Family life

The [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][SFO] rule of life speaks of Family life and of respect for life-major concerns of all of us. We have seen family life fragment with divorce, so often traceable to secular currents rampant in our society. Selfishness, consumerism, materialism, hedonism run amuck in the world today. The Secular Franciscan promises before God and the world that he or she will endeavor to give herself or himself in service to others, to live simply according to the Gospel, to be a person of penance, giving up that which is merely pleasurable for the sake of the kingdom.

Respect for life means a strong stance against abortion; and in line with the “seamless garment” doctrine, a respect for life in all forms; i.e. opposition to the death penalty and opposition to the senseless killing in war.

~ Fr. Michael Higgins TOR, “The Secular Franciscan Order – An Appropriate Lay Vocation,” Koinonia, 2002, N. 3

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Fundamentally at odds with

Given this, it is not at all a stretch to say that Catholics in the post-Christian West find ourselves as captives and strangers in a new empire of the mind, the Empire of Man, which is marked by incredible technological achievement and vast material wealth, but at the heart of which lies a cult that is fundamentally at odds with the Christian understanding of man. Pope Paul VI neatly defined that cultic heart in his 1971 apostolic letter marking the 80th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum. “At the very root of philosophical liberalism,” the Pope wrote, “is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty.”

~ Mark Gordon, “Babylon’s Falling: Recovering an Exilic Christian Consciousness,” Radically Catholic In the Age of Francis: An Anthology of Visions for the Future

With this openness to grace

The rule asks Secular Franciscans to express ardent love for Mary by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently. Self-giving is a real characteristic of Christ, and Mary learned it well. It is a difficult task for anyone of us to achieve, but is something we must daily strive to acquire. This article [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][9] of the rule indicates how Mary became a self-giving person. “She was the humble servant of the Lord open to his every Word and call.” With this openness to grace, we, too, can find it possible to imitate her as the rule requires.

~ Philip Marquard OFM, Called to Live the Dynamic Power of the Gospel: Commentary on the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO Resource Library)

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What God wants us to be

Merton most succinctly identifies what he means by vocation in his book No Man Is an Island, in which we read, Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His kingdom. Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom. If we find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it, we can never be completely happy. For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.

An inexpressible love

Toward the Mother of Jesus he [St. Francis] was filled with an inexpressible love, because it was she who made the Lord of majesty our brother. He sang special Praises to her, poured out prayers to her, offered her his affections, so many and so great that the tongue of man cannot recount them. But what delights us most, he made her the advocate of the order and placed under her wings the sons he was about to leave that she might cherish them and protect them to the end. Hail, advocate of the poor! Fulfill toward us your office of protectress until the time set by the Father.

~ Bl. Thomas of Celano, The Second Life of St. Francis, 198

Must exemplify his love

As Franciscans, it is not so important what we offer, but rather the willingness to offer whatever opportunity to serve that God chooses to give us. We are all given a particular station in life which best enables us to fulfill God’s will. It is within this context of our individual circumstances that we are asked to faithfully execute our duties. The method by which we are to serve is given to us quite simply in the gospel. If We are to progress “from Gospel to Life,” we must heed these Words: “Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13:14) Everything we do in the Church, our homes, the market place, the fields and in our communities must exemplify his love.

Meaningful and irreplaceable

The fraternity, summoned by the Holy Spirit in Christ’s name, is an aspect of penitential life that is both highly meaningful and irreplaceable. The brothers help each other to grow in the love of God through reciprocal love, encouragement, fraternal correction and so forth. Together they overcome difficulties, are freed from selfishness, and give witness of conversion to God.

~ Fr. Irudaysamy OFMCap, Fraternity as a Fundamental Element of St. Francis Spirituality (FUN Manual)