Monday, March 3, 2014

You are Good Enough

Bro. Rami Fodda, OFM, a
Nurse Practitioner, provided medical care for
an infant during a recent medical mission to Mexico.
"You are good enough," said my novice master.  It was a recurring theme throughout my novitiate year. At the beginning of the year we were instructed to write down our biggest fear.  We were then told to place our fears on our prayer alters in our rooms.  Mine read:  If you knew me, you wouldn't love me.  I feared it was just a matter of time before the friars discovered I was flawed and therefore not worthy to be a religious.  I soon discovered:  I was good enough. 

I learned my brokenness could become my gift; if I was willing to bring it into the light.  In the light, I discovered a God of who loved me in spite of my brokenness, in spite of my sinful ways, and in spite of my poor choices.  He saw my goodness and reminded me I was a child of God; created in his image and likeness and I was good. 

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ.  A message that began on Christmas day.  The message of God's incarnation can be shocking.  The Creator of the world came to us, not as a man, but as an infant child, who was not able to walk, talk, or even roll over.  The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity weighed just a few pounds; he shivered, cried, and nursed at his mother’s breast.  The one who created the countless galaxies, with billions of stars, who created the countless creatures of our world, became completely dependent on us for his care and well-being.
A testament to who we are; that our goodness far out weights our brokenness.  That we are much more than our sinful ways.  So much so, that God placed his trust and faith completely in us.  Not as a man, but as an infant child.  Given our track record of violence, he probably should have feared us. 

When we begin to consider the possibility of religious life; we may experience some unpleasant feelings.  We may fear we might not measure up.  We may fear our past mistakes or sins prevent us from pursuing religious life.  We may feel our familial and personal backgrounds come with too much baggage.  We may then place the possibility of and desire for religious life in the back of our minds.  Where it remains a dream, but not a possibility. 

Pope Francis, addressed this fear.  In his remarks to religious men in the article "Wake Up the World" he stated:
"You should be real witnesses of a way of doing and acting differently.  But in life it is difficult for everything to be clear, precise, outlined neatly. Life is complicated; it consists of grace and sin.  He who does not sin is not human.  We all make mistakes and we need to recognize our weakness.  A religious who recognizes himself as weak and a sinner does not negate the witness that he is called to give, rather he reinforces it, and this is good for everyone..."
Fear of not "measuring up" should not prevent us from discerning a call to religious life.  As Pope Francis pointed out, we need men who recognizes their weakness and mistakes.  Men who have experienced the love and compassion of God.  Men who understand as scripture points out, "we must have the same love for one another" (1 Jn 4:11).

I encourage you to "Come and See" the life, prayer, and ministry of the Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara.  Discover a group of men filled with brokenness and a profound since of joy.  Men who are willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.  Men who have discovered:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
You are good enough; come and see. 
May God bless you and keep you on this journey of faith called life.

Peace and all Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

The postulants of the Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara spend the evening at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows reflecting on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  They enjoyed the lights, petting zoo, concerts, and actors who recreated the telling of the birth of Jesus.

P.S.  Contact our vocation director to attend a come and see retreat or a discernment group to discover what stereotypes you might be harboring about religious life and how they can play into your fears of not measuring up.

Personal Reflection:

According to the National Religious Vocation Conference's study of new members to religious life; new members often found websites helpful in addressing their fears and stereotypes of religious life.  What are some stereotypes you might have of religious life?  What are some of your fears?  Do they get in the way of discerning a vocation to religious life?  If yes, why?  Feel free to share your answer in the comment section below.

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422

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