. . . the rest of my life to go! Exactly one year ago, August 2, 2013, I was officially incorporated into the Order of Friars Minor by professing temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the way of St. Francis of Assisi. The date marked the end of our novitiate year, the year of formation devoted to intense prayer and discernment, and the beginning of my vowed life as a friar.
Today, less officially, also marks the halfway point in my initial formation process in becoming a Franciscan Friar for life. With three years of formation behind me (Postulancy, Novitiate, and the first year of temporary profession) I now have three years of temporary profession to go before I am able to take my solemn vows, that is, my life-long intention to live as a friar in poverty, chastity and obedience.
I would be absolutely lying through my teeth if I said that it has been nothing but smooth sailing and steps forward, surrounded only by good examples. The fact of the matter is that the past three years have been the most frustrating and challenging of my life: I’ve had my values questioned, my vulnerabilities analyzed, my worldview challenged, my sense of self redefined, my expectations broken down, and my faults exposed. So much of what I have experienced in the last three years has been what most people go their entire lives trying to avoid.
And yet, what a gift it’s been. What a gift it’s been to be around people that care enough about me to want me to be better. What a gift it’s been to be opened up to a wider perspective of myself and the world, even if I didn’t want to see it. What a gift it’s been to go through all of this with great men doing the same.
When I look back three years–heck, when I look back one year–I can see the slow and steady work of God in my life, forming the stubborn clay that I am into his creation. When I look back, I can see what I didn’t see at the time, and I am grateful for the experiences that didn’t seem meaningful when they were happening. As the next three years of my formation unfold into the rest of my life, I thank God for the opportunities I’ve been given and pray for the patience and wisdom to appreciate the new ones ahead.