Final Profession of Franciscan Friars Minor

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Feast of the Visitation – May 31, 2016

On this joyful feast of the Visitation, we gather in joy to celebrate the religious consecration of Brother Bonaventure, Brother Seraphin, and Brother Francis. On this feast of our Blessed Mother, the perfect model of consecration and discipleship, our brothers will profess their final vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as well as the special vow of the Franciscan Friars Minor to Mary Immaculate. It’s beautiful that they do this on Mary’s feast. Her motherly love will help them every day to offer their lives to her Son and to cooperate with Him, as she did, in the work of salvation. I pray that Mary will help these brothers to be faithful to the vows they make today and to grow and advance in their vocation as Franciscan Friars Minor.

Consecration and mission always go together. Mary’s consecration was for the greatest mission in the history of the world: to bring Christ into the world. She said “yes” to the Father’s will, opened herself to the Holy Spirit, and conceived the Son of God in her womb. With deep faith, she said “yes.” Elisabeth recognized this and cried out: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Today, with deep faith in God, Brother Seraphin, Brother Francis, and Brother Bonaventure, say “yes” to God’s call to consecrated life in the Church. They say “yes” forever in making perpetual vows. They do so not because they think they are great or perfect. They do so because they trust, like Mary, in the greatness of the Lord and the power of His grace. They recognize with humility their lowliness. Today and every day, with Mary they say: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” Like Saint Francis, our brothers know they are lowly servants. This status is reflected in the name of this community. They do not call themselves simply “Franciscan Friars.” They call themselves “Franciscan Friars Minor.” “Minor”, from the Latin, means “lesser.” Saint Francis taught his brothers that they must always be aligned with the poor and the lowly, the lessers of society. Brothers, you are to witness to the Gospel like Saint Francis did, as truly lesser brothers, in holy humility. Mary also teaches us this: she did not identify herself as a great Queen, but as the lowly servant of the Lord. We call her our Queen because, as Christians, we know that true greatness is not in power and riches, but in love and humility.

I mentioned that consecration and mission always go together, and that Mary’s consecration was for her mission as Mother of the Redeemer. That mission led her to set out in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She went out to help her elderly relative, to assist her during her pregnancy. That journey into the hill country of Judea was a real missionary journey. Mary’s charity toward Elizabeth was more than giving her material assistance. She brought Jesus to her. She carried Jesus in her womb. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, recognized this and proclaimed words we say every day: “Bles