franciscan - January 2003
© The Society of Saint Francis, 2002
Brother Samuel SSF, Minister Provincial of the First Order Brothers, European Province, writes:
‘How are you going to manage – being Minister Provincial and being Vicar of St Bene’t’s in Cambridge?’ It’s a question I’ve been often asked since the middle of the year when the one was added to the other. At the moment I’m not sure how, and at times it does seem a rather impossible task. The one role involves a good deal of travelling, including a major international trip each year to the Meeting with other SSF/CSF Ministers as well as visits to all our houses and brothers living on their own in the UK. There’s the responsibility to be looking at the overview, on our life as a Society, on the relationship between the three orders under the SSF ‘umbrella’, on the Religious Life as a whole, on new directions for the future.
The other role, that of parish priest at St Bene’t’s, is more mundane, more focussed – on the church boiler, perverse as ever, on Joan now becoming housebound, on Daniel’s confirmation class, on next Sunday’s sermon.
Of course, there’s no way the two jobs can be attempted without assistance from others, and I’m blessed that in both the province and the parish there’s generous help on hand – people willing to share responsibility, to advise, and to stand in for me when even I can recognize that I can’t be in two places at the same time.
But living in two worlds is perhaps something to which we are all called to some extent: to focus on the detail and yet to keep an eye on the wider picture; to ‘think globally, act locally’; to belong to a particular congregation but also to know oneself as part of the Church Catholic; to be of the parish without being just parochial. It’s the balance between the two which can inspire and yet humanize our Christian life, our politics, our work, our vocation.
Anyway, it seems that this tension is part of the mystery of the incarnation, of the one who ‘though he was in the form of God, emptied himself, and being found in human form he humbled himself….’ At Christmas we celebrate the revelation of the One who is everywhere and in all things, who yet chooses to be bound to a particular place and a particular time so that all people and all things might come to know the wonder and transforming power of the love that is at the heart of creation. And how can that be managed? f
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