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

Strive for peace

Not to be attached to peace in such a way as to be disturbed by the prospect of losing it, but strive for peace by active humility and obedience and renunciation of my will in order to please God—keep empty. It is essential to our vocation and therefore a duty.

~ Thomas Merton, Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer (The Journals of Thomas Merton Book 2)

What God wants us to be

Merton most succinctly identifies what he means by vocation in his book No Man Is an Island, in which we read, Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His kingdom. Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom. If we find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it, we can never be completely happy. For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.

We are living the same charism

We always look to you as our elder brothers. I would like to ask you to be good witnesses for us. Your testimony as Franciscans in your individual lives and in your fraternal lives is good for us. it is important for us to see how you are living your Franciscan charism, your prayer life, your vocation. But also, it is important for us to see your fraternities. One of the major challenges for us is to strengthen the fraternal bonds in our fraternities. In the last 38 years since the renewal of our Rule, we have passed through many changes. Our life has changed a lot. But, we need your help, your assistance and the testimony of how you live your fraternal life to help us transform our fraternities from pious prayer groups into true secular fraternities and it is not an easy job. We need your spiritual assistance. We need your love and personal commitment. It is not always easy to find friars to be spiritual assistants, but I kindly invite you to come and see our fraternities and give us your help. We all belong to the same fraternity, we are living the same charism, we deeply need your presence in our lives and we need this life-giving union. We are strongly convinced that we belong to the same fraternity, the same Franciscan family and we will do our best to help you as friars in your mission, in your service, in the church and in the world.

~ Tibor Kauser, OFS, General Minister of the Secular Franciscan Order. Remarks at the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, May 25, 2015

An inherent value in not acquiring

This is what we might call the missionary vocation of the Franciscan way of life. Emerging from a commitment to follow in “the teaching and footprints of Jesus Christ,” this is a disposition that orients the believer outward and toward others as opposed to inward and focused on the self. Like Jesus in the Gospels, Francis saw an inherent value in not acquiring the security and comfort afforded by the appropriation of property, resources, and status.

This special vocation

This new rule is only the third revision in eight centuries. The extraordinary continuity that Secular Franciscans have kept through the turbulent centuries and the ever-new quality of making a spiritual and social impact on the contemporary scene, plus the never-ending blessing and approval of the official Church for this Secular Franciscan spirituality and mission, all point to the success and influence of this special vocation within the very heart of the Church.

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

Where God wants us to be

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

I would first of all have to be

If I were to be a good Franciscan, that is, Christlike, I would first of all have to be in almost all points as this peasant appears to be. That is–to set no store on pride in knowledge, or possessions, or ambitions, but completely obscure looking and acting: and with all that not envious, not ambitious, but quiet and good, and giving people things, and being patient, and working and living on little food. But being, first, nobody: this peasant, obscure and dark, and silent, and not knowing much how to talk: of such were Christ’s Apostles.

~ Thomas Merton, Run to the Mountain: The Story of a Vocation

This is the vocation of the laity

The laity will have to come to a comprehension that our blessed Lord was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles but in the world, on a road way, in a town garbage heap, at the crossroads where there were three languages written upon the Cross. Yes, they were Hebrew, Latin and Greek, but they could just as well have been English, Bantu or African. It would make no difference. He placed Himself at the very center of the world, in the midst of smut, thieves, soldiers and gamblers. He was there to extend pardon to them. This is the vocation of the laity: to go out into the world and make Christ known.

~ Venerable Fulton J. Sheen via Facebook newsfeeds of Evan Ortiz, OFS, Terry Fenwick, and Joseph Tremblay

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National Vocations Awareness Week: There is no Eucharist without the priest

The Church is not just a collection of individuals gathered around a sacred text. She’s a community – a community rooted both in God’s Word and in sacrament.

No matter how many other things bear good fruit for the Gospel in our day, there is no ongoing presence of Jesus Christ in the world without the Church; there is no Church without the Eucharist; and there is no Eucharist without the priest.

As a result, in every generation, we always need good priests: well-formed men of hope and courage; men who love Jesus Christ, love the Church and are eager to serve God’s people. And – equally important – we need a community of believers that will encourage these men, and support them as a family in their sacrifices.

~Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., “Restoring the heart of Catholic life” via Catholic Philly.