The Beginning

The Beginning

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dominican Province of St. Joseph | Ryan Briscoe (22 years old) Blog |

Dominican Province of St. Joseph Ryan Briscoe (22 years old) Blog

Ryan has been a friend of mine since grade school. Now he is Br. Patrick Mary. I'm just jealous he got a habit before me. lol. I'm very proud of him and I know he will be a great Dominican!

Who Do You Say I Am?

"Who do the crowds say that I am?" These words are spoken by Christ in the Gospel passage from today found in the Gospel of Luke. He poses this question to His disciples while they were in solitude, away from the hectic crowds and other distractions. They responded with answers such as well "some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others say one of the ancient prophets who has arisen from the dead." He responds, "But who do you say that I am?" Wow! What a question! Who do you say that I am? Who is Christ to us in the midst of such a busy and materialistic world that tells us in a very subverted way that the center and focus of our lives, which should be Christ, needs to be how popular we are, how wealthy we are, how successful we are? Who is Christ for us? I have to be honest in saying that I don't fully know who Christ is for me. I mean I can say with certainty that He is God's son sent to this earth out of love for us so that we may be given the opportunity for salvation. But on a personal level do I know Christ? Fr. Larry Richards, a very popular speaker these days, always says something that I think is very profound. He says, "You can know everything there is to know about Jesus, the Church, the doctrines, and still not KNOW who Jesus is." The word know here does not pertain to an intellectual knowledge of something, but an understanding of the very essence of something, in this case someone, Jesus Christ. To know someone on a personal level. To have a relationship with that person. In reality to feel at one with that person. Everyone has friends. So how do you get to become friends? You spend time with that person Fr. Richards says. There are some people who become more like brothers or sisters than friends. A close bond is created where you just enjoy being with each other. Really to fully know someone can't even be described in terms. But it is found deep within ones self. Like the relationships we develop with each other we also develop our relationship with Jesus in the same way. We spend time with Him. We open ourselves up fully to Him. And tell Him whats on our mind. But a friendship, and any relationship is a two way street. We must also listen to what Christ has to say to us. And this I think is the most challenging part for me and probably for a lot of people. One of the great things about being in religious life is there is set times to pray. There is structure. But we are also asked to have at least an hour outside of that time in our own private silent meditation. That is when you get to know Christ. When you just let yourself 'be'. I find this very difficult though. There is so much that rushes through my mind that I get distracted very easily and it's hard to focus. But that is something I must work on. If I want to be able to answer the question Jesus asks in the Gospel I must first learn to be still and know that He is God. I must open myself up to Him. I must spend time with Him. Such a challenge. But also such a blessing, because from this challenge will come strength and a deeper relationship with my Lord and my God.

Peace and all Good,


Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Suffering to Wholeness

Today the Church celebrated one of the greatest and most well know Capuchin saints. Saint Padre Pio. Throughout the day though, even before we had the mass which this was discussed at during the homily, something kept running through my mind. A thought that I kept reflecting on, which I find myself doing a lot since entering postulancy. The thought was this. One of the greatest realizations that we can have as human beings and as Christians, is the fact that we are imperfect...we are sinful...we are broken. We have all messed up in life. We have all fallen into a life of sin whatever that may be, and because of that sin we have been broken. We all struggle with something in life. Whether it's divorce, or other family issues, loneliness, depression, drugs, alcohol, you name it someone has been through it. And all of this builds on us as people. Yet despite our imperfections, despite our sinfulness, and despite our brokenness we must realize that no matter what we are and always will be the beloved sons and daughters of a God who created us in His very image and Whose likeness we strive to perfect each and every day of our lives. From our greatest imperfection comes our greatest strength and because of our brokenness we become wholy holy. It is only in being broken and knowing the pain that comes from that, that we can better understand the suffering of others and have not only a greater sense of compassion and mercy for them but also because of our own pain and emptiness we are better able to help others and to reach out to them.

It was interesting that I was thinking about this throughout the day because at mass celebrating the memorial of Padre Pio this very issue was brought up in the homily. Because of the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ) that Padre Pio received and lived with throughout his life he had to deal with a great deal of pain. Physically. But he was also often persecuted and was even silenced by the Church for things that just were not true about him. This also brought him much emotional pain. All the pain that this holy man suffered, he turned into a deep love for people and becuase of this love he helped countless numbers of people. During his life numerous miracles were attributed to his intercession and even more so after his death. His great suffering, and his great brokenness before the crucified Christ brought forth great love and compassion for God's people. He is truly a model for us all. Padre Pio...Pray for us! Below is a link to a clip from a movie about Padre Pio. The end is very powerful.

Peace and all Good,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Feast of St. Matthew

Who are the poor? For some reason this question has been on my mind a lot lately. And I don't even really know why. But the Gospel for the Feast of St. Matthew today I think touched a bit on this question. And you may find yourselves asking why? There is no mention of the poor in the Gospel today. It instead tells the story of Jesus calling Matthew the tax collector to follow after Him. It then tells how many tax collectors and sinners came to sit and eat with Jesus. Now first of all we know that generally speaking tax collectors were pretty wealthy people. They usually took from the people more than what was required so that they could line their own pockets (sounds pretty similar to things going on today.) You see this also in the story of Zacchaeus, another tax collector, who climbed a tree so that he may see Jesus. So again why when talking about the rich do I ask the question, who are the poor? It is simple. Who is more poor? The man who has nothing, knows he has nothing, and goes and asks for help, or the man who has everything he could ever imagine, thinks he is happy, yet has a constant desire for more things and does not realize his own emptiness? I would dare to argue that it is the rich person who doesn't even realize his own emptiness, that is the one who is most poor. Coming from a postulant with the Capuchin Franciscans whose main mission is to care for the poor this must sound pretty crazy. But is it really? Over and over again we constantly see Christ reaching out to those in authority, those with power, and those with many possessions, such as the rich young man who was challenged by Christ to go sell all he had and give the money to the poor and follow after Him. Yet he walked away sad because he had many possessions. Christ rarely called the poor or the sick to conversion because they already had great faith. Hence why they were healed. But he did continuously reach out to the rich and the powerful so that they would have a conversion experience. St. Matthew is one of the few wealthy people in the Gospels that hears His word and responds positively to it. Yes we must always care for the poor. That is the Gospel message. But We must also reach out to those in power, and with wealth and authority as Christ did and pray for a conversion experience. It is so easy in our society, especially for young people, to get too caught up in the things of this world and forget what it is we are really called to do. I think now days so much emphasis is put on school, work, sports, so on and so forth that we lose sight of the one and only thing that really matters. And that is our relationship with God. I do not mean to say that these other things are not important, because they are, but there needs to be a priority and that priority starts with the conversion of our own heart, mind, and soul every day so that we are led deeper into a relationship with Christ. May we be more like St. Matthew who made this a priority in his life, and less like the rich young man, who having everything walked away from Christ sad and unfulfilled because he was afraid to give up what he had for that relationship with Christ.

Peace and all good things,

Monday, September 20, 2010

St. Francis Youth Ministry

It is often said that in community, everything is shared. Well this week I unfortunately found out that this also pertains to illness. I am currently about the 7th guy in the house to come down with a really nasty cold. It has been picking us off one by one since we all moved in about a month ago now. When I was still going to college I could just sleep in and skip classes if I was sick. Not anymore. I still have to get up at 6:20 am for morning prayer followed by mass which is then followed by class at 9 and then off to ministry around 12. I unfortunately noticed a huge difference in how I acted today and it wasn't for the better which was unfortunate because I had a meeting with two high school upper classmen who want to start a Jr. High youth group at the parish. I was looking forward to this meeting since last week and finally it got here and I felt like crap. lol. It was still a great meeting though. We came up with when we wanted to start it and how often it will be. As of now it will be every other Tuesday. I think the best part about this is that it was these two teens who came to Fr. Mike, the pastor, and asked if they could start this up. They were the ones who initiated it. How awesome is that? As Pope John Paul II often said, "the youth are not the future of the Church. They are the Church." It was amazing to me that two high school students would show this kind of initiative. Especially with everything else going on in their lives right now. They are both active leaders in their schools. One of which I believe is class president. I was blown away by the energy and dedication they have going toward starting this new program. These are the kind of kids that give us hope as a Church. I am truly blessed to be a part of it. Also this Wednesday will be the first high school youth group meeting. It's going to just be a nice night of cooking out on the grill, playing some games and getting to know eachother. Please pray that it goes well.

Peace and all good things,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day in Chicago

As postulants we often make trips outside of Milwaukee for different events or classes. Today we traveled to Chicago for a class with a Capuchin professor at CTU (Catholic Theological Union). The topic was the history and theology behind the Liturgy of the Hours which is the daily prayers of the Church that all priests and religious, and even some lay people, pray each day. It was a highly informative class. And we learned that we can thank St. Francis for the use of the liturgy of the hours we have today. At his time the Roman Curia was getting to busy to pray as often as they used to and so they shortened the prayers required to be said. But it was only the Roman Curia that could do so. So because St. Francis was forming a community which went out to the people and were often traveling, they picked up on this form of the liturgy of the hours. Because they went out all over Italy that form of prayer spread. And now we have the liturgy of the hours we have. This is an abbreviated version of the story of course.

After the class we went around and saw a couple parishes run by the Capuchins in Chicago. And then we made our way to St. Clare of Assisi Friary where dinner was awaiting us. St. Clares is the post novitiate house where all the guys in their temporary vows live as they go to school. Some go to CTU, other Loyola, others Xavier, and I believe one goes to Depaul. It was great being able to visit with everyone. We sat around the tables enjoying the meal and each others company. And after dinner we moved to the living room area and continued our various conversations. There are two things you can always count on when you are at a Capuchin friary. Good food and good company and with that a lot of laughs. I am truly blessed to be a part of such a community.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis

Tomorrow, Sept 17th, marks a very special day within the Franciscan community. As Franciscans we celebrate the great feast of the Stigmata of Our Holy Father Francis. "Francis imitated Christ so perfectly that towards the end of his life our Lord wished to point him out to the world as the faithful imitator of the Crucified, by imprinting His five wounds upon his body." He received a vision of a seraph with 6 wings and within the 6 wings was seen Christ crucified. This vision filled Francis with the fire of divine love, so great that with it came the very markings of Jesus Christ. Nails appeared in his hands and feet and a mark appeared on his side as if like Christ on the cross, he too had been pierced by a lance. I was very blessed to be able to go to La Verna, the mountain where Francis received the stigmata. And I was able to pray at the very spot where he received the wounds of Jesus Christ. I was in Italy last Christmas break with a group of students from different Franciscan Colleges and Universities around the country. It was, for me, a life changing experience. And it was an experience that filled me with great peace. Being able to pray in the very places where Francis once stood was very moving for me. I think in the end, having that experience also solidified my belief that I wanted to be a Franciscan. Like Francis I hope and pray that I too may be able to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ, as imperfect as I am, I can only hope to taste a small part of that divine love that filled the very essence of Francis' being. Holy Father Francis...Pray for us!
P.S. The picture is from the Stigmata Chapel at La Verna and marks the spot where Francis received the stigmata.

Why The Summons?

So you may be wondering why I chose to use "The Summons" for a part of the title for this blog. I'm sure most of you have heard this song. It's a very popular church song. And for me just within the last few days it has had a huge impact on my own reflection on the life that I have chosen to live, the life as a Capuchin Franciscan.

1. Will you come and follow meIf I but call your name?Will you go where you don’t knowAnd never be the same?Will you let my love be shown,Will you let my name be known,Will you let my life be grownIn you and you in me?
2. Will you leave yourself behindIf I but call your name?Will you care for cruel and kindAnd never be the same?Will you risk the hostile stareShould your life attract or scare?Will you let me answer prayerIn you and you in me?
3. Will you let the blinded seeIf I but call your name?Will you set the pris’ners freeAnd never be the same?Will you kiss the leper clean,And do such as this unseen,And admit to what I meanIn you and you in me?
4. Will you love the ‘you’ you hideIf I but call your name?Will you quell the fear insideAnd never be the same?Will you use the faith you’ve foundTo reshape the world around,Through my sight and touch and soundIn you and you in me?
5. Lord, your summons echoes trueWhen you but call my name.Let me turn and follow youAnd never be the same.In your company I’ll goWhere your love and footsteps show.Thus I’ll move and live and growIn you and you in me.

For the sake of keeping it short I think over the next week or two I will kind of explain why this song has made an impact on me and what my own reflections are on it. It is truly a very powerful song and also a very challenging song. Are we willing to give up everything to follow Christ? I guess this is the very question I ask myself as I discern my own calling.

Peace and All Good Things,