A living example

The Franciscan Rule exhorts us to live the Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus. Jesus reminds us I have come that they may have life more abundantly. (John 10: 10) Thus, to have this life we must “Live Jesus”. This cannot be accomplished if we have other “masters” who attract, seduce, direct, control us … and diminish or even destroy our ability to know, love, and serve the Lord. St. Francis’ radical detachment from things, made him a living example of the joy and freedom of one who is no longer “slave” to his/her wants and even to legitimate needs that he/she has allowed themselves to control their lives.

~ Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M.Cap., From the Desk of Fr. Francis – August, 2015

Not in a place or in a function

His [St. Francis] assiduous meditation urged him to give her an astonishing title; he would recall how Mary lived on alms for many periods of her life, so he named her the “little poor one,” the “Poverella.” If we remember the real conditions of her life, her frequent traveling and moving, we will realize to what extent her life was poor, itinerant, suffering. Though queen in the eyes of God, she was the Wife of a humble carpenter and lived in a remote and despised village. By this example she teaches us to put our values not in a place or in a function, but in inner dispositions.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Called to Follow Christ: Commentary on the Secular Franciscan Rule (SFO Resource Library, Vol. 1)

August 26th, 2015|Mary, St. Francis of Assisi (about him)|2 Comments

Both are important

The local fraternity is the basic living organism of the whole SFO. It is the center for spiritual growth, apostolic outreach and loving union among members. Fraternity should be a place where we are offered an opportunity for conversion, for spiritual growth. There are two facets of Fraternity Life. One is internal calling, and the other is external calling; internal spiritual growth and external apostolic works. Both are important for the life of SFO. The Rule of SFO calls Secular Franciscans to go from Gospel (conversion) to life (apostolate).

~ Fr. Irudaysamy, OFM Cap, “Fraternity as a Fundamental Element of St. Francis Spirituality” (FUN Manual)

To reach the place

In Franciscan Spirituality, the poverty and humility of God form the foundation of our entire theology. God’s desire to love us and to be physically with us is manifested in Jesus, the Word of the Father. Our God is not a God of vindication but a God of reckless abandon, giving everything (kenosis) in order to complete His desire to love each one of us.

This is what fed the insatiable desire of Francis to conform himself to Jesus, imitating Him as completely as possible. Francis sees Jesus in the same light as the Father, poor and humble, but the beloved (totally loved) Son of the Father. Francis too wants to become a beloved son of the Father and pursues a life imitating his (as he remarks) elder brother Jesus, who alone can lead him to the Father.

For this reason, Francis for himself sets out on a path of poverty and humility in imitation of the life Jesus lived. This is the only way he sees where it is possible to move beyond personal needs and wants, beyond ourselves, and to reach the place of transformation and surrender.

~ Bob Fitzsimmons, OFS, “Understanding Franciscan Theology, Tradition and Spirituality” (FUN Manual)

The model of fruitful and faithful love

Mary, Mother of Jesus, is the model of listening to the Word and of faithfulness to vocation; we, like Francis, see all the gospel virtues realized in her.

The brothers and sisters should cultivate intense love for the most holy virgin, imitation, prayer, and filial abandonment. They should manifest their own devotion with expressions of genuine faith, in forms accepted by the Church.

Mary is the model of fruitful and faithful love for the entire ecclesial community.

Secular Franciscans and their fraternities should seek to live the experience of Francis, who made the Virgin the guide of his activity. With her, like the disciples at Pentecost, they should welcome the Spirit to create a community of love.

~ General Constitution of the Secular Franciscan Order, Article 16.1,2

The primacy of love

For Bonaventure, as for Scotus, Christ’s redemptive work relates to the overcoming of sin, but it does so in a way that brings God’s creative action in the world to completion. This notion of redemption-completion, underscoring the primacy of Christ, allows for a broader view of salvation, one focused not on sin but on the primacy of love. In this respect, redemption is creative; it is that healing of the brokenness within humanity and Creation that enables the cosmic process to be completed, in which completion itself is a dynamic process of continuous Creation that is oriented toward the new Creation. Redemption, therefore, is not being “saved from” but rather being made “whole for” the healing and wholeness of God’s Creation, and this wholeness is ultimately the transformation of created reality through the unitive power of God’s creative love.

~ Ilia Delio, O.S.F. , “Revisiting the Franciscan Doctrine of Christ“,  Theological Studies 64 (2003)
August 10th, 2015|Franciscanism, love|0 Comments

Lack of trust

Lacking hope, we don’t really believe God can make us happy, and so we construct our happiness out of covetousness and lust. We don’t wait to find the fullness of our existence in God, and so we shape an artificial identity grounded in pride. Or else—the most common condition among people of good will—we would like to love and be generous in loving and giving ourselves, but we are held back by fears, hesitations, and worries. Lack of trust in what God’s grace can do in our lives, and what we can do with his help, leads to a shrinkage of the heart, a lessening of charity. But, as St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, trust leads to love.

~ Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom
August 7th, 2015|Self-Abandonment|0 Comments

We risk missing something

Like it or not, the life of this popular Christian saint [St. Francis] presents us with startling paradoxes. An enormously free and spontaneous person, he nevertheless adhered faithfully to the institutional church; a fully alive human being, he embraced suffering; a true lover, he chose celibacy; born into relative affluence, he practiced a literal poverty. These and so many other aspects of Francis’s life inevitably give us pause to ponder today; that is, unless we have the questionable ability to ignore these unsettling aspects of his personality and deal only with the sentimental and “popular” sides of this complex man — his joy, love for nature, and familiarity with animals. As honest persons we need to delve into the real, flesh-and-blood, historical Francis. Otherwise we risk missing something of essence underlying his more familiar traits.

August 5th, 2015|St. Francis of Assisi (about him)|0 Comments

Passed on personally

Until and unless Christ is someone happening between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until he is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on at all.

~ Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace
August 3rd, 2015|Gospels|1 Comment

The way dripping water changes stone

To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.

~ Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, via Spiritus Abbey – A Monastery Without Walls
July 31st, 2015|Faith, Uncategorized|1 Comment