Someone recently asked me ‘do you just love being a friar?’ and I didn’t know how to answer the question. I was somewhat at a loss as to what I could say because I’ve been thinking about how Paul says ‘love endures all things.’ To me this means that I can’t truly say I love something until I have persevered through many moments where another option would have been preferable and yet I chose to stay. ‘Time will tell’ could have been my answer. I think that it is important to keep this in mind because our use of the word ‘love’ is often very shallow.
When I think about my parents and ask whether or not they love one another I can say they most certainly do. Currently my dad is going through some painful health problems and at times can be pretty cranky, and my mother is enduring this thing because of her love for him. Does this mean that she is always going to like being around him, no. Does that mean she doesn’t love him, of course not.
We ought to be honest with ourselves when discerning our place and mission in the Church. Am I looking for a place where I will always do really well and never be challenged? Am I trying to find a place where I know what will happen every step of the way and there will never be any surprises? Or, am I open to entering into something where I am not in control and can just as easily be surprised by joy as much as sorrow? Am I open to possibly going somewhere that will challenge me to be real, where I might fail and have to get back up many times, where I will endure many things? I think it is no coincidence that the Second Vatican Council document on religious life is called Perfectae Caritatis (The Perfection of Charity), to be perfected in love must mean that you have ‘endured all things.’
Though I haven’t been a friar very long I’ve been around many of the older friars (Fr. Benedict Groeschel for example) who have been here long before I was born and I can look at their lives and recognize their love for being a friar because they have endured many things. This really is the ultimate test, and a reality check as well. From moment to moment my feelings about being a friar can vary. Maybe what that person meant to ask was ‘do you like being a friar?’ Yes sometimes I do, but there are other times when it is difficult, there are moments when I need to admit I was wrong and change, there are moments when my fickle heart wants to be doing anything else but what I’m supposed to be doing. But when things are like this I can look to someone like Fr. Benedict or any of the older friars, or any other priest or religious for that matter, and see that they too must have endured similar situations and have shown the path of love. I can think of my mother and father who are enduring some difficulty and this is a sign of their love. On many levels I do love being a friar, but in a more sober tone I must say that time will tell. If I persevere to the end and I have ‘endured all things’ then will I be able to look back and say with deep conviction ‘I have loved being a friar.’