Living only on God's love: Holy Mass for the Solemn Profession of Brother Sergio Galdi and Brother Sergey Loktionov | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Living only on God's love: Holy Mass for the Solemn Profession of Brother Sergio Galdi and Brother Sergey Loktionov

Jerusalem, Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, October 6, 2011

A moving and affectionate atmosphere surrounded the community of friends gathered around Brother Sergio Galdi and Brother Sergey Loktionov on the morning of October 6, when they celebrated their solemn profession in the Order of Friars Minor, held in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. A very large crowd gathered around the anastasis, in front of the edicule of the Holy Sepulchre, to take part in the ceremony and celebrate with the two young friars, their hearts filled with the awareness that something great and deep was about to take place. Brother Sergio and Brother Sergey, in their simple Franciscan habit and carrying the Rule of the Friars Minor, opened the long procession of brothers and priests who had come here for the occasion. Happy and thrilled, close to everyone yet concentrated in their hearts on their own thoughts, they stood in the centre of the assembly, near the entrance to the Sepulchre. The Holy Mass was presided by the Custos, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, with next to him as con celebrants, Father Artemio Vitores, the Custodial Vicar, and Father Noel Muscat, Discreet of the Holy Land. The family of Brother Sergio, the friends of Brother Sergey, religious from many congregations, a group of Hebrew-speaking Catholics from Jerusalem, Father David Neuhaus, Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate for this community, some faithful of the local Arabic-speaking Christian community and other friends and volunteers of the Custody took part in the solemnity and joy of this moment with great intensity.

After the proclamation of the Gospel, the two candidates, standing before the Custos and the assembly, asked to make Solemn Profession and be accepted permanently into the Franciscan brotherhood, undertaking to diligently follow its Rule. In his homily, Father Pizzaballa presented the essence of religious life, starting from the three elements that characterized this particular event: the Word, in which the vocations of Samuel (1Samuel 3,1-10) and of the rich young man (Mark 10,17-22) are recalled; the place, i.e., the Holy Sepulchre, which is also full of invaluable meanings in the event of the Solemn Profession of Brother Sergio and Brother Sergey. At the service of the priest Eli in the temple, the young Samuel suddenly hears the Lord coming into his life, calling him insistently, מתייצב he places himself next to him, making him enter the intimacy of His friendship and making him His prophet, who listens and identifies completely with the Word. In the Gospel the meeting is not only with a God who is near but with His Word incarnate, with Jesus. The rich young man, who respects and observes the Law, also deeply wishes to enter into relation with God, but Jesus tells him that he still lacks something, namely the capacity to look at the Lord, who “loved him” and to trust him completely, to entrust his whole life to Him, to embrace poverty and live only on the great love of God, as St. Francis did. The reality of the empty tomb and that of the resurrection of Christ definitively opens up to this dynamic of life: Jesus himself passed through death and then rose, becoming close to man in an absolute fashion, teaching him to live, giving what he lacked to conquer the fullness of life, namely trust in His resurrection, the intimacy of His friendship and communion in His risen life. The choice of a consecrated life thus becomes the capacity to accept the grace of being poor, the privilege of poverty, in all the dimensions of one’s existence, in order to fully enter into the relationship with God and experience His richness. With the profession of vows, poverty concretely enters all spheres of consecrated life, including through chastity, which means giving God the deepest need that we have in ourselves, that of loving and being loved, with the confidence that only He and nobody else will inhabit this need and, through obedience, which means shedding one’s self-sufficiency and autonomy to recognize that man is gratified fully only in a relationship in which he receives life, a risen life, a life enveloped by the mystery of the mercy of Christ.

After having been questioned by the Custos on their wish to pronounce Solemn Profession, Brother Sergio and Brother Sergey prostrated themselves before the edicule of the Holy Sepulchre, while the assembly intoned the litany that invokes the intercession of the community of the Saints of the Seraphic Order and of all the Saints for them. The Custos then prayed that they be protected and supported by the Holy Spirit. At this point, coming before the Custos individually and placing their hands in the hands of the latter, each of the two young friars made his Solemn Profession. After having signed the document of the Vows, going to the altar above the empty tomb, the two newly-professed friars received the blessing and consecration of the Custos, who asked God to pour the Holy Spirit into them, following the example of St. Francis, poor, humble and a lover of the Cross, “so that they observe what they have promised today, for your joyful gift, with holy diligence until death”.

After exchanging the sign of peace with the Custos and with their brothers, Brother Sergio and Brother Sergey are now fully welcomed into the Franciscan family. In the exchange of the sign of peace with their families and friends, it is the entire community of the Church that welcomes these sons, called to make their best contribution to the life of the Church and the highest witness of the Gospel, helping to promote the salvation of the world.

The final moment of the Mass was embellished by a refined performance on the organ by Father Armando Pierucci, director of the Magnificat Institute, the school of music of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, accompanied on the flute by the British musician Stella Turner. After having wished the two newly-professed friars well and congratulated them, all those who attended the ceremony were invited to a very enjoyable breakfast together in the wonderful setting of the terrace of the Holy Sepulchre.

Our wish is that Brother Sergio and Brother Sergey can truly experience the intensity of the friendship of God and can return, with all their being, to what is essential and lasting, offering God and also sharing with Him all the concrete aspects of their lives and witnessing everywhere the salvific love of the Father, in the light of the universal communion in charity. Martin Buber writes: “In the relation to God, unconditional exclusiveness and unconditional inclusiveness are one. For those who enter into the absolute relationship, nothing particular retains any importance – neither things nor beings, neither earth nor heaven, but everything is included in the relationship. For entering into the pure relationship does not involve ignoring everything but seeing everything in the Thou; it does not involve renouncing the world but placing it upon its proper ground. Looking away from the world is no help towards God; staring at the world is no help either; but whoever beholds the world in him, stands in his presence… leaving out nothing, leaving nothing behind, to comprehend all – all the world – in comprehending the Thou, giving the world its due and truth, to have nothing besides God but to grasp everything in him, that is the perfect relationship. Whoever goes forth to his Thou with his whole being and carries to it all the being of the world, finds him whom one cannot seek.”

By Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Marie-Armelle Beaulieu