Day of Reflection: Three Things

Once a month we have "days of reflection" here at Novitiate. While the entire experience is actually a year-long span of reflection and discernment, these particular days are like mini-retreats when we're given specific topics to think about and incorporate into our faith journies as we become Capuchins. We have guest speakers come in; it's importance to the program is such that all other activities are put aside during these days.

I've experienced reflection days when I was a Postulant. During Advent and Lent, our friary in Milwaukee got together with the other formation house from Chicago. It was a great time, however the opportunity for the houses to get together sometimes  became excuses for us to catch up and have fun rather than just focusing on the reflection time.

This past Monday was our first Day of Reflection here. We had Fr. John Pavlik come and talk to us. John is the provincial minister for the St. Augustine (sometimes called the Pittsburgh) province. And while the spirit of the event was light, there was definitely plenty to think about.

One if his points was the ability to look back on our reasons for choosing to become Capuchins. Each of the us have our reasons for being here in Allison Park. And while the year of seclusion continues, and nerves start to grate on each one another and people learn the true meaning of "living in community," there is an importance to be true to our vocations.

The challenge he gave us was this: there are three main reasons why we chose to join the Capuchins versus another Order or the diocese. Our task was to find those reasons and to keep them in our prayers. He told us how his three reasons got him through tough times as a friar, and kept his focus on why he was a friar instead of letting other things tear him apart.

It was a great insight for me to reflect on. Usually I choose to stay busy, fill my day with lots of tasks, and set goals that I try to achieve (the remnants of my life as a salesman). But at times my work and my life have felt empty...leaving me to wonder why I'm even pursuing this vocation. Remembering that I am not doing this for me, but because I felt the task of doing something for others puts things in perspective.

So while the use of three things seems as simple-minded as Curly's one thing, there is wisdom in the simplicity of this reflection. Whether it be a vocation like mine, or a long-term relationship, a marriage, or a career, there are times when we get into "the rut." We get overwhelmed with the daily tasks of living our lives; sometimes we forget those monumental and earth-shattering moments that brought us to where we are. While I've never been married or had my own children, I know how easy it is to forget about the love that existed at the beginning of a relationship. I know what it feels like to wake up and wonder: "What am I doing here?" Like any other committment, a vocation must be renewed continuously; each day I must choose to be here-living my life as a friar.

Someone great (although she'd humbly tell you otherwise) once told me that these memories are like pebbles: pebbles that can be easily lost or forgotten. The key is to keep those pebbles in our pocket; to shine them and touch them and know every ridge and smooth surface. If we can keep those pebbles of our memories close to us, and readily available whenever we need them, not only can they remind us why we are on our journey, but we might even leave a trail as a guide for others.

Flickr photos from Ben and rph10uk

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4 Response to Day of Reflection: Three Things

October 1, 2009 at 7:18 AM

So what are Fr. John Pavlik's 3 things?

October 1, 2009 at 9:50 AM

You'll have to forgive me if I keep Fr. John's words a little vague:

Prudence says that the words shared between a Provincial and novices is a forum not intended for all people...not out of a lack of transparency but in recognizing the value of privileged and safe conversation. Also, I don't want the friars here worrying that every conversation they have with me will be fodder for my online blog.

With that disclaimer, I think Fr. John would be okay with me sharing a quick glance at his reasons he loved the Capuchins:

1. The power and message in the preaching of the friars.

2. The community of the Capuchins and how it is fostered.

3. The friars' commitment to service, both to the poor as well as to the Order.

October 2, 2009 at 9:54 AM

I have enjoyed reading your journey, thank you for sharing!


October 2, 2009 at 3:50 PM

Thank you for your words and your encouragement, Trent!