Despite having the whole weekend free (other than cleaning up Christmas decorations and prepare for school today), I somehow managed to not write a single word on two different posts I’ve been thinking about. “Eh, I’ll have time tomorrow,” I said. Unfortunately, tomorrow ran out today: school’s back in session and there goes my free time once again! It’s back to fifteen credits of theology, weekly meetings, books, papers, assignments, and everything else that goes with being a student friar.
With that said, it would be a shame to completely skip over the happenings of the last few weeks, and so I present you the Reader’s Digest version of my life:
As in years past, all of the friars in formation (minus the novices in Wisconsin) get together in January for a week-long workshop and fraternal time together. This year we were privileged to have Dr. Pauline Albert for a presentation entitled “21st Century Leadership: Making Better Social Worlds through Learning from Francis and Clare of Assisi.” A former executive at Intel for many years, Dr. Albert brought a wonderful mix of successful worldly leadership with a deep love for the Franciscan charism. Over four days, she helped us lay a Franciscan foundation for our own leadership, identifying values and leadership models in the way of Francis and Clare. It’s safe to say that the workshop could have lasted twice the time and that I will be processing much of her material for quite a while.
And yet, as profession and useful as the programming of the workshop was, the fraternal time together is something that I will remember for a very long time. Given that the workshop took place away from the house, guys were not able to hide in their rooms or sit in front of the t.v. If we wanted to do something, we had to look to our brothers for entertainment. And we did. After the first night of sitting around and talking (casual time together), we had a pizza party with the provincial council (a night that began with four pizzas, only to have one friar run our an hour later to get four more… friar appetites should not be underestimated), played the card game “Mafia” for over an hour with about thirteen people the next night, and as a last resort, broke into three teams to play pictionary the final night. Wow. I was in absolute stitches each and every night, that feeling where it starts to hurt in your face and stomach because you’ve been laughing so hard. I don’t think I’ve said this yet on the blog, and if I ever get around to it it will be a post of its own, but I truly believe that the way we laugh together as a fraternity is inseparable from our Franciscan charism. More on this in a bit I’m sure…
Getting out of the house
I guess I understand why, but I get a lot of questions from friends and family about the “rules” of our life. “Are you allowed to…” A lot of times they’re pretty minor, even humorous things: drink beer, go on the internet, leave the house, go on vacation, etc. For the most part, much of my life in those mundane respects are exactly the same as they were before I entered and so I forget to write about them. With that said, a major highlight of the past few weeks was going out with three of the guys in the house to watch the recent Ravens/Patriots playoff game. A Patriots fan myself and my classmate from New England decided it would be more fun to go to Buffalo Wild Wings, in the Baltimore (Ravens) area, to watch the game, and invited two of our mostly ambivalent postulants (first years) along with us. What an experience! Besides the usual delights of wings and beer, it was such an entertaining night to see the Baltimore crowd cheer, boo, and eventually cry and to spend a couple of hours out with some guys that actually like football (not a common quality among friars in our house). Go Pats! Go Fraternity!
So as I said to start, school is back, like it or not. I’m in five theology classes again and am looking forward to most of them. This semester I have Christology, The Gospel of John, Pastoral Theology, Patristic Theology (2nd-5th centuries of the Church), and Marriage and the Family. It’s a good blend of courses and course work, some classes have long papers and no tests while others have no papers and a few tests. Not sure what to say beyond that. Back to the books!
Hopefully with the long weekend coming up I’ll be able to reflect a little deeper and more coherently a few other topics, but until then, peace!
Here in the Church of England, the Novice Guardians have organised a programme of residentials (3 times a year) for the novices to get together. They’re great fun, but we all note that the Society of St Francis novices (no Community of St Francis novices at present but I know that there are women enquiring/at the aspirant stage with them) have hearty appetites. This is not a bad thing, as most places are prepared and provide extra.
It’s quite a Victorian view, but most communities still think along the lines of “if the novice is eating well, then all is well”.