At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel: “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” And the angel answering, said to her: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God.” And Mary said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.” Luke 1:26-38
As a Franciscan of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God, this is a very important feast day for me and my fellow Franciscan siblings!
From our history:
On the Feast of the Annunciation 2006, Archbishop Roger LaRade founded a religious community within l’Église Catholique Eucharistique – The Eucharistic Catholic Church. He named this new community the Order of Franciscans of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God, also known as the Franciscans of the Annunciation. The initials which members of the Order place after their names are O.F.A.
Following the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience we experience and live our vows as partnered/married or single persons, male and female, all under the same rule of life. We desire to have Saint Francis as a guide to our following of Jesus. We identify strongly with Jesus’ call to Saint Francis to “go, rebuild my Church”. We understand this in the contemporary world as a call to proclaim (announce – Annunciation) the Infinite Love of God for all people. God’s Infinite Love is shown us in the person of Jesus. As Mary, at the Annunciation, said “Yes” to God’s call to her to incarnate Jesus, so Franciscans of the Annunciation dedicate ourselves to live out our “Yes” to God’s call to each one of us to continue to incarnate Jesus through action and word.
In living this call, we have looked for a Franciscan community rooted in Tradition in its response to the modern world. We see this community as necessary in encouraging our ministry while shaping our mission. Membership in the Franciscans of the Annunciation provides this through the making of a commitment to live one’s vocation according to the rule of life of the Order under the guidance of the Guardian-General, and includes regular contact among members, ongoing study and discussion of Franciscan spirituality, and daily prayer and Mass, and ministry. (http://www.eucharisticcatholicchurch.org/vocations.html)
As a finite being, it’s not always easy to share the message of an Infinite Love. As a finite being, it’s in our nature to reshape that message to make it more “terrestrial”, more finite so that we can understand and accept it better. To those that would limit the message of Infinite Love, they would give arguments that love can only be expressed in one, finite way (between a man and a woman for example).
To this, I would say that they do not subscribe to the same definition of Love that I do.
What’s that definition?
Infinite Love from a finite perspective means making the attempt to reach beyond, to try to see in another person one’s own self–and the harder it is to do that, the more important it is to do it. Infinite Love is not about physical intimacy, it’s not about sex. It’s not even about sexuality or gender! Infinite Love is embracing one’s self through embracing others, finding humility in one’s self through being reminded of one’s own faults. It’s about serving without expectation of being served. It’s the ultimate socialism in that it banishes selfishness and allows selflessness to flourish.
It’s also a choice, and a hard choice at that.
It requires us to practice Infinite Love towards those who hate who we are, and what we do, and what we profess.
It does not rule out or dismiss self care. Rather, is encourages service as a part of self care, self actualization.
It’s a hard teaching. But it’s the root of Christ’s message: Love one another as I have loved you, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. We already know how to love. We just have to want to love Infinitely.