Well I’m not going to lie to you: I’m glad this is over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the “A Friar Life” series. I think it’s one of the most meaningful things about Breaking In The Habit, getting to show off our lives, introducing the world to the friars. What could be better?

But that’s not to say that these videos are easy. A reflection video takes about two hours of writing, one hour filming, and thirty minutes editing (3.5 hours?). A Catholicism in Focus video takes about a day or two of research and writing, an hour to film, and four hours to edit (3 days?). A video in the “A Friar Life series? Yeah, that’s a day of travel, two days filming, another day of travel, and two full days of editing (editing that, unlike the others, has no script and so requires much more energy), meaning that for the past six weeks, I have spent 12 full days editing these videos.

Yeah. They’re great… but I need a break.

And that’s just what I’ll do. Perfectly timed with the subject of this video, I will be leaving in just a few minutes to go on a silent retreat, exercising my own role as a “contemplative in action.” For seven days I’ll be at Mepkin Abbey in Charleston, SC, where I will pray, reflect, write, and sleep, taking a step back from the chaos that was this semester in order to move forward with what’s ahead.

It’s time to enter the desert. It’s time to hit the reset button, to have my own little Lent, a mini period of purification, and hopefully come out the other side anew. I probably won’t post again until after my ordination, but if you have prayer requests let me know.

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Last year, I sat down and interviewed my parents. It was fun. People loved it. What a great idea, I thought.

Such a great idea, I thought, that I should recreate it this year. But instead of simply copying what I did before, coming up with new questions, I decided to expand the scope a bit and include the rest of my family: what if I did the same thing, only this time with my sisters?

What could go wrong?

Luckily… I’m the one asking the questions and editing the video, so I knew I was safe! Let’s just say that it could have been A LOT worse!

I hope you enjoy this fun glimpse into my family life. With only 17 days left until ordination, I have some time on vacation with my parents as well as a 7-day silent retreat, so don’t expect a whole lot of new content over the next few weeks, but please keep me in your prayers as the day approaches! Peace and good to you all.

One of my favorite shows of all time is the medical comedy Scrubs. On the one hand hilarious and absurd, on the other insightful and emotional. It had it all. Following the lives of a handful of new doctors struggling to make it—not only as doctors, but simply make it through the world—the show often played on themes of identity, recognizing the difference between who a character hoped they would be and who they actually are.

In one season, after years of feeling inadequate, disrespected, awkward, and unattractive, one of the characters completely changes her appearance: she cuts and dyes her hair, changes her wardrobe, redesigns her living space, and adopts a new attitude. The changes are so dramatic that every other character takes notice and she even begins to refer to herself as a different person: “The old Elliot would do that, but not the new Elliot.” In her eyes, the external changes to her life marked a new beginning, a fresh start, an opportunity to be someone she hadn’t been before.

As I wrote about many years ago, this can absolutely be the case; our appearance does not simply change the way others treat us, but can also change how we treat ourselves. Our external realities can have an effect on our internal selves.

And yet, as one can intuitively glean, and as Scrubs fans will know, more is needed for conversion to take root than a new wardrobe. Within a few episodes, the “new Elliot” finds that she is still the same insecure person, that eye-liner and short hair cannot hide who she really is inside. While offering an opportunity for change, and in some ways even achieving this in her short spurts of confidence, these changes cannot magically erase twenty-some years of becoming who she was.

I offer this as a further example of what I speak about in this week’s video reflection. Many of us will not have distinct moments of drastically changing our wardrobe and wanting to become a new person, as this fictional doctor did, but most of us will understand what it feels like to pack up everything we own and move to a new place. There is probably no more life-altering reality that we routinely face. Everything changes, our whole world is new.

And yet, we largely stay the same. At least, we often do.

Moving, like wardrobe changes, offer us an opportunity for a fresh start, to begin anew, but they do not guarantee that our lives will actually change. Changing our external realities can have an effect, but unless we are willing to acknowledge our internal selves, everything can change around us and our situations would remain the same. Different location, different look, same us.

True conversion requires more than a new address and dyed hair. It requires that we look deeply at ourselves and ask: “What about myself is preventing me from being a disciple of Christ, and how can I leave that behind?”

Click here to listen

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Not exactly.

While there certainly exists differences in “taste” or “preference” from person to person, few people actually think that Beauty is an entirely relative concept. Certain things are just objectively more Beautiful than others. When comparing a landfill to the Alps, there is no contest: clearly, without controversy, the Alps have more Beauty.

And so, if you accept this, accepting that there are at least extreme limits and some quality by which we can objectively evaluate, then it makes me (and Tito, and philosophers) wonder: might there be a way to refine this a bit further to evaluate art on a level beyond the pure subjective? Might there be a sense in which Beauty is not simply dependent on what we say about it, but having some innate quality in itself?

Br. Tito and I take on this age-old question in our season finale of Everyday Liminality. We hope that you enjoyed the second season and will join us again in the fall when we start back!

A few months ago, I posted a video entitled, “What Happens When We Get Old?” a reflection on having retirement houses for men who have served the Church their entire lives. I pointed out that, even though unable to engage in active ministry, these men were still friars and continued to live as the rest of the active friars do, praying, eating, and communing together as a fraternity. Regardless of their ability, they’re still brothers.

What I didn’t mention in that video, though,  is how this is all possible.

In this week’s “A Friar Life,” I present Br. Bob Frazetta, OFM, the guardian of that house, to show that not all of friar life is focused outwards. Sometimes, the ministry of a brother is to the brothers. Br. Bob spends his entire day making sure that this life is still possible for our elderly brothers, taking care of the bills, organizing recreation, leading prayer, and shuttling the brothers to where they need to go.

As you can imagine, it is not the most glamorous of positions; guys don’t exactly join the friars for this job. And yet, it is a critical part of our lives. Sometimes, we are called to do what is not glamorous, what is not popular, what will not make us “liked” by the outside world, but to simply serve our brothers who have served so many. As much as we think of the friars as out saving the world, it wouldn’t be possible without men like Br. Bob working internally.

And for that, we thank him.