Since I'm horrible at communicating with long distance friends I'm starting 7 sort-of-Quick Takes on Fridays. I don't promise regularity or that the 7 takes will necessarily be from the last 7 days.
I have begun a two year formation period with the Lay Missionaries of Charity (LMCs)! This is an extension of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The LMCs make annual vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and free and wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor. The formation period involves discernment (Am I really called to make vows as a Lay Missionary?), spiritual formation (Am I able to live by the statutes of the Lay Missionaries?), and integration (adoption into the lay community and closer collaboration with the Missionary of Charity Sisters). In other words, a lot more of this.
The Sisters asked me to stay and serve dinner to the residents after our September LMC meeting. The Gift of Hope houses roughly 10 men, many of whom were previously homeless, suffering from HIV/AIDS and a myriad of other ailments. Fortunately the guys are good at helping each other because I must have been the slowest volunteer they've seen in a while. Fortunately Albert, one of the LMCs, was there to supervise the house for the night and helped serve while the guys continued to ask me, "Have you been here before??" But I must have served well enough because the Sisters allowed me to come back and serve breakfast during the shutdown. The guys were a little slower moving early in the morning so I was able to keep up.
As we cleaned up after dinner, Albert began to explain the Sisters' view of the vow of poverty. Not only do the Sisters try not to own or spend money on anything they don't absolutely need, but they also live in the spirit of poverty. They want to be united to the poor in their suffering, something that makes little sense without an understanding of spiritual communion. However, the Sisters also claim that the more "comfortable" we are, the less we think about the poor. So the Sisters try to use hot water as little as possible, wash and reuse everything including foil and plastic bags, and turn down even hand-me-down donations of things like electric mixers--"We do this by hand." Good thing I've got two full years of formation!
One Sunday the Sisters needed a ride to Mass and I readily agreed. Turns out the Mass was of the Syro-Malabar Rite and was celebrated by the Cardinal from that Rite. Pretty neat experience but 3 hours long! Fortunately the other Latin Riters next to me, who had driven the Missionaries of Charity from Gift of Peace in DC, were just as incapable of following the translation in the book since we had no clue how the swirly written language related to the syllables that were uttered.
Perhaps inspired by Pope Francis' example of how to live a vow of poverty, I decided to downgrade from my apartment. Why spend three times as much money on rent when I live alone and would be perfectly happy renting the master bedroom in a Cape Cod style house with a young couple and their baby and two cats? And PERFECT timing. I was able to weather the government shutdown.
I have a new friend named Lion Heart. Or is it Lionheart? Anyway, Charlamagne is not quite my friend because he's much crazier. But he is also orange.
The shutdown gave me extra time to check out the new neighborhood. One day I visited the Belair Stable Museum which is far more entertaining than I expected. Who knew that Gallant Fox is not just the name of a street near McDonald's but also the name of a triumphant racehorse? His brother Fighting Fox was apparently quite a stud too. Most interesting was the history of black jockeys in the 1800s.
The other day (and by the other day I mean three weeks ago), I was grabbing something from the back seat of my car and noticed an old cigarette butt on the floor. Eventually I remembered that while walking through Baltimore with FrC one night, a homeless man asked for prayer and a ride to the hospital. Of course, FrC jumped at the opportunity (in his mind, the privilege) to give this man a ride somewhere. On the way to the car he informed me that I would be driving the three of us, which was surely my penance for calling him a maniac Baltimore driver. Some time between picking up Aaron on the street corner and leaving him at the ER the cigarette butt must have fallen on my floor. As I picked it up I thought that if I could only bring FrC with me wherever I go then I might seem like a compassionate person.