As He is in the light . . .


RAUL & TASHAThe 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 WP_20141201_004which 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 francis and clarewhat 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 WP_20140819_035that 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.

Miraculous Medal II

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 francis and leorandom 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 cold_thermometeryear 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 JPII W EUCHARISTopening 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.  blessing of st francisAt 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.” 

“Walk in my presence . . . ,” Brother begins his journey


The journey of a consecrated brother in the Franciscans of Life has several steps.  At the beginning they seem to move very quickly and then they slowly settle down.  That’s because the early steps are short.  As the child learns to walk, he takes wider steps.

Let’s follow the journey of Br. Raul Carmine Carmarca Torres.  It began at Baptism when his parents and godparents promised to raise him in the Catholic faith and he was washed clean of Original Sin by the waters of Baptism and initiated into the Catholic Church.  He would later make his First Holy Communion and then be confirmed, concluding his initiation into the faith.

But God does not stop working with us on the day of our Confirmation.  On that day, He is finished with the initial part of the process.  Then began the next step.  Like any other man, Raul had to find his place in the Church.  After a few years involved in campus ministry and debating Traditionalist points on Catholic Answers Forums, he met the Franciscans of Life.  This dialogue/debate between Raul and Br. Jay went from 2012 to the September 2013.  It was almost one year.

Raul Carmine CamarcaBr. Jay invited Raul to attend a workshop on the Church’s teachings on the life issues with an introduction to Project Joseph.

This is the young man who entered the door on June 14, 2013 at 9:00 AM.  He was very friendly, but reserved and very guarded.  Almost wondering, “What’s a nice boy like me doing in a place like this?”

That didn’t last very long.  Raul  can’t keep quiet more thanBr. Chris and Raul 20 minutes at a time and remaining distant is against his nature.  This is a man who is naturally oriented toward others.  This became obvious very quickly, especially as he and Brother Christopher Thomas enjoyed some coffee and donut.

But God was not finished.  Later, Brother Jay would ask Raul to visit a family meeting with the Franciscans of Life.  When the meeting ended, he was excited and happy, like a kid who has just been told that he got an A on a math exam.  He continued to attend the family meetings.WP_20140825_066

On August 23, 2014, Brother Jay decided to risk it and invited Raul to enter the aspirancy program.  Brother still had reservations.  But he put it all in the hands of the Immaculate.   On the 24th of August, Raul accepted the invitation and was received as an aspirant on August 25, 2014.

The aspirants receive a white shirt and a Tau pin that they wear on their collar

WP_20140825_081On October 27, 2014, Brother Jay found himself at prayer in front of the Immaculate.  As usual, he prayed for all of his brothers, secular and consecrated; aspirants, postulants, novices and professed.  He was very tired and his eyes started to close.  As if in  a state between asleep and awake he clearly saw Raul’s face.

“Is that whom you want me to call for you,” Brother Jay asked the Immaculate.  “But Mother, there are some complications, because he’s a doctoral student and I don’t yet know his family,” Brother Jay told the Immaculate.  “Please give me a sign that I’m understanding you correctly.”

Suddenly, the sleepiness vanished and Brother Jay started to laugh.  He was not sure what was going to happen next, but he was sure of one thing.  He had a message to deliver for the Immaculate.  It didn’t make a difference whether Raul believed it or not.  Brother never promised the Immaculate and she never demanded that Raul would believe the message.  He was to deliver the invitation to enter the Franciscans of Life.  The  Immaculate had already placed a strategy in Brother Jay’s mind how Raul would be a postulant and finish his degree.  On October 29, 2014, Brother Jay delivered the message and the plan that the Immaculate had put into his mind.  In less than 24 hours, Raul accepted the invitation.

After consulting with the brothers, the date was set.  Raul would be invested in the seraphic robe on November 17, 2014 the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, whose rule the Franciscans of Life follow.  Brothers have to be invested in the name they received at baptism, when they become novices, a new name is assigned to them.  That evening, Raul became Brother Raul Carmine Carmarca Torres, Student Brother, in the FFV.  Assisting in the investiture was Mrs. Angela Torres, Raul’s mother and Brother Christopher Thomas, whom Raul had chosen as his sponsor and witness..

The habit and all the pieces come in a plastic bag.  Brother Chris was holding the bag, handing Mrs. Torres one piece at a time.  When he handed her the Seraphic Tunic she said, “Que emoción,” which Spanish means “I’m 009so moved.”  

There is no such thing as an investiture without comic relief.  We had to take off Raul’s shirt to throw the tunic over his head.  But Raul just stood there as his mother and one of us fiddled with the tiny buttons on his shirt.  Finally, Brother Jay said, “Oh for goodness sake.  You can help us, you know.”  The buttons were tiny.

But all worked out well.  At the end of the investiture, Brother Raul, his mother, the brothers and some of his friends who attended took pictures and offered Brother their best wishes.

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One thing that the new postulant has to be able to do, besides dress himself is to explain each piece of his habit.  The grey was chosen because it was the original color worn by St. Francis and the early brothers.  The tunic stops at midcalf, because that how many Italian peasants wore them in the 13th century.  The cowl (hood) was worn for warmth and the scapular of Our  Lady we have added over the years in honor of the Immaculate who appeared to St. Simon Stock wearing the clothes of a peasant woman, undyed brown wool for her tunic and apron (scapular) and undyed white wool for the mantle.

The postulant’s habit is held together by a leather belt as a reminder that St. Francis also started his journey wearing a leather belt, before he gave it up for a piece of rope.  The cord is received when one enters the novitiate.

Over the heart, every Franciscan of Life wears the Tau just as St. Francis drew it on his habit when he first learned of its meaning.  Postulants and novices wear a wooden Tau, while professed wear a bronze Tau.  The red cord that holds the Tau in place reminds us of the Passion of Christ to which we have a special devotion.  Finally, there are things to do around the house.  This postulant’s first assignment was to learn how to cook.

Each step is recorded in our family’s chronicles and witnessed by two people other than the superior.  Raul had chosen Brother Chris as one of his witnesses, Brother Jay chose Raul’s mother to be her son’s second witness, something that does not happen too often. The journey of a new Franciscan of Life only begins here.  There is still much to learn and many steps to be walked.  There is a one year novitiate and at least three years of temporary vows.

You too can walk this path.  Think about it.014

Enjoy the pictures.

Let's see if the oven is ready.

Let’s see if the oven is ready.

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Making Mom’s sauce — “Where is she when I need her?”

Figuring out how to cook a precooked lasagna

Figuring out how to cook a precooked lasagna

Getting the lasgna ready for the oven.

Getting the lasgna ready for the oven.