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 difficult journey

Until we can see God instead of ourselves and our own wants as the center of the universe, we cannot fully understand what the Father is offering us in Jesus. Until we decide to begin the difficult journey inward, to become fully mature in Christ, to become Eucharist blessed, broken and given for others, we cannot break out of the consumer-oriented, performance-based spirituality of ascent (“upward spiritual mobility”) and embrace the path of descent or littleness walked by Jesus and later by Francis.

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

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)

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)

God’s love continues

The Incarnation then for (St.) Francis becomes the first moment of experiencing the greatest love possible and becomes the one single and most important event in all human history. God is physically with us as one of us, able to touch and be touched and showing us our salvation. God’s love continues without condition all the way to the cross, where not even life is more precious than the continued outpouring of unconditional love which does not fade in the face of diversity.

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

The places Secular Franciscans need to be found

We Secular Franciscans have to make ourselves available, like Francis, every time the Church calls, every time there is something, anything, to “repair.” There are reconciliations to promote, sufferings to alleviate, solitudes to fill, despair to console, marginalization to fight, material and spiritual poverties to heal, respect for life and for nature, youth to love and to accompany, places to catechize, liturgies to animate, and Christian communities to support in anything they might need, etc. These are the places where Secular Franciscans need to be found! There are no limits!

~Benedetto Lino, OFS (adapted by Bob Fitzsimmons, OFS), “The Vocation, Charism and Mission of Secular Franciscans” (Chapter 10 of The National Formation Manual, For Up to Now (FUN))