Bro. Schafer Knostman, O.Carm.
Novice, Brandsma Priory in Middletown, New York
HOMETOWN: Dayton, Ohio
YEARS IN THE ORDER: 3 years
FAVORITE CARMELITE SAINT:
Blessed Lawrence of the Resurrection was the first Carmelite I read about. Before I knew his affiliation, I was deeply drawn to his simple spirituality. His focus is on growth in a constant, interior openness to the Lord --- "practicing the presence of God".
I grew up in a small suburb near Dayton, Ohio. In college, I worked a few odd jobs as I studied environmental engineering. At that time, through prayer and involvement in the Church, I began to feel called to a life of special service to the Lord. I was able to visit the Carmelites brothers in New Jersey, and was attracted by the values of community life in Christ, meditating on Scripture, living in the presence of God, and sharing this charism with the world. I have been with the brothers for two years as a pre-novice.
Do you have any devotions, if so, what?
Lectio divina is my favorite devotion. I find it helps me to listen to the Lord, and become more rooted in what He has to say.
What are some of the challenges and gifts of community life?
Some of the challenges include reckoning with the deeper self-knowledge that comes from community living. There are natural conflicts due to personality and culture, but these are also opportunities to investigate and learn from. Community life teaches you about yourself, Thus, one of the gifts of community life is growing in understanding of others, the world, and finding your place in it. Along with this comes the opportunity to know and love other men as brothers, and journey together spiritually.
Do you have any tips/suggestions/advice to anyone discerning?
Remain in honest prayer with the Lord, and talk with a spiritual director and those who know you well. Gather knowledge about yourself, and meet a few communities you feel drawn to. The time will come to take a risk, and either try out a community or begin a career. How are you meant to serve?