The Franciscans of Life have had an exciting week. It all began with Brother Raul Camarca arriving at the mother house on Sunday and Brother Leo Balanger on Monday. Both are in different stages of formation, but in formation nonetheless. It is exciting to watch our little family grow. We began with two brothers, of which only one has persevered. But today there are many more of us. With the grace of God, more will follow.
Brother Jay attended mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Mission Chapel Sts. Francis and Clare, the patriarch and matriarch of the Franciscan family. Contrary to what some extreme Traditionalist bloggers are saying about Franciscans, the people at the mission were very happy to see two Franciscans in the congregation. They were very gracious and welcoming. Some thanked Father Superior for allow the brothers to attend the TLM.
We don’t attend mass in the extraordinary form as the norm. Our constitutions are very clear,
That which is extraordinary cannot be imposed on the brothers, nor may the brothers choose to make it the norm. The brothers are bound to think with the Church. As long as this form is extraordinary, the brothers shall make use of it as such.
However, the constitution is very clear that there is no prohibition on the brothers attending the mass in the old form, as long as every brother in the house agrees to attend. Liturgy is central to the fraternal life. On Sunday, the Lord gifted us with a very nice liturgy and many new friends. I think that we will be going back to visit Saints Francis and Clare Mission, especially because we have brothers who are attached to the Latin Mass Community and to the TLM. Currently, the plan is to attend once a month. Plans are never written in stone. It can be more or less frequently in the future. Man proposes and God disposes.
On Monday night, the secular and the regular brothers gathered at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Pembroke Pines for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception where we celebrated a beautiful mass in the Ordinary Form. At the end of mass, Rev. Giovanni Peña, Vicar at St. Maxx, blessed the Miraculous Medals and the brothers, after Brother Jay had led them in the consecration to the Immaculate, as prescribed by St. Maximilian Kolbe.
It was a beautiful event. There were professed brothers present, novices, postulants and aspirants. It was just absolutely awesome to have our entire family consecrated to the Immaculate at the same time. I think that the most beautiful part of it, along with the consecration to the Immaculate, is the fact that all of our brothers are friends. We’re not just a group of random individuals who came together to start a new branch of the Franciscan family. I prefer to believe that we are a family that St. Francis has adopted and presented to the Immaculate for her care and protection.
Tuesday morning, Brother Jay awoke with a heck of a cold. His head felt as if it were the size of a melon. Staying awake was very difficult. Even being sick was a beautiful experience. The brothers took very good care of their father superior. They brought him breakfast in bed. While everyone went about his business, Brother Leo (just like the original) sat with the superior making him tea and bringing him toast with cheese and honey. It was awesome.
Wednesday night was a very interesting night. If our detachment from material things was ever put to the test, it was Wednesday. Two brothers went to the local perpetual adoration chapel just a few blocks from the mother house. Before they left their car, a rather loud noise was heard. Brother Jay thought that one of those pesky critters had knocked off another coconut from an adjacent palm tree and that we had been hit. Brother Raul thought that we had been shot at. He lifted himself up to see. At that point, Brother Jay asked him what he was looking for and Brother Raul explained, to which Brother Jay responded, “When someone is shooting at you, you don’t get up to check out who it is. You duck, not stand.” There were no snipers to be seen. However, the rear glass of the car came crashing down into a million pieces of what can be falsely sold as diamonds. I had never seen glass in such small pieces. Of course, it was the coldest night of the year in South Florida, with temperatures in the 40s.
To us, 40 degrees is a big deal. Realizing that we had no protection from the cold, Brother Jay proceeded to have a word with the Lord. “Did you have to pick the coldest night of the year? No wonder you don’t have many friends.”
But that didn’t stop the adorers. They left the car parked, with a big opening in the back and went into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel that remains open 24/7. There they spent a good 45 minutes with His Majesty.
This is also finals week at the local universities. We have a few brothers who are students. This is a stressful week for them. You would have never known it. They were so involved with their brothers, with the Lord and His Blessed Mother that they had everything in order on time. They prayed. They talked, played, sang songs and played games for our Immaculate Mother. We were able to ask her for the gift of inner peace and silence, rather than ask her for a specific grade. At the end of the day, one’s degree does not get us past the front door in heaven. What will get us through will be the love that we have shown to Christ, His mother and to all of those around us, especially under stress. It was beautiful to hear one brother say to another, “Please be patient with me. I’m in exam week,” and the other brother responding. “Just tell me what to do.”
One of the brothers is spending Thursday and Friday night with his biological family. Brother Jay drove him into the city, but not in the car with the broken rear glass. We had to rent another vehicle. By evening time, there were texts flying around between the brothers asking for prayers for sick relatives and friends, telling each other how much they appreciated being together on Monday evening and telling each other how much they miss the other. It all reminds me of St. John who said,
“if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another.”