Franciscan Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary
OUR MARIAN VOW
1. By our Marian Vow, we intimately unite ourselves to our Lady so that She might mediate to us the grace of personal sanctification. The Vow compels us to more fully participate in Her mission of Universal Salvation. It is our special task to promote devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. As “Penitents from Assisi”, a name once used by Saint Francis, we make reparations for sins committed against Her Immaculate Heart.
2. The distinctive character of our Charism is the strict observance of the Rule, combined with and joined to the Marian Vow of total consecration to the Immaculate which finds its meaning in the complete, total, unl imited and unreserved gift of oneself to Mary Immaculate. The Rule of Saint Francis, which calls for perfect poverty, is lived most perfectly by the Marian Vow that places the totality of ones person into the loving arms of the Immaculate. This witness of total dependence on Our Lady for all things is in itself a sermon, a book or a program regarding the truthfulness of God and His loving care for His creatures. Total dependence on Mary’s love and providence for all our needs of life is greater than ant apostolic work or ministry. As these Constitutions are to be the Marian Vow to be Our Lady’s mantle that, if we are faithful to our consecration, will always protect our strict observance.
3. The Marian Vow is not an addition to the Franciscan life, but the natural development of the seed planted by Saint Francis and watered by the Saints throughout the centuries. Saint Francis founded the community in the small church of Our Lady of the Angels. He himself consecrated the Order to her. And such Friars as Bl. Don Scotus, Saint Boneventure and Saint Lawrence of Brindisi have always been defenders and promoters of Marian Doctrine. The Marian Vow was revealed and given to the Franciscan Order through Saint Maximillian Mary Kolby. He defined and explained this vow as the Marianization of the Franciscan Order, the climax of Franciscan devotion to the Immaculate.
4. When we are faithful to our consecration and truly seek to imitate all of the Immaculate’s virtues, all twelve chapters of the Rule will be lived in their perfection. Each chapter will be a star in Our Lady’s crown. Each Friar should spend time reflecting on each chapter of the Rule in light of the Immaculate and our consecration.
5. The Marian Vow and the Evangelical Counsels (i.e. the Vows) are defined as follows:
a) The Marian Vow of Total Consecration to the Immaculate is the first of the four vows. It is the crowning jewel of our Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. It obliges us to daily imitate Our Lady’s perfect and humble Obedience, spotless and pure Chastity and her sincere and complete Poverty. The Marian Vow has two essential realities that directly affect the life of every consecrated Friar: Personal Sanctification and Universal Salvation.
a.i) Through the Vow of Total Consecration the Friars are personally sanctified by our Lady’s conforming then perfectly to Christ. The Perfect imitation of Christ: Jesus came to us “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4) born of her womb and He entrusted Himself to her care. Through the Marian Vow we seek to go to God born of “the woman”. The Blessed Virgin possesses the fullness of all graces and she is the Mediatrix of all grace. The Marian Vow obliges us to concretize in our souls the imitation of all Her virtues. The Marian Vow requires us to place ourselves totally in Her hands. Our total confidence and trust in Her Motherly guidance. To belong to Her so completely in such a way that it is She who works and lives in and through us. In this way we are perfect lovers of Christ and reach the “conformity” to the image of the Son. (Rom. 8:29).
6. Since the Marian Vow is a totally consecration of the whole person, it requires the daily offering of one’s body, soul, heart and mind. Daily we must offer our work, sacrifices, inconveniences, and all our efforts. To accomplish and continue a living consecration the Friars shall renew twice a day, in community, the act of simple consecration. On Feast and Solemnities of Our Lady, after Holy Communion, we recite together the Solemn act of consecration. The Friars are encouraged to renew their consecration before starting any task.
7. Prayer, our first priority, is sanctified when placed in the hands of Our Lady. We always bring Her our needs trusting in Her Motherly affection. We pray the following devotions:
– Daily Communal Rosary prayed after Compline.
– Twice daily we renew our Marian Consecration.
– The Litany of Loretto is said after the evening Rosary.
– An “Ave Maria” is prayed after the intercession at Holy Mass.
– The Angelus/Regina Caeli are prayed at the three traditional hours.
– First Saturdays Devotions are to be done when possible.
8. To foster devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Friars shall be devoted to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Every Tuesday, instead of the communal Rosary, the Friars shall recite the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows.
9. The Marian Vow not only transubstantiates us into the Immaculate, but binds us perfectly to Her Son, and unites us ever more closely as brothers. As sons of the same Mother we see in each brother, like Saint Francis, a gift from God (cf. Testament 26). Our Congregation is continually strengthened by the recognition of our brother’s Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We, therefore, give that respect due each Friar, honoring his consecration, in effect, honoring the Blessed Mother.
10. The “work” of universal salvation, to which we are bound by the Marian Vow, is not always or necessarily apostolic in nature. For some Friars, the Franciscans call is to the traditional Lay Brother life. The Religious Brother consecrates himself and lives in humble service to the Community as cook, sacristan, questor or porter. Indeed our Capuchin tradition is rich with Saints who nobly bore this vocation. Religious Brothers participate in the universal salvation of souls in a unique way. They give the greatest service to the Community and witness to the silent life of Our Lady at Nazareth. They are “mothers” of the Community and make all other apostolic work possible. Finally, let us never forget how Saint Frances revealed to us that the graces of conversion, given through the preaching Friars, is obtained from the Religious Brothers prayers and penances.
11. The Marian Vow, which compels us to grow in sanctity and seek the salvation of all, also requires the Friars to give the fullness of themselves. They cannot place a limit or reservation on their self gift to the Immaculate. The Mother of God spoke her “Fiat Mihi” (cf. Lk. 1:38) and it echoed throughout the rest of eternity. Her complete and perfect love of God and humanity gave Her the strength to speak Her “Fiat” at the Annunciation and at the Cross. Her “Fiat” was unconditional and without the slightest limitation or reservation. So too, every Friar who professes the Marian Vow, pronounces with the Immaculate: “Fiat Mihi”. Transformed in Her and united to Her, every consecrated soul receives the mediation of the grace to give oneself unconditionally and without reservation or the slightest limitations.
12. The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Immaculate Conception, the Most Pure Spouse of the Holy Spirit was conceived without the stain of Original Sin. There was never in Her anything impure or displeasing to God. Let the Friars remember that it is to Her and through Her that we have been consecrated. She will be our strong defense, our shelter and our strong support. We have complete trust that, by our Vow of Total Consecration to the Immaculate and our Marian devotion, we shall be given the grace to attain to the highest purity. The Immaculate, the Medatrix of all Graces, will mediate to us the grace of perfect Chastity and spotless purity. Never shall we dare to rely upon our own strength, instead, like our Blessed Lord, let us entrust ourselves to Her protection.
13. Every Friar consecrated and conformed to the Immaculate understands and desires the full and complete participation in the work of the Immaculate Mother of God. The desire and longing to bring every soul to salvation is a direct effect of the Marian Vow. It is the Blessed Virgin Mary, first disciple of Christ and the spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mother to every soul, who seeks out and desires that everyone comes to know, love, and live in Her Son. Being assimilated and transformed in Her, we Friars generously give ourselves to the same mission. All our apostolic efforts must be rooted in the desire to bring all souls to salvation and the freedom to live as true sons and daughters of God and Mary. As with our own personal sanctification, we must bring these souls to Jesus through Mary.
14. The consecrated heart without reservation is the height of the vow of chastity. The soul totally consecrated without any limitation is the perfect obedience. And the vowed Friar who gives the fullness of himself into the hands of the immaculate and spends himself in Her work of salvation reaches Holy Poverty.