Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Minister General Visits Canucklehead Bros.

Last weekend we Franciscans in Edmonton were visited by our Minister General Jose Carballo OFM. While we Canucks went out of our way to treat him and our English speaking representative Finnian McGinn OFM as guests of honour -I even vacuumed the stairs- this turned out to be a relatively ordinary weekend here at the Friary. Beyond his inspirational presentation on the state of the Order and the global Franciscan scene, Jose brought none of the stereotypical signs of sanctity that one might expect from the successor of St. Francis. Our brother Jose was as down to earth and as laid back as any Friar I have ever met. He was ordinary; only by being himself did he become extraordinary.

Like anyone else who visits the Friary, this weekend’s guests ate great food, drank good wine, and laughed their way into the world of irony. Without diminishing the philosophical insights that Jose added, I can honestly say that his best offering was this ability to laugh and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Whether sitting in our living room, dinning room, or presiding at liturgy, Jose was devoid of pretentiousness. He talked freely about his dealings with the Pope and the political challenges facing Friars in places like China and Croatia, but what inspired me was his love for life = food, drink, people and sleep. To make a long story short, the Spaniard, who has lived in Rome for many years, felt at home with his brothers in Edmonton.

During Novitiate, my assistant Novice Master Flavian Walsh said to me: “Enjoy life’s simple pleasures Pierre!” At a time when I was not feeling so affirmed by the people around me, these words were unforgetable. The Franciscan life is one of simplicity, humility, and self-giving. As characters like Jose and Flavian teach us, it involves not only being hospitable but receiving hospitality with a joy-filled spirit. The more I think about Jose and his way of being Franciscan, I am convinced that he is indeed an objectively holy and righteous man. The irony is that he is above all an authentic human being. From his oversized belly, to his humour, to his attitude, he shows all the signs of someone who loves life, food, drink, people and sleep. From his homilies, writings, and presentations, he is clearly a prayerful man too; but most importantly he is integrated, grounded in self-awareness and his relationship to the real world. All Franciscans and those discerning the Franciscan way of life should take note -be yourself! Given our important mission to preach the gospel, we best not be afraid of our own shadows. Spontaneous, liberated, and receptive, we may bring the good news to those we meet.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fort Saskatchewan Mural

Brother Boniface OFM (early 20th Century)
This is a sketch of a mural in the works in Fort Saskatchewan. The short Friar is the late Boniface Hiedmeyer OFM, and the tall guy is supposed to be me.
Me in Fort Sask. promoting our Centennial Gala (June 2008). Feel free to laugh.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Film Inspirations

On friday night I went to see a film at the Princess Theatre -I try to see everything the princess has to offer. As an independant distributer, they do not show American blockbusters; they show good films. The film I saw is a good film!

"One Week", starring Joshua Jackson, is the story of a young Torontonian who has been diagnosed with Terminal Cancer. It just so happens that he is also engaged to be married. To this point in his life, "Ben" has been the type to do what he is told and believe what others say about him. Such is evident in his lack of confidence as a singer -thanks to a certain elementary school teacher. Upon diagnosis, however, Ben decides to detach himself from fiancee, family, and medical moorings and venture accross western Canada. Along the way he discovers freedom, beautty, joy, and his true self. Suddenly alive, the new Ben Tyler is a brave and hopefilled man of conviction who is rooted an authentic sense of self.

Upon reflection on my journey to here, I can identify with certain aspects of this story. Despite having never been diagnosed with anything fatal, I have deep seated longings for discovery. For some years, these lay suppressed by fear of unknowns and a cripling lack of self-confidence. Even today I am not so sure these fears and anxieties are fully overcome. For people like me, a film such as "One Week" can be inspiring. Leading us forward to engage new challenges, and exercise our individuality through healthy relationality. While I do believe it wise to listen to the advice of others, it is not helpful to wallow in insults that immobalize. Every human being has been blessed with gifts and talents, our task is to discover them and so make ourself a gift to the world. In closing I will quote my old mentor Jean Vanier: "God wants us to be free, not merely to do what everyone else wants and become slaves to society". So, if inspired, put aside those Cineplex Odeon tickets and hit up the Princess Theatre (or your local independent movie distributer).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My First Blog

Okay! Without yet knowing exactly how this works, I have created a blog. As I understand all are welcome in this space. Let me know what you think of my soapbox expressions, and feel free to offer me advice. I am the youngest member of the province of Christ the King in the Order of Friars Minor -OFM. My feet are barely wet in ministry, but so far I love being a Franciscan. I will write more on that, and myself later. Right now I need to figure out how this blog works. Did I set it up write? Is the name cheesy, or does it suit my personality?

Pax et Bonum!