She stood before the fraternity & congregation and repeated the words of the Rite of Profession:
by the grace of God,
renew my baptismal promises
and consecrate myself to the service of His Kingdom.
in my secular state,
I promise to live
all the days of my life
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
in the Secular Franciscan Order
by observing its Rule of life.
May the grace of the Holy Spirit,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and our holy father Saint Francis,
and the fraternal bonds of community
always be my help,
so that I may reach the goal
of perfect Christian love.
The simplicity of the words belie the depth of commitment that Ann has shown–indeed, the commitment all Secular Franciscans make: to consecrate oneself to the service of Our Lord’s Kingdom.
If I pause to think about it, such a declaration is enough to take my breath away. In consecrating ourselves “to service in His Kingdom,” we change our relationship to God’s infinite and eternal creation, which in itself is something that is always changing, always new, always becoming. We are no longer simply along for the ride, as it were. We can no longer live our lives as we have, focused solely on ourselves and our families and our careers and the countless irritations that make up modern life. In making our formal and public professions, we declare that Christ is the center of our lives, the balance point, the focus, the prime mover–our “All.” In consecrating our lives, we make Christ, as He is revealed in the gospels, the measure of all that we do.
Wow: This is heady stuff!
And yet it isn’t.
Christ promised us that His burden is light, and Francis inspires us to see the joy that is fundamental to all that is created! Profession isn’t simply adding another aspect to our lives, weighing us down even more with yet “one more thing.” Instead, and with God’s grace, we move towards that Christ-center; finding, as we do so, that His love makes our lives joyously lighter.