During the solemnly sung morning lauds, on Sunday 8th September 2019, six postulants of the Custody of the Holy land wore their trial robes in the convent of Montefalco, as a sign of their entry into the year of the Novitiate.
The Custos, Fr. Francesco Patton, gave a short sermon, after which two significant pages were read: the first, the episode of the young rich man invited by Jesus to sell everything to follow him (Mark 10,17-31), the second, from the Franciscan sources, the vision that Francis of Assisi had at the start of the Order, where people of every language and culture rush to receive the robe of the holy religion (i.e. of the nascent Order of Friars Minor, FF 364).
The Custos started in his consideration from a well-known Italian proverb: “The habit does not make the monk,” to recall that it is not enough to change clothes and take on religious ones to become new men. He then recalled some episodes from the life of St Francis in which the Seraphic Father had changed clothes: one of the most significant, when the young Francis was in Rome and for one day exchanged his clothes with those of a poor beggar, and the more famous episode of when Francis undressed in front of the Bishop of Assisi and he returned everything to his father. The second above all, for the permanent turning-point that it marked in Francis’s life, can be assimilated to the gesture of the six postulants of the Custody of the Holy Land. Receiving the Franciscan habit means setting off on a path of continuous conversion, the aim of which is to wear Christ, and not only fabrics different from those that were usually worn. The varied origin of the six new novices (Israel, Ghana, Honduras, Iraq, Mexico and Nigeria) is a fine sign of that universality of the Custody of the Holy Land, which mirrors the catholicity of the Church.
The six young men who received the trial robes were visibly moved by the celebration that was taking place, and a year of Novitiate in the Franciscan convent of La Verna, which they will reach on 13th September, now awaits them. The whole Fraternity of the Custody accompanies them with their prayers so that, following the example of the Seraphic Father, they can be conformed in everything to Jesus Christ, loved more than anything else, in full conformity with his Easter of death and resurrection.