Essential elements

In 1969 the Assisi Congress gathered to focus on the revision of the Secular Franciscan Rule. The work of the committees was presented as motions. Motion 9 essentially guided the process for Chapter II of the Rule of 1978. Motion 9 lists seventeen essential elements of Secular Franciscan Spirituality.

  1. To live the gospel according to the spirit of St. Francis
  2. To be converted continually (metanoia)
  3. To live as sisters and brothers of all people and of all creation
  4. To live in communion with Christ
  5. To follow the poor and crucified Christ
  6. To share in the life and mission of the Church
  7. To share in the love of the Father
  8. To be instruments of peace
  9. To have a life of prayer that is personal, communal and liturgical
  10. To live in joy
  11. To have a spirituality of a secular nature
  12. To be pilgrims on the way toward the Father
  13. To participate in the apostolate of the laity
  14. To be at the service of the less fortunate
  15. To be loyal to the church in an attitude of dialogue and collaboration with her ministers
  16. To be open to the action of the Holy Spirit
  17. To live in simplicity, humility and minority*

It would take a lifetime to understand all the implications and layers of meaning contained in these essential elements and another lifetime to incorporate them into the core of our being. We must be content to continue in the process of ongoing conversion until the day when we see the Lord face to face.

* De Illis Qui Faciunt Penitentiam, The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order: Origins, Development, Interpretation, Robert M. Stewart, OFM, p. 250

~ Anne Mulqueen OFS, “Our Identity as a Secular Franciscan,” (FUN Manual)
April 11th, 2016|SFO, The Rule, The Secular Franciscan Order|3 Comments

Family life

The

[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

 

September 21st, 2015|SFO, The Rule, The Secular Franciscan Order|0 Comments

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

[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)

September 14th, 2015|Mary, SFO, The Rule, The Secular Franciscan Order|3 Comments

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

Always involved with Christ

Article Eight of the rule directs all Secular Franciscans to stress the primacy of worship in their lives — the interior prayer of contemplation as well as the exterior liturgical prayer of the Church. The article also urges Secular Franciscans to have an active participation in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist, and in the Liturgy of the Hours. When this article is lived fully, each Secular Franciscan will be a true worshiper, always involved with Christ and conscious of his presence in oneself and in others.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Called to Follow Christ
July 27th, 2015|Prayer, The Rule, Worship|1 Comment

To observe the gospel

What does it mean for Secular Franciscans “to observe the gospel”? Above all it means to know God as Father, to have Jesus Christ as the inspiration, model, and criterion of our every action, and to allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of the Lord. It also means to realize in our apostolates the love of others in a spirit of service; to work in a context proper to our secular state, witnessing a life of penance as continual conversion to the gospel; to realize a universal fraternity in Christ; to dedicate ourselves to the works of mercy, to the promotion of justice and peace, and to the safeguarding of creation.

~ Emanuela De Nunzio, OFS, “Twentieth Anniversary of the Rule,” The Cord 48.3 (1998)
May 8th, 2015|SFO, The Rule, The Secular Franciscan Order|1 Comment

Not just something we do

Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) is simply the Rule of the Secular Franciscan in action. Our Rule is based on the Gospels; JPIC is also based on the Gospels. It bubbles up from the Gospels. It is lived out from the Gospels. JPIC is not just something we do, it is who we are, as followers of Jesus in the way of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is an attitude that influences what we do and how we minister, with God, with ourselves, with other people and with creation.

~ Handbook for Animators of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), National JPIC Commission of the Secular Franciscan Order, USA

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

A guide that opens to the vastness of the gospel challenge

It is well to remember as we study this new version of the rule that it is a Way of Life and not merely a series of legal prescriptions. We know that St. Francis designated the Gospel as the supreme norm of life. He meant to put the Gospel before and above all conventionalism and every human law. Consequently, St. Francis resisted binding the lives of his followers with too specific prescriptions, for fear that the gospel principles be given secondary importance or that they be restrained by the limits of the letter of the law. So the rule is to be a guide that opens to the vastness of the gospel challenge. If we observe all the regulations of the rule, we are not truly following Francis. We must merely use the rule as a stepping stone to the Gospel and its ideals. It is then that we will really attain a true union with Christ.

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

June 8th, 2014|The Rule|0 Comments

Ever before their eyes

For he (St. Francis) called the Rule the book of life, the hope of salvation, the marrow of the Gospel, the way of perfection, the key to paradise, the agreement of a perpetual covenant. He wanted it to be had by all, to be known by all, and he wanted it to speak everywhere to the interior man unto his comfort in weariness and unto a remembrance of the vows he had made. He taught them to keep it ever before their eyes as a reminder of the life they were to live, and what is more, that they should die with it.

~ Celano’s Second Life of St. Francis