Conversion has two elements for its completion. First, we need to rid ourselves of the things that hinder gospel living. That includes not only “stuff” but also habits, attitudes, mindsets, lifestyles etc. that hinder hearing and living the Gospel. Secondly, conversion calls us to commit our lives to Jesus and his gospel call. It calls for practicing charity, having hope, learning how to love all people. If we only clean out our lives, we create a vacuum into which all sorts of things can enter (cf. Luke 11:24-26). Our inner housecleaning ordinarily should open a path for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.
As we proclaim the good news, remember that it is “good” news and not a set of condemnations and prohibitions. The gospel message is a call to intimacy, to love, to forgive, to embrace, to include, to bring joy, to offer hope, to develop relationships, to offer a path to a meaningful life, to challenge practices that may demean people.
The Rule requires Secular Franciscans to approach people with gentleness, care, and compassion – recognizing in them the image of God. We recognize our personal need for radical conversion and seek it with a willing spirit. By our lives we show how it looks to live a kingdom/gospel life. It must be attractive rather than boring; inviting rather than separating; welcoming instead of excluding; forgiving rather than vengeful; prayerful rather than domineering; with a passion for justice rather than allowing injustice to grow; seeking ways of peace rather than planning for war and violence; developing a spirit of community rather than individualism; recognizing a need for God rather than arrogant independence; finding hope and guidance in the Bible rather than dependence merely on human knowledge.
Prayer was so keenly important because it was for Francis the most basic experience and expression of faith. In like manner, prayer as an essential element of our Franciscan way of life puts us in intimate communication with God, puts us in touch with our own identity, and gives us the energy, strength, and determination to live the gospel life more effectively.
From the hills and plains, from cities and farms, they come in every age; clergy, religious, laity, treading the road to holiness in the footsteps of the little poor man of Assisi. Working together in love and mutual support, they throw the meaning of Christ’s love into those corners of the marketplace where huddle the poor, the friendless, God’s little neglected ones.
Franciscans are simple people whose many-faceted lives are directed toward “becoming like little children.” Working hour by hour, at varying tasks under various conditions, they seek only to stand as a diversion from the pettiness of the world, and by their living the gospel life after the manner of Francis, encourage others to follow.
Thus we find the SFO Rule (Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, 1978) is not as specific or as secure as the former rules, but perhaps in the long run it is more demanding. It calls for an intense and personal relationship with God and a mature decision to be responsible for one’s own actions. It suggests a creative mind to seek out new and better ways of acting and an open-ended stance that says, “Just doing this or that isn’t enough for fulfilling the demands of gospel life, my potential is limitless!”
~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Called to Proclaim Christ
Profession of Commitment to the Gospel Life
by the grace of God,
renew my baptismal promises
and consecrate myself to the service of His Kingdom.
May the grace of the Holy Spirit,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and our holy father Saint Francis,
and the fraternal bonds of community
always be my help,
so that I may reach the goal
of perfect Christian love.
The identity of the Secular Franciscan is rooted in our secularity. St. Francis brought the practice of gospel life out of the monasteries into the world of the family and society. This was, indeed, very good. Deeply spiritual and generous men and women, who could not abandon family responsibilities, now had a way to follow the Lord in the manner of St. Francis.
The Rule identifies the world as the place where the brothers and the sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity, in [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”][our] own secular state. The world is our home and our mission field, and we are stewards of its resources and responsible for its care.
~ Anne Mulqueen, SFO, “Our Identity as a Secular Franciscan” (Chapter 8 of the FUN Manual)[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]