A month ago, I professed to live my life as a Franciscan Friar. In the 30 days which have past the music still lofts through my ears, faces of those present still warm my heart and cards still arrive in mailbox. I’m still coming down the mountain of this life moment as the reality of life and ministry takes shape. As this happens, I consider a key moment in the celebration of Solemn Vows.
One of the key moments of the celebration was the actually profession of vows. I knelt before our Provincial Pierre (Provincial is the Friar which is the leader of a certain country or area where Friars live) and placed my hands into his. There was complete calm in me in this moment. My heart seemed to beat with this sense of “yes Lord.” I remember looking at Pierre and being met with his look of joy, affirmation and fraternal support. I was ready to declare to everyone that I was willing to do this; desiring to profess my life. As I think back to that moment I feel that if my hands were not in Pierre’s I may have been hard to hold down – there was this sense of bubbling up; almost like a desire to dance as I professed to live the rest of my life in obedience, without anything of my own and in chastity. My hands secure in the hands of our Province, my Friar brothers, and family and friends at my back supporting me. I am taken how our Provincial was seated in line below the cross and all the rest of us had it in our gaze. For me it is a sign of our oneness in Christ and how Christ enfolds each of us calling us to be brothers and sisters.
In preparation for Solemn Vows I had prayed the formula for our vows each day for the last six months and on the 23 of each of those months I spent extended time in prayer and reflection with certain words and phrases. In the last few days before vows I read back what I had written in those months previous and was again in awe of how God was at work in my life. My heart was declaring again and again “I am ready, I hold God’s light at my core, this is the dwelling place for God in the good and the bad, in the sorrows and the joys.”
Each Friar makes their vow to God, to live this life and to acknowledge that it the Lord who “inspired me to follow more closely the Gospel and the footprints of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” As each of my Brothers before me, I too vowed to “give myself to this fraternity with all my heart.” It is the action of the Holy Spirit which leads me to strive to serve in love not only God but also the Church and all people. Those are powerful words that I have reflected on. Giving myself with all my heart binds me to Christ. As Christ washed the feet of his disciples so I am called to serve – whether that is scrubbing toilets, leading a retreat, praying with someone one, being a listening ear, clearing tables, quiet prayer, reading scripture, writing, sitting in a meeting, helping at Mass or putting flowers in a vase. “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready” was not just a nice catch phrase for the programs at Solemn Vows, it truly is a daily prayer which reminds me of the gift of my vows and the giving of my heart.
In this final reflection on my Solemn Vows I close with my journal entry from August 26 (3 days after), it seems to summarize well the gift that was, the gift that is and the gift that will be as I continue on my journey as Solemnly Professed Franciscan Friar.
God of Life, My God and My All,
I give you praise and thanks for the gift of these days surrounding my Solemn Vows. They have been but a taste of your goodness, love, generosity and richness.
I am so grateful and so filled with awe. Thank you! Thank you for being present in the fullness of these days and for being the life breath of these celebrations. I am so grateful for joy in the set up, rehearsals and final details. I am so grateful for the music (such good music – thank you choir!!), to be able to greet guests as they arrived, for the vows, the Eucharist and just being present in it all. I am so grateful for the energy and excitement at the reception and the stories and laughter at the bonfire, for the early next morning, breakfast visits, guest visiting the Mount, more visiting, and fond “see you soons”, and to this moment… pure wonder and awe and your goodness.
Thank you for calling me to this life – to lie the gospel and embrace the demands it calls me to.
Thank you for good people – family, friends, friars, neighbours and so on who have been a gift and who support me and call me to see life rooted in you.
I give you thanks and praise for my vows and the blessings which surround these sacred days and bonds.
Thank you, my God and My All! Thank you.
I humbly ask for your continued prayers for the Franciscans in Canada and for myself as we strive to be bearers of the gospel.
God’s richest blessings of peace and all good for each of you.
St. Francis and St. Clare… pray for us.