Bro. Daniele made his Perpetual Profession of Religious Vows on Sunday, February 13th in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Assumption University. Present was Fr. Dennis Gallagher A.A., Provincial of North America who was celebrant and homilist, along with Daniele’s Assumptionist brothers, family and friends in the Assumption family. Following the liturgical celebration, there was a reception for all attendees.
HOMILY AT THE FINAL PROFESSION OF VOWS OF BROTHER DANIELE CAGLIONI
CHAPEL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, ASSUMPTION UNIVERSITY
FEBRUARY 13, 2022
Jeremiah, 17: 5-8
1 Corinthians, 15: 12, 16-20
Luke 6: 17, 20-26
Brother Daniele and I are bonded together by some shared shortcomings. Some of you may remember those aptitude tests we were given in school. There were two areas where I tested below the national average – I want to say well below the national average. One of these was called “spatial relations.” Now Daniele is no great shakes when it comes to spatial relations either. And It spells trouble when two people with this particular defect find themselves together in the same space. Sure enough it happened in the sanctuary one day – I was presiding and Daniele was serving. Come time for the mutual bow that is called for at the conclusion of the lavabo, and because we had not observed the liturgical safe distancing recommended at all times – in pandemic and out of pandemic – we bumped heads. Be assured, to employ a quip that Daniele would favor, neither of had to go into concussion protocol.
My lowest grade in theology school was in Canon Law. I remember writing a final paper that I thought was pretty good – but because it was either not sufficiently canonical or not sufficiently legal, I got nailed with a low grade. Now Daniele, whose academic record is otherwise stellar, is no great shakes when it comes to Canon Law either. We have kidded about putting an asterisk next to his official ordination papers.
But that has no connection with what we are witnessing today, which for us Assumptionists is far more important than ordination.
….So, what are you doing today, Daniele? Something wild and wonderful. You’re handing over your life. You are now ready to put the whole of your existence into the hands of God. This means you are dispensing with the most prized possessions of our culture: autonomy, being a law unto yourself, and self-determination. In place of that, this is what you are saying by making your profession. In the end, I am not the one to shape my own life, but I am giving my life to God, so that God will dispose of my life as He sees fit. There are intermediaries here – community, superiors, apostolic assignments, etc. – but the fundamental decision takes the form of surrender to God. And since God is love, that’s not a bad deal.
But it is a great act of trust, and that’s why the image that Jeremiah uses in today’s first reading is so perfect for this day of final profession: the one who trusts in the Lord, whose heart is given over to the Lord, is like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream. You come to this moment, Daniele, believing that by putting the deep center of your life at the service of the Lord, you will bear fruit. And you are witnessing to this, Daniele. This isn’t some private thing. This isn’t a “well, whatever floats your boat” kind of thing. You are going on record before us, before the Church, before God, that in response to God’s call, the way to life is to be found in stretching out your roots to the very source of your life. Isn’t this the deepest meaning of your vows?
The vows are not so much to be “observed” as to open yourself to God’s shaping of your life. This is the paradox of Christian existence, and certainly the paradox of religious life, that in handing ourselves over to another, we are made free to bear fruit in lives of joyful service. This is the adventure, Daniele, upon which you are embarking in a definitive way this morning.
As it is for every Christian vocation, your consecrated life will be full of trials and tribulations. So, big deal. Take heart from Jeremiah again. “It fears not the heat when it comes” – he says that your leaves will stay green, Daniele – and in the year of drought, it shows no distress. It still bears fruit, I want to say, as much by embracing those trials as by overcoming them.
Ours is a life lived in common. Whatever your shortcomings, I do think that God has given you some beautiful gifts for this life of ours. Your brothers know that you are not in this for yourself. We are “over the top” happy that you have come aboard with us, and together, a great passion for God’s kingdom may come to life in this wild and wonderful thing you are about to do.
God bless you. May your leaves stay green.