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We have begun the season of Advent. In this season, we acknowledge the three comings, or advents, of God. The first is when Jesus, the Son of God, came to be born in the stable at Bethlehem. The second is when Jesus will come again at the end of the world. And the third, one we are not often aware of, is when Jesus enters our lives every day. Every single experience can be an opportunity to make contact with God. 

“I suddenly fell on my knees before Zwingli and begged him to forgive my explosion of anger and unkind words.”

Let me explain. One of the many, interesting fraternal bonds I formed in Congo was with a gentleman named Zwingli—likely his baptismal name. Local villagers, he and his family belonged to the local Baptist congregation. Zwingli repaired radios and alarm clocks, though he had no formal shop as such. He simply worked out of his home. I think that’s how I first met Zwingli. I brought him a clock to be repaired, and he did a very good job. I learned he was also a grade school teacher.

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Posted by on in Crosier Vocation Blog

I’ve never been known for my smiles. When I was in the 8th grade, our teacher, Sr. Mary Edward, a Sister of Charity, used to call me “Smiley” to tease me and get me to loosen up a bit.

When I got to Congo, the first few months (and years!), were a bit difficult. Everything was different, the languages (French, Swahili and Kinande), new people, the culture, etc. Seeking help, one day I asked Fr. Gianni, an Italian missionary from the next parish over, if I could talk to him. He was a psychologist and especially a jolly and kind person.

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The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross naturally dwells here among us—not only today, but through every day and in every season. This is no accident, for quite deliberate is the constancy of the living breath--and has been the ancestral history of Crosiers--here present.  There is, as well, the worshiping parish community that also comes and goes through its own week of labor in the marketplace of the world.  

Each August, the Crosiers in the United States participate in days of formation which we call Community Days or August Days. Each Crosier community gathers to discuss present community life and the goals for the coming year centered which around a particular theme. 

My community and I are in transition of moving to a new location in south Phoenix. It is both exciting and exhausting all at the same time. During this period, I have begun reading the book, “The Cloud of Unknowing.” I tried reading this in college but never got far with it. The version I had was written in “old” English and I just could not understand it. This time I found a contemporary English version by Bernard Bangley. It makes much more sense … sort of! 

“Teach us to pray!” This was the mantra of the Gospel proclamation at a recent Sunday service. Jesus’ disciples learned a great many things in their discipleship—challenging, bewildering, life-changing things—that called into question what they were taught, things that were unquestioned and conventional: Who is a neighbor and who is an enemy?; How we are to treat them?; Who we are to listen to (the women at Jesus’ feet) and eat with (thieves and tax collectors)? Their experience of who was clean and unclean, what was right and wrong—these things were turned upside down by their experience in following Jesus and his teachings of God’s Kingdom. What kind of Kingdom was this anyway? What were these lessons that turned upside down so much of what they took for granted? It was no wonder the disciples looked for words in which to address this God, guidance on the journey, help for the questions and the confusion that beset them. 

It was February 1996 at the Trappist Priory in Mokoto, South Africa, where I was a guest teacher for three weeks. We heard gunshots outside and froze standing inside the priory having just finished the after meal prayer. I think we probably all had the same thought, “will they come in, stand us all up against the wall and then shoot us?”  

I would like to share some thoughts on the vow of obedience. Our Crosier Constitutions tell us, "To obey the Gospel tradition, is to respond to the call of the Spirit in the Church, an encompassing and enduring call to answer the appeals of the world in which we live with utmost generosity after the example of the Lord. Our response to the appeals of all women and men is our answer to the concrete invitation of the Spirit to build the Kingdom of God in justice and love. In short, our obedience is a response of love and service, and of being available to the Church for all people" (CC 14.1). 

This is the time of year, in Phoenix, when temperatures reach over 100 degrees and stay there for the majority of summer. Over the past several days, we have already broken the record of over 110 degrees this early in the season. What does this have to do with vocations?

Posted by on in Crosier Vocation Blog

This attention-grabbing headline accompanied a short article in an issue of Psychology Today. It sparked a recent discussion within our Crosier community in Onamia. The question the author was seeking to answer had to do with the fact that in our modern era, with all of life’s conveniences—and without the daily threat to life and limb experienced by generations past—most people still experience their human existence as difficult. In his words, “Humans have never had it so good. So why are people so discontent?” 

One of the most memorable events of my first week in the Congo in 1987 was when Fr. Patrick, osc, asked me to accompany him on a morning visit to the convent of the Sisters of the Company of Mary Notre Dame.  

Not many weeks after arriving in Rome and settling in, I found myself alone and lonely. Actually, I was homesick! After looking at some options, I decided to visit the catacombs of St. Callixtus (underground cemetery), just outside of the city and not many miles from our Crosier Order near the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. 

Around this time in the Church’s liturgical year, Catholics often find themselves involved with a flurry of activities including baptisms, first communions, confirmations, preparations for weddings–and the weddings themselves, and probably adding graduation celebrations to boot! It can be a busy time with coming together and rejoicing with a variety of family, friends and new acquaintances. 

We are in the Easter season, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. How does our belief in the resurrection make a difference in our lives? None of us have seen the body of the Risen Lord, yet we believe. I want to reflect on this story in John’s gospel when Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, visited the empty tomb. 

I’ve separated this vocation blog in two parts. The first part is addressed to those young men who may be interested in Crosier Religious Life–or interested in religious life in general.  The second part is a reflection on our vows. 

With the Jubilee Year of Mercy and Lenten season underway, I thought I would write about the mercy of God. There is something within us that understands we can cry out for God’s mercy. Have you ever been in a situation where you did this unconsciously? 

Twenty years ago, I was in the midst of my novitiate experience—an intense year of formation and initiation into the life, mission, spirituality and history of the Crosier Order. I began novitiate in August of the previous year that professed first vows and received the Crosier habit. By February, I was about halfway through the year. Several transformative experiences had taken place by this time, including moments of doubt and debate about whether or not to continue in the process. Some affirming experiences also occurred that confirmed the good work that had taken place and ultimately prevailed within me. Novitiate is a special time—like a year-long retreat. It is deliberately focused on deepening one’s self-knowledge and self-acceptance in conjunction with learning and experiencing living in the religious community one is seeking to enter. Through this process of discernment, a person can make a self-gift of their life through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. 

In my December blog post, I focused on the call of the first apostles including: Andrew, his brother Simon, the Blessed Virgin Mary-Mother of God, and Mary-Our Lady of Guadalupe. The season of Advent, including these important liturgical celebrations, culminated on the great Feast of Christmas and the opportunity to reflect on the coming of God in Christ and our ultimate destiny with God. 

As a Crosier in initial formation, I have heard the term “ongoing formation” mentioned over the years. The term has come up in our community Chapter meetings, in formation meetings and in conversations with my solemnly professed confreres. It is an understanding that even though initial formation is over, formation itself does not end. All of Crosier life is an ongoing, formative learning process. Last semester in seminary, I took a class called Evangelization and Catechesis. We read a book called “Towards an Adult Church,” by Jane E. Regan, chair of the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College. One of the themes in her book revolved around “the central role of sustained critical conversation in fostering learning communities and enhancing transformative learning.”