Walking in the Footsteps of Christ- Easter Day
A Lenten Journey with the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis
These Reflections which take the Rule of the Third Order as their springboard, were originally published in Lent 2012 are being republished during Easter 2020 as a way of deepening our faith during the Covid19 pandemic which is affecting the whole world
The Profession Vow:
I, Andrew, give myself to our Lord Jesus Christ, to serve him for the rest of my life in company with my brothers and sisters in the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, seeking to spread the knowledge and love of Christ, to promote the spirit of love and harmony as the family of God and to live joyfully a life of simplicity and humble service after the example of St Francis.
From St Francis:
Let us Begin
Though St Francis had to moderate his early rigour because of his illness, he continued to say: ‘My brothers and sisters, let us begin to serve the Lord our God, for up till now we have done little, or nothing.’ (Celano, First Life, 103)
to live joyfully a life of simplicity and humble service after the example of St Francis.
These are such precious words for me and for all members of the Society of St Francis. Every Francistide we gather together in groups around the world and renew our vow of profession. There is nothing more inspiring for me than to stand with a group of fellow pilgrims and hear them say in a round one after the other, I Jackie, I Carolynn, I John, I Angela, I David, I Keith, I Ken, I Andrew, give myself to our Lord Jesus Christ…..
We make our Profession vow with lifelong intention but, because we need the support of each other in the community, we are called to renew them each year. At the same time each of us will place on the church altar a copy of our Personal Rule of Life; the way each of us responds in daily life to the Principles which we have spent the last forty days together with.
Now it is time for others to make a ‘vow’ to walking further. Today is when talking about Walking in the Footsteps of Christ ends and the journey really begins. All that we have learnt this Lent past will be worth little if the words are not transformed into deeds. It is time to say I give myself to our Lord Jesus Christ and go and live differently. It is all very well to learn about simplicity, humility, and joy but it is the living of these, and other charisms, that will transform our lives. Not as easy to do as it sounds though.
This is why the Profession Vow reminds us that the journey is not a solo pilgrimage it is something we are called to make in company with our brothers and sisters. When Francis’ realised that others were also travelling the journey with him and he no longer had to walk his path alone he wrote ‘It pleased the Lord to give me brothers’. If we are to travel further on this journey further it will be easiest, most fulfilling and ultimately life changing if we do it together with our other sisters and brothers.
A good Lent never ends – we learn the lessons and then live the life that is renewed at Easter. I hope that these readings have brought you further along the road with Christ, brought you closer together to those whom God has given you to share the journey with, and challenged you from this day on to live joyfully a life of simplicity and humble service.
May you know this day the joy of Easter.
I abandon myself into your hands.
Do with me as you will.
Whatever you may do with me,
I thank you.
I am prepared for anything,
I accept everything,
provided your will is fulfilled in me
and in all creatures.
I ask for nothing more,
I place my soul in your hands,
I give it to you, my God,
with all the love of my heart,
because I love you.
And for me it is a necessity of love,
this gift of myself,
this placing of myself in your hands,
in boundless confidence,
because you are
(Charles de Foucauld)
Our 99 Words
Here are my ’99 words’. I found that I could have written them about many different things many times over. I do not think that I am alone in that. If you would like to write your own ’99 words’ (or less) please send them to me and I will let those who have walked this journey together with us share their richness as well.
For now these are mine.
44 475 words speed the soul on a forty-day journey home
Words of wisdom from those gone before
Words rich with challenge and call and tears
Words brim-full with hope when life is emptied for others
Words bearing fruit in gospel and service,
Words for the dance of humility and love and joy.
Song-words from the past call us further
‘The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
Faith without deeds is dead
words without action is futile
Rest not at the words – live the song!
Andrew Dotchin – husband, priest, parent, franciscan,
(lyrics to ‘Nature Boy’ by Eden Ahbez)
The paintings of Francis in the picture at the top of this post are by franciscan John Dashwood. He lived and painted in poverty and is now at rest.
Several large pieces of his work adorn the walls of Gt Yarmouth Minster, Norfolk.
Here is a video of some of his other pictures.
‘The Principles’ are from the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis – this version amended for corporate reading by Andrew Dotchin
‘The Words of Francis’ are from ‘Through the Year with Francis of Assisi’ selected and translated by Murray Bodo – copyright © Collins Fount 1988
Prayers are from ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ compiled by Angela Ashwin – copyright © Zondervan 1996
‘You have breath for no more than 99 Words. What would they be?’ were collected by Liz Gray – copyright © DLT 2011
These Reflections, ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Christ’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged