God Loves You, and has Plans for your life
Thank you for your willingness to consider serving the Lord and His Church. Discerning a call to the priesthood or to the religious life is an opportunity to experience the active power of our Lord's grace. This is an occasion to find peace in the direction of your life, as well. As our Lord beckons you into the service of His people, this is a powerful time for you.
Inquirers from Australia may email Fr. Peter M Porteous, OSM, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are invited to browse this website, exploring the hope and joy of priestly and religious vocations for the Order of Friars Servants of Mary. Be sure of our prayers for your peace of heart and your openness to the Holy Spirit.
The Friar is a disciple of Christ, who lives together with others and awaits his return.
This Christian vocation is common to every disciple of the Lord and to every form of life within Christianity - religious life included - it is lived by baptized people among baptized people. When the Constitution of the Order of Friars Servants of Mary speak about the continual effort to conform to Christ who came to serve and give his life for all (Mk 10,45; Const. 2) it reminds the friar of the goal of every Christian life, Conformity to Christ ("Christiformitas") and the ascetic effort this involves. Similarly the Constitutions affirm "Faithful to the spirit of the Church of apostolic times and the Rule of Saint Augustine, in our communities we live with one heard and one mind in prayer, listening to the word of God and breaking the eucharistic bread and the bread earned by our own labour in watchful expectation of the Lord who is coming." (Const. 3). Once again the end of every Christian life is before us: the "apostolic form of life - koinonia - and the watchful expectation of the Lord who will come." The Constitutions place the specific vocation of Servites in the context of the one, common vocation of all Christians.
Called by God and made similar to Christ, through Our Lady
Like all human beings, Servites are called to this vocation, the forma Christi, the koinonia, the adventus by the one Trinity: the ineffable God through the word of His Son and the breathing of the Spirit. There is a characteristic addition: the call comes through the Virgin Mary. We read in the Legenda de origine Ordinis about the election of Philip Benizi: "What are you doing, Most Sweet Lady? You make him who will be your servant like unto your Son." Mary, the Foundress of the Order, the faithful intermediary of God, the Creator, turns the eyes of St. Philip and of each of her servants to her Son and says to them "Do whatever He tells you." (Jn 2,5). And in reply, we Servants wan to respond totally - overshadowed by the Holy Spirit as at the beginning (Lk 1,35; Act 2,1f). We remember the call of our first Fathers: "By founding the Order of her Servants through seven men, Our Lady showed her will clearly: she wished to embellish her Order with an abundance of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. ...Our Lady called them to live together in a radical union and thus give birth to Her Order."
The Friar, a Christian
The conclusion is obvious. A balanced formation must teach that the call is to the one, common Christian vocation lived, celebrated, reflected upon and acted out in and with the Church. "Religious Life" is a charism among charisms, an institution among institutions. We are simple Christians with our own special timbre.
Lovers of Christ chaste, obedient and poor
Religious Life in Christianity is the form of celibacy, obedience, and poverty. We must emphasize that the Lord is beloved, and in Him, the Father and the Spirit. The Lord, the Father and the Spirit are loved to the extent that they come before all else - ego, riches, everything prized by human beings. The Christological underpinning of the vows is fundamental to the formation of Servites. It is a radical sign and memorial of the primacy of Jesus in ecclesial life and at the same time an icon of His chastity, obedience, and poverty.
Sentinels of the Kingdom
Religious life manifests Christianity in the form of a celibate, common life. The Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata defines this as "anticipation of life in that definitive world " which is the Kingdom. The emphasis and recovery of the eschatological character of this choice of life is fundamental to the formation of Servites. The future will constitute a koinonia in which there will no longer be any marriage (cf Mk 12,25). This reminds the Church and history that celibacy and common life are inseparable. It is this which makes monks, religious, consecrated people "the great collectivity of those who watch from the beginning until the end," the collectivity of those to whom the cry goes out "Sentinel, how much more remains of the night?" (Is 21,11). Sentinels, those who watch! It is a consummation whose beginning can be seen and read in the brotherhood of celibates, an image of the transfiguration of earth which moves towards splendor, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the sun.
Prophets of brotherhood
Brotherhood occupies a special place in the tradition of the Friar Servants of Mary. They can be called prophets of brotherhood, it is a royal road (cf. Gal 6,9) apparent in their very beginnings: founded by a community and not a single person, it is in the Rule of Saint Augustine - one heart and one soul (Acts 4,32). Finally it is sealed by the Constitutions which present the Order not as a collection of isolated individuals but rather "a community of men united in the name of Jesus the Lord" (Const. 1), "a community formed by persons who ... want to live in fraternal communion" (Const. 8). A common life in fraternity according to the spirit of the mendicant Orders (cf. Const. 3).
Companions of the Lowly
Servites radicalize and make prophetic this central aspect of the common Christian experience to the extent that one could say that the witness of fraternal communion is the "primary service" we offer to the world. And we do this with the humility which is characteristic of Servites. Formation, therefore, implies an awareness of that close connection between "service" and "fraternity." The former is an extension of the latter, whether it be "service of hospitality" or "service of traveling" or any other of the many forms it can take. Traveling here means going out - and this is the essence of "mission." It refers above all to the cry of the lowly and of the backwaters of the world anxious to be heard and listened to (cf. Const. 3; 58; 76d; 90; 147).
Our Lady, Our Inspiration
She upon whom Servites fix their gaze
Servites live their fraternal service in celibacy, a sign of the Kingdom, and fraternity extended in diverse ways as a service of live for the Church and history. They do this in a particular context. From their origins these "praisers" of Our Lady are those who have taken her into their own house (cf. Jn 19,27) and have become the little family of Mary. She is an inspiration and a perspective according to the Inspirational Guidelines of the 1995 General Chapter. Servites look to her as a mirror to learn the essence of service and the Gospel experience. Formation introduces one to Mary.
The woman who listens
Mary is the woman who listens. Her ear hears the word, she takes it into her heart and meditates upon it (Lk 2.19,51), she sings it with her lips (Lk 1,46-55), she lives it daily (Lk 1,38) and she reveals it to others (Jn 2,5). In Mary both Israel and the Church see themselves as the people who listen (Shemah - Hear), who pray (Magnificat) and who put the word into practice (Fiat). In the document Servants of the Magnificat, we learn that she is the "Teacher of Lectio Divina." And in the Constitutions we read "In imitation of the Virgin, we wish to live listening to the word of God, remaining always attentive to its summons in our hearts, in other people, in events and in all creation." (Const. 24b). The Word is found in the Holy Scriptures, its primary and normative source. Scripture is the cradle of the Word.
The humble woman
Mary is a woman of humility. She knows and proclaims that what happened through her was a gratuitous gift from the mercy of the Father "who looks upon the humble, on those who have a contrite spirit and fear His Word" (Is 66, 2, cf. Lk 1,48). She personifies that procession of the poor (anawim) who look to God as their only salvation. Among these can be found the Servants of Mary, drawn by her humility - which is both an epiphany and a signpost to her Son who is meek and humble of heart (Mt 11,29). The Legenda de oirigine Ordinis is a constant reminder of all these things.
The woman of suffering
Mary is the woman of suffering; she is an icon of the passion and of the compassion of God for every creature. She can be seen in her fullness next to Christ Crucified - this is the stature to which Servites are called. We read in the epilogue to the Constitutions: "Since our ideal is to reach the perfect stature of Christ, we shall have only relationships of peace, mercy, justice and constructive love towards creatures. In our commitment of service, the figure of Mary at the foot of the cross shall be our model ... at the foot of the countless crosses ... (Const. 319). We are with her and like her in the Spirit; she is a sign of the boundless and unlimited mercy of the Father and of the Son.
The woman of the Magnificat
Mary is the woman who proclaims and prophesies that God will bring liberation and overturn human injustice and oppression. The future will not belong to the haughty, to political tyrants or to those with economic power (Lk 1, 51-53), it is already possible to become humble servants of the needs of a woman (Lk 1, 36f) and of the joy of the newly wed (Jn 2, 1f).
The ecumenical woman
Mary is the ecumenical woman. The document Servants of the Magnificat tells us that Mary as "the Daughter of Zion recapitulates in herself the whole of Israel;" as "an image of the Church she recapitulates in herself Christians of all times and all places;" as "a daughter of Eve she recapitulates in herself the whole of humanity - past, present and future;" in pronouncing her fiat and proclaiming the Magnificat she stands for the whole of mankind. She is the living memorial of the fact that "ecumenism is inherent in all who declare themselves Servants of Mary." She is the creature with the all-embracing heart; the strength of her love which breaks down the walls of division (cf. Ep 2, 15-18) has gone beyond the categories of friend and foe.
The woman who waits in expectation
Mary is the woman who waits. She is watchful; she keeps alive among her Servants the expectation of the last things. The fraternal, celibates life of her Servants is an initial response to that expectation; it is a reminder of the heavenly Jerusalem waiting for the proclamation of the Kingdom (Mt 6,10) of the Lord Jesus (1 Co 16, 22; Rv 22, 17-20) and of that holiness which hastens the coming of the kingdom (cf. Ac 3, 19-21; 2P 3, 11-13).
The woman who points to Christ, our Way
Mary is the woman who points out the way for Servites to discover their own truth, their own way of becoming an image of Christ, an image of the Trinity, those who watch and wait for the Last Things. Mary's way will free us from all forms of self-worship - greed, lust - and prepare a clean place for the Spirit to dwell; that one Spirit who brings all together, and gives form to those who are like Christ - poor, chaste and obedient. The Spirit gives form to communities united and marked by love, communities that await the final consummation of all things.
The woman of the Spirit
Mary is the witness to the fact that without the Spirit there is no Church, no mission, no service (cf. Lk 1,39-45; Ac 1,14).
Servants of Mary, in brief
The charism of the Servants and why we bear this name can be explained further. We are the servants of the Lord who have been sent into the world around us to be a sign of brotherhood and to keep alive the hope for a new heaven and a new earth. We keep alive also the memory of Mary, our proclaimed and powerful intercessor. She is a key to understanding what is essential in the Gospel. In silence she became the loving abode of the long-awaited Word (fc. 1P 1,8). She listened to the Word (lectio divina), she proclaimed the Word (liturgy), she lived the Word (witness), she announced the word (mission) at different times and places (inculturation).