After nearly two weeks of bitter cold, God in his infinite mercy gave a warm day (high at 50 F) for my birthday in Boston. My dry, cracked skin appreciated it.
Since I had already expressed gratitude for 2017, what goals and activities should I look forward to in 2018? Just for fun, I reread my past birthday reflections on this blog. Funny, how relevant these goals are after a few years. There are things I still need to learn. I dusted off a few of them and put them forward for 2018.
Hang out with someone in my religious community once a week. During novitiate, the theme of brotherhood was a prominent feature. What is the point of joining a religious order to grow in holiness if I’m not learning more about my brothers? I had made a point of eating ice cream with a brother weekly before first vows. Unfortunately, the busy fall semester had derailed that habit. Although I had joined my fellow seminarians in various exercises and fun activities, there is always that need for that one-on-one time. When times get tough, we will need each other.
Plan the next day before bed. One of the skills I relearned in the fall was scheduling my time. Sometimes, I would plan out my day. But once I woke up, I chucked the schedule because I assumed that interruptions would mess it up anyway. Being flexible is one thing. Giving up on structure is something else. I started reviewing my day planner during my examens (short prayer reflections twice a day). A brief check-in refocuses on priorities and adjusts for interruptions. (Tip: If you’re using an old-fashioned day planner, use pencil instead of pen.)
In November, Brs. Leland, Brenden and I were instituted into the ministry of lector, the next small step toward the priesthood. I had already been fulfilling the duties of lector: reading the Scriptures during Mass and teaching about the faith. The focus now has been to grow in love of the Scriptures. In May, the three of us will be instituted into the ministry of acolyte. In that role, we’ll be able to assist more at the Mass and other liturgical functions. You can read the 1972 document on these ministries here.
Spiritual direction workshop
After the spring semester, Brs. Leland, Brenden and I will join the two-week spiritual direction session at St. Clement. The three-year program trains spiritual directors and prepares them to give the Spiritual Exercises. I’m very excited for this. I had joined the Oblates to be a spiritual director, accompanying people in their spiritual journeys. Toward the fall, we would lead prayer groups. I look forward to embracing this part of the Oblate charism.
First summer assignment
By mid-June, I will have started my first summer assignment at an Oblate parish. Ever since I joined the seminary, I have heard stories of St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.; Holy Ghost in Denver; and St. Mary’s in Alton, Ill. Sometimes, they seemed quite fantastical. But the reports at the Provincial Assembly last year confirmed the abundant spiritual fruit at all the Oblate houses. I would like to know more of the Oblates around the country.