To disclose the image of God

The journey of prayer for Franciscans is the discovery of God at the center of our lives. We pray not to acquire a relationship with God as if acquiring something that did not previously exist. Rather, we pray to disclose the image of God in which we are created, the God within us, that is, the one in whom we are created and in whom lies the seed of our identity. We pray so as to discover what we already have—“the incomparable treasure hidden in the field of the world and of the human heart.(St. Clare)”

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

If it is meant to be

Right from the beginning, we are to convince ourselves of the truth of the fact that this entire idea about vocation to and profession in the SFO is something driven by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we approach these realities as if everything depended on us… our knowledge, our input, our time and talent. We miss the point if we do not allow the Spirit to breathe throughout our deliberations and reflections. God gives the call and through the Spirit will see it through if it is meant to be.

~ Fr. Richard Trezza, O.F.M., “Profession and the Secular Franciscan: Theological and Liturgical Foundations” (FUN Manual)

All human beings without exclusion

And now, at the dawn of the new millennium, does the Franciscan adventure still have meaning? Does it still have any chance of  success? Never has true fraternity been so longed for and at the same time so little lived. Never has the Franciscan charism been more needed than today in order to offer the total Christ to a disintegrating world which fears a brotherhood of solidarity among all human beings without exclusion.

~ Cardinal Roger Etchegaray on the occasion of the Great Franciscan Jubilee celebrated at St. John Lateran in Rome, April 9, 2000

It is expected that you

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, To the Secular Franciscans of Italy, 1 July 1956

Simply because it is God’s and it is good

This time of being “alone” with God is essential to fully live the Franciscan spirit. To build relationship with anyone takes time, effort and presence, and that also includes relationship with God. If we are willing to constantly make the effort, the Holy Spirit will lead us to the relationship we seek, and, for the Franciscan, effect the peace and joy we need to love and serve all God’s creation, simply because it is God’s and it is good.

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

I can always love

I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that I can always love.

The total inability of violence

One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better.

~ Daniel Berrigan via Radical Discipleship

Save the World from suicide

The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.

~ T. S. Eliot, “Thoughts after Lambeth”

To pray always and to have a pure heart

This intimacy of prayer—breathing with the Spirit of God—was at the heart of the life of Francis of Assisi. He advised his followers to have, above all things (supra omnia) the Spirit of the Lord and his holy manner of working, to pray always and to have a pure heart.

~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer

Struggle to endure it

I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it.

Saying yes

Yet one of the most essential conditions for God’s grace to act in our lives is saying yes to what we are and to the situations in which we find ourselves.

~ Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom

Francis fell asleep in God (Transitus)

When the hour of his death approached, Francis asked that all of the brothers living with him be called to his death bed and softening his departure with consoling words, he encouraged them with fatherly affection to love God. He spoke of patience and poverty and of being faithful to the Holy Roman Church, giving precedence to the Holy Gospels before all else. He then stretched his hands over the brothers in the form of a cross, a symbol that he loved so much, and gave his blessings to all followers, both present and absent, in the power and in the name of the Crucified. Then he added: “Remain, my sons, in the fear of the Lord and be with him always. And as temptations and trials beset you, blessed are those who persevere to the end in the life they have chosen. I am on my way to God and I commend you all to His favor.”

With this sweet admonition, this dearly beloved to God, asked that the book of the Gospels be brought to him and that the passage in the Gospel of St. John, which begins before the Feast of the Passover be read. Finally, when all God’s mysteries had been accomplished in him, his holy soul was freed from his body and assumed into the abyss of God’s glory, and Francis fell asleep in God.

~ St. Bonaventure, Major Life

This is no small goal

Where Francis begins to differ from other saints/founders, is in his approach to Jesus. Where most seek to emulate one or more aspects of Jesus’ life, Francis becomes totally immersed in the reality of “all” of Jesus. Ultimately, the spiritual goal of a Franciscan is to struggle to become a total imitator of Jesus, to become “alter Christus” (another Christ) touching all of God’s creation as Jesus did. This is no small goal or challenge, but a path that will ask you to look deeply into how you set your life’s priorities, and how you live them out day to day.

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

The school of Christ

Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order commits a person to study in the school of Christ, who is “the book of Wisdom, written from within the heart of the Father, since He is the art of almighty God; it was written externally, when it became flesh” (St. Bonaventure).

~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment

The only one

Hard as it is, we need to learn to forgive other people for making us suffer or disappointing us, and even to accept the problems they create for us as graces and blessings. The attitude is neither spontaneous nor natural, but it is the only one by which to achieve peace and interior freedom.

~ Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom

Totally conformed to Christ

Francis had one dominant thought, one unquenchable desire, one constant intention: to become totally conformed to Christ. Discipleship in love has no other purpose except to “christify” the whole person. It is entirely geared towards transforming the lover into an image of the beloved (LM XIII, 2). Francis was “indeed always occupied with Jesus: Jesus he bore in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in the rest of his members. How often, when he sat down to eat, hearing or speaking or thinking of Jesus, he forgot bodily food” (1Cel 115).

~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment

Union with the Church

There is no authentic Secular Franciscan ministry without union with the Church in obedience and cooperation. To live the gospel means to know the Lord, seek out his presence, and share his life and mission. To fulfill this three-fold goal, the Church is essential, for she reveals the person of Christ, his presence, and his plan of redemption.

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

Transformed into sweetness

By accepting the sufferings “offered” by life and allowed by God for our progress and purification, we spare ourselves much harder ones. We need to develop this kind of realism and, once and for all, stop dreaming of a life without suffering or conflict. That is the life of heaven, not earth. We must take up our cross and follow Christ courageously every day; the bitterness of that cross will sooner or later be transformed into sweetness.

~ Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom

An even greater richness

One’s profession in the Secular Franciscan Order is a special way of intensifying the effect of baptism. Entering a secular or religious order is not another sacrament, like ordination or marriage, precisely because its intent and result is identical to baptism, but on a deeper level. For example, a person may play a simple melody on the piano all by itself; that same melody is played again with harmonics and chords to give it an even greater richness, depth, and fulfillment. So, profession directs, intensifies, and deepens the “melody” of Christian life first played at baptism. 

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

Seek repose with Him

The whole of life is a challenge to prayer. Happy events call for one kind of prayer; sad events for another. Progress and success, care and distress, illness and recovery, birth and death: everything that happens in life must find expression in prayer and determine its nature. We must become more sensitive and perhaps — if we may put it thus — more inventive. Prayer should not always be restricted to the selfsame thoughts and words while life passes by in all its diversity. We must bring everything that happens in our life before God as before a master or friend, or rather as before a father to whom everything matters which concerns us. We must show it to Him, thank Him, seek for strength and enlightenment, ask for His help, and seek repose with Him.