For the past couple weeks, we have been led to explore our Capuchin Franciscan Charism through the lens of our rule, Francis’ testament, the reading of the signs of the times, the constitutions, plenary councils of the order (PCO), characteristics, and our provinces. This may appear to be an impossible feat, but when done through the lens of Christ, the church, and our brothers, anything is possible.
As Capuchins we strive at our core to be brothers in Christ to the world, to all that we meet and most of all to each other. There are four basic areas that we do this in, though many provinces have expanded on this including, my own, we all have these as a starting point. They are: Contemplation/prayer, Minority, Ministry and Justice Peace and Integrity of creation (Ecology) (JPIC or for some JPE). Though these are singular areas, it is in combining of them all through Christ in our brothers that make them uniquely and concretely Capuchin. This area is so rich that one person could spend hours just in explaining each area, but I would like to focus on how they shape my identity as a Capuchin.
As I have read through, talked and listened to various speakers, a question continues to come to my mind: What is my identity as a Capuchin Franciscan? I will not be able to answer this question by the end of this blog or even by the end of the novitiate year, for as I grow in the order my identity will also grow. So I hope to shed some light into what I have learned these past two years with the order.
Brothers in Christ was what initially drew me to the order and continues to draw me closer. Living with the brothers in Chicago as a resident candidate helped me to understand what it means to be a lesser brother and helped me to understand that it is not about titles, but about brotherhood. This has helped to guide me in my understanding of minority. Postulancy helped to form and develop my love for ministry and working with the poor which has enriched my embracing of ministry. As a novice I am given the opportunity to dive deeper into prayer and contemplation. Now let me make this disclaimer: Though these areas for me have been focal points that does not mean that the other areas were not present; actually that is what is so beautiful about the Capuchins: That in all fraternities, no matter the size, all these areas are present.
As a novice, I have come to appreciate the diverse nature of our order. Though one brother may spend many hours working with JPIC issues and another running a retreat house, they still return home to spend time in prayer with their brothers and even shoot an email or two to a novice.
So what am I trying to tell you about our Capuchin identity? I am telling you that it is not what we do as an order, or how we live, or what areas we may focus on but that we do it all in communion with Christ, the Church and most of all our brothers.