I have decided, to follow Jesus...
As the old song goes, I have made my decision, and today I have knelt before our Minister General, and agreed that it is my freely given desire to enter the Postulancy of the Brotherhood of St. Gregory. They have accepted me and vested me with the Brotherhood Postulancy Cross.
As Br. Richard Thomas came to me with the Cross, he held it up for me to kiss, then placed the Cross around my neck. That was a powerful moment. Seeing that wooden Cross go around MY neck....
The symbolism has not been lost on me, and with all that has happened this week, now I am looking forward to learning new ways to pick up the Cross of discipleship that Jesus tells us about in Luke 14. to follow Him, and do so with these Gregorian Brothers.
All week, I have been thinking of a marriage metaphor for my journey here with the Gregorian Friars. One of the life professed Brothers talked about his self awareness on Monday, then we had Lectio - I focused on the portion of counting the cost. Now it is time. Tomorrow, I will kneel before the Minister General and he will ask me, in the presence of God and the community.
Do I want to do this?
All I can think of tonight, is how full my heart is of joy and how much this is going to stretch me in ways I have not even thought of yet. Twenty five years ago, this week, I made some other promises to God and my wife. I fulfilled them, and now I am faced with some more. This has to be an intentional, thoughtful choice, not done lightly or with disregard to the meanings of what is being done.
This afternoon at Lectio Divina, the Scripture was:
Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?"
Of course the context I am considering these Scriptures is; what is the cost of following Jesus, and doing so in this (or any other) context? Just how serious am I about doing just that? What is the Cross He is asking me to pick up and follow?
I am so excited! It is finally happening. After so many years of thinking, feeling and praying about this, I am entering the Postulancy with an Episcopal Religious Order of Friars called the Brotherhood of St. Gregory. I will be spending the last week of July in Wapinger Falls, NY, at the Franciscan Friary of Mt. Alvernia with them with them.
(Friars are different from Monks in that they are called to a life of service in the world, and do not live cloistered in a Monastery)
I am not yet a Friar, that is a goal that will take me several more years. I should have one and a half to two years in the Postulancy, then the same amount of time in formation in the Noviate. Then there will be five years of annual vows, and finally life profession.
For many years my heart has drawn me in this direction, but various things and responsibilities pulled me in other ways, but the desire has always remained. I feel that my adult life has sort of fallen into three parts, my youth and marriage as one part, my widowhood and raising of children as a single parent the second part, and now that my kids are growing up, I am entering the ‘third’ part. I see the Brotherhood of St. Gregory as a major portion of how I feel called to live this third part.
I am so nervous, excited, joyful and scared. I don't think I can really know how unprepared I probably am, and how I can not now know were this will take me. My life will change, and much like a marriage, I will give myself over to others. Speaking of that, joining the BSG will be taking place on the 25th anniversary of my wedding vows. Isn't that an amazing "coincidence"?
My friends at Rivendel have been mulling over the Book of Genesis for the last few weeks, and I have been a small part of their conversation. Recently Br. Tobias Haller had a good post touching this story, and an excerpt follows. (italicization and emphasis my own.)
The inspired recipients of God’s word in Genesis believed the sky to consist of a dome, in which the sun, moon, and stars were set, and which had windows to admit the rain stored in the pool of waters above. God, of course, knew that this was not true, literally or in any other sense, but the minds of those God inspired could have no place to hold such concepts as gravity and freely floating planets, stars and moons — or that the earth was not stationary at the center of a revolving universe.
They had the evidence of their senses to the contrary, and would not, as Jesus would later say, have been able to “bear” the truth (John 16:12-13). So God communicated to them in a language that did not seem outrageous to them, that met their expectations, and explained and ratified what they perceived. The primary truth God intended to convey, after all, was not a literal account of the composition of the cosmos, but the theological principle that God is the creator of all that is.
This seems to make a lot of sense to me, and humbly recognizes that like the story of the tree of Knowledge, we don't know everything! How could ancient Hebrews even have words anything like our modern understanding of "the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home"?
Nonetheless, God knew all things, all along, and this book contains the truth that He brought forth the human race from the primal elements, we are the created, He the Creator. What do you, my readers think?
Since this is the 'season' of Freedom and Independence, I wanted to share a mediation on freedom by Br. Thomas Merton:
“Freedom of choice is not, itself, the perfection of liberty. But it helps us take our first step
toward freedom or slavery, spontaneity or compulsion. The free man is
the one whose choices have given him the power to stand on his own feet
and determine his own life according to the higher light and spirit
that are in him. The slave, in the spiritual order, is the man whose
choices have destroyed all spontaneity in him and have delivered him
over, bound hand and foot, to his own compulsions, idiosyncrasies and
illusions, so that he never does what he really wants to do, but only
what he has to do.”
In my understanding, the Eucharist is real, Christ is Present, and He infuses our lives with His Presence during the Sacrament. It is the most profoundly holy time in my week, when I am touched by the Sacred.
I believe that Christ is Present in the Sacrament, I believe that we are invited by Christ Himself to touch and be touched by the Holy. We take Christ Himself into our bodies, and our lives, leaving and being sent into the world, carrying Christ within us.
That being said, this week we had a little 'event' during the Eucharist. In my tradition, there is a point during the Eucharistic prayer (called the Epiclesis), during which the Celebrant invokes the Holy Spirit to bless the bread and wine so that it may be to us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the Priest
elevates the Host, showing Christ to the faithful for veneration. At that most sacred, profound moment a little girl of almost two years old looked up and with her innocent, shrill voice yelled "cookie"!!
There were audible gasps, mine being among them.
Fr. Scott looked down, smiled, and told the little girl, that she certainly would have a cookie!