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.

St. Bonaventure: The fire of intense love

Your heart is to be an altar of God. It is here that the fire of intense love must burn always. You are to feed it every day with the wood of the cross of Christ and the commemoration of his passion.

~ St. Bonaventure

We Have Failed at Christianity

The priest went on to say that we’re comfortable with Christianity and even with helping others as long as it doesn’t affect us directly. But anytime we have to get within the margins—leave our comfortable homes, or do anything more than write a check, we’re unable to act. We fail as Christians. Powerful words that had folks in the pews clapping by the end, but as I sat there I wondered whether or not anyone on Capitol Hill would heed these wise words?

To observe the gospel means…

Jesus Christ is the center and inspiration of our lives as Franciscans. He is the way, the truth, and the life. In him we live and move and have our being. He clarifies our thinking with his teaching. He directs our actions with his value system. He moves our hearts with the power of his presence in our lives.

Therefore, to observe the gospel means that we live Jesus, that we make his life and teachings and values our own, just as Francis of Assisi did.

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

Family as the Icon of the Holy Trinity

We think pleasure, wealth and the created order are not gods but gifts. We think that the State, the Corporation, and Individualism are nice things but not ultimate things. And, supremely, we believe that the Family, not the State, the Corporation, or the Individual, lies at the very heart of a healthy social order and even points us to eternity. For we believe that the Family is the Icon or living embodiment of the life of the Holy Trinity Himself, who created the social order and calls us to eternal life.

Franciscan prayer

Franciscan prayer is about relationship with a God of overflowing love. It is discovering the God of love at the center of our lives and of our world and finding the truth of our identity in God. To enter into this relationship one must be a person of desire. God does not force us into a relationship of love but freely gives us the grace to respond to his invitation of love. Spiritual desire is the longing of the heart for relationship with God that brings happiness and peace.

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

His whole person

ln a popular expression of the times, he (St. Francis) taught them ‘by word and example’ (verbo et exemplo). And, by their own testimony, he was for them a living example of what he taught: He edified his listeners by his example as well as his words; ‘he made his whole body a tongue’; ‘more than someone who prayed, he had become prayer’: these are some of the descriptions of Francis recalled by Thomas of Celano. That is, his whole person had become the message he was trying to communicate.

Our task

Our age is marked by increased globalization and commercialization. Today those things of the “life without,” money, power and status for example, are even more pervasive in all parts of our globe. Francis provides us with a succinct reminder of what should be our forma vitae: the life of the Spirit. Our task then is to constantly recall that our life should be the Gospel of Christ and not the propaganda of the world. When distracted by the trappings of the worldly life, we need to redirect our view to the Spirit.

Fixated on the self

The Internet assists our obsessed engagement with ourselves by disguising it as a fascination with others who—either by offering opposition or validation—keep us fixated on the self.

A fixed center

We should have a fixed center which, like the hub of a wheel, governs our movements and from which all our actions go out and to which they return; a standard, also, or a code by which we distinguish the important from the unimportant, the end from the means, and which puts actions and experiences into their proper order; something stable, unaffected by change and yet capable of development, which makes it clear to us who we are and how matters stand with us.

We will live by that belief

We embrace the vision to respect all human life. We work to protect the lives of people no matter who they are or how bad they may be. It is the way of our Franciscan love. True christian love cannot be choosey. It is universal as We try to imitate the God who loves all people. For the same reason, we work to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ (SFO Rule #13). All life is precious and we will live by that belief. We know how impossible this can be without the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence We are a prayerful people.

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

Ambassadors and instruments

The love and devotion to the Lord demonstrated in the lives of the saints reveals how the search for holiness never isolates one from the world; rather, those who love the Lord and nurture their relationship with him realize unmistakably that he sends them into the world as his ambassadors and instruments.

It must be willed and practiced

Anyone who takes his relationship to God seriously soon sees that prayer is not merely an expression of the inner life which will prevail on its own, but is also a service to be performed in faith and obedience. Thus it must be willed and practiced.

Who thought it a worthy thing

I beg you, Lord, let the glowing and honey-sweet force of your love draw my mind away from all things that are under heaven, that I may die for love of the love of you who thought it a worthy thing to die for love of the love of me.

~ St. Francis of Assisi, quoted in The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus (Book 5) by Ubertino Da Casale (1305)

Thanks to the consolation of Jesus

The world tells us that happiness, joy and entertainment are the best things in life. And it looks the other way when there are problems of disease or pain in the family. The world does not want to suffer, it prefers to ignore painful situations, to cover them up. Only the person who sees things as they are, and whose heart mourns, will be happy and will be comforted. Thanks to the consolation of Jesus, not to that of the world.

~ Pope Francis, Homily, Mass at Casa Santa Marta, June 6th 2014 via NEWS.VA