Br. Jim Di Napoli OSF
The number one question I am asked by people I meet while wearing my tunic is:
So tell me, where is your Monastery? I explain what my role is as a brother in the order of St. Francis with love and compassion. After the shock and astonishment passes when I state that I am not Catholic but Episcopalian, I begin to explain my life of service and prayer. I explain that I am a member of a religious order of men who choose to live and follow the life of our founding father St. Francis.
I explain that we are a group of men who choose to have God live in our lives and love having him reside there.
I explain we live and work in our daily chosen careers sharing this love and concern for or fellow mankind then return to our home and family. I explain what my role is in my church. I answer all and any questions asked judging no one.
I ask if they want me to say a quick prayer for them. Some say yes. Most say no. This doesn’t make a real difference as I offer prayer without them knowing it.
I planted the seed. One comment resonates in my heart. “I didn’t know there was a monastery in Rowley!” I smiled and my heart rejoiced. Oh well, I said to myself.
Spring is here in New England. A Time of beginnings . A time for rebirth. A time of reflection and renewal.
This was the worst winter I can remember. Relentless bitter cold and feet upon feet of snow. The homeless shelter where we feed 45 people filled to capacity. Lines of homeless people unable to find a place to stay crowded the back door. Those lucky enough and who arrived hours in advance to secure a bed were the lucky ones. Once the 40 beds were filled we began to fill the hallways. Food long since gone. Hot tea if we were lucky. Many trips back and forth to the neighborhood coffee shop until the money ran out. A young disheveled and unkempt man states to me “Wow, Someone does care about us” My heart aches as the dishes are washed. It’s time to go. As I step out the door the snow begins to fall again. The security guard opens the back door and yells out to those unable to get in” You better get going now, you know the police will be here soon”
I fumble in my coat pocket and find my keys. I sit and say a quick prayer for those looking for “boxes” to sleep in. “It’s Better than nothing “I am told.
I pull my car into the drive way and open the door. I turn up the heat for its cold in the house. I might even build a fire in the fire place. That will help.
Its time to say Compline. I light my candles and sit in front of the old cross in my makeshift little chapel. I stop in the middle of Psalm 129 with this profound thought clearly from the Holy Spirit.
Boxford Road in Rowley Ma…is clearly, my Monastery.