Profession: An Action of the Church

Profession comes about through God’s intervention. But since God always acts through Christ, whose sacred humanity is the meeting point between God and man, and since today Christ lives and acts through the Church, it follows that Profession is simultaneously the action of Christ and of the Church, i.e. of the whole Body of Christ, Head and members.  The language of the Constitutions is significant (42,1), defining Profession as a solemn ecclesial act (action), as is that of the Ritual (“Preliminary Notes” n. 13) which declares it as by its nature a public and ecclesial fact. It is both the one and the other:  Profession is not only an action, it is also an event, or rather, a saving kairòs, a moment of salvation.

Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap

 

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The Grace of Profession

The following is the first in a series about profession in the Secular Franciscan Order by Fr. Felice Cangelosi, OFM Cap.

The Brothers and Sisters called to the Franciscan life in the Secular Fraternity make their Profession during a specific celebration according to the Ritual proper to the SFO. This aspect is by no means insignificant, because the celebration constitutes the foundational moment of the identity of the professed, and is simultaneously the condition for a dialogue to take place in response to God’s action.  In fact, the consequences of the commitment a human being expresses by means of a promise derive from a prior commitment, that of God to man.  The celebration of Profession testifies to all of this, because it is God’s action and a saving event: it is a moment when salvation reaches the faithful, enabling them to make a promise to live the Franciscan gospel life and producing in them particular effects of grace, by which they are deputed to specific tasks within the People of God. Only a person sanctified in the liturgical action, where (s)he fully experiences the immensity and force of God’s love, can be capable of a loving response.  On the other hand, the celebration reflects the Church’s understanding of Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order. The liturgy, in fact, is always a confessio fidei, since in it, i.e. in its enactment during the ritual action, the Church proclaims authentically its own faith in the mystery of salvation, which is actualised in and for the faithful.

The Grace of Profession

Those who make profession in the OFS say: “since the Lord has given me this grace, I renew my baptismal promises and consecrate myself to the service of His kingdom” (Formula of Profession). Dedication to the service of the kingdom comes about because the Lord gives a person the grace to consecrate himself to the cause of the Kingdom.  Profession is a grace and gift of the Spirit. Not only is the Holy Spirit the source of the vocation of secular Franciscans (Const 11), since they are urged on by the Spirit to reach the perfection of charity in accordance with their own secular state (Rule 2); Profession also comes about by the working of the same Spirit. Therefore the “Preliminary Notes” of the Ritual (cfr. n. 7) state that “The OFSRitual … should fittingly display the gift of the Spirit and the evangelical life-project proper to the Secular Franciscan Order”.

The reference is first to the gift of the Spirit, and then to the gospel life-project, since the latter is neither conceivable nor possible without the forestalling inspiration of the grace of the Spirit. For the same reason, the candidates declare their intent to live the gospel life after the Holy Spirit has been invoked upon them:

Lord, watch over these your servants. May the Spirit of your love penetrate their hearts, so that your grace will strengthen them to keep their commitment to the gospel life.”  (Ritual II,30).

The Franciscan Calling

The following reflection comes from Richard Rohr, OFM. You can read more about the Franciscan calling and read more of Fr. Richard’s reflections at www.cac.org.

Francis did not wish for himself or his followers to be priests, to take higher places on the Church’s hierarchical ladder of education, prestige, and power. Francis was apparently ordained a deacon, likely under pressure, because he never talks or writes about it. The sign of a true Franciscan heart is devotion to the Gospel, regardless of title, group, or official status. These hallmarks of the Secular Franciscan Order (from the formation manual For Up To Now) can be claimed and practiced by anyone:

  • Simplicity (A spirituality that is genuine; without pretense)
  • Poverty (Love of Gospel poverty develops confidence in the Father and creates internal freedom)
  • Humility (The truth of what and who we really are in the eyes of God; freedom from pride and arrogance)
  • A genuine sense of minority (The recognition that we are servants, not superior to anyone)
  • A complete and active abandonment to God (Trusting in God’s unconditional love)
  • Conversion (Daily we begin again the process of changing to be more like Jesus)
  • Transformation (What God does for us, when we are open and willing)
  • Peacemaking (We are messengers of peace as Francis was) [1]

Re-read these qualities of a Franciscan and discern if you are called to live in such a way, making the Gospel the very core of your day-to-day doings and being. What is yours to do?

The Rule of the Gospel

In a recent daily meditations, Richard Rohr, OFM, speaks about what it means to follow the Franciscan vocation:

To be a Franciscan is nothing other than always searching for “the marrow of the Gospel” as [Francis] called it. Francis said the purpose and goal of our life is to live the marrow or core of the Gospel. Honestly, the core is so simple that it’s hard to live.

You can read the entire meditation here.

The Feast of Corpus Christi

On June 18, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Pat Cetera, OFS, offers this brief reflection, illustrating how we might live “the faith of Saint Francis, who often said, ‘I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except his most holy body and blood.'” (OFS Rule #5)

Our Lord instituted the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. The minds and hearts of those present were overcome with fear and uncertainty, as they focused on Good Friday. The love, joy, and gratitude for the Gift of the Blessed Sacrament was not expressed.

In her great wisdom, Holy Mother Church established the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) in the Diocese of Liege, in Belgium in the year 1246. The reigning Holy Father, Urban IV, declared that the Feast be celebrated throughout the world in 1264, on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. There was to be a Eucharistic Procession as part of the celebration either on that Thursday or the following Sunday. Thus,the Feast of Corpus Christi would allow public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in joy, with gratitude. Continue reading “The Feast of Corpus Christi”

The Walk to Emmaus

At our last gathering, we invited Julie Berggren, OFS to lead us in an afternoon of reflection. The heart of this reflection centered on the Walk to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) For our brothers and sisters who were unable to attend, the reflection is provided here so that, while you might not have been with us physically, you can still share in this experience that helped bring our fraternity together in fellowship and love. Continue reading “The Walk to Emmaus”