April 27, 2014

Pineapples and Full Circles

About five years ago, when this old blog was going strong and I was in the middle of my assignment as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart in Yonkers, my Provincial Minister came to me with some pamphlets and asked me if I might think about going to our International College in order to study in Rome.

I was excited by the idea. I tried to make some email contacts with friars in Rome. I thought about what I might study. I had a set of Italian breviaries sent over from Padua. I looked at the website of the International College and when I saw a gallery of party pictures in which friars were grilling whole pineapples on long skewers, I thought that this must be a fun place. I wrote as much in an email to friends, linking the gallery. (the wonders of the gmail archive. 'Pineapples' is a pretty narrow search term in mine.) I have to confess, in those days one of my frequent day-off destinations was an old lunch counter turned taco stand where they would give you a couple pieces of grilled pineapple with their amazing tacos al pastor.

Eventually, of course, it was decided that I should apply and go to Boston College where I then had my false start as a doctoral student. During the same sojourn back in Boston I had my insuccess as guardian of a friary before I was saved from any further calamity by the unexpected call here to Rome and the quiet, hidden life I live now at our International College, the temporary home of our General Curia while our real place is undergoing renovations.

I was recently reminded of some of this trajectory on the occasion of the brethren's celebration of Italian Liberation Day--as one of the Italian friars put it, "the day the Americans came and saved us from the Germans"--when I went outside and saw this:

Five years later, there were the pineapples on the long skewers, grilling away. They got me thinking about all this and reminded me--how time flies!--that I am coming up on two years here in Rome. In some ways it's been a rough landing. But it's been a landing nonetheless, and landings are times when the grace of God comes into focus as I look back and see God guiding me by crooked paths, taking away consolations when it's the best thing to draw me further into his Mystery, giving me his merciful protection in my folly, and granting me glimpses of how it all comes together in him--and always has.


Unknown said...

Blessings on this Feast of Divine Mercy! Praise Him and thank Him for His neverending mercy toward all of us. I love the statement He made to St. Faustina, something to the effect of "The greater the sinner, the greater the claim to My mercy." Wow! He always has His arms outstretched to receive even the greatest sinner.

Were you able to get to the canonizations? I woke up around 5:30 and caught the last 45 minutes. It will be re televised tonight at 7 PM. I'll catch it then. What an awesome occasion! We now have two wonderful new Saints to intercede for us and whose example we can follow as the way to holiness. And I sure want to follow that way.

Have a glorious day!


Gregg the obscure said...

Great reflection! "His merciful protection in my folly" pretty much sums up my life.

Brother Charles said...

@Judy Rather than enjoy the crowd and risk the rain, I watched the canonization Mass on TV. :)

Anonymous said...

Nice recapitulation as one of our former professors at Boston College always liked to say! Pax

Unknown said...

Hi Fr. Charles,

Have you gone incommunicado? It's over a month since you have posted. Attended the ordination of Fr. Matt Janeczko yesterday. What a glorious event! Cardinal O'Malley was great--many quips.

It's finally going to happen. It looks as if I will be moving to West Haverstraw in mid-July. Wow, I am excited and nervous at the same time. So much to do, so little time. Will let you know the exact date and give you the details as soon as I know for certain. Please keep me in prayer.