From Sunday afternoon until noon today, all ten members of St. Paul’s friary here in Wilmington took a retreat to the province’s house in Margate as a way to slow down, fellowship, and pray with one another without the busyness of everyday life. Spending a good amount of time contemplating the year gone by, I read through a number of my past journal entries to see where I’ve been and how I’ve changed. (This sort of reflection makes the time and effort of keeping a journal totally worth it!) In a similar way, I thought it would be the perfect time, being that it’s almost exactly half-way through the year, to give an update on a few of my previous posts.
Retreat to the Beach: Let’s start with this past retreat. While the first trip to Margate was a great chance to get to know one another, replacing content with conversations and stories, this trip was an excellent time to slow down, fellowship, and pray with an already established community. Led by two of the friars, we met for three, one-hour sessions of Lectio Divina to prayerfully and communally explore the word of God. We used Mark 8:14-21, Luke 10:1-10, and 2 Corinthians 6:6-10. Besides prayer, we were also graced with the presence of our provincial, John O’Connor, who added nicely to our time for fellowship.
A Rush to Slow Down: I honestly could not have named the title better back in August. We’re almost never idle, always focusing on how we can be more still (a paradox that it is, I find it both helpful in my formation, as well as a bit crazy…) Nothing could be truer of the post, however, than the point of our rooms being “sacred space.” In a life of community that shares everything and has no privacy, one’s room is a wonderful sanctuary for both.
Español con Capuchinas: I would be lying if I said that my Spanish was anything more than “abysmal” as I described it back in September. The truth of the matter is that languages are very difficult to learn, and meeting for one and a half hours once a week is not enough to become proficient. The lack of improvement so far has made it clear that I’m going to have to put in a lot more time outside of class if I’m ever going to speak the language.
The Charism of Preaching: Dennis and I are continuing with the bible study at the Little Sisters of the Poor each week, and have an exciting “term” planned for our eager “students.” Beginning with the Pentateuch on Thursday, we’re going to focus on a major section/genre of the bible each week, sharing our thoughts on the genre as a whole as well as reading of 2-3 examples of each, until we’ve offered a complete survey of the bible. It’s a big task, but I think it’s important to have a rough idea of what’s in the bible and how it’s put together.
On another note, we’re going to be accompanying Fr. Ron on another parish mission at the end of next month. Unlike last time in which only Ramon and I that spoke to the youth, all five of the postulants will be given the opportunity to “preach” in a particular fashion throughout the week. This one will be a bit bigger scale and will require a bit more preparation.
The Lower Delaware Friars: On Sunday the friars from Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Camden, will be meeting in Camden for a Super Bowl party (to watch the Patriots stomp the New York football Giants). I imagine that we’ll begin with prayer as usual, and see it as a nice night for fellowship among communities. Go Pats!
Time to Read: I tend to bounce around with books, skimming for what I find interesting/useful and skipping what I don’t: though I did finish In the Spirit of Francis and the Sultan (and recommend it to anyone interested in peaceful dialogue) and am forcing my way through the bible, I have shelved the other books for a little while in place of others. I’m currently fascinated by Dominic Monti’s Francis and His Brothers because it simplifies Franciscan history into a very manageable and interesting way. As for pleasure reading, I’ve started reading Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!) and listening to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, both of which are hilarious.
What Can’t I Live Without? Which brings me to the most contented issue of that history, and the issue that has been the biggest focus on my own contemplation through these six months: poverty. If I may add an insight to my previous comments, I’d like to add that poverty doesn’t mean dirty or cheap. We are called to sufficiency and simplicity, which means both having less and respecting what we have. Buying the cheapest thing possible isn’t always the best option because it won’t last as long forcing us to be consumers much more often. In the same way, keeping our living conditions dirty and our possessions in disrepair says nothing about sufficiency and simplicity; it says that we don’t value the things we have.