February 7, 2012

Life in Fraternity

Fraternity is one of the big Franciscan things. St. Francis, when the Lord "gave" him "some brothers" said that the Lord revealed to him that he (N.B. not 'we') should live "according to the form" of the holy gospel. Francis called fire and the sun his brothers, and water and the moon his sisters, praising God for the fraternal bonds between all God's creatures.

Sometimes we have a shallow idea of Franciscan fraternity, reducing it to something like conviviality or worse, co-dependence or the (un)happy intersection of the bad boundaries of one with unhealthy emotional needs of another.

Therefore, I always try to be grateful to God when I'm able to participate in a real fraternal moment. I experienced one over this past weekend. I went with some of the brothers to a funeral Mass for a friar's mother. The friar was my vocation director, the brother with whom I met when I was inquiring into the Order, who encouraged me to apply, and who handled my application.

I concelebrated the Mass, and as I prayed the Eucharistic Prayer, offering the Sacrifice for this woman I had never met, I realized that I had nevertheless known her. I had known her in the faith that she had handed on to her son, a faith that had given him the confidence in God to be strong with me about my vocation when I was having doubts about my application. I knew her as a member of the Body of Christ offered to God in that Mass, and in every Mass at which I have assisted or which I have offered by the anointing of the priesthood I have unworthily received.

Back when I was first looking into the Capuchins, I could never have known and would never have imagined that thirteen years later, in offering the funeral Mass for his mother, I would have an intense opportunity to be brother to one of the friars who had been such a brother to me. But God knew it.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our sister bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.

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