The Surpassing Invisible Beauty of Truth

When we observe works of art, in particular sacred art, we are necessarily brought out of ourselves into a new perspective.


Yet we often hear the claim that modern art is disconnected from beauty and, by extension, is unable to communicate the beauty of holiness. Pope Benedict XVI explained this as follows:

“We are experiencing not just a crisis of sacred art, but a crisis of art in general of unprecedented proportions. It is a symptom of the crisis of man’s very existence. The immense growth in man’s mastery of the material world has left him blind to the question of life’s meaning that transcend the material world.”


Modern man defies the transcendent

Unfortunately, many have ran with similar statements too quickly and too far, arriving to claim that modern art is “ugly” and that modern sacred art is nothing but “secular (profane) artworks embedded in sacred spaces”.

Consequences of iconoclastic mindset

The iconoclastic mindset

Others, connecting many more dots than what prudence dictates, have claimed that modern art is ugly because modern souls belong to a global society falling into apostasy. At the extreme end of the spectrum we find the histrionic-schismatic mindset of those who claim that “the ugly images found in Novus Ordo churches are the final offense of the devil, an outrage that sums up all lesser offenses because it represents his goal of obliterating the image of the holy ones in the Church”.

Sadly, the proponents of these and similar statements are indeed upholding a tradition, but not the tradition of Catholic sacred art. They are, in a sense, the modern version of the ones who raised up their scandalized voices to the work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. Their claim? Michelangelo’s work was too modern.

Paul Barolsky, a  specialist in Italian Renaissance art, explains that contemporary critics of “the first modern artist” accused the Last Judgment of being disconnected from the norms of classical form and violating religious decorum.


However, “The images are not photographs…their whole point is to lead us beyond what can be apprehended at the merely material level to awaken new senses in us, and to teach us a new kind of seeing, which perceives the Invisible in the visible. The sacredness of the image consists precisely in the fact that it comes from an interior vision and thus leads us to such an interior vision. It must be a fruit of contemplation. Art is always a gift. Inspiration is not something one can choose for oneself. It has to be received. Before all things, it requires the gift of a new kind of seeing”.

Many modern art forms, even within sacred art, accomplish this wonderfully even though they may depart from more traditional artistic styles. They are not “modernist”, nor do they belong to that school that religious illustrator Matthew Alderman has called “the Other Modern”.

The Franciscans of Life are patronizing the work of a local artist whom we believe is a representative of the above, and we will feature his artwork for sale on a dedicated section of our website The proceeds will go towards the education of our student brothers. This young artist specializes in concept illustration, book covers, and fictional fantasy. He has displayed remarkable talent in the production of sacred art using traditional and digital mediums.

Artwork in the community room at our mother house.

Artwork in the community room at our mother house.

St. John Paul II reminds us that modern artists are, just like artists of all ages, men passionately dedicated to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty, admiring the work of their inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation. While acknowledging that in the modern era a new kind of humanism marked by the absence of and opposition to God has gradually asserted itself, the Church has not ceased to nurture great appreciation for the value of art, even beyond its typical religious expressions…for even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice to the universal desire for redemption.



The pontiff reaffirms that just as the Church needs art to make perceptible and attractive the world of the invisible without emptying the message itself of its transcendent value and its aura of mystery, art also needs the Church for the great source of inspiration offered by the religious theme. This partnership has been a source of mutual spiritual enrichment and has led to a greater understanding of man, and to an opening of the human soul to the sense of the eternal.

Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si, reminds us that we must be able to look even beyond the traditional means of the craft:


Corpus Christi

“Technoscience, when well directed, can also produce art and enable men…to leap into the world of beauty. Valuable works of art no make use of new technologies. So, in the beauty intended by the one who uses new technical instruments and in the contemplation of such beauty, a quantum leap occurs, resulting in a fulfillment which is uniquely human.”

It is therefore our hope that we will look at all expressions of modern art, and particularly at sacred art, with a renewed understanding of man’s quest for the beyond. There is much to be appreciated, as long as we are capable of casting aside prejudices and overly zealous attitudes.

Art indeed “goes beyond the search of the necessities of life…it expresses practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight, [and] sacred art is true and beautiful when it evokes and glorifies ….the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love”.

These words come from a relatively recent book, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but reflect a wisdom that is timeless. We find it echoed by the same Michelangelo, who affirmed that “every beauty which is seen here by persons resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come”.


St Joseph and Christ in the Workshop


Video: A Year with the Franciscans of Life

Published in: on April 11, 2016 at 11:48 PM  Leave a Comment  

A question . . .

handoutClick to enlarge

Celibacy: a Jewel of Great Price

The question has often been raised by parents and friends. “Why would a ‘normal’ healtFrancis_and_Pietro_Bernardonehy man choose celibacy and chastity over a woman?” Another popular question, “How can you live without a woman?”
There are people who believe that such men do harm to themselves and eventually to others by engaging in gay sex or pedophilia. Nothing can be farther from the truth. There are married men who engage in both behaviors. Neither promiscuity nor marriage are “cures” for gay sex or pedophilia. In fact, these two behaviors do not belong in the same sentence, because they are not related.

To understand celibate chastity one has to understand love, marriage, and covenant. The man who chooses a celibate chaste life is not running away from marriage, love, and commitment. He is turning to something that he has found, that being the jewel of great price. He is overwhelmed by the love of God.

HeFrancis_leper can love another person and be intimate. However, when he experiences the love of God, he is filled with peace, interior silence, joy, and courage that he has never experienced. His life is different and he wants more. He cannot turn back to the love and intimacy of human romance, not because human romance is bad, but because he has found something even better than good. He has found Him who is the perfect lover: God.

When he compares his current state with his previous life, he discovers new things about himself. The first thing he discovers is that he has a courage that he never knew he had. He can stand up to those who try to control him. He is no longer afraid of bullies. And he makes choices and takes risks that he never took before.
Secondly, he finds that those romantic feelings he once had were truly beautiful and profound shadows of what consecrated life would later offer. Those experiences foreshadowed his romance with God.

Francis_blessingHow does he know this? He no longer question himself or his relationship. He is truly loved by God and he freely returns that love. He no longer wonders whether his beloved will change his mind. His relationship is no longer about liking what he feels or what the other feels for him.

His relationship with God is dynamic, because it is about surprises. God surprises him by filling his time, so that time seems to stand still God also surprises him when he looks back on his life and sees how much he has grown and how far he has moved from where he was.

Former relationships are now the old school where he learned the joys and sorrows of love. Now he feels ready and willing to live with the joys and tears that are part of loving God and being intimately loved by Him. Those old relationships were a training ground for what was to come.

One does not choose chastity and celibacy because he failed at romance, though it may have felt that way in the past. In hindsight, we realize that the past taught us that we could experience the joys and tears of love and continue loving and giving ourselves by the grace of the Beloved with whom we finally settle down.


Disagreement ≠ Aggression

The Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form, Gregorian chant, the Holy Rosary, Benediction and Adoration, and many other devotions has been part of our Catholic tradition for centuries.  They should be allowed to live, encouraged and be made available when possible.  These are part of our Catholic patrimony, just as is the Mass of St. John Chrysostom, the Ambrosian Rite, the Maronite Rite and the Ordinary Form of the mass.   At some point in history, all of these were in their embryonic state.  As time passed, the traditions became more ingrained in the Catholic community and the rites and customs became more polished.  In other words, none of the older forms and rites was born as we know them today.  Truth and mystery don’t change, but structure and order do.  It is foolhardy to believe that the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the change in styles in how the papacy operates and the birth of newer devotions should be perfect and without need for adjustment here and there.

Imagine what would have happened if Pope St. Pius V had decided to throw out the different rites and forms of the mass of his time.  But he didn’t choose to do that.  On the contrary, he chose to take what was the best of the tradition, polish that which could be polished and jettison that which did not reflect the faith of the Church and the true nature of God.  All of this took time and painstaking labor.  Rumor has it that while St.  Pius V was in the process of consolidating the Tridentine form of the mass that we often refer to as the TLM or the Extraordinary Form (EF), he was not popular with everyone.  He faced some resistance.  Very often, those who resisted him sinned not because they disagreed with the reforms and ideas of St. Pius.  Their sin was worse.  It was the sin of detraction.  They didn’t simply disagree with Pope Pius; they tried to make him look like a fool.

Unfortunately the are elements in the Traditionalist Movement that don’t simply disagree with the Holy Father’s style, his projects, his manner of proceeding or even his way of life.  There are elements in the Movement that have taken it upon themselves to destroy a good man’s reputation.  If one reads some of the Traditionalist sites, one find sentences such as these.

On the Pope’s meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow

“Pope Francis needed the Moscow Patriarch to force him to say some obvious things”

 “An Orthodox Patriarch was needed to make the Church speak up on the family, Christian roots, abortion, and the persecution of Christians…, to make us Catholics say that leaves are green or that two plus two makes four.”

Reaction to the commissioning of the the Missionaries of Mercy by Pope Francis

“Missionaries of Mercy….Another Round of Stupidity from His Humbleness”

“The Missionaries of Mercy, Coming Soon to a Theater Near You”

 “Pope Francis is setting in motion an action which will result in a predictable reaction and he is using his masterful knowledge of psychology to manipulate poor simple minds who are convinced that the Pope is doing the world a favor.”

 On the Holy Father’s vision for the Church and his “ulterior” motives

“For Pope Bergoglio, the papacy is a vehicle for achieving what he dreams, what he wants, what he prefers, as opposed to what has been handed down to him for safekeeping. He intends to leave his personal stamp on the Church in a manner he hopes will be irreversible,”

On the Holy Father’s dignity

 “Then, under a cloud of mystery and bafflement, came Jorge Cardinal Mario Bergoglio . . . and this is what we saw: Francis on [the] logia”

 “It was a man dressed as a simple bishop, whose first words were a thudding banality: “Brothers and sisters, good evening!” A bishop dressed in white, waving to the crowd and telling them, strangely, that he had been elected “Bishop of Rome” for “the evangelization of this beautiful city,” for which he pointedly requested “the prayer of the people for their Bishop.” He was denuded of the traditional symbols of papal authority, later donning the papal stole only long enough to bestow the Apostolic Benediction, promptly removing it once the words were uttered. Even his dull metal pectoral cross was the same one he had worn in Buenos Aires.”

 “Bergoglio is such a loose cannon he’s careered right through the deck and smashed through the hull. A (bleep) from a (bleepin’) country.”

 “But Francis does not think like a Catholic. . . . his pronouncements appear so dated as to be almost deranged”


This not the way that a virtuous man disagrees with another man; the key to healthy disagreement is respect for the dignity and position of the other person.  These comments not only show a lack of respect for the Vicar of Christ, but they incite anger and even hatred.  These are not statements of disagreement.  These statements sound like deliberate attempts to disparage the reputation of none other than the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

One can place the points of disagreement on the table and proceed to present one’s objections to each point, without bringing down the person.  Our holy father St. Francis never allowed the brothers to speak against authority.  But he did allow them to disagree with anything they felt was dangerous to the soul.  He set the example for Christian debate.

I feel sad having to warn our brothers and our friends to be careful of the evil mindset that very often invades extremes, be they extreme liberalism or extreme conservatism.  There is nothing wrong with the traditional elements of our faith.  There is nothing wrong in preserving and making use of the richness of these elements, because they move thee soul closer to God.

Beware of the poisonous talk and accusations that often hide underneath the shroud of righteousness.  Do not be sucked in to such way of thinking, be it from the right or from the left.  Poison is poison, no matter what flavor it comes in.  Anything that detracts from the dignity of another person, calls into question his integrity without proof, and does damage to the reputation of one who is doing good for so many is evil.  Unfortunately, those who are posting these and similar comments all over the Internet do not realize that they are cooperating with evil, rather than defending the holy, which is what they really want to do.

There is nothing to prohibit the Franciscans of Life from participating in activities and services within the Traditionalist community.  These things are part of our Catholic heritage and they serve as channels of grace.  Franciscans of Life are never to participate in detraction of any kind and anyone, especially the Vicar of Jesus Christ, nor are they to associate with those who engage in such evil behavior.  They may disagree and engage in intellectual debates about points of disagreement, always speaking of and treating the person with the opposing point of view as a son or daughter of God and our brother whom we are sent to serve, not to judge.



What happens to a man who enters the Franciscans of Life?

To answer the first question, NOTHING.  We stopped torturing people a long time ago.  Having said that, you may find that you go through a transformation that you never thought was possible.  “I can never do that.”  Many people say.

The first thing one learns is to share.  For us, this means living in very small spaces.  You thought that an airplane bathroom was small?  Check out our sleeping arrangements.

WP_20160201_009These are our sleeping quarters, also called cells.  No brother owns anything, not even a room of his own.  A large room is divided by curtains, as you would see in a hospital.  Behind each curtain there are two beds for two brothers, bunks.  There is an aisle along the length of the bed that is 18 inches wide and another curtain, behind which there is another cell with two more beds the same size.  The brothers always remember Jesus’ words, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

WP_20160201_004Every brother is assigned a flat sheet and a single blanket.  We use only what we need, not what we like.  We don’t use comforters or fancy bedspreads.  The money that can be spent on those items can just as easily be put into our apostolate among the voiceless, even if it’s just paying for gas to get from point A to point B.  After a few days, one becomes so accustomed to this arrangement, that we no longer miss our old bedroom in our former home.  The community house becomes home and the cells become our bedrooms; but they are more than that.  It is here that we experience the intimacy and poverty of the fraternal life that St. Francis so loved.  Like Christ and his Apostles and like Francis and the early brothers who shared huts, the brothers practice charity and detachment.

The cells are in the enclosed part of the house where no outsiders may enter, male nor female, not even our moms.  While in the cells, we avoid unnecessary conversation so that in solitude and silence the soul may be more attentive to the voice of God speaking from within.  The cell and the enclosure are only external reminders of an internal attitude that every brother should have.  Each of us carries within him an interior cloister where only the soul and God interact.  This awareness is the summit of poverty, when you own nothing, not even your inner space . . . everything belongs to the Beloved.

WP_20160130_004In the sleeping area there is always a small oratory.  An oratory is not a chapel.  The Blessed Sacrament is not reserved there.  Oratory comes from the Latin word oratio, meaning to speak and to pray.  Oremus,”Let us pray.  Let us speak with God.”   The brothers last conversation before retiring is with Jesus and His Immaculate Mother.  His first conversation of the day is also with the beloved Mother and Son.  During the day, the brother sneaks into the oratory, like a lover sneaking along the hedges to have a quiet words with his sweetheart.  Christ and the Immaculate are our sweethearts.

TUNIC_SMOCKWe don’t have closets, since we don’t have many clothes.  We share a row of hooks where we hang up our formal and work habits.  We also have a pair of grey pants and a grey banded shirt.  Here you see a typical work habit for a postulant.  Novices and professed brothers wear it with a cord or without a cord, depending on the task at hand.  The work habit it short.  It does not reach the knees.  It’s our version of grunge clothing.  Nothing is ever wasted.  Our Constitution reminds us that like  St. Francis, we follow the poor and suffering Christ who walked to Calvary in  shredded clothes, except for his sacred seamless tunic.  When a garment is too damaged to wear, it is cut up and used to patch up other work habits.  It is not unusual to see our brothers wearing patches on their work habits or displaying grease stains from an engine.  These stains are tough to wash out.  But we manage.WP_20141209_001 (1)  We don’t have cooks or housekeepers.  Those are chores that we do ourselves.  The brothers take turns cooking, scrubbing and cleaning.  Those brothers who have never done it before or don’t know how are taught by more experienced brothers.  WP_20151212_004St. Francis said that we are to be “minors”.   During the Italian Middle Ages there was a social class known as the Minores.  It seems that these men and women were of the lower class of serfs and peasants.  Even among the peasants, there was social stratification.  Christ reminds us that we have been sent to serve, not to be served.  “Go out and do what I have done for you.”


It’s time to leave.  A brother may be going to class at the university, while another is going to the hospital or to hospice and another brother is on his way to do counseling or education with dads in crisis pregnancies or going to visit a newborn baby that was going to be aborted.  The brother is always there to say “Hi Little One”BABY M-2 (2)

Life calls out to life  We even have two pups.  The black and brown handsome fellow is Max, named after St. Maximilian Kolbe. max_and_tasha The little fawn cutie is Tasha, named after a character on Star Trek Generations.  Yes, we have former Trekkies among us.  The brothers may not watch television.  Start Trek is out of the question.  Besides, who has time.

No day is complete without prayer and the
Holy Eucharist.Archbishop Thomas Wenski celebrates Mass for Nascent Life

In between we manage to insert
an hour of private prayer at 5:30 AM, the Liturgy of the Hours: morning, midday, evening, night and midnight.  There is always time for the Holy Rosary.

profession of vows


Dancing Friar


Brother Bernardo Makes Vows

After three months as an aspirant, three months as a postulant and 12 months as a novice, Brother Bernardo D’Carmine made temporary vows as a Franciscan of Life.


The vows are obedience, poverty, chastity and a fourth vow to proclaim the Gospel of Life.  Brother made vows during a solemn celebration of evening prayer (vespers) on January 18, 2016 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Chapel in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Presiding over the Liturgy of the Hours was Rev. Mr. Scott Joiner.  Deacon Scott also preached the “exhortation” reminding us all that one man’s conversion can change the Church and history, referring to the Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi. DSC_0027

The first step is to embrace the poverty of Christ and his most blessed mother.  He also reminded the Franciscans of Life that we are an outgrowth of a long and venerable family that is more than 800 years old, with more than 100 different congregations, orders, societies and institutes.  Today, there are almost one million Franciscan men and women around the world, secular and religious, lay and cleric, men and women.  It all began with one man who responded to Christ’s call to “rebuild his house.”

Deacon Scott witnessed the profession, but he did not receive the vows.  Brother Jay Rivera, superior of the Franciscans of Life, received the vows.   Mrs. Tina Handal led the singing with the litany of Franciscan saints and blessed.  She did an outstanding job for the Lord and the community that was present.  She has an incredible spirituality and a voice that expresses it beautifully.    Extern brother, Chris Handal and regular brother, Leo Ballanger were the witnesses to the profession.  Present were friends of DSC_0073Brother Bernardo’s from his days at university, other friends from the area and his mother, Mrs. Angela Torres.  The group was small.  The ceremony was simple, dignified, reverent and above all, prayerful.

Brother Bernardo will continue graduate studies in computer science, computer engineering, theology and philosophy.  In addition, during the period of temporary vows, the brother continues his Franciscan formation with studies in Franciscan history, spirituality, rule and constitutions, Franciscan pastoral practices, and Sacred Scripture.  Along with classes at the university, several hours per week active in the apostolate, a life in community, the brother is also homeschooled in Franciscan studies and Scripture. The years as a “student-brother,” as we call those in temporary vows, are very busy and exciting years.  The most exciting part of all is the brother’s knowledge that his life now belongs to Christ and to the voiceless.


Litany of Saints

Published in: on January 19, 2016 at 8:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

Let God do the driving

As everyone who follows us on our blog or on Facebook knows, we were in desperate need of a car.  Our car was totaled on December 26.  A few days after the accident, I remembered something that St. Francis said in his Testament.

Let those who know not [how to work] learn, not through desire to receive the price of labor but for the sake of example and to repel idleness. And when the price of labor is not given to us, let us have recourse to the table of the Lord, begging alms from door to door.

I know that we do not bring in enough money to purchase a car, not even a used one.  Other than a few hundred dollars from the insurance company, we had nothing.

However, God will never be outdone in generosity and in pity for us.  I remembered this passage from the Testament and decided to beg for help.

In less than 24 hours after posting our cry for help, we received three offers to help us.  The first was from an old friend who said, “I have a car that I want to give to you.”   Imagine our joy when we heard this good news.  But there is more . . .

An hour later, a dealer who supports our work for the Gospel of Life called me.  “Brother, I can help you.”

The next morning we received an email from another generous person.  “Pick the car you want.  I’ll pay for it.”

All of this is leading somewhere, so please stay with me.  The Franciscans of Life have just finished a three month process during which we reviewed our constitutions and did some editing for greater clarification.  The chapter on poverty required the greatest amount of attention.  For greater clarity we inserted an article into the chapter on poverty.

The brothers shall own only one car per house.  They may not own a new car, nor an old car that is commonly used by the wealthy.  They are to acquire used cars, either through their effort or the generosity of others.  Let these vehicles be such that they conform to what the working man or woman in the lower economic sectors would drive.  Let them not use said vehicles for recreation.  They are tools for service to the voiceless.

We now had an interesting situation.  We had a vendor who was willing to give us a very generous deal on a used car.  There was a benefactor who wanted to purchase a car of our choosing and there was the father of a family who was offering his car as a gift.

We, the brothers, discussed what to do and which offer to accept.  It was finally decided that the superior should decide.  I hate it when the brothers do that.  😦  Guess who has to decide?  😀

The question on the table was, “What would be the most natural for a poor man?”

This was easy.  People don’t usually call the poor and offer to purchase a vehicle of their choice for them.  That offer was now off the table; although we are very grateful.  The poor don’t get telephone calls from dealers offering them a bargain on a car, simply because they’re poor.  I wish this would happen more often.  Unfortunately, it does not happen often enough.  That offer was off the table as well.

This left one offer on the table.  The older family car that was offered to us free of charge.  I remembered that the first car I ever owned was a hand-me-down from my sister.  I was broke.  The only thing that I could afford was that old car.

The end of the story is that we have a car and it’s beautiful.  It’s a 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan with 156,000 miles and a few dents and scratches on the outside, but it’s perfect under the hood.

Here are the pictures.

There are several other dimensions to this story.

First:  The brother who was involved in the accident in one of our novices who is about to make vows this week.  The car was totaled; but Brother walked away without a scratch, not even a headache.  Not only was he not hurt, he was smiling when he arrived home.  His first words to me were, “I feel very peaceful.”  If this is not a sign of a man whom God has called to himself, I don’t know what is.

Second dimension:  During our review of the Constitutions, we asked The Immaculate to point us in the right direction.  “Are we doing the Will of God?  Is this way of life and this work what God wants from us?”  The Lord protected our novice from physical harm and blessed him with great peace and joy, despite the hardship.  Interior peace is the best sign that one is in compliance with God’s Will.

Finally, the third dimension to this story, without the car, our student brothers cannot travel to the university.  We cannot continue our work in hospice, pregnancy centers, university campus, religious education and among the immigrant poor.  We live in an area where public transportation is very poor.  It would take two hours to get to the university using public transit, when it takes 25 minutes by car.  A brother would spend four hours on the road to go to a class.  This is time that has to be stolen from prayer, community, and apostolate.

Not only did God’s providence come through for us through the generosity of others; but he confirmed us in our vocation.  God does not provide transportation to go where he does not want us to do so.

The last thing for today, we need to do some body work on the car.  We have $1,300.00.  We need about another $500.00.  If you can spare $1.00, it would help.  If you know someone who does body work in the Fort Lauderdale area and can hook us up with a good price, that would be very helpful.

While we’re on the subject of money.  We want to thank everyone who donates to Franciscans of Life.  Every month, we manage to reach the necessary dollar amount to pay our rent and utilities for that month.  Isn’t that awesome.  🙂

“Come to Bethlehem and see / Christ Whose birth the angels sing!”


Nativity scene at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church

The Franciscans of Life wish to extend to you our most sincere hope for a peaceful and joyous Christmas!

Christmas is a very special time in the life of mankind, because it sets into motion the fulfillment of the Covenants that the Lord had made with Israel at different times before pre-Christian history.

Th12313767_1724552867778905_4437807418574257125_ne Incarnation and the Virgin Birth set into motion the journey to Calvary and our redemption.

Our holy father St. Francis was sensitive to the connection between Christmas and the Pasch of the Christ. He sets up the first creche, not because Christmas is the center of our Faith, but it is the first step in the final chapter of the Covenant, which was fulfilled during the Easter triduum.

As we enter the Christmas season let us remember that Christmas is not an end. Rather, it is the beginning of the journey to Good Friday and Easter.

Let us begin. Up to now we have done nothing.

– St. Francis

The Franciscans of Life will remember your intentions at Midnight mass. If you have a special intention, you can email it to us, and your communique will remain strictly confidential: email

Have a grace filled Christmas!

Nativity scene at our mother house

The Brothers


advent wreathAs 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 kneeprofession of vowsls 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.

Postulant Novice

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.

Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 3:04 PM  Leave a Comment