Reflections - Friars in Novitiate
Their Vocation Journey...
Linneker Marin, O.F.M., Cap.
I believe that this year I went through a wonderful experience as a Capuchin Postulant- it was a one of a kind experience. Living in St. Michael friary with the professed friars was a time where I was able to know better the daily life of a Capuchin Brother.
I had a wonderful time with my postulant brothers; there were many good times of joy and laughter. I was also able to learn from my brothers through their good example of faith. I know for me it has been a blessing to have brothers along this journey on whom I can count on when I was in need. I was able to learn through my ministry the different needs of help a parish can provide to the community. I also learned how one can make a difference by just doing the little things that might seem that are not important, like listening.
Being accepted to the Novitiate has been a privilege and a miracle as there were some obstacles in which the Lord was at work to help me out to continue this journey. In this new journey of deeper prayer and contemplation I hope that I would be able to understand how the Lord wants me to serve him, in this life with the Capuchins.
Will Tarraza, O.F.M., Cap.
I am amazed by the friars of the Province of St. Mary. As postulancy came to an end, many of the friars came to the other postulants and me with stories about their own novitiate and their time in the Interprovincial Postulancy Program in Kansas. Many shared wonderful experiences and difficult challenges. The one common insight into novitiate seemed to be that each friar developed a personal friendship with Jesus Christ. “Sink your roots deep”, one friar told me. This time is truly a gift from God.
As I begin novitiate, 3,000 miles away from the Province, I know that I go with the support of the brothers to become a friend of Jesus Christ learning to be a Capuchin Franciscan. We have a wonderful class of 24 men from all over the country and around the world who will challenge me to be everything Jesus is calling me to be. My prayer is that we will leave novitiate with deep roots in prayer and fraternity. May God bless you always.
Anthony Zuba, O.F.M., Cap.
Postulancy in Brooklyn ended three months ago. It feels like three years ago. Since the Interprovincial Postulancy Program in Victoria, Kansas, Johnny, Linneker, Will, and I have been fully absorbed in the present moment within a nexus of novelties -- a new home, 20 new brothers, new formators, new schedules, new rules, new prayers, new ministries. Just when we got to know Kansas, and each other, we all got up and moved to California. Thus God, working through the Capuchin family, has made all things new again.
At the time of this writing I have been a Capuchin novice for five days. It was 12 years, 1 month, and 16 days ago that I was confirmed and completed my initiation into the Catholic Church. I have been in this world for 34 years and 10 months. An old soul? Maybe. A newborn saint and prophet, certainly. As Francis said to his brothers on his deathbed, "Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress."
As Capuchin friars in formation, as disciples of Jesus, we begin again, constantly. This is as it ought to be for a people who believe in a God who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). My goal in novitiate is to remain in the new. No conversion is real if it is not renewed daily. No penance is accomplished once for all time; it is taken up in every moment. To encounter the living God is always to meet God for the first time. To meet Jesus is to be constantly surprised by his face, and startled by his voice. To feel the Holy Spirit in your soul is like the delight of hearing something in you favorite song that you never heard before, even though you listened to it a thousand times before now.
This is what it feels like to be a follower in Francis' footsteps at this moment. I am hearing God's song for me with fresh ears. For another beginning, I feel only gratitude.
And novitiate has begun very well. The evening I arrived at San Lorenzo Friary, I could feel my soul relax and expand. From the moment I crossed the threshold into my dormitory, I knew something was different. The first night I slept in my new room, I slept as soundly as if I had been in that place for fifteen years.
Each day is tightly organized, but each day feels free. The pace of life is insistent but unhurried. Within our routine we are discovering the space where God dwells. Within our schedule we are finding the time beyond time and beginning to notice how God erupts into time.
I aim to live every day of novitiate like it was the first day. I want to give and, if it please God, receive the joy I felt when my brothers and I donned the habit of probation at investiture. I want to give, as I have received, that peace of soul which comes from a life centered in the God of Jesus Christ and lived like Christ's, a peace that Francis knew intimately.
And when this year is completed, I hope to go, go and speak the Word I have heard afresh; go, and serve, from worship into service, from contemplation into action; go, to and among the people who bear the marks of Jesus today -- immigrants, prisoners, and workers, and
especially women and people of color; go, in the love of the One who became human, who so loves us that, even if humanity had not sinned, would still come to us.
In this love I will go, always as if for the first time.
John Alvarado, O.F.M., Cap.
Well, what can I say about Kansas? It was a huge step that I took. I have never been anywhere and never would have thought I would end up in Kansas. I’m glad I did because it’s there that I met my new brothers on whom I will rely for the next year. I believe we had a good two months there and I enjoyed every moment of it.
I also got to meet one of the most holy men I think I’ll ever meet. His name is Father Ben. He is a man who is full of love and compassion for his brothers and for us, the new novices. I once asked him what can or should I do to become a good brother. His response was to love them with all your heart and be gentle with them just as God has loved you all your life and will continue to love you in death. Truly these words will stay with me.
When we finally got to Santa Ines, I was just blown away by the beautiful sight and how big the stars and moon were. The next morning I took a nice long walk and started to weep because I truly was blind to God’s beauty and creation. I finally saw the beauty that was hidden within me; it was finally in front of me, just the simplest things ever created.
Everything has a reason and place. Now it has been a month in Novitiate. It has been a loving and beautiful experience. I thank God everyday to be a poor lowly servant and to be consumed by his love in my life.