Reflections - Friars in Novitiate
Their Vocation Journey Continues...
Br. Scott Leet, O.F.M., Cap.
I have just concluded my first year of formation, the Postulancy, and am presently in the Inter-provincial postulancy program. My postulancy year was one of great surprises and growth, not without pain and difficulty, but by the grace of God and the blessings of brothers I emerged a better, healthier and more loving person. (I hope.)
As an older vocation I knew the postulancy would present me with challenges to overcome, and new experiences from which to grow. The surprise was that most of the areas in which I thought I would be challenged flew by without a blip. Areas where I never even imagined a challenge would arise were the bumps in the road called me to take inventory and see who I am and what I truly believed.
The greatest challenge for me, and one on which I am still working, was to surrender to the program and the Will of God. Of course I thought I was doing this all along, and when I got complacent the Lord gave me another example of how I had not yet surrendered this or that.
What I learned through this, and mostly with the help of my brothers, is that the surrender is not done for the fact of surrendering or to make me feel negatively about myself or where I was. It was about Trust. Did I trust in God enough to truly and simply surrender? Trusting in God could I give myself over to Him, and trust that I would come out okay.
With the help of my brothers, AJ and Francisco, and my directors, Fr. Michael Greco and Fr. Gerard Mulvey, I saw places where I had surrendered and did not know it. I also saw places that I surrendered a good portion, but clung to some control, and most importantly I saw things I simply refused, and was refusing to surrender. So, the challenge remains - do I trust God enough to simply surrender? The answer to that question continues to be worked out. But as I reflect back it seems like it will be answered in the positive,
What I am looking forward to in the Novitiate is to continue to work on this challenge, with a new team who sees me in a new light and under new situations. I look forward, with not a little fear, to the deep dive into the spiritual life that the novitiate offers. I trust, in the end, I will emerge from that dive a new creation, better able to give, better able to love, better able to serve. And, perhaps most hopefully, better able to hear, see and taste God in everything.
Br. AJ Lezcano, O.F.M., Cap.
This last year has brought a lot of insight into my discernment and a deeper understanding of why I am still on this journey. At times, I have been affirmed in my walk and have been left with feelings of belonging and intense conviction. At other times, I have been immersed into a storm of challenges that have left me with the feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty.
Looking back on the year, I can see that the struggles have been a way that the Lord used to show me a preview into what I will have to suffer for his name's sake. Although I have felt unworthy and incapable numerous times throughout this year, through God's grace, I have been picked up and placed back on my feet. Because of God's mercy, I have been able to stay afloat and grab hold of a Brothers' hand before I gave into drowning. Through these ups and downs and merry-go-rounds, I have been getting a clearer understanding of "the call" I have felt for a long time now. Reflecting back, it's exactly what I needed and I was never alone through it all.
My experience thus far as a friar in formation has been one that has not guided me to becoming a spiritual statue in perfect robotic form but one that has crushed my heart over and over again in order to open up new possibilities of love. It has been a very human experience of darkness and light, pain and gain, death and rebirth. Through the weeding that has happened this year, I am given space for the young trees to flourish within my soul. As with all harvests, including the one from God's most magnificent delight, there is a lot of sowing, plowing, weeping, weeding, sweating and yearning. This is the stage that I am in right now.
As for the Novitiate, I am not sure of what to expect. All I know is that I have much more cleaning to do and am still in need of healing. Through the silence of the novitiate, I am sure to find new deaths to face, new tensions to release, new tears to offer up towards the creation of a new soul for the greater glory of God. At this point, all I ask is that the Lord rip the weeds out of my heart, break the walls that I have built around me, Illumine and incinerate the darkness that still clouds my soul. As I write this, I am reminded of a poem by Nikos Kazantzakis.
Three kinds of souls, three prayers:
1) I am a bow in your hands, Lord. Draw me, lest I rot.
2) Do not overdraw me, Lord. I shall break.
3) Overdraw me, Lord, and who cares if I break?
Although I am still fearful and weak, I am hoping that this next year I will be able to pray the last prayer more often than not.
Br. Francesco Serrano, O.F.M., Cap.
It has been a wonderful experience with the Capuchin brothers. Last year, I called Brother Tim Jones looking for help in trying to discern my vocation with a Franciscan community. St. Francis has always inspired me with his life of being a good disciple of Jesus by living the Gospel so simply and humbly.
Since I began talking with Brother Tim I have felt that I was talking with someone who truly understood me and supported me. He invited me to a discernment weekend which helped me a lot in searching for God’s will and in how I can express my desire to help the poor and serve in God’s Church.
The brothers made me feel at home from the moment I entered the retreat house and I was able to sense the strong bond of fraternity, respect and love for one another that I had not felt anywhere else. This made me feel at home, a place I was searching for. So when I was invited to put in my application for postulancy I was very happy and was praying to God that His will may be done in my life.
As I move forward in my discernment, I look forward to strengthen my relationship with God and to embrace Capuchin spirituality. I look forward to growing in wisdom and holiness in order to better serve and do God’s will, and I know that this is a lifelong process.