Welcome to the OFS!

On October 8, 2017, we welcomed four new members into the Franciscan family! Congratulations to Sylvia, Ruth, Phyllis, and Jim!

And after the Lord gave me some brothers [and sisters], no one showed me what I had to do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the Holy Gospel.

The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi

Photo Credits: Michael Heliker 

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Profession and the Eucharist

Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap continues his discussion on profession in the Secular Franciscan Order.

Through the presbyter the Church associates the promise or Profession with the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Ritual gives special attention to this aspect, prescribing that the “Rite of the Promise to live the gospel life, or Profession” is “to be celebrated during Mass”: no other form of celebration is envisaged.  Continue reading “Profession and the Eucharist”

Profession and Fraternity

Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap continues his discussion about profession in the Secular Franciscan Order.

While maintaining the truth that Profession is by nature an ecclesial fact, an action of Christ and of the Church, the question arises: who are the subjects who concretely perform that action, or rather, how and in whom is the action of Christ and the Church manifested?

By Church the Ritual understands a particular liturgical assembly, made up of the people and the community of brothers and sisters, in other words, of the local fraternity of the Secular Order.  The local fraternity makes the presence and action of the Church visible primarily in the Profession. Therefore “Profession, since it is by nature a public and ecclesial fact, must be celebrated in the presence of the fraternity” (Ritual, Preliminary Notes, n. 13).

The ultimate reason for this norm is found in the reality of the local fraternity:  it is a visible sign of the Church, which is a community of faith and love (cfr. Rule 22; Ritual II, 29 d). The local fraternity is and must be a genuine ecclesial cenacle. By the same token, “secular Franciscans, gathered in fraternity and in union of spirit with all the People of God, celebrate the mystery of salvation revealed and communicated to us in Christ, with prayers and thanksgiving and renewing their promises to live a new life” (Ritual, Preliminary Notes, n. 3).

For this reason Profession is made in the presence of the assembled fraternity, which accepts the candidates’ request, since Profession is a gift given by the Father to that fraternity by incorporating new members into it. Grateful for the gift, the Fraternity is united to the prayer of those making profession, so that the Holy Spirit may bring to fulfilment the work He has begun.

 

The Ritual further develops these links with the Fraternity which the Profession or promise to live the gospel life creates.  Profession produces «incorporation into the Secular Franciscan Order»; it therefore implies incorporation into a family – the Franciscan family – which is life-giving, with all the consequences that derive from belonging to the same spiritual family.

At the same time, Profession determines reciprocal attitudes, sentiments, relationships, duties and rights, etc. The “Preliminary Notes” (n. 14) of the Ritual, speaking of the nature of Profession in the SFO, say that it involves “the trust of the candidate, who relies on the help of the Rule of the SFO and of the Fraternity. Indeed the candidate will feel that (s)he is guided and helped by the Rule approved by the Church, and will experience the joy of participating in the journey of the gospel life with many brothers and sisters, from whom (s)he can receive but to whom (s)he can also give something. Once incorporated into the local Fraternity, which is a cell of the Church, (s)he will make his/her contribution to the renewal of the entire Church”.

These statements in the Ritual show:

the liturgical foundation both of the Fraternity, which is essentially made up of reciprocal relationships, precisely as St Francis intended;

– the liturgical foundation  of belonging to the SFO. For this reason, in the formula of Profession we find the invocation: “May the grace of the Holy Spirit, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and of St Francis and the fraternal communion help me always so that I may attain the perfection of Christian charity” (Ritual II,31).  The same need is expressed by the minister who receives the Profession: “Let us give thanks to God in this Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order. Your incorporation into it is a reason for hope and joy in the hearts of all the brothers and sisters” (Ritual II, 32).

Two key fraternal values of Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order emerge from the texts we have quoted.

  1. It entails and produces the entrusting of self to the Fraternity on the part of the candidate. In Profession a covenant is established with the Brothers and Sisters, which can never be disregarded. The sacred bond of Profession, through which a perpetual commitment is established with God, (cfr. Rule 2; Const 42,2), has a number of fraternal sides to it which must be understood and lived precisely in the light of that “sworn pact” one has made with God.

2. With its liturgical foundation, Profession determines incorporation into a local fraternity and through it, into the Order.  Thus, we gradually come to see how the reality deriving from the celebration of Profession is not a matter of registration (“one is not enrolled into the SFO”), even though a document of profession is necessary. While it does have juridical implications, the concept and reality of incorporation goes beyond these and indicates that one becomes part of a living body, merged into a single organism, making a single reality. Incorporation entails the transformation of several realities into a single reality, through a process of absorption and assimilation.. It cannot simply be thought of as adding one thing to another (1+1); rather the fact is that the candidate is “extended” into the fraternity and vice versa, and this gives rise to a living being which is much larger and more complete.  Rightly therefore does the minister turn to the new members of the Fraternity at the end of the rite of initiation and says to them: “By your presence and communion you enrich our fraternity in numbers and virtue” (Ritual I,16). Therefore the relationships established by Profession are spiritual and ecclesial in nature, since the local fraternity into which the candidate is incorporated is “the basic element of the entire Order and a visible sign of the Church, a community of love” (Rule 22; cfr. Const 47,1).

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

 

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 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.

Recycled Orchestra

Trusting in the Father, Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received fore the benefit of God’s children. (OFS Rule, #11)

Phyllis Sadowski shared this video that offers us an opportunity to remind us that we are called to live simply; even in simplicity, God gives us the means to find beauty in the world, and make treasures out of trash.