Parents' perspectives on a Catholic vocation journey
The first few weeks of Evan’s Novitiate have been somewhat busy, but things are beginning to settle down.
In addition to the initial retreat, his unexpected trip back to Utah, and his brief stay in New York City, he’s had the privilege of attending Jimmy Hsu’s Final Promise Mass and Mass of Ordination as a Transitional Deacon. The participation of the entire Paulist Community in DC in these events underscores the deep commitment these men have to the order and their connectedness and it was — by all accounts — a joyous celebration.
With that past, the novices are beginning to settle into the routine that will serve them in their discernment during the coming months. I’m going to share (as best I can) a snapshot of that life. If I miss something, I’ll ask that the novices be generous and gentle in correcting my errors.
Breakfast after prayer
9:30 a.m. — Conference with other novices. This may be discussions of the texts the novices have been reading, current issues facing the Church or the order, events of the day, explorations of different forms of prayer and spirituality, and theology discussions. From what I gather, this is sort of an updated version of the old academic notion of a colloquy or seminar.
Noon — Lunch, like all meals, taken in common with the community.
The afternoon is free time during which the novices engage in personal prayer and study as they seek to enter into a deeper relationship with God. They have all been given a number of books — some of which are mandatory reading and some of which they selected themselves. The mandatory reading includes 101 Questions and Answers on Paul and the biography of Isaac Hecker (founder of the order), among other books. For the self-selected reading, Evan just finished a book on Native Meso-American Spirituality and Dan (another novice whom I have gotten to know through Facebook) is reading Where the Hell is God?
4:50 p.m. — Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Blessed Sacrament chapel.
5:15 p.m. — Mass in the adjacent St. Paul chapel.
5:45 p.m. — Pre-Dinner Social.
6:15 p.m. — Dinner, again taken with the community.
7:30 p.m. — Communal prayer, led by the novices. Each day (in rotation) one of the novices selects the prayer. Sometimes they pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the evening, sometimes other prayers. Evan chose the Chaplet of St. Michael last week when it was his turn.
In addition to the daily routine, there are certain special days during the week.
On Wednesday, the schedule is altered to accommodate Mass at noon in the Holy Spirit Chapel and the evening prayer at 5:15 is led by the students. (Once a candidate complete the novice year and make his first promise, he is considered a student.)
On Friday, Mass and prayer are at 7:30 a.m. and the novices have the rest of the day free. Evan has been using his time to explore DC a bit and spent last Friday visiting the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian.
Saturday is the work period for the novices when they are assigned chores such as cleaning and mopping.
Evan also tells me that a Paulist Father (Tom Ryan, I believe) has generously allowed the novices to participate in his class “Body, Mind and Heart” which connects Christian prayer to the meditative practices of yoga.
They novices are also being trained for their apostolates. These involve the novices working the local community and parishes to help out. I don’t have a clear idea of what Evan will be assigned yet, but once I do I’ll be back with another post.
As always, questions are welcome.