Class Comes to an End
As I mentioned when I began this blog and prepared to leave Cincinnati for England and beyond, I view the trip as a pilgrimage. Our Franciscan Order as well as our Province of Saint John the Baptist are on pilgrimage to 2009 when we celebrate the 800th anniversary of the approval of our Franciscan Rule and the beginning of the Franciscan Movement. In earlier posts I have described the multicultural character of the Franciscan International Study Center where I have been teaching. Many different communities of men and women Franciscans are represented here and that add a richness to the classroom, public prayer, and communal living. It has been great.
This morning I taught the last two hours of the course in Moral Theology. The students seemed appreciative of my efforts and the Centre has invited back next year to repeat the Introductory Moral Theology course and to team teach a course on Marriage with Philippe Yates, O.F.M., the local canon lawyer and principal of the school. I have learned much, exchanged some good times with students and staff, and look forward to returning next spring. The one event remaining is a celebration of the new edition of the writings of Saint Clare and a Centre-wide barbecue tomorrow. I have to end this experience with a big meal. That is only appropriate for a friar. :-)
While I intend to put a more complete reflection on this first phase of the pilgrimage in a post either tomorrow or Sunday, I do want to reflect this evening on the experience of teaching morality to an intercultural group of students. There is probably no area of theology more influenced by culture than morality. While the teachings of our faith and the ethical principles derived from our faith apply to all, the principles and values are lived out concretely within the various cultural settings. Even the examples I used in class to emphasize a point came from my own cultural experience. So trying to listen to the students' experiences and still teach a course that I have often taught in the States proved very enriching--and actually less challenging than I had expected. It was obvious that we all shared a common faith and a common Franciscan vision, and that is what held things together--inside and outside the classroom. People come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, but we are all one family in the Lord.
The photos are of the Centre Chapel and a small garden off the refectory along the corridor leading to the Chapel.