The renunciation of the use of violence, characteristic of the followers of Francis, does not mean the renunciation of action. However, the brothers and sisters should take care that their interventions are always inspired by Christian love.
This article of the Rule (Article 11) calls us to begin where Francis did, trusting in God, for without this trust we can do nothing. Francis chose exactly what Christ chose and nothing more: he chose a poor and humble life. Are we called to give up everything as Francis did? No, but we are to give up our inordinate possession of things. The rich young man, whom Jesus looked upon with love, turned from Jesus because his possessions were many.
~ Teresa V. Baker, OFS, For Up to Now (FUN), Chapter 12: “The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order”
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 brothers and sisters should love meeting God as His children and they should let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do. They should seek to discover the presence of the Father in their own heart, in nature, and in the history of humanity in which His plan of salvation is fulfilled. The contemplation of this mystery will dispose them to collaborate in this loving plan.
~ General Constitution of the Secular Franciscan Order, Article 12
Begun by the preceding stages, the formation of the brothers and sisters takes place in a permanent and continuous way. It should be understood as an aid in the conversion of each and everyone and in the fulfillment of their proper mission in the Church and in society.
~General Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order (Article 44):
To celebrate Profession within the Eucharist expresses the sacrificial dimension of self-giving inherent in the Profession of the gospel life in the Secular Franciscan Order. In Profession, manifested in the presence of the Fraternity and the Church, the true nature of the candidates as priests and victims is made manifest. They, by promising to live the gospel life, make themselves entirely available to God and place their own bodies (persons) on the altar of Christ’s sacrifice as a holy victim pleasing to God.
~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment, Part 6: Profession and Eucharist
“Christ, poor and crucified”, victor over death and risen, the greatest manifestation of the love of God for humanity, is the “book” in which the brothers and sisters, in imitation of Francis, learn the purpose and the way of living, loving, and suffering. They discover in Him the value of contradictions for the sake of justice and the meaning of the difficulties and the crosses of daily life. With Him they can accept the will of the Father even under the most difficult circumstances and live the Franciscan spirit of peace, rejecting every doctrine contrary to human dignity.
~Article 10, General Constitution of the Secular Franciscan Order
There is a widespread opinion among many Franciscan seculars and religious that the Profession of Secular Franciscans is a “second class” commitment, some kind of a “light” Profession. Indeed, most people have foggy ideas on the value of Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order and because of this many Secular Franciscans do not live the “grace” of Profession for what it really is. A true nuptial alliance with Jesus Christ aimed at a further consecration to God and at accomplishing a closer bond to the Church to reach the perfection of love and the realization of Saint Francis mission.
~Preface to Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment, Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap
Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.
~Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order