Christmas Update from Ringwood

Philip O’Shea, OFM Friar News

Friars from New York and New Jersey joined the Holy Name Friary community for a Christmas liturgy and luncheon earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

RINGWOOD, N.J. — December has a particular meaning for us here, in addition to the general significance of the Advent and Christmas seasons. On Jan. 2, we will celebrate the first anniversary of the declaration of Holy Name Friary as a House of Prayer. Therefore, it behooves us to give serious thought as to how, and how well, we have functioned in our apostolate as a house of prayer. Surely, we must consider that our new status has affected our general life of prayer and influenced our ever-expanding concept of ourselves.

Our consideration of the Advent and the Christmas mysteries must reflect how we live with the responsibility which being a house of prayer puts on us. The efficacy of our life of prayer in this season is certainly influenced by our responsibility for praying for and in the name of the Province. Our understanding of our participation in the life of the Province and our attitude toward the responsibility we have as friars of Holy Name Province require a deeper understanding and further commitment than what we had before. Our understanding of what it is to be a Friar Minor and our overall approach to our practice of minority is certainly affected by our participation in a community of prayer.

The very limits, which our physical and mental conditions impose upon us, come under prayerful scrutiny, a realization of participation in a more intimate way in the life we vowed to follow. I have learned from many friars how the house of prayer has affected them. They take us seriously. Can we fail to do the same?

Christ has come among us clothed in the helplessness of a newborn child. We can therefore take great consolation in the fact that we approach the Christmas mystery aware of our own helplessness, which in many ways manifests itself in our daily living. If we see ourselves prayerfully, we can relate more existentially to the baby in the crib. We can experience, as perhaps no other friars can, the feeling of exhilaration that overcame our father St. Francis when he placed the infant in the crib in Greccio. We are no longer simply observers, but are really now participants in the Christmas scene and this should add great depth to the joy of our celebration. We bring this year as a gift to the newborn Savior our minority, our weaknesses, and our inability to completely call the shots ourselves.

In summary, this Christmas is particularly significant for us. Our frustration at being here is now replaced by a confident awareness that this is where we belong. Recent events have placed our nation on a course of action fraught with dangers. But we grasp a new way that we may atone for our mistakes and, with God’s help, proceed in the footsteps of Christ and St. Francis.

What a wonderful Christmas this is!

philip-oshea-2Fr. Philip is a resident of Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. He has written four reflections on the friary since moving in last year.


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