I've taken to breaking up my uphill walk to school in the morning. I set out from the friary and walk up as far as the Piazza del Comune and there I sit for a spell in Santa Maria sopra Minerva before heading up the stairs between the bars on the north side of the piazza to get to the Via Tiberio and the Via Santa Maria delle Rose where the school is.
I don't usually go for baroque, but there's something I like about Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Maybe it's just that it tends to be relatively cool in there. The teal and gold novus ordo altar and attendant appointments are a misfortune, but it could be a lot worse.
Anyway, I was sitting there this morning, praying a little bit, reflecting on this and that, and--as I always do--indulging my compulsion to count the number of stars around Our Lady's head to make sure there were twelve. It was then that I recalled the anniversary that is today. I'm pretty sure that today was the day, seventeen years ago, when I first put on the Franciscan habit.
So there I was this morning, seventeen years later, wearing a Franciscan habit. It's a symbol one is acutely aware of here in Assisi, not just because the place is lousy with friars, but because of the overpowering Franciscan-ness of the place. But what does it mean to say such a thing?
And who was this funny little man who grew up here eight hundred years ago? What is this Franciscan thing?
One thing I notice living in here in Assisi is that there a various Francises. And there are various Franciscanisms that flow from each of them. And there are all kinds of senses of the relationship of these Francises and Franciscanisms to Christianity, to religion, and to humanity.
And then there's me, somewhere in the midst of all of it. That's just a fact of history; for better or for worse--or for both--my own adventure of Christianity has been very much bound up and woven together with this Franciscan thing. What was it that convinced me so strongly, on the way to this day seventeen years ago, that I was supposed to be a Franciscan friar? Is it the same sense that keeps me at it today, struggling with and yearning for and resting in this seductive and searing mystery we call God, according to the Franciscan pattern and footprint?
In whatever way it seems better to you to please the Lord God and to follow his footprint and his poverty, do that with the blessing of God and my obedience. (Francis to brother Leo)