Monday, September 29, 2008

Shout the Gospel from the rooftops.

After an enjoyable (but much too short) weekend visit with my family, I thought I would start the new week off right with another quotation that could prompt some thought and meditation profitably meditate upon over the next few days. Last Monday, I invited readers of this blog to reflect with me on Alexander Schmemann's definition of a Christian. This week's meditation comes from Bl. Charles de Foucauld, who sought to embody the values of contemplation and service by living as a hermit in the Algerian desert and offering hospitality to passersby. Charles de Foucauld summed up the Christian vocation in these words:
Our entire existence, our whole being must shout the Gospel from the rooftops. Our entire person must breathe Jesus, all our actions. Our whole life must cry out that we belong to Jesus, reflect a Gospel way of living. Our whole being must be a living proclamation, a reflection of Jesus.
Like last week's words from Alexander Schmemann, Foucauld's words challenge us to examine the way in which we live out our baptismal commitment. If you consider this quotation within the context of Charles de Foucauld's life, it's clear that his call to "shout the Gospel from the rooftops" is not a demand that we all become loud and zealous public preachers. Rather, we are called to bear witness to our faith through quiet yet profound acts - acts of "living proclamation" that "reflect a Gospel way of living."

This week, I hope you'll join me in reflecting upon the meaning of the above words in our own daily lives. Do my actions truly "breathe Jesus" and reflect the way of the Gospel? In my own way, how can I make my life "a living proclamation, a reflection of Jesus"? AMDG.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Globe: BC aids Catholic schools, Harvard scholar links math and faith.

By and large, the Boston Globe isn't known for great religion reporting. Hence, I was surprised to see not one but two highly positive faith-related stories in today's Globe. First off, there's a great story highlighting the success of the Urban Catholic Teaching Corps, a teaching-service program based at Boston College that puts recent college graduates to work as teachers in underresourced urban parochial schools. Here's some of what the Globe has to say about the program:
In a sharply pressed skirt and blouse, Shannon Keating confidently surveyed her seventh-grade social studies class, her heels firmly clicking on the wood floor as she paced before the chalkboard.

A year ago, fresh out of Boston College, Keating was a wide-eyed new teacher at the Gate of Heaven Catholic School in South Boston, leading a classroom for the first time. Now, in her second year, the 24-year-old has learned to keep a keen eye out for the slightest sign of mischief. "Boys and girls," she said sternly to some fidgety children. "Eyes up here."

Keating is among a dozen BC graduate students in education who are gaining intense on-the-job training in area Catholic schools through an innovative teaching-service program. In exchange for two years of work in Catholic elementary and high schools in the Boston area, students attend BC's Lynch School of Education for free and live together at a former convent in Dorchester.

The Urban Catholic Teaching Corps is throwing a lifeline to struggling Catholic schools in desperate need of young teachers. Part of a national campaign that each year places 400 teachers in Catholic schools, the BC program gives recent college graduates from across the country experience in a parochial setting as they complete their academic training.

"It's introducing a new generation of teachers to an urban setting and creating a pipeline of young teachers to Catholic schools," said Michael J. James, executive director of the Center for Catholic Education at the Lynch School. "We're looking at this for the long-term."

The teaching corps, in its 12th year, also gives service-minded students the financial freedom to pursue a calling they deeply believe in, and to pay back the Catholic schools many attended as children. Students, who eat, pray, and do volunteer work together at the sprawling Dorchester home, are bound by a shared faith and a sense of social responsibility, and see Catholic education as a source of great hope and opportunity for low-income children.

The program appears to be succeeding. Of the nearly 60 graduates of the program, more than half remain in Catholic education, James said.
While BC helps graduates integrate faith and service, Harvard mathematician Martin Nowak is working to show the compatibility of faith and reason. As the Globe reports, scholars like Nowak hope to offer sound evidence in favor of religious commitment even if faith itself remains outside the bounds of empirical inquiry:

If evolution is all about survival of the fittest, then why have humans evolved a sense of altruism and cooperation? The seeming contradiction has engaged theologians, scientists, and even comic book writers (think the Incredible Hulk) who've probed human duality and how its good half sometimes empowers selflessness to override self-interest.

The British biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins believes that altruism in modern humans is essentially an evolutionary oops, albeit a beneficial one. It paid off in prehistory, when people lived in clans and protecting others meant the survival of their own gene pools; now that we've expanded into large cities, our instinct to help others still kicks in, even though those we aid may have no relation to us.

On the other hand, Francis Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and a Christian, sees in our willingness to work with others the handprint of God.

Then there is Harvard's Martin Nowak. A mathematician and biologist, he agrees with Dawkins's explanation of how we evolved to be good Samaritans. Yet as a Catholic, he rejects Dawkins's notion that believing in evolution precludes belief in a God who included altruism in evolution's bequest to us. Needless to say, he also rejects Dawkins's disdain for believers as scientifically illiterate yahoos. This Vienna-born mathematician says that if you do the math, you'll find that cooperation is more than just a nice leftover from humanity's infancy; it's a winning strategy for living, a way to thrive.

For the past three years, with Sarah Coakley, formerly of Harvard Divinity School and now at Cambridge University in England, Nowak pursued a study project, the title of which - "The Evolution and Theology of Cooperation" - gives a clue to its partnership between science and religion. Nowak said his work demonstrated the mathematical probability that being cooperative, generous, and forgiving produces better results for people than looking out for Number One.

As part of his demonstration, Nowak devised repeated rounds of an exercise from game theory called the prisoner's dilemma. The math is complex to laypeople, but the basic premise of the game is straightforward: Two prisoners held separately are given their options: If both stay silent, each gets six months in jail. If both implicate the other, they each get five years. If one turns traitor and the other stays mum, the gabby prisoner goes free, but the other gets 10 years. Neither knows what the other will do.

In isolation, each thinks: Finking on the other guy could bring me freedom, but it could also bring us both five years. Cooperating with each other, by both of us clamming up, guarantees a short, six-month sentence. Mathematically speaking, Nowak said, cooperation is the best bet.

Math aside, Nowak and Coakley say biology has enshrined cooperation as well. In their proposal seeking grants for their project, they wrote, "Genes cooperate in cells, cells cooperate in organisms, and individuals cooperate in societies."

Coakley said in an e-mail that Christians seeking rational defense for their faith might "draw strength from considerations about the nature of the universe [and] forms of evolutionary development. . . . These arguments might not persuade a rampant atheist (what would?); but for one at least 'considering' faith, they could have a significant impact."

To learn more about the Coakley-Nowak study on the 'Evolution and Theology of Cooperation,' take a look at the project website or take a look at this Harvard Magazine article on Nowak's work. AMDG.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Monday meditation.

Over the past few days, I've been rereading For the Life of the World, a wonderful little book by Father Alexander Schmemann that I first picked up while I was in the novitiate. An outstanding Orthodox theologian who produced important works on the Byzantine liturgy and on the seasons of the church year, Schmemann wrote For the Life of the World in the early 1960s as a kind of short primer on Christian living in a turbulent and ever-changing society. Arguing against an artificial separation between practicing believers and an ostensibly secular culture, Schmemann emphasized that the Christians must live out their faith in the real world. Near the end of the book, Schmemann summarizes his message as follows:
The Church is the sacrament of the Kingdom - not because she possesses divinely instituted acts called "sacraments," but because first of all she is the possibility given to man to see in and through this world the "world to come," to see and to "live" it in Christ. It is only when in the darkness of this world we discern that Christ has already "filled all things with Himself" that these things, whatever they be, are revealed and given to us full of meaning and beauty. A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world's return to Him who is the life of the world.
Reading this passage again for the first time in nearly four years, I was most struck by the concise definition that Schmemann offers of what it means to be a Christian: "A Christian is the one who, wherever he [or she] looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him." Even as one who reflects daily on my experience of God, I found these simple words very challenging. Jesuits often talk about "finding God in all things," but I very much realize that I - and we - often fail to recognize and rejoice in the presence of Christ.

As I make my daily examen each day over the coming week, I'll be praying over the words quoted above. If you're so inclined, I hope you'll join me in reflecting upon (and seeking to answer) these questions: Am I able to find Christ wherever I look? If so, am I able to rejoice in Him? AMDG.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fiestas Patrias.

Today and tomorrow, the people of Chile celebrate Fiestas Patrias, a two-day national holiday commemorating the start of the movement toward the country's independence from Spain as well as past military victories won by the Chilean army (which has not, as far as I know, been involved in a foreign conflict since the War of the Pacific in the 19th century). Given my own recent sojourn in Chile, I'll be praying in a special way today and tomorrow for all the people I encountered there and particularly for the Chilean Jesuits who were so hospitable to me during my stay. May God abundantly bless the people of Chile and grant them peace and prosperity. AMDG.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Notes on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Today both Eastern and Western Christians celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, a celebration of the finding of the remains of the Cross of Christ by St. Helena in 326 as well as the dedication in 335 of a Christian basilica at the place where the cross was found. That basilica, known in the West as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and in the East as the Church of the Anastasis, remains one of the most venerable pilgrimage sites in Christendom.

For today's feast day, here are some photos I took during a visit to Jerusalem's Monastery of the Cross, built at what tradition regards as the location of the tree that provided the wood of the Cross of Christ. The early history of the Monastery of the Cross is somewhat foggy: one legend holds that the first monastery on this site was established by St. Helena herself, but some scholars suggest that the earliest monastic presence here dates to the 6th century. One way or another, the present structure of the Monastery of the Cross dates to the 11th century, when the King of Georgia sent monks from his country to occupy and restore the cloister. The monastery passed from Georgian to Greek Orthodox hands in the 17th century, and since then it has remained under the control of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

Visiting the Monastery of the Cross, I was first struck by the incongruity of its surroundings. Located in what was once an isolated valley, thanks to urban sprawl the monastery now sits in a public park surrounded by apartment blocks (first photo). The Greek flag (third photo) and a sign bearing the name of the Jerusalem Patriarchate (fourth photo) offer clues regarding the monastery's inhabitants, who seem to keep a low profile. Though a handful of monks still live at the Monastery of the Cross, much of the complex - including medieval storage rooms (fifth photo) and the old refectory and kitchen (sixth and seventh photos) - is open to the public as a sort of museum. The monastery church (eighth photo) largely retains the appearance it had in Byzantine times, and includes some well-preserved frescoes (ninth photo). The church also includes a much later icon of St. Mary of Egypt (tenth photo), which I photographed for no other reason than that I like Mary of Egypt.

My prayers and good wishes are with all readers on this solemn feast. We bow in worship before your Cross, O Master, and we glorify your Holy Resurrection. AMDG.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

El 11 de Septiembre.

No one who reads this needs to be reminded that this is a sad anniversary. Seven years after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, everything I did and felt that day remains engraved on my memory. As I do each year on this date, I'm praying today in a special way for all who died that day and for all who continue to mourn them.

In Chile, as some readers are undoubtedly aware, today's date has a grave significance that long predates the 9/11 attacks. On September 11, 1973, the socialist government of President Salvador Allende was toppled in a military coup that inaugurated the seventeen-year rule of General Augusto Pinochet. I won't rehash the story behind the coup, partly because the historical circumstances that led to it are far too complicated to quickly summarize without being accused of favoring one or another political viewpoint. Chileans remain deeply divided in their assessments of both Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet, but it seems incontestable that the 1973 coup and its aftermath have had a lasting impact on the nation as a whole.

One of the things that drew me to Chile this past summer was an interest in questions of historical memory. How do nations remember their collective past? How do societies preserve a collective memory of traumatic experiences, particularly experiences that either generated or worsened divisions based on politics and class? How is the impact and meaning of such experiences transmitted to younger generations with no memory of the events in question? These questions are very real in Chile, particularly with the coming of age of an entire generation of Chileans with no memory of the years 1973-90.

During the month I spent in Chile, I tried to learn as much as I could about what Chileans have done and are doing to preserve the national memory of the Pinochet regime. In a particular way, I was curious to find out what was being done to memorialize the more than three-thousand Chileans who were killed for political reasons or 'disappeared' under Pinochet's rule. The photos shown above reveal some of the results of my inquiry.

A lot has done over the past two decades to honor the memory of Salvador Allende, the democratically-elected socialist head of state whose government was overthrown by the 1973 golpe de estado. A number of exhibitions and other public commemorations have been held this year to mark the centenary of Allende's birth; though the celebratory tone of these events may provide a kind of catharsis for Allende admirers who long had to hide their opinions, objective assessments of Allende's administration seem to have gotten lost in the process.

Santiago's Museo Histórico Nacional has an exhibit displaying broken fragments of Allende's trademark coke-bottle glasses (first photo from the top), which were preserved by a member of the president's staff after Allende committed suicide inside the presidential palace on the day of the coup. Not far from the palace is a commemorative statue (second and third photos) which depicts Allende as a heroic (or even prophetic) figure. The statue was understandably quite controversial when it was first installed, but I never heard anyone suggest that it should be removed.

All but one of the rest of the photos in this set were all taken at Santago's Cementerio General, the largest cemetery in the capital and the resting place of many famous Chileans (including Allende) as well as thousands of ordinary citizens. The Cementerio General includes a very moving memorial wall which purportedly includes the names of all the people who were killed or disappeared by the military regime (fourth photo). Relatives and friends of those whose names are on the wall often leave flowers at the foot of the wall (fifth photo). Nearby niches are set aside for the bodies of some of those who were killed for political reasons or died in detention during the dictatorship; visiting these graves can be an especially poignant experience, as many of the families of the people buried there have left not simply flowers but personal messages and mementos (sixth, seventh and eighth photos). Another section of the cemetery has long been set aside for pauper's graves and people who bodies were unclaimed or unidentifed after their deaths (ninth photo). A number of still-anonymous victims of the dictatorship are buried here, their grave markers reading "NN." On one of these markers, a graffiti artist with a deep sense of irony wrote the name "Augusto Pinochet Ugarte" (tenth photo). Cremated following his death in 2006, Pinochet remains unburied because his family fears that his tomb could become a target for vandals. In a sense, then, Pinochet symbolically rests among the unknown.

The best general statement I can offer about el 11 de Septiembre in Chilean memory is provided in the eleventh and final photo in this set. I spotted this small plaque - perhaps appropriately part of an exhibit on the Allende centenary - at the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda in downtown Santiago. The inscription is inspired by a line in a famous poem by Pablo Neruda (a poem that numerous Chileans I met were able to recite from memory), a poem that begins, Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche - "Tonight, I could write the saddest lines." Deep in this poem is the line Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos - "We, of that time, are no longer the same." The plaque in the photo says nearly the same thing - "We, of before, are no longer the same." Though the difference is a subtle one, I suppose that "before" draws a sharper distinction between the past and the present than "that time" does.

Repeating my earlier promise to pray for those who died on 9/11 and their loved ones, I'll be praying too for the people of Chile and for all who lost their lives as a result of the coup of 1973 and its aftermath. I also hope and pray that the coincidence of these two anniversaries inspires greater reflection among Christians on the ways in which we can help to bring peace and reconciliation to the world. AMDG.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shostakovich and Pinochet.

In a May post, I noted that I had the opportunity to see Bernard Haitink lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in an outstanding performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4. Now it seems that I'll have a new way to keep the memory of that performance alive: Haitink's May 2008 reading of Shostakovich's 4th is now available in a live recording from the Chicago Symphony's own CSO Resound label. I've already ordered a copy of the CD, and as much as I look forward to hearing a superlative performance again and again, this bit of news also leads me to reflect a bit more seriously on the historical and political context of Shostakovich's music.

The life of Dmitri Shostakovich illustrates the common dilemma faced by artists living in a totalitarian society. Recognized as one of the finest Russian composers of the 20th century, Shostakovich nonetheless had to tread carefully in his relations with a Soviet regime that served both as patron and persecutor. Shostakovich enjoyed periods of official favor, particularly when he showed himself willing to produce compositions on ostensibly patriotic themes. At other times, though, Shostakovich suffered the humiliation of public censure for writing works that failed to meet the approval of Soviet artistic censors. After Stalin personally denounced his music, Shostakovich was forced to withdraw his 4th Symphony shortly before its anticipated premiere; the first public performance of the work would only come twenty-five years later.

On a surface level, Shostakovich could hardly be considered a dissident. Especially in light of the official support he enjoyed at various points in his career, Shostakovich doesn't come off too well when contrasted with the likes of Andrei Sakharov or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - or even the cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, a onetime Shostakovich protégé who was forced into exile for his opposition to the Soviet regime. Still, Shostakovich weathered more than just occasional brushes with censorship - many of his works were banned for much of his lifetime, and he lost academic and artistic appointments for failing to toe the party line in cultural matters. Even if he never spoke out in the way that figures like Solzhenitsyn and Rostropovich did, Shostakovich still suffered for his commitment to artistic freedom.

Since Shostakovich's death in 1975, a lot of ink has been spilled over the question of whether or not the composer's work reveals him as a kind of secret dissident. Though the evidence is sparse and itself the subject of controversy, some scholars have proposed that Shostakovich offered many of his best-known musical compositions as subtly coded critiques of the Soviet regime. I'm in no position to assess the composer's actual intent, but I do agree that some of Shostakovich's works can easily be interpreted as anti-Soviet compositions. For me, it's hard to hear the jarring opening notes of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 without thinking of Stalin's Great Terror - which happened to be in full swing when the work was written. It's also hard for me to hear Symphony No. 5 - and particularly its plaintive, quietly mournful third movement - without thinking that this music must convey something of what its composer felt as he saw old friends imprisoned and killed and as his own artistic reputation was being shredded in the pages of Pravda. Dedicated to the people of Leningrad, Symphony No. 7 pays tribute to citizens battered by Soviet rule as well as invading German forces. On a more universal level, I believe that these works bear witness to the human spirit's desperate struggle to survive in the face of totalitarianism.

In an unexpected way, I believe my time in Chile helped me to appreciate the potential meaning of Shostakovich's work as a kind of universal protest against totalitarianism. In July, I heard the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile perform Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 under the direction of Michal Nesterowicz, an up-and-coming young conductor from Poland. In a newspaper interview published in the Santiago daily La Tercera a couple of days before the concert, Nesterowicz explained that he regards Shostakovich's 5th as an expression of the struggle for freedom. Though Nesterowicz didn't say so explicitly, it's easy to imagine that his understanding of the work owes something to his own experience of life under a Communist government in his own country.

After reading Nesterowicz's words, I began to wonder whether a Chilean audience would hear echoes of their own national experience as they listened to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. During the seventeen-year rule of General Augusto Pinochet, many Chileans suffered human rights abuses ranging from imprisonment without trial and summary execution to official censorship and forced exile. Though Chile has successfully completed the political transition to democracy, the country is still coming to terms with the cultural and social legacy of the Pinochet years. While acknowledging the great differences between the historical experience of Chileans under Pinochet and Russians (and others) under Soviet rule, I still get the sense that the music of Shostakovich has something important to say in both contexts. I probably ought to do a bit more thinking about this issue, and I'm sure I'll have the chance after my copy of the CSO/Haitink version of Shostakovich's 4th arrives in the mail. AMDG.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The ecclesial nature of the Eucharist.

Late last week, I stumbled upon Torn Notebook, an excellent (though apparently defunct) weblog written by Ilyas Wan Wei Hsien, a Chinese-Malaysian Catholic convert who spent a decade in the United States before returning to Malaysia earlier this year. One post that caught my eye contains Ilyas' reflections on the rich experience of Eucharistic community that he enjoyed as a member of SS. Cyril and Methodius Russian Byzantine Catholic Community in Denver. I had the opportunity to worship at SS. Cyril and Methodius a couple of times while I was in Denver as a novice, so I believe I can appreciate what Ilyas has to say. In my view, his reflections speak very eloquently to the connection that ought to exist between reception of the Eucharist and an experience of Christian community:
Not being able to share everyday life with the people at Ss. Cyril and Methodius was one of the things I feared most about leaving the United States. They truly made the Byzantine tradition come alive for me—not only by their love for the liturgy both in terms of its essence and its forms, but also by their commitment to allow that liturgy to spill into the matter of this world. The core of my Sundays consisted in choir practice at 11 a.m., Divine Liturgy at noon, and then a fancy potluck after. I remember the days when we hurried to learn all the propers (feast days induced a kind of panic sometimes), the moments where in the services when I felt clearly the intrusion of God’s Kingdom, the Pre-sanctified Liturgy in which one of the children set her brother’s hair on fire, and the conversations at lunch that touched on everything from St. Maximos the Confessor to Ben Ruckhaus’ wrestling exploits to — yes — Borat.

I will confidently say that, until I went to Ss. Cyril and Methodius in 2006, I’d never been part of a Christian community that allowed the Eucharistic celebration to flow into fellowship, concern and an eagerness to find Christ together in the daily grind. I experienced firsthand not only the majesty and transcendence of the Byzantine liturgy, but also the ecclesial nature of the Eucharist. Until then, receiving Holy Communion was to me an individual act of piety that only remotely concerned others, if at all. Though in my head I knew that the Eucharist was something more, my experience locked that knowledge on the level of theory. During my 2 years at Ss. Cyril and Methodius, I saw for myself and lived with others what it means to say that the Eucharist makes the Church. Sharing life wasn’t always easy or pleasant, but I think we all realized that it was the only way to be Christian.
For many Catholics, I think, going to church and receiving the Eucharist remain private and purely individual acts. This isn't always a bad thing - for perfectly legitimate reasons, some people go to church to be 'alone with God,' and I believe that their right to worship anonymously should be respected. However, I suspect that many others have a need for community that run-of-the-mill parishes often fail to meet. As Ilyas' account suggests, a community that "allow[s] the Eucharistic celebration to flow into fellowship, concern and an eagerness to find Christ together in the daily grind" has the potential to transform the way parishioners think about the experience of worship and the meaning of communion.

This Sunday, I'd like to invite the readers of this blog to reflect upon your own experiences of parish life. Has partaking in the Eucharist brought you and your fellow parishioners closer to one another as well as closer to Christ? Has the community you worship with helped to nurture your faith and your sense of Christian discipleship? What have you done - or what could you do - to make the ecclesial nature of the Eucharist a more visible reality? AMDG.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Reading, writing and discerning.

A lot more people than usual visited this blog this week, in large part because my post on Cardinal Dulles' 90th birthday was picked up by Whispers in the Loggia and subsequently also received mention on Ignatius Press' Insight Scoop blog (which mistakenly titles me "Fr."; perhaps I should supplement my online bio with a line like "God willing, I will be ordained a priest in 2015" or words to that effect). I hope that some of the first-timers who stopped by this week liked enough of what they saw that they will become regular readers of this blog. If you happen to be one of these readers, know that you're always welcome and please don't hesitate to make your opinions known in the comment box.

This week also saw the start of what promises to be a very busy academic year at Fordham. Each of the three philosophy courses I'm taking this semester will be fairly intensive, requiring regular written assignments as well as substantial reading; rounding out my academic schedule, I'll probably be taking another graduate course in theology and may do some kind of tutorial in history. In my capacity as house librarian, I have a few major projects that I'd like to complete over the course of the year in an effort to make the library collection more useful to Ciszek Hall residents and to preserve some important archival materials that have been gathering dust in our cellar for the past few decades.

Since this is my final year in First Studies, I'll also be spending a lot of time over the next few months preparing for regency, the next stage in my formation as a Jesuit. Sandwiched between periods of full-time study in philosophy and theology, regency is a three-year break from studies in which young Jesuits work do full-time apostolic work - usually teaching or other ministry at a Jesuit high school or university. For a young Jesuit completing First Studies, the process of preparation for regency involves personal prayer and reflection as well as dialogue with the director of formation (who helps each man identify potential regency placements) and the provincial (who ultimately decides where the young Jesuit will actually go for regency). Carried out within a context of prayer and discernment, this process also includes some of the elements common to most job searches - preparing resumes, requesting transcripts, scheduling interviews and so on. The whole process can take the better part of a year, meaning that I probably won't be completely certain where I'll be going for regency until the spring.

Guided by a concern for confidentiality and a sense of discretion, I do not plan to write much about my preparation for regency on this blog. In fact, I probably won't mention the process again in this space until I've received a definite regency assignment from my provincial. In the meantime, though, I ask for your prayers for me, my brother scholastics, and our superiors as we go through this process of dialogue and discernment. At the same time, I offer my prayers for all students and for others for whom these days represent a time of transition. AMDG.