are also a number Franciscan books sitting on my bookshelf.

At the very least, I want to read the first two manuals, plus some of the Franciscan books.

My vocation is to be a Franciscan - not a deacon, or a parish minister - and if I am going to be a good Franciscan I need to grow and learn. And though I have been balking, if I am called to leadership as others seem to be indicating I need to prepare for that. I'm currently on the Council, and I could see at the 2015 election being selected for an office - Formation, Vice Minister, or, God help me, Minister. I'd prefer to avoid all that, but I leave it in the hands of God and the fraternity.

In addition, I plan to prepare the music book for next year if, as it appears, I'll be leading the music for fraternity meetings. I've already started working on the book.

All this is on top regular writing - some poems and back to the novel.

A busy summer ahead - but first I have to get there ( some papers await grading today!), and I need to have my job situation settled. If I won't be returning to my current position I'll be doing some job-related scrambling.  

Pax et bonum

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fraternity joys


We had a fraternity meeting tonight with numbers down due to sickness, tiredness, and weather. But with songs, Stations of the Cross, prayers and adoration in the chapel, even with the smaller numbers it was nourishing.

I wonder about those Franciscans who don't have a local fraternity for shared prayer and community.

I feel blessed. 

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Significance and Power of Profession Part 1



Pax et bonum

Dust settles - for now


The situation at work has settled for the moment. My job is relatively secure until June - but there is no guarantee of a job for next year.

It's all put a scare in me, so I'm continuing to explore other options.

My wife has been very supportive, but she did have one general observation.

She thought it was a mistake for me to go back to teaching. She thought I was a better writer/journalist than a teacher. She was not discrediting me as a teacher, just pointing out that she thought I was better at reporting and editing. She noted that writing better suited my more introverted personality, that writing allowed my creative (and sometimes quirky sense of humor) side to come out, and that it gave me more time to act and write plays.

I have to admit she has a point. Objectively speaking, I am a better writer than I am a teacher. I had good reasons to go back to teaching - the young people energize me and force me to be creative in other ways. But my personality and talents do tend more toward the writer's life.

Alas, given the direction of journalism these days, and given my age, a return to that life is unlikely. The online opportunities like Hubpages offer one possible path - but not for a full-time job at this point.

Of course, if I don't get a contract this June I may have to look more in the writing direction.  

Pax et bonum