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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