What would you do if you met the father of a man who died while trying to save your life? No doubt you would feel very keenly a deep sense of gratitude to him and sympathy for the loss of his son. So it was when Pippin met Denethor whose son, Boromir, sacrificed himself in battle in order to save the lives of Pippin and Merry. In payment of his debt Pippin swore an oath—a solemn vow offering his service to Denethor:
“Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Peregrin son of Paladin of the Shire of the Halflings.”
This vow was accepted by the father: “And this do I hear, Denethor son of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondor, Steward of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given; fealty with love, valour with honour, oath breaking with vengeance.”
In this special year dedicated to Consecrated Life in the Church we are reminded that there are many men and women who have indeed met the Father of a Son who sacrificed Himself in order to save their lives. And they have solemnly and publicly professed by sacred vows life-long service to this Father. In fact, they have vowed to imitate His Son through lives of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Code of Canon Law states that: “By religious profession, members [of religious institutes] assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vow, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law” (c. 654).
Each year a number of friars make this solemn, public, and sacred profession using these words:
“I, Brother ............. of ……………, vow and promise to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father, St. Francis, to all the saints, and to you Brother, to observe for all the days of my life, the Rule of the Friars Minor, confirmed by our lord Pope Honorius, as interpreted in the Constitutions of the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, living in obedience, without property, in poverty and in chastity.” And these vows are accepted when the superior says: “In the name of the Church and of our brotherhood, I accept your vows. On the part of Almighty God, if you observe them, I promise you life everlasting.”
Commenting on Pippin’s vow Gandalf said: “I do not know what put it into your head, or your heart, to do that. But it was well done. I did not hinder it, for generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel.”
Since it is God Our Father who by his grace puts it into the heads and hearts of religious to consecrate their lives to Him, let us pray in this Year of Consecrated Life that many more men and women might overcome cold counsel and decide to follow Christ their Lord with generous deeds.
---Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR
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There is a connection between the anointing oil cross placed on the forehead immediately after baptism and the ash cross of today. In the Bible, oil meant many things. Oil was fuel for fire, the only source of light during the night.
Jesus said that he was the light of the world (John 8:12). He also told his followers that they were the light of the world, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father" (Matt 5:14-16). This image came to life when during Pentecost, the Holy Spirit rested on their foreheads in the form of flame (see Acts 2:3).
I couldn't help but wonder if those ash crosses we wear today are to be a residue of the flame of faith in our hearts, a sign to remind us of what it means to be a Christian, an anointed living fire in this dark world?! May we be living lamps, spreading the light of Jesus' love in the world...
"and the LORD said to him: Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it" (Ezekiel 9:4).
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God” (Revelation 7:3).
+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
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The Gospel reminds us that our earthly life, which is inherently good, is temporary. Jesus speaks of a life that never ends as our destiny. He does not mock or insult the good things of this world. He simply rearranges them and places them in their proper order. Hence, the person who finds God is filled with so much joy that he sells all that is good for that which is better. He is motivated not by disgust for the things of this world but by the beauty of his destiny, which is a life free of all that is temporary.
+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR Saint Joseph Friary Harlem, NY ---------------------------------- We need your help! Donate here.