Tag Archives: vocation

Following Christ unfolds

Pilgrim Vocation Icon.jpg

The call to follow Christ is not just a matter of words that come from outside only to direct us along a path alien to our nature. Rather, and ultimately, it is the necessary unfolding of what we are in ourselves and always have been: those who are destined in the deepest part of our being for life with Christ.

Father Karl Rahner, SJ
1904-1984

Gabriel Robert Scasino takes the Franciscan Conventual habit

the Conventual habit2.jpgYesterday morning (May 8) my friend Gabriel Scasino was invested in the habit of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFMConv) at Saint Bonaventure Friary (Forestville, MD) during Lauds. His Minister Provincial, Father Justin Blase, presided at Lauds, blessed the habit, and then invested Gabriel with the Habit. Father Justin then celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Friar Gabriel belongs to the Immaculate Conception Province.

So you may ask, What is the habit all about? The habit is the religious garment of the person who takes the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, obedience). It is a sign (used here in the religious/philosophical sense) of something deeper than the person wearing the garment and it is a sign and symbol of Christ and the Church. As a point of comparison, diocesan priests would wear a cassock or a 

Gabriel dons the Conventual habit May 8 2010.jpg

clerical shirt of some sort. Nevertheless, most religious orders of men and women have a habit, usually some stylized clothing of a former era, though some sisters and priests may wear secular clothing because the founder didn’t specify a habit because of the era in which the congregation was founded (e.g., Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity) or like Saint Ignatius of Loyola who told his disciples to dress as the respectable priests of the day. Orders like the Benedictines, Carmelites, Augustinians, Dominicans and the Franciscans have a habit to identify themselves as living as the poor: simple attire. The habit is a witness to someone greater than me; and believe it or not, the habit often opens more doors to Christ than one might realize because many people recognize a habit as a garment that expresses virtue.
The use of the habit may depend on the context in which the religious is living and working. In some cases color and type of fabric may be relative. However, what is clear is that the habit is not optional; it is not circus clothing, it is not for dress-up. The habit ought to help the person wearing it to take into account his or her life in Christ, preaching the Gospel and living the vows.

Gabriel takes the capuce.jpg

So, for my purposes here, let me quote from the Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual we learn what the habit means for the Conventual Franciscan in relatively direct terms:
The religious habit of the friars, the sign of our consecration and of our community and a witness to poverty, must be simple and modest, poor and becoming. It consists of a black tunic with a capuche and a white cord. In certain places, for a reasonable cause approved by the Minister General with the consent of his definitory, the grey habit may be worn.

According to custom, it is laudable to wear –suspended from the cord– the Franciscan crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The friars must wear the habit of the Order. The Minister General, however, for particular reason and as long as these last may permit another form of dress (97; emphasis mine).

Provincial gives the Pax.jpg

As you can see from these photos, Friar Gabriel and his conferes are wearing the grey habit, which the other Conventual provinces around the world are beginning to adopt as it is seen as the more authentic habit of the Conventual Franciscans.
Friar Gabriel Robert Scasino and I are from the same town, when to the same high school and our home parish is the same, though Gabriel is much younger than I am. He was a Conventual Franciscan for 7 years has been out for about 7 years and has been mercifully and graciously been re-admitted to the same.

Gabriel Scasino & postulants May 8 2010.jpg

Beginning next week Friar Gabriel will spend 3 months in Assisi, Italy, doing a Franciscan course of study with the aim of putting him in touch with the Franciscan way of life by locating himself at the heart of Franciscan life.
Friar Gabriel will make a profession of temporary vows on the feast of Saint Joseph Cupertino, September 18.
May God grant Friar Gabriel many years as a Conventual Friar.

Monastic Family of Bethlehem and of the Assumption of the Virgin, Livingston Manor, NY

Livingston Manor BVM greeting.jpg

Back in February I received two extraordinary gifts from Brother John Paul, CFR: a weekend spent in a hermitage used by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Brother John Paul’s introduction to a groups of cloistered nuns who live not far away, The Monastic Family of Bethlehem, Livingston Manor, NY. I had for several years appreciated the artwork of the nuns and this was a prime opportunity to meet Bethlehem, as it were, and to experience the sacred Liturgy and to drink in, for a very short time, the beautiful monastic atmosphere.

 

The nuns in Livingston Manor, New York, call themselves officially, “The Monastic Family of Bethlehem and of the Assumption of the Virgin” founded on November 1, 1950, at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The inspiration of French pilgrims was described in this way:

Livingston Manor nuns' hermitages2.jpg

That throughout the world there may exist religious communities devoted to silent adoration, striving to live in continual reference to what the Virgin Mary lives in heaven where she has been taken up with her soul and her body, into the glory of the Three Divine Persons, hidden for ever with Christ in God.

 

The monks and nuns of the Bethlehem communities, live the scriptural exhortation to seek the face of Christ by living in the school of Mary. From the Mary, the Mother of God, we learn not to set limits on our love of God and neighbor. This seeking of Christ’s face is discerned in the daily work of community living alone and together, in fraternal and liturgical love, and in the sacred Scriptures. In his letter approving the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, Eduardo Cardinal Martinez Somalo said: “The devote themselves to listening assiduously to the Word of God and to prayer of the heart in a life of solitude, silence liturgical and fraternal communion and humble manual work. In order to be faith to this vocation they receive the twofold monastic tradition of East and West. They are disciples of Saint Bruno, receiving his spiritual fatherhood and wisdom of life. With him they are trained in the school of “Divine Philosophy,” which is Jesus Himself, the eternal Wisdom of the Father. They keep a holy watch awaiting the return of their Lord. Their life, then, is entirely ordered to divine contemplation and the greatest possible love for the Divine Persons and for all human persons.” The point, therefore, is to be progressively likened unto Christ Himself.

Livingston Manor enclosure.jpg

Seeking that pearl of great price the monks and nuns of this order seek to live with all their heart the evangelical life, though hidden from the world. Life in the Bethlehem Family is life in an eremitical monastery, meaning each nun (or monk depending on the monastery) lives in a hermitage and the hermitages are connected by a cloister leading the to church, the sign of fraternal and liturgical communion. This vocation, from my one experience of being present at the monastery in New York, is lived intently as it is drawn from what Saint Luke observed in his Gospel “and Jesus withdrew to the mountains and prayed” (5:16). The Monasteries of Bethlehem take Saint Bruno’s Rule and his wisdom of life but they are not Carthusians but are affiliated to them in a bond of charity.

Livingston Manor chapel3.jpg

The first community of sisters began in 1951 and the monks’ community was founded in 1976, in the Massif of Chartreuse. In 2007, the Bethlehem Family consisted in 650 members from 33 monasteries through out the world.

 

Work is essential in this life. You quickly learn that the monastic life -or any other style of life for that matter–is not meant for those who want to rest and relax while supervising the work of others. Each nun or monk is expected to contribute to the shared life. For example, when a new monastery is founded the nuns and monks first build their oratory where the Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated and the Divine Office is sung. Daily bread is earned, not an entitlement that one sees in other orders. Similar to the average working class family in the world today, the monks and nuns work to sustain their life and glorify God. From something to be avoided or disdained, nuns and monks engage their entire being into the work assigned so that the love of God might be expressed, a sign of trust in the “God the creator of heaven and earth.” Here in New York, the Sisters of Bethlehem earn their living by working with their hands. Through their artwork, they seek to convey something of God’s beauty and truth. Their work itself is accomplished in prayer, praise to the Creator of all things and intercession for all those to whom these items are destined.

Livingston Manor nuns in prayer after Mass.jpg

The Monastic Sisters arrived in Livingston Manor, New York, in May 1987. The monastery is about 2.5 to 3 hours north of New York City. In this monastery, they earn their living by making medallions, icons and chinaware. They also sell dolomite statues, crèches, crucifixes, and bas reliefs made in the monastery of Mougeres France.

 

My brothers keep a holy and persevering watch awaiting the return of their Master in order to open to Him at once when he knocks, said Saint Bruno.

 

As Saint Isaac of Nineve said, “When the Spirit makes his dwelling in someone, this person cannot stop praying, for the Spirit does not cease to pray within him.”

Livingston Manor Christ the King.jpg

In the solitude of the cell, the monk and nun of Bethlehem has this schedule each day:

1 hour of the liturgical hours

45 min of lectio divina (Bible reading)

1.5 hours of personal prayer

1.5 hours of biblical and theological study

c. 2 hours for 2 daily meals and free time

4-5 hours of work

8 hours of sleep

 

In the church

1.5 hours for Matins and Lauds

1 hour for Mass

30 min of Eucharistic thanksgiving

45 min for Vespers

Monday is a day of complete solitude and on Sunday there is a meal together with a gathering for a chapter meeting and spiritual conversation.

The nuns can be contacted at:
 
Monastery of Our Lady in Beatitude
393 Our Lady of Lourdes Road
Livingston Manor, NY 12758 USA
 
tel: 845-439-4300

or

Monastère Sainte Marie Reine des Cœurs
3095, chemin Marie Reine des Cœurs
Chertsey, Québec, J0K 3K0 Canada

or

Monastère Notre Dame de Mongères
F-34720 Caux France

Tel: 33-04-67-98-4486

The motherhouse:
Monastère de l’Assomption Notre-Dame
Currière-en-Chartreuse
F-38380 Saint Laurent du Pont France

Monks tel: 33-04-76-1497
Nuns tel: 33-04-76-4055

World Day of Vocations 2010

In his 2010 message for World Day of Vocations, celebrated
today on Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Benedict names three elements for someone
willing to follow a call to priesthood and/or religious life:
friendship with
Jesus, total self-gift to God and a life of communion with all people
. All of this situated in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and our relationship to that very cross. Read the
three essential paragraphs from the Pope’s message below.

CFR Sisters First Vows.jpg

A fundamental
element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the
consecrated life, is friendship with Christ. Jesus lived in constant union with
the Father and this is what made the disciples eager to have the same
experience; from him they learned to live in communion and unceasing dialogue
with God. If the priest is a “man of God”, one who belongs to God and helps others
to know and love him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God,
abiding in his love and making space to hear his Word. Prayer is the first form
of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his
brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a
disciple and witness of Christ must have “seen” him personally, come to know
him, and learned to love him and to abide with him.

Another aspect of the
consecration belonging to the priesthood and the religious life is the complete
gift of oneself to God
. The Apostle John writes: “By this we know love, that he
laid down his life for us; and therefore we ought to lay down our lives for the
brethren” (1 Jn 3:16). With these words, he invites the disciples to enter into
the very mind of Jesus who in his entire life did the will of the Father, even
to the ultimate gift of himself on the Cross. Here, the mercy of God is shown
in all its 

Way of the Cross.jpg

fullness; a merciful love that has overcome the darkness of evil,
sin and death. The figure of Jesus who at the Last Supper, rises from the
table, lays aside his garments, takes a towel, girds himself with it and stoops
to wash the feet of the Apostles, expresses the sense of service and gift
manifested in his entire existence, in obedience to the will of the Father (cf.
Jn 13:3-15). In following Jesus, everyone called to a life of special
consecration must do his utmost to testify that he has given himself completely
to God. This is the source of his ability to give himself in turn to those whom
Providence entrusts to him in his pastoral ministry with complete, constant and
faithful devotion, and with the joy of becoming a companion on the journey to
so many brothers and sisters, enabling them too to become open to meeting Christ,
so that his Word may become a light to their footsteps
. The story of every
vocation is almost always intertwined with the testimony of a priest who
joyfully lives the gift of himself to his brothers and sisters for the sake of
the Kingdom of God. This is because the presence and words of a priest have the
ability to raise questions and to lead even to definitive decisions (cf. John
Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo
Vobis
, 39).

ordination.jpg

A third aspect which necessarily characterizes the
priest and the consecrated person is a life of communion. Jesus showed that the
mark of those who wish to be his disciples is profound communion in love
: “By
this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one
another” (Jn 13:35). In a particular way the priest must be a man of communion,
open to all, capable of gathering into one the pilgrim flock which the goodness
of the Lord has entrusted to him
, helping to overcome divisions, to heal rifts,
to settle conflicts and misunderstandings, and to forgive offences. In July 2005,
speaking to the clergy of Aosta
, I noted that if young people see
priests who appear distant and sad, they will hardly feel encouraged to follow
their example. They will remain hesitant if they are led to think that this is
the life of a priest. Instead, they need to see the example of a communion of
life which can reveal to them the beauty of being a priest. Only then will a
young man say, “Yes, this could be my future; I can live like this” (Insegnamenti
I, [2005], 354). The Second
Vatican Council
, in speaking of the witness that awakens vocations,
emphasizes the example of charity and of fraternal cooperation which priests
must offer (cf. Decree Optatam
Totius
, 2).

Friars of the Renewal profess vows today

May the Lord grant you His peace!

Great news echoes in the heavenly courts: 16 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal novices professed temporary vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) today at Saint Antoninus Church (Newark, NJ). Newly elected Community Servant (Fr. Provincial) Father Mariusz Koch received the vows. A reception followed at the novitiate of the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary also in Newark, NJ. Bishop Emmanuel Cruz, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark was present. Here are some pics of the community.

CFR novices 2010.jpg

The Friars also invested 10 new men as novices on Saturday. Names are always fun, especially when you think, “where did they get that name from?” Read the new names:
Br Frantisek Marie Chloupek, Br Vittorio Maria Pesce, Br Jude Thaddeus Boyden, Br. Tobias Marie Redfield, Br Simeon Mary Lewis, Fr. Maximillian Mary McGoldrick, Br Seamus Mary Laracy, Br Mark-Mary Maximilian Ames, Br Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, Fr Felipe Immaculee Casadia.
May Saints Francis and Clare bless the new friars abundantly!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory