We embrace the vision to respect all human life. We work to protect the lives of people no matter who they are or how bad they may be. It is the way of our Franciscan love. True christian love cannot be choosey. It is universal as We try to imitate the God who loves all people. For the same reason, we work to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ (SFO Rule #13). All life is precious and we will live by that belief. We know how impossible this can be without the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence We are a prayerful people.
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.
If there is a word which does complete justice to Franciscan theology and spirituality, it is ‘Christocentric,’ and they have this as their distinguishing feature, because the faith and holiness of St. Francis were totally centered on Christ. In Jesus Christ the revelation is made to us of what the world, as a whole and in all its parts, means to God.
Violence and oppression take many forms within our world. No Secular Franciscan can work for the reform of every oppressive system; yet every Secular Franciscan must be involved somehow in the work of justice if they are authentically converted, if they truly appropriate the Rule. Each response to the Rule will be unique; each person must interpret what that call to radical conversion means in his or her life. But to all those who respond authentically will come the blessing of penance.
What does the rule ask of us? To be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives. We are not bystanders any more. Franciscans get involved. We involve ourselves in wise ways, observing, judging, acting. We use common sense. We get help if that is needed. We seek trained help if that is needed. We seek training if that is needed. We support professional help if that is needed. But doing nothing is no longer a choice for us.
Our Franciscanism is not just a private affair nor merely a personal road to sanctity. It is more then one’s belonging to an organization that assures spiritual benefits in an easily obtainable way.
Rather, our Franciscan way of life is a precious gift and an involving mission. By committing ourselves to the gospel of Jesus through observing the SFO rule of life, we become a living sacrifice of praise and thanks, and a vibrant witness of the Good News for all to see and hear.
For those who are “called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi” (Article #1), particularly through the Secular Franciscan Order, the rule of life becomes the central focus and basic font for setting forth the evangelical goals of life, for unraveling the meaning of the gospel commitment, and for detailing the means to be evangelized and to evangelize others with the supportive context of life in fraternity.
For this reason, the rule needs to be read, understood, digested, and absorbed into the personal and communal existence of every Secular Franciscan.
In the end, blessed hungers or holy longings will lead us to where God wants us to be. Daily prayer, facing our fears, and being honest about our own habits of thinking and acting are fundamental in approaching life decisions. When they’re rooted in a personal assurance of God’s loving embrace, they can lead to life choices that reflect God’s will in our lives.
~ Fr. Dan Lackie, OFM, via “Guidelines for Discerning Your Vocation” | Be A Franciscan
We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. The goal of prayer, therefore, is to be transformed into the image of the crucified Spouse. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
For Secular Franciscans, conversion is the singular character of the Order, which is supported by the initial and ongoing processes of formation in the life of the fraternity. In the end, conversion is shot through with mystery. While personal stories, biblical insights, the sacraments of initiation, theological reflections and psychological categories are helpful to understand and explain the experience, the Christian tradition in the end must stand before the grace of God in silence and wonder.
~ Ron Pihokker, OFS, “Penitence and Conversion: Spirituality of Conversion” (Chapter 17 of the FUN Manual)