July 11, 2017

Bring Me The Breviary

Over the last couple weeks a visiting friar has displaced me from my regular place in choir. Not a big deal, though I don't like my little choir-cubby ruffled.

One friar noticed my suffering and said,

'Well, brother, there are many displaced persons in Rome.'

Another told me to tell the visitor that he was in my spot. But I didn't want to bother him so I just sat somewhere else that was vacant, figuring it was the sort of small exercise of humility that my spiritual director always recommends to me.

Yesterday this visitor was not present at Sext and so I took my regular place and left my Italian breviary there. But when I entered the church for Vespers, there he was, already in my place, and with my breviary opened in from of him, prompting a half-joking, half-serious tweet:

This in turn produced a few replies, pointing out to me that maybe this was a un-Franciscan sentiment, not quite in the spirit of sine proprio, that there was perhaps no my in our life, didn't we hold all things in common (which isn't Franciscan but monastic poverty, but the point stands), etc.

So of course I couldn't help but think of St. Francis as his teaching and behavior is reported to us in the Assisi Compilation:
Another time, when blessed Francis was sitting near a fire, warming himself, the same one spoke to him again about a psalter. And blessed Francis told him: "After you have a psalter, you will desire and want to have a breviary; after you have a breviary, you will sit in a fancy chair, like a great prelate telling your brother: 'Bring me the breviary.'" And speaking in this way with great intensity of spirit, he took some ashes in his hand, put them on his head rubbing them around his head as though he were washing it, saying: "I, a breviary! I, a breviary!" He spoke this way many times, passing his hand over his head. The brother was stunned and ashamed. (104, FA:ED II: 209)


kam said...

Thank you Brother Charles for that completely candid and enlightening post. A beautiful, beautiful reminder...

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the comment!

Terry Nelson said...

I love this! Thanks for telling it. St. Francis lives!

Anonymous said...

Hello. My complete sympathy and my admiration. Isn't it the small annoyances that ruffle us a little!
When this visiting friar has completed his stay with you, quietly arrive early and go back to your old choir spot secure in the knowledge that he was made to feel welcome while he was there and that you behaved with admirable restraint and humility (This predicament is very familiar to many lay people too, such as teachers and office workers etc when a newcomer arrives and sits in the Staff room chair which has been their's for twenty years!)
As I say, it's the pebble in our shoes that annoys us... God bless.
.. Cecily.

Brother Charles said...

Terry and Cecily, thanks for the comments!

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