So, it’s just past the half year mark for my son at the Novitiate. So people ask me all the time, “How is he? How’s it going?” And…I don’t have a perfect answer for that. So I say, “He’s good. Please keep praying for him.”
That seems to sum it up, really. He’s good. He sounds like himself when we talk. That alone is such a big deal! He still has the essence of ‘him’ and doesn’t sound or talk differently when we chat on the phone. Stupid, I know, to think he might. But, ya worry. Ok, I worry. I worried. Past tense now.
This year is such a huge year of change for him; a radical year of leaving behind and choosing other…that I guess deep down part of me worried that I’d lose the essence of him somehow too. But, I have seen and heard that it is not so. In fact, of course, it is much the opposite. He is becoming MORE him. That is the really radical beautiful part of this choice….by growing closer to God, we become more ourselves, our truest selves. By him living this life, intentionally and fully without reserve, he too is growing closer to God and thus becoming more and more himself. It’s kind of like a warp speed growing out and growing in all at the same time. Rather Narnian. “Further up, further in!” as the children were called into the Aslan’s country; and the land became bigger and more beautiful the further and the higher in they went. So too, it seems, novice life, Dominican life.
Not that Novice life is all easy. It’s rigorous. It’s spiritual bootcamp, as I’ve noted many times before. And, now, of course it’s February <Shudder>. February is a tough month no matter where you are, I think. It is/was the dreaded month in the homeschool calendar. It’s the housebound gray cold dull month where everyone gets on each other’s last nerve. Ok, well, it is here at any rate. I can only imagine that it must be that way for the novices too. I’m guessing. But, still. Thankfully, it’s the shortest month in the year.
Spring approaches. But first, lent. And this is where the real crux of the novice year (I think) lies. The novices have completely settled into their life. They have new clothes, habits. They have new religious names: my son, now Brother Peter Joseph. They have new jobs and learn new skills, they have classes, they study, the do work outside the parish in the community. They know each other very well, are becoming a sort of family.
But lent is upon us and I have been told that this lent is the one lent they will get the opportunity to really, FULLY, live the liturgical season of lent. I have been told its the most beautiful lent they will ever have (due to really mindfully living it, daily) but also the most rigorous and with the most spiritual growth. This lent, this growth, will help lay the foundation these novices need if they are to go on and live the call to Dominican life. If my son is called to this, I want him to have that foundation to stand on. Thus, this next forty days will be an intense growth period for these young men. It will be rigorous, challenging; filled with hard and beautiful both. So, I will ask for your prayers for my son, for all these novices. They will need them.
So, how is it going? It’s going well. It’s a struggle, it’s a joy. It’s funny and hard and happy and peaceful and difficult. It’s a year of living prayer; of learning to live prayer. Please, keep them in yours. They are halfway through. Further up and further in….
Now, they will be spending much much time in prayer over this lent, of course. But this video shows the Irish Dominicans, having a bit of fun. These Dominicans, globally, they have such laughter and fun, even with their deep prayer life – it just makes me grin. And it’s totally in sync with that whole ‘further up, further in” thing……