The result of an authentic vocation

FOREWORD TO VOCATION, CHARISM AND MISSION OF SECULAR FRANCISCANS (Section 10 of the NAFRA FUN Manual)

Too often, especially in the past, candidates were admitted into the Order simply “because they were good and pious people” or because they held in great esteem some holy friar or simply because they liked Saint Francis.

Often, until today, people ask to enter the Order because they feel lonely or because they need to feel part of a group or simply out of devotion.

Obviously this is not enough. Quite the opposite …

Entering into a “form of life” such as the Franciscan form of life is not just one of the many “optional” decisions we make in our lives. It is the result of a very precise call of God to become Franciscan with a very precise purpose.

Becoming Secular Franciscan is, must be, the result of an authentic vocation.

Along with it comes a precise mission, in communion with the entire Franciscan Family, sustained by the very charism of Saint Francis, which enables us to accomplish the mission in our secular state.

It is absolutely necessary to rediscover and to live to its full extent the vocational dimension of our being members of the Secular Franciscan Order.

It is no longer acceptable to become Secular Franciscan out of devotion or without a true and authentic vocation. In the absence of a real vocation there are many ways to share in Saint Francis’ spirituality and in our own secular Franciscan spirituality, without entering the Order.

~ Benedetto Lino, OFS, Coordinator, Formation Commission, International Presidency, Rome 2008

By our lives we show

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.

With gratitude

We [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”][Secular Franciscans] have a responsibility to show the temporal world that the gospel and the Franciscan charism can be lived in any age, under all conditions and in every stage of life. It follows that our identity as secular people—people in the world—is indivisible from the other components of our identity, and we should “wear” our secularity with gratitude to the One who bestowed it upon us.

~ Anne Mulqueen OFS, “Our Identity as a Secular Franciscan,” (FUN Manual)

[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Gospel poverty

Simple living in littleness and openness further takes shape by identifying with Christ and following his example in such a way that we reduce material needs, curb a thirst for possessions and the domineering power that comes from ownership, and use all God’s gifts in a spirit of generosity, justice, and moderation. Gospel poverty for Secular Franciscans, then, consists in acquiring possessions justly, keeping needs to a minimum, and using what we have as custodians for the generous benefit of others. In this way we achieve the wealth of the kingdom and do not get enslaved by the wealth of the world according to the charter for happiness given in the beatitudes.

~ Adelaide N. Sabath OFS , Called to Follow Christ: Commentary on the Secular Franciscan Rule (SFO Resource Library, Vol. 1)

It is time to understand

It is necessary therefore, not to remain in the restricted areas of our Franciscans environments but reaching out to the “world”, while assuming the risk that comes with proclaiming the Good News across the board, with intelligence, simplicity, conviction, the same evangelical parresia, the courage and the frankness of the proclamation of St. Francis and the apostles. We, the Secular Franciscans, are acutely aware that this responsibility falls on us in a very special way because we are the “specialists” of the world in the Franciscan family; we, the Seculars, are those who live immersed in the ordinary conditions of everyday life. If we fail in this task, the action of the entire Franciscan family cannot be fully successful. It is time to understand in its full extent, the magnitude of the task and the responsibility of that task to which we, the Secular Franciscans, are called, not only individually but also as an Order and especially as a family.

Both are important

The local fraternity is the basic living organism of the whole SFO. It is the center for spiritual growth, apostolic outreach and loving union among members. Fraternity should be a place where we are offered an opportunity for conversion, for spiritual growth. There are two facets of Fraternity Life. One is internal calling, and the other is external calling; internal spiritual growth and external apostolic works. Both are important for the life of SFO. The Rule of SFO calls Secular Franciscans to go from Gospel (conversion) to life (apostolate).

~ Fr. Irudaysamy, OFM Cap, “Fraternity as a Fundamental Element of St. Francis Spirituality” (FUN Manual)

Always involved with Christ

Article Eight of the rule directs all Secular Franciscans to stress the primacy of worship in their lives — the interior prayer of contemplation as well as the exterior liturgical prayer of the Church. The article also urges Secular Franciscans to have an active participation in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist, and in the Liturgy of the Hours. When this article is lived fully, each Secular Franciscan will be a true worshiper, always involved with Christ and conscious of his presence in oneself and in others.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Called to Follow Christ

Leave the world

Our [Secular] Franciscan vision, understood and embraced, brings a particular spirit to the Church and the world. Our lives will show that spirit in all areas of human life both in our service in the Church and in our mission to the world. Our profession of the SFO Rule consecrates us. Though we are in the world we choose not to be influenced by its non-gospel values, attitudes, or policies. In that sense secular Franciscans “leave the world.”

~ Lester Bach, OFM Cap, The Franciscan Journey: Embracing the Franciscan Vision

The primacy of worship

Article Eight of the rule directs all Secular Franciscans to stress the primacy of worship in their lives – the interior prayer of contemplation as well as the exterior liturgical prayer of the Church. The article also urges Secular Franciscans to have an active participation in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist, and in the Liturgy of the Hours. When this article is lived fully, each Secular Franciscan will be a true worshipper, always involved with Christ and conscious of his presence in oneself and in others.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Editor, Called to Follow Christ

It is expected that you

The world needs this Franciscan spirit, this Franciscan vision of life. It is expected that you, beloved children, know it deeply, love it with passion, above all that you live it with the perfection that your state allows.

~ Pope Pius XII, To the Secular Franciscans of Italy, 1 July 1956