The real way to be biblical and to respect biblical authority is to do what biblical people did, and in the way that they did it. It is not to quote biblical sources or uncover the deep and secret meanings of biblical texts. The authority of words, even inspired words, must somehow be based in the de facto authority of accomplished deeds, redeemed peoples, and living bodies. In other words, it has to have worked somewhere, sometime, with someone, or it is an idealized abstraction. I find that a great many people who put themselves under the cope of religion are, in fact, people who enjoy ideology and abstraction as an escape from real commitment and real conversion.
We always look to you as our elder brothers. I would like to ask you to be good witnesses for us. Your testimony as Franciscans in your individual lives and in your fraternal lives is good for us. it is important for us to see how you are living your Franciscan charism, your prayer life, your vocation. But also, it is important for us to see your fraternities. One of the major challenges for us is to strengthen the fraternal bonds in our fraternities. In the last 38 years since the renewal of our Rule, we have passed through many changes. Our life has changed a lot. But, we need your help, your assistance and the testimony of how you live your fraternal life to help us transform our fraternities from pious prayer groups into true secular fraternities and it is not an easy job. We need your spiritual assistance. We need your love and personal commitment. It is not always easy to find friars to be spiritual assistants, but I kindly invite you to come and see our fraternities and give us your help. We all belong to the same fraternity, we are living the same charism, we deeply need your presence in our lives and we need this life-giving union. We are strongly convinced that we belong to the same fraternity, the same Franciscan family and we will do our best to help you as friars in your mission, in your service, in the church and in the world.
Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order commits a person to study in the school of Christ, who is “the book of Wisdom, written from within the heart of the Father, since He is the art of almighty God; it was written externally, when it became flesh” (St. Bonaventure).
For those who are “called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi” (Article #1), particularly through the Secular Franciscan Order, the rule of life becomes the central focus and basic font for setting forth the evangelical goals of life, for unraveling the meaning of the gospel commitment, and for detailing the means to be evangelized and to evangelize others with the supportive context of life in fraternity.
For this reason, the rule needs to be read, understood, digested, and absorbed into the personal and communal existence of every Secular Franciscan.
As Francis indicated in his Admonitions, the heart must not turn away from God under “pretexts” of occupations. Too often today in our busy world we hear complaints of “I do not have enough time” to pray, or “I am too busy to pray.” We are burdened by appointments, commitments, responsibilities or simply overloaded with the demands of daily life, journeying through life in the fast lane of a complex culture. When we arrive at “burnout” and wonder why life is so empty, we may recall Francis’ admonition that our hearts may turn from God under the disguise of being “too busy.”
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
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.
I would therefore like us all to make the serious commitment to respect and care for creation, to pay attention to every person, to combat the culture of waste and of throwing out so as to foster a culture of solidarity and encounter.
~ Pope Francis, quoted in “Pope Francis’ guide to avoiding a ‘throwaway culture‘” (Our Sunday Visitor website)
Therefore, from the moment of profession onwards, it is the gospel which inwardly specifies the life of the Secular Franciscan and commits him/her to the observance of the gospel: profession implies “the will to live the gospel”.
~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment
One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes. The Christian’s programme —the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of Jesus—is “a heart which sees”. This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.
To celebrate Profession within the Eucharist expresses the sacrificial dimension of self-giving inherent in the Profession of the gospel life in the Secular Franciscan Order. In Profession, manifested in the presence of the Fraternity and the Church, the true nature of the candidates as priests and victims is made manifest. They, by promising to live the gospel life, make themselves entirely available to God and place their own bodies (persons) on the altar of Christ’s sacrifice as a holy victim pleasing to God.
~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment, Part 6: Profession and Eucharist