Last time, we were speaking of composure, victory over distraction and unrest. The last column was very philosophical and could leave us asking: what does composure look like in the real world?
When I was in seminary in Rome, there was a professor named Fr Luke Buckles. He is a Dominican friar, a priest of the order of St Dominic. He is one of the few Americans that teach in Rome. He taught a few of my spirituality classes. He is a jovial, rotund, balding man with a greying-black beard that crowds around his constant smile and round cheeks. Other than the fact that he always wears his flowing white habit and scapular secured with a wide leather belt from which hangs a large rosary that clacks when he walks, he looks like an unremarkable, ordinary middle-aged man.
However, Fr Buckles is extraordinary. Why is that? Because from the moment you meet him, you immediately get the sense that nothing in the world matters to him other than you in that moment. Everyone who meets him thinks so. No matter how busy he actually is, he always seems completely unhurried and pleasantly interested in you. This is because he is a man who has composure. No matter who you are, when you are in front of him, he has absolutely no distraction in his interest and care for you.
The result is that people are radically changed around him. I was told by another Dominican that when Fr Buckles came to Rome, the house of friars he was in was divided and bickering. Eight months after he arrived, everyone was getting along happily. People who took Fr Buckle’s classes, including the grueling face-to-face oral exams, always went away from them feeling edified and cared for.
Why is Fr Buckles this way? Because he is a man of deep prayer. He disciplines himself to be completely present to the Lord in times of prayer and especially when he celebrates the Liturgy as a priest. I had the privilege to serve as a deacon for him at a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome - it was just the two of us (and all the angels and saints), but it was one of the most joyous Masses I have ever been a part of. He was so present to the mystery being celebrated, so present to Jesus, his Beloved, that he couldn’t help but burst with joy. As a result, he is always making himself present completely to Jesus in whoever he meets and he is always bursting with that joy.
What does composure look like? It looks like one deeply in love. It looks like one who prays deeply - like someone whose joy is in being with the Lord. And when one has cultivated the discipline of composure, that is a joy that no circumstance can take away. I pray that we may all have that joy.
God bless you!