Our Hearts Will Not Rest


augustineI’ve been reading The Restless Flame by Louis de Wohl, a novel about St. Augustine of Hippo.  WOW!  It could well be the story of my own journey.  I strongly recommend it to anyone.  Yes, it’s a novel, but it’s historically very accurate.  De Whol sticks very closely to the real life story of Augustine.  The best part of the book is that he captures Augustine’s search for meaning.  This is the part that for me is autobiographical.  The events in my life may have been different, but the struggle and the questions were the same.

We are all familiar with Augustine’s later work as a priest, bishop and theologian.  He tells us quite a bit about his journey toward conversion in Confessions.  But Wohl gives a voice to Augustine’s anguished search for meaning and ultimately for God.  You can hear it.

Why is a Franciscan of Life pushing this book?  I’m not exactly pushing a novel as much as I am pushing a reality.  For many of us, Augustine’s journey is not a foreign experience.  Many of us have struggled trying to find what we believed to be evasive truth.  We go from one thing to another in life, always believing that we will find happiness and the fulfillment of every desire.  This can be a maddening search.  We jump from relationship to relationship, from job to job, from one city to another, from parish to parish and often from one religious tradition to the next.  Each one promises to be the landing pad for which we search.  This was also Augustine’s journey.

What is equally compelling about this work is that it presents to us an Augustine who is very human and a good man at the deepest level of his being.  We tend to look on Augustine’s life before he became a Christian as one of dissipation and promiscuity.  It’s too easy to condemn a man whom one does not understand.  It’s too easy to sit on the chair of moral judgment and look down upon a person without knowing the struggles and deep anguish of the human soul.  It’s also too easy to condemn a man’s journey, because we can’t see Grace gradually reeling him in, like a fish who struggles to get off the hook and back into the water; but God’s love is more powerful than the fish.  At the end of the day, the fish will relax and yield to Christ the Eternal Fisherman.

The story of Augustine’s conversion is a story of hope for those of us who have not yet arrived, for those of us who struggle with sin, questions, failures, human weakness, and moments of darkness dispersed among the moments of light.  Augustine’s story should be a source of hope for those of us whose hearts are restless and who will not rest until they rest in God.  Augustine’s story is about the power of God’s love and a man’s refusal to give up his search for Truth.

Love will never give up on us while we live.  His grace will fight to conquer our hearts and minds, our bodies and souls.  If we lose it’s because we have given up the search for Truth.  We have settled for less than perfect love. God’s love for us and our determination to find absolute and living Truth is all we need to arrive at union with the Divine.  Love and the search for Truth is painful.  But, when the time is right, we will reach the summit of the mount and our lives will be transfigured by Him who is Truth itself.

St Augustine and St Monica, pray for us.

On Being A Franciscan, husband and dad


Brother Thomas More, FFV

Postulant ChrisSt. Francis conformed himself closely to Christ.  His deep prayer life, fidelity to the Church and detachment from the secular culture serves as an inspiring example for my own vocation as a husband and father.  As a husband, I am called to love my spouse unconditionally.  In doing this, I model Christ’s love and desire for the salvation of my wife’s soul as well as my own.  My Franciscan vocation deepens my commitment to this salvific mission of love by establishing a prayer life that is centered on communing with God Himself.  With a vibrant prayer life, God’s love and Spirit can blow across my everyday life as it is lived out along side of my wife.

I am blessed with four children, each reflecting the beauty and love of God.  Guarding my children’s spiritual and physical development requires the protective and providential embrace of a father.  Saint Francis became the spiritual father of many brothers and sisters by caring for their souls.  By embracing a poverty of spirit and a detachment from material possessions, Saint Francis serves as a constant reminder on how to detach from our own secular culture and to focus on providing for the spiritualcord life of our families.  My Franciscan journey, with its spirit of poverty that reaches upward and outward, mediates God’s grace and peace.  In letting go and emptying myself from selfish preoccupations and secular concerns, I’m discovering how to spread the joy and peace that St. Francis so beautifully exemplified as a spiritual father to the sons and daughters of the Church.

Charged with the Franciscan spirit, I hear a call to reach outward and to embrace the faith and mission of the Church.  The faith of the Church has helped me grow in holy attentiveness to God’s plan for me, my family and the wider community of God’s people.

Unity In Diversity


It seems that the Holy Spirit has plans for us.  I’m never sure what they are; so I just go along.  Not long ago I said that God never ceases to surprise us.  I was certainly surprised this week.

What’s fraternity without a birthday?

We normally have our community meeting, formation and fraternity night on Mondays.  It’s a long evening that begins with Vespers followed by learning sacred music, then a lesson in theology.  After our theology lesson we usually engage in some learning activity about Franciscan life, usually in the form of a game.  This helps us stay awake and engaged with each other.  Boy are our brothers competitive.  There is always a snack to share and a lot of  poking and roasting.  Of course, there is housekeeping stuff that every group has.  Our community meeting is open to any man, married or single, who is curious about Franciscans of Life.

Postulant, Jose, enjoys his birthday cake and ice cream

Postulant, Jose, enjoys his birthday cake and ice cream

This past week we had another inquirer, which brought the number of inquirers up to three.  However, one of the inquirer’s approached me to talk about joining our community.  Not only that, but I received a beautiful letter from a young man who is in high school and is quite curious about us.  I’m looking forward to meeting him probably this  coming week.  The age range of our men, between inquirers and professed is from age 15 to 67.  That makes our average age 39-years old.  This is younger than most religious communities, secular orders, dioceses or secular institutes.  The great thing is to see these men interact very comfortably despite the difference in ages.

Jerry and Eduardo are received as postulants

Not only has the Holy Spirit sent us men from a wide range of ages, but also from different cultures and language groups.  We are Virginian, Bostonian, Floridian, Jamaican, Mexican, Peruvian, Colombian, Ethiopian, and Cuban.  We are single men who are consecrated to a life of celibacy, single men called to the married life, but are not yet married and married men who are fathers.  In a tiny community there is unity in diversity.  I  believe that we’re a microcosm of the Church.

Any man interested in spending an evening with this interesting little group of men, is always welcome on any Monday night, beginning at 7:30 PM.  Simply contact me via telephone or email.

We never know God’s plans for us until we take a risk with love.

 

God Continues to Call — Despite Our Deafness


On January 21, 2013, the Brother William Vito received the habit of penance as he begins the second half of his novitiate, which is the final stretch before making first profession to live in absolute obedience to the Gospel in the manner that St. Francis lived it, always remaining in God’s love and in the service of the voiceless.  We also received a new postulant, Raciel Borrego.

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Br. William Vito, Br. Jay and Postulant Raciel Borrego

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On a sadder note . . .

God gives us rights from the moment of conception

God gives us rights from the moment of conception

A Day of Shame for America

January 22, 2013 is the 40th anniversary of legalized abortion in the United States.

A nation that cannot provide for a woman’s welfare without denying the right to live to her unborn child has abdicated its most sacred duty: the protection of the voiceless.

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM  Leave a Comment  
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