At that time, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And when the angel had come to her, he said, Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. When she had heard him she was troubled at his word, and kept pondering what manner of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God. Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. But Mary said to the angel, How shall this happen, since I do not know man? And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth your kinswoman also has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month; for nothing shall be impossible with God. But Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.
Tomorrow, the Feast of Our Lady of the Annunciation, is the anniversary of the founding of the Order of Franciscans of the Annunciation of the Infinite Love of God (OFA). From our church 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.
Infinite Love does not include the idea of war, of greed, of anger, hate, or rage.
Infinite Love is an ideal we strive towards every day; especially during Lent when we are encouraged to acts of charity.
Charity can be something as simple as having the grace to see another point of view, to look through the windows of another person’s life to see the world from the eyes of their soul.
It is as simple as patiently and lovingly reminding someone of the damage that gossip can cause.
Or it can be a gentle touch on the shoulder in the moment of despair someone may be experiencing.
Or a prayer.
Infinite Love cannot pass through the walls of indifference, prejudice, or bias based on a philosophy of selfishness. One cannot be hid in the Wounds of Christ when one subscribes to a philosophy which says that only people who meet certain requirements are welcomed at table. Which means that there will be those who come to overturn the table.
Infinite Love requires us to gently, firmly, lovingly put the table back, re-set it, and again offer the meal.
Repeatedly if necessary.
Seventy times seven times if necessary.
It is a hard teaching.
But this is why the way is narrow, and few will find it.
I ask you to pray for me that I might have patience enough to walk this road.