As we prepare for Christmas Day, many small, but wonderful things are happening in our community. Probably the most exciting is the fact that we held a chapter and Brother Bernardo D’Carmine’s request to make vows as a regular brother was accepted by the chapter and ratified by the superior. A regular brother is one who makes vows, lives a celibate life in community and follows a monastic schedule during the day. An extern brother is one who makes a solemn promise to observe the rule and constitutions. However, he remains in the world This can be a diocesan deacon or priest, a married layman or a single man who is hoping to marry.
Brother Bernardo will profess vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and free service to the Gospel of Life on January 18, 2016, just one month away. The profession will take place at 7:45PM in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Maximilian Kolbe Church. Rev. Mr. Scott Joiner will preside over the solemn vesper service and Father Superior will receive Brother Bernardo’s vows.
I regret that I cannot extend an open invitation. Profession of temporary vows usually takes place in a private setting with the immediate family, the brothers and two friends of the newly professed.
Some of you may be curious as to what happens at this ceremony. There are several parts. Let me walk you through them.
One: After the opening of solemn evening prayer, the superior calls up the candidate and asks him what he wants, to which the novice responds that he wishes to consecrate his life to Christ, the Immaculate and to the Church.
Two: The Liturgy of the Hours continues as usual. If it’s not a required feast day, the brothers pray the Office of the Passion composed by Saint Francis and approved by the Church for public use.
Three: After the psalms there are two readings, one from an epistle and one from the Gospel.
Four: The superior again invites the novice to come up to the sanctuary and proceeds to interrogate him on his faith. This is extremely important, because Francis clearly said that no one may be admitted to the fraternity unless he is truly Catholic. The novice must proclaim that he believes and obeys without question, everything that the Church teaches.
Five: The novice now returns to his seat and the cleric proceeds to deliver the homily.
Six: After the homily, the novice quietly walks up to the superior who is seated on a special chair in the sanctuary and says, “Father, please pray that I may do the will of God.” He then prostrates on the floor while the other brothers sing the litany of the Franciscan saints.
Seven: Having finished the litany, the novice kneels with hands in the superior’s hand. The superior asks him, “Are you firmly resolved to live the Gospel walking in the footsteps of St. Francis under the protection of the Immaculate.”
The novice answers in the affirmative and the superior encourages him to profess his vows.
The novice says:
I, Brother N, vow and promise to almightly God, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, our holy father Saint Francis and to you Father, to observe, for three years, the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance and the constitutions of this society, living in obedience, without property, in celibate chastity and I also vow to freely proclaim the Gospel of Life. May God be my judge.
The superior responds:
May the Holy Spirit, who has begun this work in you bring it to fruition and may the Immaculate Mother of God lead you into the presence of her divine son.
The newly professed brother stands and the superior removes his wooden Tau cross and replaces it with a brass Tau cross. He turns toward the congregation and recites the Magnificat; “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord . . . . “
The brother then proceeds to the altar where he will sign the profession book and his signature is witnessed by one of his parents, two brothers and the superior. He then goes to the front of the sanctuary where he will receive the embrace of peace from those gathered for the ceremony.
Eight: Now the Liturgy of the Hours continues as usual. Just before the final blessing, the superior says a few words to the brother and those in the congregation.
Because Franciscans of Life is a private association of the faithful, with the blessing of the Archbishop of Miami, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, these vows are considered private vows. We pray for more vocations so that when we have the required number of brothers, the Church may elevate us to a public association of the faithful and eventually to a congregation. So, please pray with us for more vocations.
We want to congratulate Brother and tell everyone how proud we are of him. Brother has distinguished himself in the quest for virtue, life of prayer, love for his brothers and service to the voiceless. He gives talks, organizes educational events on the Right to Be Born, and collects other people’s treasures to sell at a flea market to help support us and our work. He also teachers religious education and is founding a group of Young Franciscans for Life with college students. Brother is also a full-time graduate student and a researcher at a leading university.
From postulant to novice, soon to be professed
Let us remain united in prayer as we proceed toward Christmas and let keep Brother in prayer as he completes his last month of novitiate.