Saturday, April 24, 2010

Now I am a Novice

Last night I was officially accepted as a Candidate (Novice) with the Secular Franciscan Order.

I knew it was coming, but I had not known it would be last night.

I arrived for the meeting of the Glory of the Most High Fraternity when I was told it would take place. I was asked if I wanted to take this next step. I said yes, though in my heart I wondered if I was worthy, if I was living the Franciscan vocation well enough in my daily life, if I was truly being a person of prayer and penance.

We had a brief ceremony, with Scripture readings, and then I was presented with a Tau Cross to wear and a copy of The Rule.

I will be a Candidate for the next 18 to 36 months now, after which I will be able to profess.

It is wonderful - joyful - frightening - because of all that it entails.

This is not just joining a club.

This is not just a social activity.

When I profess, this will be a commitment to a Gospel way of life in a Catholic Order. This is a vocation. This is life-long. In all that I do and say I will be a witness for the Church, for Franciscans.

Father, be with me. Give me the strength I need.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Positive Penance

As part of my formation, I read some selections concerning penance.

My notions about penance tend to focus on two areas.

The first is about making up for sins. Penance is the things we do to atone in some way for those sins - saying prayers, giving up something, doing something of a spiritual nature.

The second is about uniting in love with Christ in his suffering. It is sharing in that suffering in some way - during prayer by meditating on what he experienced.

But the selections touched on an idea that I had really not thought about.

We perform acts of penance to help clear away all those things in our lives that keep us from seeing God and his love clearly. It is working to remove all the obstacles to accepting God's love - the greed, the lust, the gluttony, the pride.

The hatred for the body that Francis spoke of is not a negative rejection of the flesh - it is a recognition that there are some aspects of the flesh that blind us and keep us physically, emotionally and spiritually unhealthy. So, for example, we give up sexual activities not because sex is bad, but because those particular activities separate us from God.

We give up these things so that we are open to the love of God that is always there, always showering us.

Penance then becomes a way to become healthy individuals, individuals who recognize what is true, what is real - the Love of God. Even when we face physical infirmities, the effects of aging, the mental and emotional pressures put upon us by the world, we still have a healthy view of reality. Thus while in the eyes of the world we appear to be suffering when we face such troubles, we are actually fully healthy in spirit.

We are full of joy, for we realize how loved we really are.


Pax et bonum

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday Meditation

Thank you Lord
for your two great gifts -
the gift of your birth
and the gift of your death -
for it is through both
that we have been saved.

Pax et bonum