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The Lower Delaware Friars

Part of Francis' great witness to the pope was his emphasis on community

Tonight, we had the privilege of hosting eight friars from our Philadelphia and Camden locations as a part of our gathering of the “Lower Delaware Friars.” Gathering three times a year, each location takes turns hosting the others for prayer and dinner as a way of connecting with the friar community at large. It was a busy and joyous evening to have eighteen people over for prayer and dinner, to catch up on our lives and to share about our ministries. I believe that it is the time we take for community, not our ministry or charism, that makes us “Franciscan.” Take this passage from chapter XII of The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano:

“Go, my dear brothers,” he said to them, “two by two through different parts of the world, announcing peace to the people and penance for the remission of sins. Be patient in trials, confident that the Lord will fulfill His plan and promise. Respond humbly to those who question you. Bless those who persecute you. Give thanks to those who harm you and bring false charges against you, for because of these things and eternal kingdom is prepared for us.”

Accepting the command of holy obedience with much joy and gladness, they humbly prostrated themselves on the ground before Saint Francis. Embracing them, he spoke sweetly and devotedly to each one: “Cast you care upon the Lord and he will sustain you.” He used to say this phrase whenever he transferred brothers by obedience.

Then brother Bernard with brother Giles hastended on the way to Sanitago; Saint Francis with one companion chose another part of the world. The other four, two by two, went to other regions.

Only a short time had passed when Saint Francis began desiring to see them all. He prayed to the Lord, who gathers the dispersed Israel, mercifully to bring them together soon. So it happened in a short time: they came together at the same time according to this desire, without any human summons, giving thanks to God.

Francis could have reached double the amount of people, and could have gotten twice as much done had he sent them individually, but fraternity was more important. It offered strength and guidance to each brother, and it was a witness to the world of the love that was possible in Christ. Because of this, it is very rare for a friar to ever live alone, and it is strongly encouraged that they work together as well.

What I find most compelling about this passage, and exemplified in events like tonight, is that time has to be made for the larger community of friars.  After sending his brothers out on mission, despite knowing that they were doing the work of God, Francis desired nothing else but to have them gathered together. There will always be too much work, meetings, baptisms, fundraisers, chores, phone calls, appointments, and so on; but part of being “Franciscan” is making community a priority, even if it means dropping one of the other things for a few hours. Tonight was a great witness to the myself and the other postulants as to the importance of community in our lives, and the great benefit it provides to all in this life.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Fraternity

 

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A Day Off… kind of

I didn't even have to fake being sick!

As I said in Far From Routine, we have a “plan” for each week; whether or not we stick to it is a completely different story. Part of this plan is that Saturdays and Sundays are left as free as possible, requiring us to attend mass, prayer, and meals, but allowing us the freedom to do whatever we need to relax and recharge. Since we’ve been either traveling or in workshops each weekend since we arrived, today became “kind of” one of those free days. We started with prayer and mass this morning, but don’t have any responsibilities until evening prayer, dinner, and a movie about Francis later tonight.

Which leaves me with a million dollar question: what should I do with my day “off”? At the risk of scheduling my whole day with work, I’d like to take advantage of the rare freedom to get some things done that I’ve been putting off.

As if I were still in school, there is a tower of reading (both personal and assigned) that I would like to catch up on. This includes: Where is God by Jon Sobrino, a reflection on the earthquake that hit El Salvador in 2001 and an incredible work in theodicy; Francis of Assisi- The Saint- Volume 1, a compilation of the early documents written by or about Francis, including the famous biography by Thomas of Celano; Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, two of the most critical documents that came out of the Second Vatican Council, and documents that I’ve skimmed before but would like to read in full; and always, The New American Bible, something that I would like to make time for every day.

Remembering that I’m not still in school, I will not, however, be spending the whole day catching up on reading, no matter how high the stack gets. I’ve just heard from one of the postulants that we’ve finally found the key to the giant bell tower at our church, and we will be exploring that later. I will of course be bringing my camera, and hopefully there’s a great view from the city worth posting! I’d also like to do a bit of exploring of the city, possibly even having lunch downtown somewhere. Wilmington is small, and despite what our neighborhood looks like, the downtown is kind of nice.

At some point during the day I will have to do a bit of real work, as indicated in the “kind of” part of the title. Each of us has a set of chores that need to be completed each week, and given our busy schedules, there’s not a whole lot of time to do them except on our day off. I’m in charge of the second floor hallway, the recreation room and bathroom, and the staircases. It’ll be a bit of work, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to (or feel like) finishing it all today, but they’ll get done. I think it’s an important part of community for each of us to share a significant portion of the work, no matter how new or old, qualified or unqualified.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to set aside part of my day for intentional prayer and reflection. Even in religious community, it can be easy to check prayer off the list each day (or to even skip it) and move on quickly to the next thing. There are a list of topics that I have been paying particularly close attention to, and I would like some more time to pray about them. Check back later tonight to see which one I chose to focus on!

And with that, it’s time to get off the computer and start enjoying my day! Have a great day and thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Postulancy

 

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