From the Franciscans of Life


#1

On October 4, more than one million Catholic men and women, committed to the Franciscan way of life stop to praise God for what he has done through the life of Francis of Assisi. Eight-hundred years later and on a bad day, when vocations are down, the number of Catholic Franciscans is well over one million. United to us there are Lutheran, Episcopalian and Anglican Franciscans. Then there are those who are not members of one of the many Franciscan communities, but are spiritually united to the family through their devotion, veneration and love for our Seraphic Father. Among these there are Christians of other ecclesial communities, Jews and Muslims. This man made few trips far from Assisi. Compared to the number of people who followed him during his time, very few people actually met this man.

One has to ask, “What is it about Francis of Assisi it? Who is this man? Why do we follow him?” To make it easier to reflect on this question, allow me to reflect on my journey and that of those few courageous men who have chosen to walk the path of St. Francis with the Franciscans of Life, either as secular brothers or consecrated brothers. To try to answer this question for an entire globe would require much more work than this short paper can cover.

For me, this day is always like Christmas. It inspires a sense of joy and gratitude in my heart, one that I cannot explain. I always experience a humble sense of pride to be able to say that I’m a member of the Franciscan family. It’s almost embarrassing to say, “I’m a son of St. Francis of Assisi,” because I know my sinfulness. I know my unworthiness.

Did I choose to follow Francis? I don’t know that I did. We can argue that the Creator has bestowed on man a free will, which is true. But there are times when the free will caves in the presence of that which is utterly irresistible, like a smore. In other words, one surrenders to the invitation.

To walk in the footsteps of St. Francis is an invitation from God. He makes it so delectable that’s it’s almost impossible to decline. In the middle of our restlessness, God places before us a teacher, a master, a spiritual father, a guide, and a brother who has traveled this journey. As Christ promised, the Holy Spirit guides us along the way.

In reality, it is Francis’ Trinitarian spirituality that draws us to walk in his footsteps. To walk in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi is to consciously live in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity every day of one’s life. Like Francis, we acknowledge that we are sinful and sorrowful. To a certain extent, we’re pitiful, because we cannot atone for our own sins without the help of the offended party, the Lord God Himself.

Our life is one of atonement, a life of constant penance, and constant conversion toward almighty God who has loved us from all eternity. Francis understood this very clearly and in a very simple way, without too many theological convolutions. “He is God. I’m a sinner and without the Cross, I cannot save my soul.” It was that simple. It is this great simplicity in the face of eternal life that attracted me to Francis of Assisi. Eternal life becomes so simple. Embrace the Cross and it’s yours. No questions asked. For me, there is such relief and joy in knowing that there is hope without complicating my life any more than what it already is. In fact, to embrace the Cross as Francis did, I am called to simplify my life by detaching from everything that does not lead to the Father, from everything that obstructs my view of Christ, from everything that blocks out the voice of the Holy Spirit. This is where Francis’ love of Lady Poverty enters into the picture. Only by being poor does one become rich. We cannot take all of our attachments into heaven.

Many people complain about the airline industry, because they charge you for your baggage. Some carriers are slightly generous and allow you one free bag and one free carryon. That’s it. Without realizing it, in their own way, they’re being prophetic. Heaven is very much like this. You can’t get past the gate weighed down by attachments. One or two gets you into Purgatory. It’s like getting past TSA at the airport. You’re on your way, but not there yet. The next time you travel, remember the lesson that St. Francis of Assisi teaches us. Eternity is a journey to the Father, following the Son, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Only he who is detached can is ready to go on the journey. Too many unnecessary attachments are like too much luggage.

Attachment can be to sin, material possessions, security, power, pleasure, people, places and anything else that we place as Number One in our lives. Franciscans of Life embrace life in this world and in the next, because it is sacred. It comes from the hand of the Father and leads back to the Father. There is one caveat; we must become poor along the journey. If we’re too attached to other things, it becomes impossible to embrace the life that God has given us when our arms are weighed down by baggage and impossible to be the voice of the voiceless Christ.

To walk in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi is to go back to school. He is the teacher whom the Holy Spirit puts before us. He teaches us how to become poor as Christ was poor and to surrender to the Will of the Father out of pure love. Francis was like the waiters at the wedding of Cana who listened to Mary’s advice, “Do whatever He tells you.” If we pay attention to Francis, he will teach us how to listen to Christ’s words. The rest is up to us.

Is Francis the only spiritual master or spiritual teacher? No. Like in any school, in the School of Holiness there are many teachers. Is he the best teacher? Only for those who can learn from him. If God has placed him in your path, there must be a reason. Pay attention.

Fraternally,

Br JR, FFV :slight_smile:


#2

Beautiful!:thumbsup:


#3

Br JR Education, I am a “spiritual member” of Our Holy Father Francis’s order. I am no Franciscan (yet :D:D), however at heart I am. I love the ideals He set forward. Total dedication and commitment to following Our LORD. Unreseverdly setting His sexuality aside to dedicate Himself to His spouse: The Church. Total submission to His brothers.

P.s Could you please give me some info on the Friars of the Immaculate??

I feel I have a possible vocation to them. I love the homeless, yet I want the Sacred. I want to help those who cannot help themselves, but I want Our LORD as well. To bring our LORD’S fresh message of Salvation to everyone…

I know this may sound like what “I” want. However, how can I express myself? this is how the “call” is manifesting itself, what other adjectives am I supposed to use??

Happy BLESSED Birthday to All Franciscans tommorrow!!

May Our Holy Father Francis be pleased with the order he established, and may OUR LORD save many souls through the work of all Franciscans. AMEN.

He is my patron saint, I also took St. Anthony and St. Pio on as well, so I do certainly feel something for the Francscans, perhaps a vocation?? :smiley: :D:)


#4

Praying for you as you discern your vocation.:thumbsup:


#5

[quote="mymamamary, post:3, topic:300652"]
Br JR Education, I am a "spiritual member" of Our Holy Father Francis's order. I am no Franciscan (yet :D:D), however at heart I am. I love the ideals He set forward. Total dedication and commitment to following Our LORD. Unreseverdly setting His sexuality aside to dedicate Himself to His spouse: The Church. Total submission to His brothers.

P.s Could you please give me some info on the Friars of the Immaculate??

I feel I have a possible vocation to them. I love the homeless, yet I want the Sacred. I want to help those who cannot help themselves, but I want Our LORD as well. To bring our LORD'S fresh message of Salvation to everyone...

[/quote]

I thought I'd take this opportunity to bring something up, since BrJR is going to be popping back in. I know you have expressed a desire for the priesthood. I believe (and I might be mis-remembering) that when you become a Friar, it is your Order that decides who will or will not be a priest. That is, you can't go in and say "I want to be a priest " and be guaranteed of that happening.

But I loved the way you expressed your desire I love the homeless, yet I want the Sacred. I want to help those who cannot help themselves, but I want Our LORD as well. and I think this sounds very much like Franciscan spirituality. I am no expert of course.


#6

[quote="Julia_Mae, post:5, topic:300652"]
I thought I'd take this opportunity to bring something up, since BrJR is going to be popping back in. I know you have expressed a desire for the priesthood. I believe (and I might be mis-remembering) that when you become a Friar, it is your Order that decides who will or will not be a priest. That is, you can't go in and say "I want to be a priest " and be guaranteed of that happening.

But I loved the way you expressed your desire I love the homeless, yet I want the Sacred. I want to help those who cannot help themselves, but I want Our LORD as well. and I think this sounds very much like Franciscan spirituality. I am no expert of course.

[/quote]

Yes of course, the Superior gives the final thumbs up or thumbs down.

However, I love the spirituality. The Fact that I can be dirt poor and the richest man alive at the same time. I can own nothing and EVERYTHING. I can own CHRIST and serve HIM in the disfortunate. I want to go to the poor, the homeless, the prostitute, the dying, the sick, the lonely and misfortunate and tell them that "Indeed you are a child of Our LORD JESUS, and HE loves you, and for HIS SAKE, I love you as well". This may sound too romantic, but thats how I feel. I helped at a soup Kitchen once last year (wish I could have done more) and I remember shaking everyones hand warmly and wishing them a Merry CHRIST-MASS and How at first I felt a little scared and akward, but I soon got used to it. Society will say that unless you drive a Ferrari, own 25 houses on various private islands and sleep around, that you are a NO BODY. St. Francis turned this on its head. I want to do the same. It is in the Crucifix, in the portrait of our Dying LORD that I find The Meaning of my existence, it is in looking at that most gruesome death that I find my life. I want to embrace HIM on the Cross, and press the nails and wounds to my side, because it is in those wounds that I am made whole. Not in drugs, women, houses or ferraris, but in the Cross of Our LORD.


#7

I thought I would post this: some Cute humor! :D:D:D

catholicmemes.com/insanity-wolf/insanity-wolf-st-francis-is-not-impressed/

[ATTACH]15104[/ATTACH]


#8

Did you know St. Anthony subsisted at times only on the MOST HOLY EUCHARIST all day? from morning to night as He went about serving people...


#9

I like this post!:thumbsup:

albertziggy:rolleyes:


#10

[quote="JReducation, post:1, topic:300652"]

To walk in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi is to go back to school. He is the teacher whom the Holy Spirit puts before us. He teaches us how to become poor as Christ was poor and to surrender to the Will of the Father out of pure love. Francis was like the waiters at the wedding of Cana who listened to Mary’s advice, “Do whatever He tells you.” If we pay attention to Francis, he will teach us how to listen to Christ’s words. The rest is up to us.

Fraternally,

Br JR, FFV :)

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

Thank you for introducing me to St Francis a year ago by recommending "The Perfect Joy of St Francis." :)


#11

Great stuff Brother. Thanks for sharing that, and have a blessed day tomorrow. Please also thank your brothers for the important work they are doing for issues of life, and for their continued prayers for the world.

Peace,


#12

As always, an excellent way to wake up to this glorious feast day. Thank you Brother JR.

Pax et bonum,
Jim


#13

[quote="mymamamary, post:3, topic:300652"]

He is my patron saint, I also took St. Anthony and St. Pio on as well, so I do certainly feel something for the Francscans, perhaps a vocation?? :D :D:)

[/quote]

If you also like St. Anthony, you may want to check out the Companions of St. Anthony.

Link

The Shrine of St. Anthony in Maryland in one of many ministries that they maintain. My Secular Franciscan fraternity meets at this location.

Link

They are OFM Conventual.


#14

Whe I think I have it tough I think about this little strory

*St. Francis & Perfect Joy *
One winter day St. Francis was coming to St. Mary of the Angels from Perugia with Brother Leo, and the bitter cold made them suffer keenly. St. Francis called to Brother Leo, who was walking a bit ahead of him, and he said: "Brother Leo, even if the Friars Minor in every country give a great example of holiness and integrity and good edification, nevertheless write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."

And when he had walked on a bit, St. Francis called him again, saying: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor gives sight to the blind, heals the paralyzed, drives out devils, gives hearing back to the deaf, makes the lame walk, and restores speech to the dumb, and what is still more, brings back to life a man who has been dead four days, write that perfect joy is not in that."

And going on a bit, St. Francis cried out again in a strong voice: "Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all languages and all sciences and Scripture, if he also knew bow to prophesy and to reveal not only the future but also the secrets of the consciences and minds of others, write down and note carefully that perfect joy is not in that."

And as they walked on, after a while St. Francis called again forcefully: 'Brother Leo, Little Lamb of God, even if a Friar minor could speak with the voice of an angel, and knew the courses of the stars and the powers of herbs, and knew all about the treasures in the earth, and if be knew the qualities of birds and fishes, animals, humans, roots, trees, rocks, and waters, write down and note carefully that true joy is not in that."

And going on a bit farther, St. Francis called again strongly: "Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor could preach so well that be should convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that perfect joy is not there."

Now when he had been talking this way for a distance of two miles, Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: "Father, I beg you in God's name to tell me where perfect joy is."

And St. Francis replied; "When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: 'Who are you?' And we say: 'We are two of your brothers.' And he contradicts us, saying: 'You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away]' And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls-then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!

'And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; 'Get away from here, you dirty thieves-go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won't eat or sleep here'--and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, Oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!

And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says: 'Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I'll give them what they deserve.' And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the ground, rolling us in the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds--if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must accept and bear the sufferings of the Blessed Christ patiently for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write: that is perfect joy!

'And now hear the conclusion, Brother Leo. Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of conquering oneself and willingly enduring sufferings, insults, humiliations, and hardships for the love of Christ. For we cannot glory in all those other marvelous gifts of God, as they are not ours but God's, as the Apostle says: 'What have you that you have not received?' But we can glory in the cross of tribulations and afflictions, because that is ours, and so the Apostle says: 'I will not glory save in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.'"

To whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

from The Little Flowers of St Francis, The "Fioretti"

feastofsaints.com/perfectjoy.htm


#15

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