The Capuchin answer for today – Part I
By Br. Robert Williams Ofm Cap
(International Councilor for Formation- NAPCC
It has been said many times that an ancient curse states, “May you live in interesting times.” Indeed, we do live in interesting times. The advent of the twenty-first century is full of social change, a rise in religious fundamentalism, economic uncertainty, technological change, political upheavals, natural disasters, threats of wars, and mass movements of people all over the globe. Something has happened; something has been happening for some time, to create a common global culture of deep division. Pope John Paul II often warned about the continual growth of the culture of death. Sadly, that culture often appears in subtle and insidious ways.
It is quite easy for one to look at the world today and see the darkness, the darkness that seems to engulf us and appears as if it will ultimately overwhelm us. But, it will not, because it cannot. As Capuchin friars, we are counted among the children of the Living God. We are brothers of Jesus Christ who is the Light, and that Lights shines in the darkness, and no darkness shall overcome it. This is the message we are called to live in our lives. This is the hope we are called to share, even in the darkest depths of human suffering.
It is through our lives of continual surrender that we are able to comfort those who are suffering and shine the light of Christ in that darkness which threatens to snuff out even the slightest flicker of hope in this world or the world to come. It through our lives, as men who, following the Poverello, seek to bear the brandmarks of Christ in our flesh, in whatever way they may be manifest, that we are able to pass through the pain and suffering that enables us to walk shoulder to shoulder with others who suffer. In allowing ourselves to experience the suffering of this life, and living that chaste intimacy, which is one of the many gifts of our vowed life, we never bend down, as if deigning to reach into the depths of human toil and trauma as some pseudo-savior who should be revered. Rather, we look eye to eye even with the lowest and most lost of all of God’s beloved children. We then find ourselves at the same level of those who suffer the most so that together, arm in arm, we may rise to that place of hope. This is not the reality of one person lifting another. It is the reality of two people journeying together, feeling together, suffering together. In that unity the spark of the light of Christ comes in its sudden flash.
Here, we already find the treasure of our life in fraternity. We are men, called from all walks of life, from every imaginable lived experience. We are real men with real pasts and real hope for the future. We are men of faith who know what it is to have that faith shaken. Yet, even in those moments of deepest doubt we continue to choose faith over doubt. We continue to journey onward even though the way seems so desolate, so uncertain. We are men of great trust who know what it is to be betrayed. Yet, we return to trust ever surrendering to a will so much greater than our own, a will that knows. We know that it is only by such surrender that we can become men of mercy. We recognize that the mercy so freely showered upon us was never a gift that we deserved, but it was, and is a gift of which we are so much in need. Then, being inundated with that mercy we freely pour out what we have received in such abundance. Thus, we are men of love, such great love.
Part II of this article is to be continued at our Website: www.sgfcap.org