Meet a Brother: Brother Crispin Mary

Brother Crispin Mary Rinaldi, C.F.R.
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
New York

I was eight years old when I first learned of the anawim, the name given to the humblest and most underprivileged of the Israelites at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. These were also the forgotten ones of Israel. They stood faithful to God’s ways and His anointed one, King David, when everyone else sold out and rebelled against the Lord. Because of their humility and faithfulness they always held a special place in the Lord’s heart and the Scriptures make continuous reference to them. I was absolutely fascinated with the anawim and I grew to look at them as a model of how I was to live my own Christian life.

Then as years passed, Saint Joseph and Our Lady entered the picture. How their great love captivated me! Their silence and hiddenness always led me to Jesus. Their whole life, in fact their whole being, pointed to Jesus and resonated with Him. Every blow of Joseph’s hammer, every floor Our Lady swept was not only consecrated to Jesus but was a witness to God’s love incarnate and was a fruit of God’s own love present in their hearts. I soon came to realize that this calling was the only vocation that spoke to my heart. Yet I did not know how it could be lived out until I discovered Saint Francis. Poverty, fraternity, minority, fidelity, obedience are the keys to the Holy House of Nazareth where one can make his home with Jesus, follow the lead of Our Lady and be an apprentice to Saint Joseph.

God is so good to bring me to the vocation of lay brother. Poverty, minority, a simple life is exactly the cross I need in order to be recreated in God’s image. Now I am an apprentice at the Holy House of Nazareth in the South Bronx where the pursuit of a prayer life, gestures of fraternal service, simple living—and yes, even doing things like cleaning out the drain pipes at the shelter—is the path to Heaven!