To reveal the presence of Christ

Motivated by the power of the gospel, Secular Franciscans are called to unfold the living Christ and bring his message to all people regardless of age, race, creed, economic status, or the like. Especially worthy of consideration are the displaced persons and the unchurched and others in situations which make it difficult for them to appreciate what the Church is trying to do to reveal the presence of Christ and safeguard their God-given rights and dignity.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Editor, Called to Follow Christ

Live it!

The world needs this Franciscan spirit, this Franciscan vision of life. It is expected that you, beloved children, know it deeply, love it with passion, above all that you live it with the perfection that your state allows.

~ Pope Pius XII, Speech to the Tertiaries in Rome (July 1, 1956)

God’s love continues

The Incarnation then for (St.) Francis becomes the first moment of experiencing the greatest love possible and becomes the one single and most important event in all human history. God is physically with us as one of us, able to touch and be touched and showing us our salvation. God’s love continues without condition all the way to the cross, where not even life is more precious than the continued outpouring of unconditional love which does not fade in the face of diversity.

~ Bob Fitzsimmons, OFS, “St. Francis and His Approach to Divinity” (FUN Manual)

It’s about being converted in our lives

Francis and his brothers in faith were then — and they remain today — a confirmation of how God renews the Church through a kind of gentle rebellion against the world; an uprising of personal holiness; a radical commitment to Christian poverty, chastity and obedience in service to the Church and the poor.

The Franciscan revolution of love teaches a lesson that Catholics too often forget. Rules, discipline, and fidelity to doctrine and tradition are vital to the mission of the Church. But none of them can animate or sustain Catholic life if we lack the core of what it means to be a Christian. If we really want God to renew the Church, then we need to act like it. We need to take the Gospel seriously. And that means we need to live it as a guide to our daily behavior and choices – without excuses.

Christian discipleship is not about how generous we feel, or our good intentions, or even how well we do certain religious duties. It’s about being converted in our lives according to the pattern of Jesus Christ.

~Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Remarks at CALL (Catholic Association of Latino Leaders) Conference, Houston, Texas, Aug. 16, 2014 via Catholic Philly

 

The parts we ought to listen to the most

Now, the easy way to deal with this of course would be to ignore it. Write it off. “Oh Jesus didn’t mean that!” The truth is, I don’t know why Jesus said something that seems so harsh and even cruel. There is also no way to know exactly why he changed his mind and anything anyone comes up with is speculation at best. Regardless, it is there. It was worthwhile enough that the writer of Matthew’s gospel included it. It is always so easy to pick through what we like in scripture. We focus on the things that resonate with and mean the most to us. The parts that are difficult though, are the parts we ought to listen to the most. God is always speaking to us through every part of the Bible. Whether or not we like it, we need to wrestle with it. Why doesn’t it resonate? Why am I resisting something God might be saying to me? Is it to difficult? Does it challenge the way I live my life and the values I uphold? Spending time with the word of God, even if it means wrestling with the difficult words, opens us up to God’s revelation. We can’t just pick the easy parts. Jesus showed us clearly that following God’s will does not make for a life that is always easy.

His answer is to listen to God

Francis, who knew the pain of once living an empty life, models the way toward answering the question “what should I do?” His answer is to listen to God. Thanks to the gifts of technology, medicine and other sciences, we have been led to believe, given enough time and resources, that humanity can find the answer to any problem unaided. … Now we are left with a cultural milieu that can be described as absent of God, and a population that has forgotten the source of its very being. It is no wonder this generation struggles with discovering what they should do and who they are.

He reached out with God’s love

Francis was grounded in Christ. Francis identified with Christ. Francis put on the mind of Christ. Nothing and no one could diminish Francis’ ability to recognize his beloved Jesus in robbers and sinful friars and men and women who were dominated by desires contrary to God’s love. From his heart of compassion and love, Francis saw their deep need of God. He reached out with God’s love, which dwelt within his own heart, to touch the unknown yearning in the heart of the other.

~ Lester Bach, OFM Cap, The Franciscan Journey: Embracing the Franciscan Vision

An essential precondition

Setting himself firmly in the footsteps of Jesus, Francis made an uncompromising demand that the brothers also abandon that power which dominates and controls. His insistence that the brothers abandon domineering power are equally as firm as the insistence that they abandon wealth: “Let all the brothers not have power or control… especially among themselves” (ER, V, 9). “None of the brothers may be treasurers or, overseers in any of those places where they are staying to serve or work among others. … Let them, instead, be the lesser ones and be subject to all in the same house” (ER, i VII, 1-3). “The brothers… [who] live spiritually among the Saracens and nonbelievers…[are] not to engage in arguments or disputes, but [are] to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake…” (ER, XVI, 5-6). Like Jesus before him, Francis recognized that power which controls and dominates is incompatible with compassion. The abandonment of such power is an essential precondition for compassionate redeeming love.

~ Br. John Corriveau, OFM Cap., The Courage to be Minors, Circular Letter 22, General Curia of the Capuchin Friars Minor

With all creatures with whom we share life

To be humble is to glory in the fact that we were created in love and redeemed through love in order to have a loving relationship with the Triune God who created and redeemed us, and with all creatures with whom we share life.

~ Bishop John Corriveau, OFM Cap, Circular Letter, Oct. 4, 2003

Nothing about being deserving at all…

Note the shocking lack of qualifiers Jesus puts on that. Nothing about being deserving at all. Nothing about the hope and promise that the poor will take the charity, “make something of themselves” and then pay back. Indeed, he pronounces a special blessing on generosity and love to people who will not and cannot reciprocate.

~ Mark Shea, “Against Punishing the Poor” via NCRegister.com

In the actions of your daily life

The Franciscan spirit touches the whole of life. The Secular Franciscan Order  is not a devotional society that lets you do what you want as long as you pray. Rather, it expects that your grasp of the Franciscan spirit will find expression in the actions of your daily life.

~ Lester Bach, OFM Cap, The Franciscan Journey: Embracing the Franciscan Vision

The wine curled slowly and gracefully

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.

Archbishop Chaput: A very Franciscan idea

I’m a Capuchin Franciscan, and I’ve often found that people think of Francis of Assisi as a kind of 13th-century flower child. St. Francis was certainly “countercultural,” but only in his radical obedience to the Church and his radical insistence on living the Gospel fully — including poverty and all of its other uncomfortable demands. Jesus, speaking to him from the cross of San Damiano, said, “Repair my house.” I think Pope Francis believes God has called him to do that as pope, as God calls every pope. And he plans to do it in the way St. Francis did it.

Pope Francis took the name of the saint of Christian simplicity and poverty. As he has said, he wants “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he grounded this goal in Jesus Christ, “who became poor and was always close to the poor and the outcast” (186). That’s a very Franciscan idea.

~ Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., address delivered at the Napa Institute conference July 26, 2014 via NCRegister.com

Simply bad

My own idea, for what it is worth, is that all sadness which is not either arising from, the repentance of a concrete sin and hastening towards concrete amendment or restitution, or else arising from pity and hastening to active assistance, is simply bad; and I think we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to “rejoice” as much as by anything else.

~ C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

The great secret

When we put ourselves and our ideas aside, we work with the Creator, for whom no need is too small and for whom love knows no limits. It is the great secret.

If he has called us to be Franciscans

The Lord gives us the grace to fulfill any task he puts before us. If he has called us to be Franciscans for the Church and the world by observing the gospel, we are certain that he provides the means to accomplish this vocation. One of the primary ways that his grace is manifested to us is through his own presence which is always present in various forms for us to encounter and respond to. Through such interaction with the living and active person of Christ, our relationship with him becomes more intense, our commitment to the gospel is deepened, and our three-fold task of change of heart, community-building, and evangelization become more firmly our way of life.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Called to Proclaim Christ

Francis on Facebook?: “Do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion”

But, I cannot help but wonder whether we might find Francis on Facebook had he been born in our lifetime and not nearly a millennium ago. If he did not personally join Facebook or use Twitter or build a profile on LinkedIn, then I imagine that those friars who might find themselves compelled to reach out to others and preach the Gospel online might ask for his blessing. In return, Francis might give his approval as he did to St. Anthony of Padua when the friar asked if he could teach the other friars theology – something that seemed contrary to Francis’s original “game plan” of Gospel living. Francis’s response might read something like this: “I am pleased that you want to be present on Facebook and through other social media providing that, as is contained in the Rule, you ‘do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion’ during this activity.” And with that, a new age of mission and ministry would have begun.

We cannot escape

Franciscans face the task of linking scripture and the life and Words of Jesus to their own lives. Moreover, we rely on the Holy Spirit to continue to teach us what we need to know. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…  (John 16:13). We cannot escape the message of scripture nor the model that Jesus gives. Francis understood the primacy of Jesus and sought to imitate what he saw in and heard from Jesus.

~ Lester Bach, OFM Cap, The Franciscan Journey: Embracing the Franciscan Vision

Who does not hold onto anything

The only Son becomes human as a poor child, and lives in obscurity, without wealth or position. Francis recognized in this event of the incarnation the generosity of God, who does not hold onto anything, even divine status. In coming as a human being, the Son gives away exalted position and embraces with love human limitations, suffering, labour and even death. The life of Jesus is a moving picture (in both senses of the word) of God’s life.

Spiritual walking skeletons

We live in a world that is basically a spiritual concentration camp. Unless we put a lot of effort into fighting it, we are pretty much cut off from the things of God and the essential spiritual food we need to survive. We are like the victims of concentration camps who have been surviving on bits and pieces of food and are spiritual walking skeletons.