An inherent value in not acquiring

This is what we might call the missionary vocation of the Franciscan way of life. Emerging from a commitment to follow in “the teaching and footprints of Jesus Christ,” this is a disposition that orients the believer outward and toward others as opposed to inward and focused on the self. Like Jesus in the Gospels, Francis saw an inherent value in not acquiring the security and comfort afforded by the appropriation of property, resources, and status.

His answer is to listen to God

Francis, who knew the pain of once living an empty life, models the way toward answering the question “what should I do?” His answer is to listen to God. Thanks to the gifts of technology, medicine and other sciences, we have been led to believe, given enough time and resources, that humanity can find the answer to any problem unaided. … Now we are left with a cultural milieu that can be described as absent of God, and a population that has forgotten the source of its very being. It is no wonder this generation struggles with discovering what they should do and who they are.

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.

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.

In ways we do not completely understand

As Christian women and men, we recognize a future that is not limited to our present condition. While we should work to alleviate suffering in the world and in our own lives, its eradication is impossible. In light of the Gospel and Francis’s instruction, we recall that God remains with us and works through us in ways we do not completely understand. It is by trusting in the Lord that we are able to bear all in peace.

A radical departure

Francis never sought to retreat from or enter into a cloister apart from the world. Instead, the Franciscans were always to be deeply involved in the life and activity of the world, meeting all sorts of people where they were and living among and for them. This refusal to flee the quotidian world was a radical departure from most of the religious-community traditions of the day.

That continues to wreak havoc

In Francis’s time the renouncement of power for which he is best known takes the form of rejecting the economic or monetary system of his day. Surely this remains an important element of the Franciscan disposition toward the world today. Franciscan men and women are, at least in part, supposed to live prophetically as people committed to speaking out against the systemically sinful nature of capitalism and unbridled consumption that continues to wreak havoc in our nation and world.

~ Daniel Horan OFM, Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith

It is up to each of us

It can be difficult to see God’s love in our world when faced with violence, illness, and poverty, but God’s gracious presence is made manifest in our good works. In someway, it is up to each of us to help bring the presence of God to our world.

~ Daniel Horan OFM, Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith

He found himself wrestling with what it meant

Looking back on his experience of lifelong conversion and discernment, Francis recognized that he was not in control of his circumstances. He found himself wrestling with what it meant to live in a way pleasing to God, while at the service of others. It is at this nexus of evangelical life and humble service that Francis encountered his authentic self.

~Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith by Daniel Horan OFM