Here is the formula by which we make our religious profession:
For the praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
I, Brother N., since the Lord has given me this grace
to follow more closely
the Gospel and the footprints of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the presence of my brothers here assembled,
and into your hands, Brother N.,
with a firm faith and will:
I vow to God the Father, holy and almighty,
to live for the entire time of my life
without anything of my own,
and in chastity.
At the same time,
I profess to observe faithfully
the life and Rule of the Friars Minor
confirmed by Pope Honorius,
and I promise to observe it faithfully
according to the Constitutions of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor.
with all my heart I commit myself to this Fraternity,
so that, through the effective working of the Holy Spirit,
led by the example of Mary Immaculate,
the united intercession of our Father Francis with all the saints, and with you helping me in brotherhood,
I may strive for the fullness of love
in the service of God, the Church, and all people.
So I'm thinking this morning about how I've been doing. Have I become more free in my renunciation of ownership and acquisitiveness in favor of holy poverty? Have I embraced ever more fully the refusal to dominate, manipulate, or commodify other people in favor of evangelical chastity? Do I continue to renounce my own will and, as St. Bonaventure puts it so bitingly, the 'money bag of my own opinions' in favor of obedience for the Kingdom of God?
An honest person can only answer yes and no. Yes, by the grace of God, and no, because certain corners of my heart remain defended and chained up in selfishness, sin, and unfreedom. Vows are not magic and they don't make you a saint automatically. When you say this so plainly, it is obvious and reasonable, but it can actually be a hard thing to get into our dim and shallow minds.
I remember the day I was baptized, when--knowing it only obscurely then--I consented to set this whole thing in motion. I walked down to the little church on a Saturday afternoon, excited and grateful to begin this whole new journey in my life. I seriously thought, in my innocence, that things would be totally different, that I would suddenly leave all my sins and dissipations behind in favor of serving God in complete joy and freedom. It always makes me thing of that line from some Les Claypool song: "He remembered walking in/not knowing applesauce from sin."
Over the first few years of my life as a Catholic Christian, it was a hard lesson for me to learn that being in love with the idea of holiness was not the same thing as having the will to actually work toward it. Nevertheless, sanctity is the only thing really worth our efforts, and it is made out of a multitude of little ascetical acts which God--in his mercy--keeps secret and unglamorous.