Francis and Clare : together they changed the world
Growth with God
Franciscans continually grow in an awareness of God’s presence and work among us. We open our eyes to the faith dimension of life, interpreting life from gospel perspectives. People are more important to us then profits – even though we can run good businesses. Forgiveness is more important than revenge, even though we may have the same feelings as anyone else when we are hurt. We cling to hope rather than give in to despair, for God is with us in Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit is stronger than any evil spirit we run up against. We recognize rich and poor alike as our neighbour to be loved. And Franciscans lean especially toward people who are poor and marginalized in any way. We base our hope on the presence of the Spirit given us by Jesus.
Secular Franciscans are ordinary people. We work to develop a gospel image. That requires a regular change or conversion. The Secular Franciscan Order Rule 7 puts it this way:
“Motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel itself calls ‘conversion.’ Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.”
This gospel focus is the heart of our lives. We work together to achieve these ideals. We learn to share insights and failures, dreams and frustrations, excitements and disappointments, vision and action. We do not escape our human condition. We are far from perfect nor do we see ourselves as some elite group. Our concerns cover all of life.
We are concerned about developing a prayerful spirit. We forgive each other when hurts enter relationships. We have hope even when the world seems to gallop toward hopelessness. In our humanness we need a lifetime to achieve these goals. Our Fraternity-community may require things that are not always welcome to our individualism. Daily conversion is our reality – for life.
SOME ELEMENTS OF SECULAR FRANCISCAN LIFE
- Secular Franciscans live in the world.
- Secular Franciscans draw strength from the Gospel of Jesus.
- Secular Franciscans share in the spirit of the entire Franciscan Family.
- Secular Franciscans seek to give flesh to the gospel vision
- Secular Franciscans serve others through social justice and ministries of charity and peacemaking.
- Secular Franciscans commit themselves to a way of life spelled out in the SFO Rule.
- Secular Franciscans develop a prayerful spirit.
- Secular Franciscans attend to the demands of their inner spirit as did Francis and Clare – a spirit of reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Secular Franciscans recognize the need for daily conversion.
- Secular Franciscans walk through life with a Franciscan Community – called Fraternity.
- Secular Franciscans are people of hope and joy – God is with us.
- Secular Franciscans know it is impossible to fall out of God’s love. Our brokenness and sin can keep us from growing but we cannot stop God from loving us.
- Secular Franciscans have a good sense of humour. Life is serious, but not so serious that we lose our sense of joy.
- Secular Franciscans see work as a partnership with God’s creative power, active in our world.
Some Franciscan Values:
Creating a caring community:
- Respect for individual dignity
- Hospitality, courtesy, kindness
- Friendship, openness
- Fostering loving relationship.
Sharing, compassion for others:
- Serving, caring for the poor and oppressed
- Concern for social justice issues
- Taking responsible social action
- Offering unselfish service, altruism.
Reverence for creation:
- Respect for all creatures
- Fostering a simple lifestyle, stewardship
- Human dignity and empowerment of people
- Concern for environmental issues.
- Healing and reconciliation
- Conflict resolution
- Care and understanding, to eliminate fears.
Text: Come and See [page 6, 8 and 16]
Lester Bach OFM Cap and Teresa V Baker OFS
Image from File : Chiara e Francesco  : Together they changed the world