|14 August 2008
I thank Father Anthony Mary, the community servant of the Franciscan
Missionaries of the Eternal Word, for the invitation to celebrate Holy
Mass today, as Brother Patrick Mary and Brother Leonard Mary make
perpetual profession of vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
as their wider family of faith join their families of origin and their
religious family in thanking them for their public profession of
dedication to service of the Lord and His people through a life
consecrated permanently in that service. Their Brothers Luke Mary and
Paschal Mary made temporary vows recently. Today our two brothers make
perpetual vows that unite them in God's love and in His service and
service to His people for life.
Commitments for life in our American society come hard. Our culture
is not supportive of life-long commitments to anything. With us
everything is instant and quick, or it has no value.
We prefer to try this or try that, and if we don't like it, we move on
to something new.
So what you two brothers in Christ are doing today is counter-cultural.
There is very little in our society that supports what you are doing.
You are out of the ordinary. In other words, you are extraordinary.
I use that word advisedly and deliberately, because it is true.
Of course, you haven't leapt into this mode of life quickly, without
careful deliberation and preparation. For five years or more, you have
prayed over your decision, and you have committed yourselves to a plan
of life, a way of life outlined in the constitutions of the Franciscan
Missionaries of the Eternal Word
While your community exists to enhance the role of the Catholic
Church in the use of the electonic media for the advancement of Gospel
values along with other connected duties, you do so, not living as
married men or bachelors, but as men consecrated to the Lord through a
profession of vows.
That my friends is something extraordinary. In my homily a couple
weeks ago I pointed out the similarity between the consecrated life and
the life of every Christian in that everyone is called to give him or
herself 100% in serving the Lord, in whatever vocation of life one is
called to. And that is true. You have much in common with every other
But your life under the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience is
admittedly extra-ordinary and extraordinary. Your life calls for a
special grace from God that enables you to live more freely and more
intensely the Christian life. By doing so you help other people live
more committed and more faithful lives.
In the perspective of Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, which
came from his Wednesday addresses early in his papacy, your vowed life
has a nuptial meaning; you are espoused to the Church. You are father to
all God's people. In that spiritual relationship you enter into fully
today, you become a spiritual father, to all.
You are freed to hear the heartbeat of the world as it looks for the
meaning of love. You are free to hear the cries of those in distress,
those lost on the roadside of life. And you are there to rescue them.
Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we celebrate today, a fellow
Franciscan, although a Conventual Franciscan, you can insert yourself
into the dramas of life, where others, committed to their families,
could not. We recall how Father Kolbe took the place of a man slated for
execution at Auschwitz, a married man with a family. Father Kolbe is
symbolic of all religious men and women who take up the slot of service
so others can faithfully follow their own ordinary ways of committed
life. I had the privilege of visiting his prison cell in Auschwitz where
he wasted away, physically starving to death, but spiritually becoming
more like Christ, until his life was eventually forcefully ended.
Some may call your lifestyle abnormal, in relation to the, quote,
"normal" way of life. I prefer to stay with the term extra-ordinary or
Living as you do in a culture that is progressively more intolerant
of religious values and that gives very little space for God, you need
not be afraid of being different, of being counter-cultural.
By your commitment to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and
obedience, you are making a statement today that there is another way to
live a life that can assure a person of happiness now in this life and
in the life to come.
People may say your way of life is strange — until they get to know
you and find out what is behind your commitment today — a tremendous
sense of God's love — God's love for you and your love for God. Nothing
can displace that rationale for the kind of commitment you are making.
Just make sure all is in place in your life so that dominant motivation
comes through in your religious life — loudly and clearly. So people
will know how much God loves you and how much He loves His people
The Church today needs more prophets — that is, people who not only
speak the truth about God's love, but people who live that truth with
Help others find the Lord through you. Then you are a walking, talking
sign of God's presence in our world.
Be faithful to the rule of your community. If you live that rule
faithfully to the end of your life, you will become freer and holier,
like St. Maximilian Kolbe, and like the Blessed Mother, whose special
feast we celebrate tomorrow on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption.
May Mary walk with you and guide you to her Son, as your model and
intercessor. May she help you to be faithful always in your life and
lifestyle to the vows you are making today, the perpetual vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience.