The Novices have stepped out of the nest.
Now, they fly. They are a flock of fledging friars! Sorry, guys, no disrespect. Just a little mom fun.
Seriously though, as you all know by now, last Wednesday, on the Feast of the Assumption, my son and his nine novice brothers took their First Vows.
These are also known as Simple Profession. They are the vows to the Dominican Order and religious life as a Student Brother for the next 3.5 years. They are the last step of serious discernment before Final Vows, aka Solemn Profession – where they will (God willing) take a vow to God himself to live the religious life with the Dominican Order, until death. Yeah. Read that one again! Wow.
Even these First Vows, seemingly much smaller (3 years versus the rest of their lives), are so big. Because if they weren’t awfully sure that they were called to this life, and loved it, until death, they wouldn’t have taken First Vows. They are that big. In fact, Peter Joseph (my Chris) told me after the Vows that the Final Vows are rather considered a confirmation of their first vows; that First Vows are the ones that are marked with the anniversary. !! Yeah, good thing, I suppose, that he told me that after the Vows, because I was leaky enough….if I had known, I would’a been UNDONE.
So, I have much to say and describe (of COURSE I do). But, I think the best way to start this off is to link to the most excellent homily given by Father Brian Martin Mulcahy OP, Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph. Permit me this excerpt, because I cried through this part, so I’d like it more focused (literally) in print, here (go read the whole thing for the full context):
You and I should see the Religious Profession of our ten brothers this day not as some isolated incident in their lives, which we may or may not understand, but rather as a further unfolding of the Paschal Mystery in the life of each of these ten men in all his individuality. What do I mean by that? Their act of vowing themselves to the Lord in poverty, chastity and obedience, which they will do in a few short minutes, one after another, is a further manifestation of the Mystery of Christ’s Life, Death and Resurrection being revealed in the life of each of these ten men, this Mystery into which they were incorporated through their Baptism, through their Confirmation, and through their faithful receiving of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
To the parents and godparents and families of our ten brothers, present with us today: as you watch your son kneel down and make his vows as a Dominican friar, see in this act, freely chosen by your son, a flowering, a blossoming of the gift of New Life in Christ, which you asked to be bestowed upon him when you brought him to the waters of baptism. It is the Lord Jesus, in His fidelity to the promises He made to your sons on the day of their baptisms, who today draws them more closely to His own Heart through their profession of the evangelical counsels and who exhorts them to “run in the ways of perfection.”
It is easy for us to be overwhelmed by the enormousness of what these ten men do here today in vowing themselves to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, especially because we cannot know exactly what road lies ahead for each of them. However, we must not lose sight, either, of the immensity of Christ’s love that has brought them to this moment in their lives, Christ whose voice it is they are responding to, and whose unwavering fidelity toward them is the only thing that makes their desire to be faithful to Him even possible.
But we can have every confidence that Christ, the Firstborn from the dead, will, in His Goodness, continue to manifest His life, death and resurrection through the lives of our ten brothers, will continue to call forth from them abundant fruit, fruit that will last for the building up of the Kingdom here on earth, until He returns, when they too, each in his proper order, will share fully in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
I’ll post more about the hoopla of the vows. But this, for today, is the essence of why it’s so big.
The Novices have moved into the next step. My favorite friars are on their way!