I recently attended my first Secular Franciscan (SFO) meeting.
As I understand it, there is an itinerary to SFO meetings that must be followed, which includes:
- opening prayers which must be taken from the Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order,
- the reading of the Liturgical Hours,
- appropriate formation,
- and closing prayers taken from the aforementioned Ritual of the SFO.
At this meeting, there were several problems which distressed me greatly. I actually went home and cried. I was just crushed. The most notable:
The opening prayer CONSISTED OF THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE (!!) for which everyone had to stand, facing an American flag! It was followed by a prayer that did NOT belong to the Ritual of SFO – a prayer for the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan, complete with clip-art pictures of soldiers with guns. The prayer that actually was from the R.SFO was very quick and did not command the attention of the opening prayer time.
The Liturgical Hours were not read, nor even mentioned; in place was a quick reading from a Medjugorje devotional (obviously not approved by the Church!).
There was no following Franciscan formation. In place we read a few passages written about Lenten practices.
There was nothing mentioned about future actions or ANYTHING whatsoever having to do with charity projects or even work in the Church!
I was shocked and, honestly, outraged. This had absolutely nothing to do with a Franciscan meeting. It was more like a heterodox prayer group.
So is this even acceptable to the regional fraternity or to the national fraternity? To me, when the Franciscan Order holds at highest regard obedience to the Church, it was an outrage that a meeting of the order should be held with a “Let’s just do whatever we feel like doing, whether it’s approved or not” attitude.
I am not going to remark on other things that I thought out of keeping with the Franciscan vocation (like excessive gold jewelry or such), because I know at that point I may be speaking and judging subjectively. But on the question of the order’s practices, I can be sure that I am not upset over nothing, correct?