One’s profession in the Secular Franciscan Order is a special way of intensifying the effect of baptism. Entering a secular or religious order is not another sacrament, like ordination or marriage, precisely because its intent and result is identical to baptism, but on a deeper level. For example, a person may play a simple melody on the piano all by itself; that same melody is played again with harmonics and chords to give it an even greater richness, depth, and fulfillment. So, profession directs, intensifies, and deepens the “melody” of Christian life first played at baptism.
That’s why the Lord’s Prayer bids me die, and why I must pray for it. That need springs from the first garden with the old Adam, the old Eve, asserting their wills against the strictures of a will they would not recognize. It is the will of the old unwashed self that must be put to death daily in baptism.
We do not simply just fall deeper and deeper into our faith after our baptism or initial conversion. We are called to keep jumping. We talk of that “leap of faith,” but our reality is one of multiple leaps, every day. Tiny jumps, or steps, even, sometimes just the distance it takes for our feet to go from the bed to the floor. It is that forward motion that keeps us going, that keeps saying that today will be better. Today I will try harder. Today I might fail. But I am still loved.
Profession of Commitment to the Gospel Life
by the grace of God,
renew my baptismal promises
and consecrate myself to the service of His Kingdom.
May the grace of the Holy Spirit,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and our holy father Saint Francis,
and the fraternal bonds of community
always be my help,
so that I may reach the goal
of perfect Christian love.
With nothing else to claim as his own, Francis disciplined his spirit to be guided by the Spirit of Christ, the Son, in order to follow the heavenly Father’s will and to please him alone. Poverty freed him to live out his baptismal call just as it gifted him with a transparency that drew others—women as well as men—to follow his lead.
~ Regis Armstrong, The Franciscan Tradition (Spirituality in History)
Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.