The Consecrated Life
From its earliest days, Christianity has proclaimed the beauty and the necessity of consecrated life within the Church. In the opening lines of his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Vita Consecrata – The Consecrated Life’, Blessed Pope John Paul II described how “the Consecrated Life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to the Church through the Holy Spirit.”
People may receive the calling to consecrated life at any time in their life. Some may have harboured the desire to enter consecrated life for years, whereas others might simply desire to explore it as an option. Towards the end of ‘Vita Consecrata’, Bl. John Paul II wrote to the young, “if you hear the Lord's call, do not reject it! Dare to become part of the great movements of holiness which renowned saints have launched in their following of Christ…readily accept God's plan for you if he invites you to seek holiness in the consecrated life.” And to all men and women of good will he wrote these words, “seek the paths which lead to the living and true God, including the path marked out by the consecrated life…does not this world of ours need joyful witnesses and prophets of the beneficent power of God's love?”.
In Great Britain & Ireland, men who desire to explore their calling to the consecrated life within the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, first undertake a year of ‘Postulancy’. During this year the ‘postulant’ lives with the friars, partakes in the friary’s Horarium (prayer schedule) and begins to understand the charism, the liturgical & devotional traditions and the fraternal life of the Conventual Franciscans. At the end of his year of postulancy, the postulant and the community discern whether they feels the Lord is calling him to enter into a deeper commitment to the consecrated life within the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual.
Should the community believe that the Lord is calling the postulant to deepen his commitment to the consecrated life within the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, then he may be admitted to the Noviciate. The ‘investiture’ is a private ceremony for the friars of the community. After scripture and relevant writings have been read, the man is invested with the grey habit of the Order which has been blessed previously during the ceremony. He is then girded with a white un-knotted cord, after which all the professed friars embrace him and welcome him fraternally into the order; he has now become a ‘novice’, and his noviciate experience has begun!
During his noviciate year, a novice is immersed into the life of a Conventual Franciscan friar. He is taught both Church and Franciscan history and given a thorough explanation of the Franciscan Rule and the Order’s Constitutions. Along with his novice classmates he partakes in the full Horarium and he helps to contribute to the community by undertaking his given house/liturgical responsibilities and through manual work. It is during a friar’s noviciate that he is exposed gradually to the customs and devotions that are particularly dear to the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual. These include:
• Reciting the Franciscan Crown Rosary,
• Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
• The daily consecration of oneself to the Immaculate Virgin Mary and understanding the concept of ‘Total Consecration to Our Lady’ though the writings of Maximilian Kolbe OFM, Conv.
• Devotion to St. Joseph.
The noviciate year is a deeply spiritual year in which the novice and the community discern whether they believe he is called to the consecrated life and is ready to make a formal commitment to the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual through the profession of simple vows, which take place at the end of the noviciate year. There is a comprehensive structure of prayer in place, as well as spiritual direction and meetings with the noviciate directors to prepare the novice for the possibility of religious profession.
Simple Profession of Vows
On the day of his Simple Profession of vows, the friar places his hands within those of the Minister Provincial and professes his vows publicly. The Minister Provincial then accepts the friar’s vows on behalf of the Church. The vows are taken for a three year period. After this has taken place, the cord that the friar was given at investiture is removed, and he is girded with a new cord which has three knots in it; the three knots symbolise the three vows that the friar has just professed, namely Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Once done, the friar is given a copy of the Order’s Constitutions before he is embraced by all of the friars in the community.
Typically, a friar will remain in Simple Vows for three years before discerning a call to commit his life to the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual via the profession of Solemn Vows. Any man who feels that he might have a calling to Franciscan consecrated life is encouraged to contact the Conventual Franciscan friars of Great Britain & Ireland.
|< Prev||Next >|