Solemn professions: “Conquered by the Lord”

Saturday 5th October was a day of celebration for the community of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) of the Holy Land: Fr. Ernesto, Fr. George, Fr. Giuseppe and Fr. Paulo,after the stages of their initial formation, postulancy, novitiate, and temporary profession, concluded their path of discernment, making their solemn profession, saying their “yes” forever to the Lord in the fraternity of the Friars Minor.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, who presided the Celebration of the Eucharist, in his comment on the Gospel, underlined the centrality of being conquered by God expressed by the readings chosen, in particular, the story of the Rich Young Man. “This could sound like military language,” commented the Custos, “but it is the language of Love, which reveals to us how underlying every response there is the experience of having been conquered or – as Jeremiah says – seduced by Christ.”

Fr. Patton then spoke of the need that the vows that are professed have a real correspondence in the daily life of each one of us: obedience, owning nothing and chastity; having these three vows in mind helps the religious to be for God body and soul, with the totality and wholeness of their person. “There is a love that fills us with hope, with joy, with a vision of eternity and it is our love for Christ, and there is another love that weighs us down and fills us with sadness and it is love for the world,” commented the Custos.

The emotion at the various moments that characterized the celebration could be clearly seen on the faces of relatives and friends present. Each professed friar read the profession in the hands of the Custos of the Holy Land in their own language and, shortly before, lying on the ground, they had listened to the assembly recite the litanies to ask for the intercession of the Franciscan saints and of the whole Church. The joy of the friars who welcomed the new solemn professed into the fraternity was expressed with a warm embrace at the end of the central moment of the celebration, which was also underlined by general applause.

"I think that the solemn profession puts into effect and reinforces the commitment that I had already felt very as very strong on the day of vestition,” said Fr. Paulo when the celebration was over. "That ‘yes’, that I had already said, is put into effect today more strongly, for my whole life, giving myself to the fraternity of the Holy Land.”

“The solemn profession,” commented Fr. Giuseppe "offers me the chance to start my constant search for God all over again. In these eight years of probation amidst the Franciscans, I have experimented with the difference between monastic stability and the Franciscan wandering life. I have experienced that God reveals one of his new names and aspects to you in every place and if you accept getting to know Him better and better, it makes unity in your life."

Giovanni Malaspina