Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live life with a Franciscan focus.

08 May 2008

Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order 

Yowza, how time flies -- today is the second anniversary of my permanent profession in the Secular Franciscan Order. Since it's a weekday, I haven't really planned on doing anything special to mark the occasion, but I may stop by my parish's adoration chapel this evening and silently repeat my profession promise. And one of these days, I really will put together a small profession scrapbook; been meaning to do that for the past two years!

Since we're on the subject, I'm guessing that "profession" is something that most folks probably aren't too familiar with, so here's an overview as it pertains to the SFO. Share and enjoy! :-)

About Profession

"Membership in the Order is attained through a time of initiation, a time of formation, and the profession of the Rule. ... Profession is the solemn ecclesial act by which the candidate [novice], remembering the call received from Christ, renews the baptismal promises and publicly affirms his or her personal commitment to live the Gospel in the world according to the example of Francis and following the Rule of the SFO. Profession incorporates the candidate into the Order and is by its nature a perpetual commitment." (SFO General Constitutions, Articles 37:1, 42:1-2)

Formula for the Mass

A Secular Franciscan Rite of Profession Mass can be composed according to the following options (setting folks on fire not included):

"The Mass formula to be used may correspond to the liturgy of the day or, if the rubrics permit, the votive Mass of St. Francis, of St. Louis the King, or St. Elizabeth of Hungary; or the Mass for the Laity may also be chosen. With regard to the hymns and exhortations during the celebration, the text of Chapter 2 of the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order should be kept in mind, as well as the biblical texts that support the SFO way of life." (Chapter 3, Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order)

Statement of Intentions (Calling Forth of the Candidates)

After the Gospel reading, the celebrant and the people sit. Those who are to be professed are called forward, and the fraternity's minister (our term for "president" or "superior") invites them to publicly express their intention. This may be done in the form of a dialogue between the minister and the candidates, who express their intent either singly; by means of one speaking in the name of all; or by all speaking together.

The following statement of intent is what we use in my fraternity and is taken from the Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order:

"We(I) ask to be admitted to profession of the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, and to make a permanent commitment to the gospel life. The experience during our(my) time of formation has strengthened us(me) in the conviction that the Lord is calling us(me) to observe the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi."

Profession of Commitment to the Gospel Life

After the homily, the profession itself is made while the candidate kneels in front of the fraternity's minister. With his/her hands in those of the minister, the candidate says:

I, N.N.,
by the grace of God,
renew my baptismal promises
and consecrate myself to the service of His Kingdom.

Therefore,
in my secular state,
(or, when appropriate: as a member of the diocesan clergy,)
I promise to live
all the days of my life
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
in the Secular Franciscan Order
by observing its Rule of life.

May the grace of the Holy Spirit,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and our holy father Saint Francis,
and the fraternal bonds of community
always be my help,
so that I may reach the goal
of perfect Christian love.

Presentation of the Symbols of Profession

Because (at least in the U.S.) we don't have different habits for candidates (novices) and the professed, there is no change of habit during profession. However, symbols of profession are presented:

Gospels. As the candidates receive a copy of the gospels, the minister says, "Christ, the Gift of the Father's love, is the Way to him, the Truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the Life which he has come to give abundantly. By your lifelong profession to go from gospel to life and life to gospel, may you continually encounter the living and active person of Christ."

Crucifix. Where customary, a crucifix may also be presented as a remembrance of profession. The one presenting the crucifix (ideally a San Damiano crucifix) may say in these, or similar, words: "May you conform your thoughts and deeds to those of Christ and build a more fraternal and evangelical world by fulfilling your vocation as a 'brother(sister) of penance'."

Candle. Where it is also customary to present the newly-professed with a lighted candle, the one giving the candle may say in these, or similar, words: "By your profession, you are the light of Christ in the world. Your light must shine before all so that they may see goodness in your acts, and give praise to your heavenly Father."

Ring. Where it is also customary to present the newly-professed with a Franciscan ring (featuring the same symbol as our pendant; this is something that the candidates themselves choose to receive or not and is in addition to our habit), the one giving the ring may say in these, or similar, words: "You have been made a living member of the Church in Baptism; you have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Through this special covenant of union, may you be a faithful witness and instrument of her mission among all people."

When the presentations are finished, all the professed members present come forward to congratulate each newly-professed with an appropriate sign of peace and goodwill. (Usually, this is lots of hugging.) Meanwhile, a suitable hymn may be sung, and the rite concludes with the General Intercessions.

Additional Information

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7 Comments:

Blogger Tausign said...

Congrats Lisa!

I like the part of going to the adoration chapel to celebrate. To me, the heart of the matter has always been in the promise to 'Life the gospel of our Lord Jesus according to the Rule'.

I recently attended a Regional Chapter Meeting that was also a visitation from our National Minister and National Spiritual Assistant. The NSA who is TOR talked about reviewing an article of his rule each and every day. I often read, pray, and reflect on the Rule. And in addition, going from 'gospel to life and life to the gospel' sets such a firm foundation. Something from the gospel each day if possible, either from mass reading, spiritual reading in general or LOTH, or reading the bible itself - we need a daily dose.

I'll remember your anniversary in evening prayers tonight. I celebrated 20 years last November. Peace and all good.

08 May, 2008 16:05  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Congratulations on your Profession Anniversary! I am coming up on 7 years this October.

08 May, 2008 17:30  
Blogger Steph AKA Angel said...

Congratulations on your anniversary. Thank you for sharing the process of joining the order. I had no idea what all went into it, so it was enlightening. I encounter so many students in religious communities at my grad school, so I feel like I know more about their experience now. :)

09 May, 2008 19:03  
Blogger Thom said...

Thanks for this. I can't wait for my profession.

Pax.

10 May, 2008 10:38  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Congrats. I'm currently discerning.

12 August, 2008 22:20  
Blogger Linda said...

I would like to know how binding your "promise" to live the gospel is?
Linda

19 April, 2010 15:13  
Blogger Lisa, sfo said...

@Linda: "Profession is the solemn ecclesial act by which the candidate, remembering the call received from Christ, renews the baptismal promises and publicly affirms his or her personal commitment to live the Gospel in the world according to the example of Francis and following the Rule of the SFO. Profession incorporates the candidate into the Order and is by its nature a perpetual commitment." (SFO General Constitutions, Article 42:1-2)

19 April, 2010 22:31  

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