August 2, 2012

The beauty of rhythm

There is a certain rhythm to life here at Saint Francis Inn.  Each day begins at 8:30am with Mass in the chapel above the kitchen/dining room.  There are two priests in the Franciscan community here and they rotate saying Mass.  The other members of the community (the brother friars, the sisters, the lay women, and when they are here during the school year, Franciscan Volunteers) join the volunteers and some local residents to begin their day being nourished with the Bread of Life before nourishing the guests with food.  The Mass is quite simple and we all remain seated during it (as does the celebrant).  Even though it is simple, there was something extraordinary about it (Today is actually a big feast for the friars - the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels so today's Mass was extra special). My heart was burning, like the two men walking on the road to Emmaus with Jesus, during Mass today.  I can't explain it but there was something so right and so wonderful about being with these folks and a part of a community, albeit for a brief period of time.  I lived in community for a year with the Congregation of Holy Cross while discerning a vocation to the priesthood and religious life.  It's hard to explain but living in community, for me, was very freeing and so fulfilling and enriching.

Following Mass we headed downstairs to help prep for breakfast.  Breakfast is handed out to the guests Tuesdays-Thursdays in the courtyard where the guests can stay and mingle from 10am-11am.  My job during this was to hand out water to anyone who wanted it.  I sat on a wall that encased a tree and I was surrounded by the guests during the hour.  I didn't engage in much conversation but it was so interesting to hear them talk to one another and to get a glimpse into their worlds.  Following this we cleaned up and helped get ready for dinner while some worked in the yard and others went on pick-ups and worked at the thrift shop.

Each day members of the community are in charge of the tasks such as cooking, coordinating, going on pick-up runs (for donations of food), going to the thrift shop, etc.  Each member of the community has 1-2 days off a week so they don't completely burn out!  Dinner is served Monday-Thursday and lunch is served Friday-Sunday.  They have served meals every day since they opened in 1979 and they have never closed for a day.

Following dinner everyone gathers back in the chapel for evening prayer and then folks go to their own houses to eat their dinners or whatever they have to do.  It's a beautiful life and I am glad our students are being exposed to different ways of living the Christian life.

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