Thursday, 4 July 2013

Temporary Profession

        “Moved by the power of the Gospel, we all experience the call always to begin again and to bring about a continuing inner conversion, so that we may be conformed to Christ – and with Him be given over to the service of the Father, and of our brothers and sisters as well.  In this journey toward permanent commitment, perseverance is a gift of God. Let us pray, therefore, that as we make progress in loving one another, we will remain faithful to the end.” 
       These were the beautiful words prayed over myself, my husband and eight other candidates recently, as we stood at the front of St. Luke’s Church in Calgary on a sunny Sunday afternoon during a special Mass.  Having journeyed together for two years, learning about what it means to follow in the footsteps of “the little poor man of Assisi”, we had all discerned that we were ready to seek Temporary Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order - another decision on the road to Permanent Profession. 
       In unision, all ten of us declared these words before the congregation:  “I make for one year my commitment to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi, according to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order.” The common denominator we all felt that afternoon, I think, was great joy.  We couldn’t stop smiling.
       Since we began our time of formation two years ago, I have constantly been challenged to truly live a more simple life, striving first and foremost for oneness with God. It’s been two years of very intentionally trying to travel through each day with humility, bearing peace to those around me. Believe me when I say it hasn’t been easy! But it’s put me on a path of ongoing change of heart, questioning my priorities and examining my intentions.  In these past two years I’ve experienced my share of discouragement as I saw the need over and over again to free myself from the blockage and brokenness of sin.  But I’ve also experienced extraordinary peace, through the process of realizing that though we are all selfish, erring little children, we are also intensely, completely and unconditionally loved by our heavenly Father. 
       Fr. Louis Geelan OFM, the Spiritual Assistant of our fraternity, earnestly prayed these words for us at the end of the Mass:  “Hear our prayers, O Lord, and grant that these, our brothers and sisters, who strive to spend their daily lives in service to others, may imbue their earthly affairs with a genuine Gospel spirit.”
       As I listened to his prayer while standing in front of the members of our fraternity, I also remembered the encouraging words of St. Francis himself, in the Prologue to our Rule: “Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them, and He will make his home and dwelling among them.” 
       Amen to all the wonderful words we were blessed with on this important day.  And now, as Temporary Professed Franciscans, the journey continues!