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.
For [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”][St.] Francis, only God is truly pure. The person who desires friendship with God must strive to be free from all attachments and from all commitments that are exclusively human or in relation to earthly realities. This does not mean that we are to give up our friends or sacrifice our desire for a better job or position. Rather, we may understand attachment here as possessiveness. We are called to be dispossessed of earthly things so as to possess God. To possess means to “cling to,” to hold on to something so tightly that other possibilities are “squeezed out.” Each of us is called to be poor, to empty ourselves of all that we cling to so that we may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
~ Ilia Delio, Franciscan Prayer
This openness to the Spirit in all that we do is itself a gift of the Spirit. It is not something we can attain by ourselves. But it is something that we can ask for and prepare ourselves for. Perhaps the best preparation is making ourselves aware of the reality of the Holy Spirit and of his action in our lives. Along with this awareness we must cultivate a desire to know God’s will. Prayer and recollection are essential for this.
… Celano makes clear the prior and more fundamental relationship upon which the gift and challenge of fraternity must be constructed: the absolute and unconditional bond of love and trust with the Lord Jesus. It is this foundational relationship that Francis came to embrace, that directed his every activity and his every choice, and that led him to a profound experience of the Trinity as a circle of love and mercy into which all of humanity and all of creation is invited to participate. The post-synodal document on Consecrated Life, Vita Consecrata (1996, par. 14) makes clear this same radical demand: that we must enter into an intimate relationship of love and trust with the risen Lord Jesus if our lives are to be transfigured, transformed by God and with Jesus. All authentic discipleship must be grounded in the experience of “intimacy with the Master,” where we see “Jesus only”(Vita Consecrata, par. 14). It is when our lives are rooted in the eternal love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit that we are able to see beyond our own personal limits and sinfulness, to see beyond the limits and sinfulness of the brothers, and to recognize the mystery of the grace of God’s uncontrollable mercy and love, which comes to console us in our difficulties and challenges us to live in the freedom of the children of God.
Right from the beginning, we are to convince ourselves of the truth of the fact that this entire idea about vocation to and profession in the SFO is something driven by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we approach these realities as if everything depended on us… our knowledge, our input, our time and talent. We miss the point if we do not allow the Spirit to breathe throughout our deliberations and reflections. God gives the call and through the Spirit will see it through if it is meant to be.
Franciscans face the task of linking scripture and the life and Words of Jesus to their own lives. Moreover, we rely on the Holy Spirit to continue to teach us what we need to know. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth… (John 16:13). We cannot escape the message of scripture nor the model that Jesus gives. Francis understood the primacy of Jesus and sought to imitate what he saw in and heard from Jesus.
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.
This is the challenge that Pope Francis invites us all to take up. It is to convert the world through Love, not a cowardly sentimentality, but a burning, infinite Love that radiates directly from the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and leaps forth to set fire to the souls of each person we encounter. It is a Love that proceeds from lives lived in holiness, humility, and total dependency on Jesus and surrender to His Holy Will.
If we are to re-evangelize this world that has forgotten the face of Our Savior, we must begin not with catechesis (though that will come), but with charity and holiness of life. This can only come about through lives that are daily immersed in prayer and the sacraments of the Church, lives of continual interior conversion, penance, and true poverty of spirit. We must strive to live, by God’s grace and as near as we are able, in imitation of that of St. Francis of Assisi.
God is the Living One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love – a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfillment As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death. The wisdom of the Psalmist says: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps 19:8).