The 2008 talk given by Fr. Felice Cangelosi, OFM Cap., on "Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment," indicates in para. 7 subtitled "Baptism and Profession" ... that based on the Rule of St. Francis for the SFO, #6: "They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words."
Fr. Felice goes on to say, "The primary element emerging from this fundamental statement in the Rule, is the relationship between Baptism and Profession, from which flow the relationships of the Secular Franciscan with the Church. Both the Constitutions and the Ritual insist on this Baptism-Profession relationship. The legislative and liturgical texts of the Secular Franciscan Order recall the reality of baptism to the hearts and minds of secular Franciscans. It is both a grace and an inestimable gift, which:
As People of God (living members of the Church) we, as secular Franciscans have a genuine relationship with God. This is a serious commitment on our part, and it is very sad that there are professed in our Order who sometimes leave the Order. People have this idea that marriages fall apart because not all marriages are made in Heaven. Professions are made in Heaven because profession is a grace and an inestimable gift of the Holy Spirit.
The new FUN formation system, is also a gift of the Holy Spirit. People who designed the texts in CIOFS - they listened to the Holy Spirit, after lots of prayer. So did those on the National level. We are to accept the obligation placed on us by "Fraternities on the next higher level" (from where we are) to use this material precisely because the Holy Spirit had a hand in it, and will continue to guide us.
Toward what end do we need to use the guidance from above? Fr. Felice gives us the answer, "Membership and profession in the Secular Franciscan Order aim to help a person “live their baptismal grace and consecration with greater intensity of commitment and diligence” (Ritual I,12). Commitment to live out one’s baptism, in principle required of all Christians, arises for secular Franciscans after profession as a result of a liturgical action and a saving event, which have an impact upon baptism itself."
All this, will help to prepare us, to place us in a thinking mode about the time to come ... the time we have left on earth, and the time we will spend with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Heaven, if we use the time we have left here well.
In the SFO Rule, we have the model of how to use that time well, not only for ourselves but to help other people. The point of helping others is not so much that they have a roof over their heads, should they need this, but so that as brothers and sisters they will be in Paradise when their time here is over. We wish them to use their time well, also. But make no mistake about this, none of this is a done deal. We must live diligently by the Rule of St. Francis, and all the other Rules (e.g. Ten Commandments) and then we may get to Heaven. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will probably get there. None of us are saints now - that is what we must become. To be a friend of Jesus, we have to curtail all sin. Yes, that is possible. The Saints did it, and if you really wish to be a friend of Jesus, when we fall, repent, and begin again. He will guide us, through the grace of our Profession. Be happy that you are a Franciscan, our Rule is a supurb model for life, a life given in charity, in love, as a person of God for others. And when we fall, we ask forgiveness and begin again. Prepare in this Season of Advent for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
November 25, 2011