Brother John Bosco

They acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth…now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Hebrews 11

Brother John Bosco tells us: “This passage always reminds me of my identity as a pilgrim on earth. Obviously sometimes this pilgrimage is exhausting, but I also experience the beauty of being a pilgrim. During this journey I see the footprints of those who have lived by faith, old but very clear signs which indicate the presence of Living Water. There are many good Samaritans who have helped and accompanied me with the love, compassion and consolation that come from the hope of a heavenly homeland. With all of these gracious gifts, I rejoice to continue this pilgrimage with my brothers here at Spencer.”

On Sunday August 7 during Chapter, our Brother John Bosco was clothed in the novice’s habit. We rejoice to have him in community. Generous, hard-working and truly kind, John came to us from South Korea. We pray that the Lord grant him the grace of perseverance.

CHAPTER TALK ON THE DAY OF BROTHER JOHN’S CLOTHING

Brother John Bosco, I hope this is a joyful day for you. I remember well the joy I felt when I was clothed in the habit. Such memories are precious and not to be discounted. Pope Francis, in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium sets out a veritable catalogue of scriptural rejoicing. He ends with this question: “Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?” Why not indeed?!

We live in such a utilitarian culture, and seek our value and fulfillment and meaning in our usefulness and accomplishments, in what we do. What if we look at God’s creating ‘from nothing’, as expressing God’s creating from and calling forth joy. God creates from God’s delight and wants to share that delight. If, as Pope Francis believes, the Gospel invites us into a ‘great stream of joy’, what keeps us from getting our feet wet, immersing ourselves in this ‘stream of joy?’

One movement into this stream I would call accepting or acceptance. The parable of the banquet in Saint Luke’s Gospel offers us a clue here. A banquet is a celebratory, joyous occasion. Yet, ironically everyone wants to stay away. What’s so difficult about accepting an invitation to a feast? It is the condition of having come to the end of our own resources and so to the end of striving.

Laurence Freeman says that: “If we want to understand poverty of spirit we have to accept it as the reaching of the boundaries of our being and our capacity, and finding we are unable to go further by ourselves.” When we finally ‘let go’ of our expectations of what our lives should be, our efforts to make things right, or to manage life on our terms, it is then that we become open to the possibility of gift and delight and joy. We’ve begun to get our feet wet in “this great stream of joy”.

Brother John Bosco, may the monastic life be for you an opening to joy, contentment and blessing.

– ABBOT DAMIAN CARR