Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16: V-Day

It has been a tradition in our Order that each year on April 16 – the day on which Francis made his profession into the hands of Pope Innocent III – we gather and renew our commitment to our way of life. The purpose of this renewal is to recall the origins of our Rule, to recall the devotion of Francis and his companions to follow the Holy Gospel, to recall our own fervor as we began this way of life, and resolve to commit ourselves again to these ideals.

From the Testament of St. Francis of Assisi (14-17)
“And after the Lord gave me brothers, no one showed me what I had to do, but the Most High ... revealed to me that I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel. And I had this written down simply and in a few words and the Lord Pope confirmed it for me. And those who came to receive life gave whatever they had to the poor and were content with one tunic, patched inside and out, ... We desired nothing more.”

Friars Renewal:
All praise be yours, Most High, for all creation gives you glory. All praise be yours, O Lord, for all good things come from you. All praise be yours, Almighty One, for you call us to the life of the risen Christ. Today, we your sons, renew and re-dedicate ourselves to the call you have given us. We renew our commitment to the Rule of our father Francis, and we ask your help to continue to live the life of the Gospel with obedience to your Spirit and your Church, with poverty that imitates the life of your beloved Child Jesus and his holy mother, and with chastity that frees us to love you and your people with unmeasured love. All praise be you Most High! Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and will be forever. Amen!

The Promise of Eternal Life:
“And whoever observes these things, let them be blessed in heaven with the blessings of the Most High Father, and on earth with the blessing of His Beloved Son with the Most Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and all the powers of heaven and with all the saints.” {Testament. 40}

The truth is:
Today, Friday. I came home from the parish about 4. It had been a grueling week: way too many meetings, emergency calls, appointments with people struggling with overwhelming issues in their lives.... Celebrations: Fr. Jerry's anniversary as a priest (Fr. Jerry is a retired diocesan priest who helps out with Mass on our day off. A truly good and humble man)..... The School Mass for our parish school (the kids were full of life and just amazing)..... A man sitting in the chapel, sobbing, after Mass: his brother had just died. A dozen red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese appearing out of nowhere..... A couple in their 60s, walking hand in hand, like a couple of lovebirds-- stopping by to plan the details of their August wedding..... 78 emails waiting to be answered.... The Sunday homily to be started..... A mother and her son visiting the family graves.... An elderly Filipino couple who wanted Anointing of the Sick. And so on....

I hopped in the shower, planning to skip evening prayer and sleep through dinner as well. But something bugged me-- so I went to the friary chapel after all. Oh, Renewal of Vows! Wow! Already? What does it feel like after 16 years in this life style?

It feels like it's my life. My life, not someone else's. Not a dream, a fantasy, a daydream or a movie. Just my life. Getting up in the morning, praying with my brothers, doing my best during the day (with lots of disappointments and failures). A precious hour of 'radiation therapy' before the Blessed Sacrament. A nap after lunch. Relief at locking my office door and walking across the property to the Old Mission-- hey, it's really beautiful outside! Tired. And content. Still tired, but still... content. And grateful. So, let's keep going: The Lord gave me brothers. Siempre adelante!/ Always go forward!//

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