Monday, September 26, 2011

You Call Yourself a Friar?

Alright, you've got me... I'm not a real friar. Honestly, I've never heard of a real, living friar. Friar Tuck comes to mind, and even the Friars' Club. The most famous friars (or so sayeth the internet) were St. Francis of Assisi - the one who talked to birds - and St. Thomas Aquinas - perhaps the smartest man of the 13th century. But what does my work have in common with these ancient, even fictional, men called friars?
The word itself comes from the French frรจre, meaning brother. But friars are not the same as that other group of brothers, the monks. For while monks were hidden away in their monasteries perfecting cheese and peas, friars were out in the towns and universities, walking and talking with common people and scholars. I believe the core of my work on campus is to strengthen students to become fellow friars, people involved - not isolated - from others in their field of study (even those who have very different core beliefs from themselves). At some times, it may feel like this work is wetting a desert with a watering can, but it must be done, nonetheless. It is a dire age for matters of faith in the university setting, and a new generation of Christian scholars must be encouraged to engage in the search for truth, goodness and beauty.
But just as it was seven hundred years ago, it takes resources to invest in this vision. Friars were called mendicants, those that relied on the support of others to do their work. This need, taken to the extreme, gave rise to the popular image of the begging friar. I believe ministry can always be accomplished without resorting to coercion and pleas in sackcloth and ashes. If the work is valuable, people should be excited to give towards the cause. If you are excited to see the sons and daughters of this age grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually during their their time at university, make an investment on this site or by contacting me directly. Cheers.