02 March 2011

A Successful Life

At the conclusion of the novitiate year, each novice was required to make a presentation about his year: the things he had learned and experienced, reviewing moments of growth and challenge.

During my presentation I recall making a statement to this effect:

Even if there were no other Capuchins left in the world, I could still be a Capuchin by focusing on my contemplative life and maintaining my faithfulness to the Liturgy of the Hours and mental prayer.

After several months in temporary vows, I maintain that fidelity to prayer is, above all else (though not to the willing exclusion of other things) what makes a Capuchin Franciscan a Capuchin Franciscan.

I found myself reflecting on this today because of an apparently unrelated experience.  The connection, I think, is my attraction to statements of faith and purpose about my current life as a simply professed Capuchin and the course on which the Lord seems to be leading me: towards solemn profession and ordination.

As part of my ministry at the local parish, I am attempting to bring Holy Communion to a local nursing home and senior residence.  This afternoon is my first attempt at the nursing home, but this morning was my second time at the senior residence.  I am fundamentally moved by the ferocity of faith present in the residents who I visit.  Their willingness to share their troubles and their prayer intentions is greatly humbling; their desire to receive Communion and willingness to receive it from someone with less than a third of their life experience is even more so.  There is one woman I visited who in particular floored me by her deep faith within her severe suffering -- she is a true daughter of Christ (and, I must note, of Ireland too).  In fact, the old Irish Catholics acquit themselves well -- how I hope to have their faith!

Today, as I drove away from Forbes House, I reached a conclusion that was at once staggering in its complexity but scarily simple in its reality.  If God is indeed calling me to be a priest, I would be satisfied if my entire priestly life was spent burying the great Irish immigrants of Boston and providing their souls with prayers as they move to the hereafter.  They deserve nothing less and I could ask for an honor no greater.

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