Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 2010 C.F.R. Vocations eLetter

“The Lord guides the steps of a man and makes safe the path of one he loves.
Though he stumble he shall never fall for the Lord holds him by the hand.”  Psalm 37

This passage from the psalms surely resonates within everyone.  We want to be guided, we want to be kept safe, and we want to know the path to follow.  We want the Lord to hold us by the hand.  There is another familiar passage in the scriptures to all of us from the Gospel of John chapter 14.  The verse we are pondering is verse six, but the context is verses 1-14.  Jesus responds to Thomas’ question of knowing who he was by saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."
Consider combining these texts into a meditation:

  We want to be guided by the Way,
  We want to be kept safe (guarded) by the Truth,
  We want to be held by the hand and brought to Life by the Good Shepherd...
In January Fr. Gabriel, Br. Cyril and myself traveled to St. Paul, MN, to visit NET Ministries.  Br. Cyril and I had both served on NET Teams before we were Franciscans and in many ways were strengthened in our desire to enter religious life because of the positive experience of serving the Lord and others through the experience of NET. It was a wonderful week of prayer, praise, Eucharistic Adoration and fellowship - as well as a few games of indoor volleyball and ping pong.  We had all flown to St. Paul and were planning to return the same way but God’s providence provided (and guided) us another way.

NET Ministries gives thousands of retreats every year all over the USA.  A team of five men and five women travel by diocese all over the country for a year.  Carrying no more than a suitcase, sleeping bag and back pack. This spring there are eight teams traveling the USA giving dynamic retreats challenging teenagers to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church.  We had asked NET, part jokingly, if they had a van to “retire.”  To our surprise they offered as a gift a van with 170,000 miles, a perfect friar van.

We drove back on January 11th, but the day before we actually picked up another driver.  When visiting a parish on Sunday we mentioned to a parishioner who is 28 years old that we were driving back to New York and he accepted the invitation to journey with us, to share in the driving and to see the friaries in New York.

The drive back was filled with prayers, music, rosaries and readings from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  At midnight we made it to the grotto at Notre Dame and stopped to sing a few hymns to Our Lady of Lourdes.  We pushed onto Maumee, OH, and stayed with relatives.  In the morning after going to Mass, a school visit and adoration- we experienced the reality of psalm 37 - the Lord “guiding and guarding” us.

The van would not start and after a failed attempt at a jump start the tow truck was called.  Five hour later we were back on the road, we can only trust that all the people we met during that time needed a word of encouragement and prayers. 

We pulled up to 156th street and Melrose Ave. at 2:30am, three weary travelers, yet filled with gratitude for the Lord “guiding and guarding us.”  Is there any other way to really live in this world?  The more you trust that the Good Shepherd is watching over your vocation, the more you can follow him and even trust that there are no accidents.  When you meet certain people, certain religious orders etc., trust that the Lord Jesus is guiding and guarding you in your vocation to a truly abundant life! 
What John Paul II said to me I say to you all — Corraggio!

 May the Lord bless you,
Br. Simon Marie Dankoski, CFR
Saint Crispin Friary
420 East 156 St.
Bronx, NY 10455 

+ Feb. 12-14, 2010 - London C.F.R. Vocation Retreat for men in Europe:
If you are a man in his twenties or thirties living in Europe and are discerning our community,
contact Fr. Emmanuel at St. Fidelis Friary, London, England.