FNE Explorer Promise Cross Ceremony

Article by Paul Ritchi - General Commissioner and Founder - FNE

FNE through its home movement the FSE offers a dynamic and challenging Christ centred Catholic faith youth program.  This well developed and proven method was developed by Venerable Father Jacques Sevin using many of the then techniques developed by Robert Baden-Powell the founder of the original Scout program.  Our program remains true to these FSE ideals and values of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

FNE strives not to develop ordinary boys or girls but extraordinary ones that strive to one day possibly become an ordinary saint through service, dedication, honour, love and keeping ones promise.

It all starts with a “Promise”… and not a promise for just today or tomorrow but one that will be kept and well lived for the rest of their natural lives.  It is for this reason that the Explorer Promise Ceremony is a big deal that requires careful preparation so that the Explorer to be fully understands what he or she is being called to, a commitment that must not be taken lightly or casually.

Not every candidate to make his or her Explorer Promise will actually do so. Some will depart from the movement rather than making a Promise that he or she is not willing to keep. It is better that they are honest with themselves and their brother or sister Explorers now rather than in the months or years to come by not living up to this solemn promise.  This is a big deal.  To give ones word should mean something even now at the age of 12 ½ to 13…...this becomes a valuable life lesson that must not be underestimated.

For months under the leadership of the Explorers Patrol Chief within the Troop the candidate prepares to earn his promise cross.  The requirements are much more than symbolic or trivial, rather they provide the new candidate Explorer a base line set of skills, knowledge and commitment to help the individual become a good Explorer both in the Patrol and the Troop or Company (for girls).

Some selected examples to help illustrate this story include…

-          Understanding and living the Explorer Promise, Law and Principles

-          Responsibility at home and in the church

-          Practical outdoor skills such as lighting a fire, using a compass, tying knots

-          Base line knowledge of our faith, prayers and gestures

-          Using your hands, cook, build, draw, sew, write and more and to be physically fit

At a Court of honour meeting the Patrol Chief will put forward the recommendation for a member of his patrol for entry into the brotherhood or sisterhood into the Explorer Troop of Company.  From there plans are made to prepare for such a special ceremony.

If possible and practical we encourage parents to come and attend the Promise Cross ceremony to personally witness the promise that their child is making to God, the Troop or Company, the leaders, FNE and lastly to him or herself.

Before the ceremony takes place the candidate must prepare themselves to make their Explorer Promise by first seeking our Lord through the Sacrament of Confession…just before he or she is to receive their promise cross.

Our Explorers understand the harmful effect of personal sin on their souls and eagerly and happily avail themselves of the Sacrament by making a deep, contrite and honest confession, to tell Jesus everything as they kneel at his feet, to make perhaps the best confession of their lives to date.

Upon coming out of confession the joyful Explorer proceeds into the Church to undertake another personal encounter with Christ through Eucharistic Adoration.   Here we pray to seek the Lord’s council, blessing and help to best enable us to not only make but to find the strength to keep and obey our Promise and the Explorer Law in our daily lives.  This is no small task.  Much is expected and more will be expected as we help our Explorers to become extra ordinary youth that are pleasing to the Lord in so many different ways.

Holy Mass with his brother or her sister Explorers immediately follows Eucharistic Adoration.  Here we offer ourselves to our Lord sin free while asking Jesus for the Graces that we need to remain true to our Explorer promise and law. 

The highlight of this Mass and any other is to receive our Lord in Holy Communion in a humble, loving and respectful manner as we contemplate the greatest gift of all where  we become one through the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist! 

 

What a gift, joy and blessing.  Jesus is so very attentive as to our pleas, prayers and thankyou’s while we in return are open to hear our Lord whisper to us a unique and personal message for each and every individual Explorer to receive.

As Mass comes to a conclusion we head up to the front of the Church to kneel down in front of the tabernacle to sing “O Sacrament Most Holy” and to tell Jesus out loud I love you Jesus!

Explorers assemble now for the start of an elaborate and special ceremony.  Each Explorer is handed a lit candle, the room is dark, the leaders are ready, Father is ready….

The Explorers who already have their Promise Cross line up in two lines within their patrols witnessing the entry of those wishing to become an Explorer.  They represent the family, the troop, the patrol that will soon welcome the newcomers by those who have already made their promise and are living it to the best of their ability.

The lit candle represents the light of Jesus in an often dark world…knowing that current and future Explorers have the responsibility to allow Jesus to work through them to bring the light into their homes, schools, playgrounds and larger community through each and every explorer. 

This is no easy task! As the new Explorers slowly process in step by step the Explorer Promise song is sung with much enthusiasm and passion to help set the stage for this special moment to come.

As the Promise song is concluded all present carefully listen to a message from our Lord to the next Explorers to be and all others present and we quote (from Father Jacques Sevin’s writings):

The Call to be Explorers

Based on the Gospel of John 15, 16

"You are my friend, no longer my servant:  my friend because I have let you know my Father’s secrets more than to others.

Everything you have, you have received from me.

All of you are, you are for me.

It is not you who chose me as God – it is I who chose you.

I chose your soul among all the possible souls and those that will never exist:  I created it and gave it a body.

I choose you among all men to make a Christian out of you,

And among all Christians to make a Canadian man (or American) out of you,

And among all Canadians (or Americans) to make an FNE Explorer out of you.

Thank about the millions of unfaithful who will never be Christians and who will die without knowing that I died for them.

Think of all the Christians who do not have the happiness of being the sons of a very Christian kingdom, and of descending spiritually from Saint Louis and Saint Joan the maiden of Orleans.

Think of all the little Canadian (or American) boys who do not have the opportunity of being explorers – the grace of being an explorer.

You believe that you are an explorer because you wanted to become an explorer.  Amen, I say to you, I myself elected you in secret and was preparing everything so that you became an explorer.

For it is an election as my explorers are the elite.

I have elected you, I have singled you out, and I have chosen you.

And such is the result of my predilection, of my preferred selection.

I have loved you for free.  You have nothing to do with it.

I chose you and such is the mystery of my love.

And my love does good work.

Unless the Lord is the architect, the builders labour in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch on the battlements in vain.

And unless the Lord is in the boat, the rowers wear out in vain.

Which means, troop leader or patrol chief, that without me you cannot do anything.

See, my explorer, the means of God and the means of man, and learn to trust into the supernatural.

I pressed my disciples to go to sea and to arrive ahead of me on the opposite side of the lake.  Then, when the night came, I withdrew alone onto the mountain to pray.

I was not praying for me but for my small patrol, my first patrol, my apostles and my explorers who that evening and quite in spite of themselves were like my sea explorers.

And I prayed.

I chose you, you and your brother explorers, and I appointed you to go, and bear fruit that will remain, and that something may have changed because you have been on the earth.

Like a good vine, you must bear fruit.

And this fruit will remain.

Something changed for the better because there’s an explorer at school or in the workshop.

Something changed for the better because there’s an explorer in the regiment.

Something changed for the better because there’s an explorer at home.

And in the parish and in the city, and in your country and in my Church, if my explorers are what they should be – and why should they not be?  Something should have changed for the better: More harmony among citizens and more fervour in the parish.

More prosperity in the country, and in my church more holiness

And these wonders will not happen without your prayer.  But to reach this, “whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you”.

The Explorers took the time to reflect on their mission, either as a new explorer or as a seasoned explorer.  Watching the Explorers body language it was quite evident that the message was a very profound one reminding us all as to what it means to give your word, to make a promise, to make a commitment in front of Jesus, our brother (or sister) explorers, leaders and other witnesses such as parents.

Now the great moment arrived… when the candidates are called up one at a time to stand in front of the Troop (Company for girls), the Priest, the Troop leader, and their brother or sister explorers and leaders.

Troop in formation – Troop Alert!

The patrol chief brings the candidate forward to face the troop leader while standing slightly behind the candidate with his hand on his shoulder for support, encouragement and a sign of loyalty that the new explorer to be can rely on his patrol chief.

Text in italic = the candidates responses

What do you want?

To become an Explorer

Why?

To serve God and my neighbour better.

What kind of material advantages do you expect?

None

What is the first obligation of an explorer?

A good deed each day

What are the three basic virtues of an explorer?

Frankness, devotedness and purity

Do you know the law and principles?

Yes Chief I do.

State the Law

<Explorer states the 10 laws>

 Do you promise to follow the law and the rules?

On my honour, I do promise.

Do you know that your honour is to belong to Jesus, to be loyal to your country, parents, superiors and subordinates, and to have only one word on which everyone may rely?

Yes, I know, You can rely on my explorer word.

How long are you ready to serve?

With God’s grace, forever.

Because the Court of Honour has decided to trust you, I let you make your promise.  But before that, since you are a Christian, you are going to receive God’s blessing.

(The explorer kneels down in front of the Priest)

Priest: (with his hands over the head of the explorer)

“May the Virgin Mary, Mother and Queen of the explorers lead you through the ways of your life and take care of you.  And the blessing of the Almighty Father, Son and Holy Spirit may descend upon you and remain with you forever.  Amen”

The explorer then stands up, salutes the troop leader and places his left hand 5 cm above the baussant bent in front of him and states (makes) his promise.  His patrol chief continues to stand behind him with his left hand on his right shoulder and in his right hand he holds his patrol staff.

On my honour and with God’s grace I promise to do my best, to serve God, the church, my Country, to help others at all times and to obey the Explorer law.

From this moment on, (if the explorer has been a timber wolf “remember that) you belong to the great explorer family!

The explorer then takes one step forward to receive his promise cross who then places his 4 dented hat or beret onto his head with the promise cross in place.  The explorer salutes the troop leader and then turns around and salutes the whole troop.  The explorers of the troop who have their promise cross return the salute.  The explorer and his patrol chief returns to their patrol.  The troop then together sings the promise cross song.

Some reflections from a number of our Explorers:

Vince:

  1. In order to earn my Promise Cross I needed to attend summer camp, swim across a small portion of the lake back and forth, know the law and promise, know the patrol motto, and do a good turn every day.
  2. Some special aspects of the Promise Cross evening for me were: when I said the explorer law and promise because when I said I felt proud to be a part of FNE, another one would be when Father was blessing me because I felt like he said a prayer to protect me during my camps, and finally when Father was blessing my promise cross because now I would walk around with a blessed item.
  3. What does it mean to me now that I have my promise cross...it is very important to me because now I have received my promise cross and I have done my promise. Also I feel like I am truly a part of the FNE explorer group.
  4. Well, my patrol chief “Ben” helped me with most of the promise cross requirements by going through them one by one to help me complete all of them.
  5. During the ceremony where I felt closest to God was when the priest was blessing me because I felt like he said a prayer that would protect me at all my FNE camps.

Justin:

 

  1. To earn my promise cross I had to complete a list of requirements, memorize the Explorer Law and the Explorer Promise, attend summer camp and have something nice done each day.
  2. For me the most special aspect of the night was when I had received my promise cross as I had felt like I was even more welcome into the FNE family. Another special aspect of the night for me is when the priest had blessed my promise cross because I know that I will be safer and closer to God with my promise cross.
  3. Now that I have my promise cross I feel closer to the FNE family and even closer to God and I will do my best to serve God, my country, the church and obey the Explorer Law.
  4. The person that helped me most to complete my promise cross requirements is my Patrol Chief, Ben and he helped me by going through each requirement one by one and helping me achieve them.
  5. During the ceremony, I felt closest to God when I was holding a lighted candle as we entered a dark room. I felt that God was lighting my way and guiding me as I received my promise cross.
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