Help for Potential Franciscan Sister


#1

Thank you for taking the time to help me with my question.

I am discerning becoming a Franciscan sister. I am 20 years old and currently finishing school, so I have a few years to continue discerning, until I finish my BA at least. My objective for the present has become to dedicate my studies and my prospective degree to the Church, as I think a degree in my field would be useful to the Church.

I want to be dedicated to a more scrutinized lifestyle, but I do not know where to turn for direction. I really am dedicated to working my best to incorporating Franciscanism into my "lay-life" (and perhaps ultimately to replace my lay-life), but there is no Franciscan spiritual direction available to me where I live at present. As I commented in an earlier post, the OSF in my county is not orthodox and so I will not consider taking direction from them. I do have a spiritual director, but he is not himself a Franciscan and the direction is more based upon general vocational discernment.

If anyone has experience in the Franciscan vocation, I would really appreciate a response with some advice for taking steps toward living in Franciscan values. My questions pertain most immediately with the material situation -- what does poverty for a lay person look like? I speculate often on my lifestyle in this regard, but it is difficult to receive advice because those unfamiliar with Franciscanism (and dedication to any religious order) perceive scrupulosity in this too easily, and tend to discourage.

As a note, *my concerns come not from scrupulosity but from sincere regard for Franciscan values. *(I am not scrupulous, if that will help in the generosity of your advice. I joined the OCD/scrupulosity group on CAF to see if I had any similar feelings, and I found that I do not.)

Thank you so much for your consideration on this.


#2

I am, unfortunately, unable to offer you any guidance. I can say how wonderful I think it is that you are considering putting faith at the utmost forefront of your life. Just hearing that you are considering it is humbling to me, and inspires me in my own journey. Through recent experiences, I have come to know Christ's immense love and mercy, and have been pondering how I may do more to show appreciation for all He has done for me. You will be in my prayers, that He might reveal to you what path He wants you to take.

"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done."


#3

Lesson #1

Simplicity is one of the actions to practice as a follower of St. Francis. Do not complicate your life with too many things (items) and too many things (projects) to do. In this way you have time for God (prayer) and time to appreciate His creation (the world around you) through contemplation.
Detachment is another action to begin to take. Do not put importance in the things that you have. Be willing to give them away if you had to or wanted to. We all "need" things to survive and function, but treat them with appreciation that God has given them to you for your use at this time.

Pax et Bonum,
Kathleen Marshall, OFS
(Foundress of the Family of Jacopa)
Steubenville, Ohio


#4

Kathleen already gave good advice as to what poverty means to a secular Franciscan.

You already said what happened at the fraternity you looked at. Are there other fraternities in your area? Most fraternities have different "flavors", if you live in an area with several fraternities you may find one to your liking. We actually have people that drive over an hour to our fraternity even though there are closer ones to them. You also mention that you are thinking about becoming a sister. If you mean you are considering taking vows, whichever group you decide to join will interpret the idea of poverty differently. Many Franciscan 2nd Order and Third Order Religious communities will require you to give all the money you currently own to the poor and sign away all future earnings to the common good. Some will allow you to sign over the money to your family.

As a secular Franciscan you don't have to do that, if you decide to go the family route only you are obligated to Franciscan ideals, you can't obligate your spouse or your kids. You should always look at all purchases you make and anything you own from a Franciscan perspective.


#5

I roomed briefly in college with a Secular Franciscan. She had very few books, and about seven different outfits which she managed to rotate. She said their motto was "Poverty and Joy" and she was very joyful.

Interior silence; sacramentals; and the sacraments. Especially adoration.

When I embarked upon a lay contemplative lifestyle, I went to colored t-shirts (to mark days of the week) and black scrub pants for a wardrobe; hoodies with my Dominican shield pin; and practice covering by wearing ball caps. I don't spend hardly anything on myself.

Read the Franciscan classics and their lives of their saints. Also read the spiritual classics. Find a copy of the secular Franciscan rule, and see if you can implement it in your own life.

If you haven't read "The Perfect Joy of St Francis," I highly recommend it. I found my vocation as a Lay Dominican by reading it. My former significant other read it and said he realized his own sinfulness and wanted to embark upon greater penance. (College students have to be careful about that).

HTH

Blessings,
Cloisters


#6

I feel comfortable describing my material situation since this is an anonymous forum. Normally, it is hard to get exact advice on this because I should not speak too freely about personal sacrifices. If I explain this, maybe you will be able to help me a little more specifically. It seems some of you have reliable experience in this. I really appreciate your help. Sorry for the long post!

I have gone extensively (as extensively as I know how to at this point) through my material situation. Below is a list of where I am. I have donated everything else, or sold it and gave the money to St. Vincent de Paul. Clothes and jewelry are not a problem -- I have five outfits; I keep only a crucifix necklace and St. Francis medal. I have basic furniture (a bed, lamp, table, armchair, coffee table.. though four bookshelves), dishes, saint candles and religious statues, printer and laptop as necessary for school. A sewing machine which I use, but am still considering relinquishing. I do not keep a television or anything like that.

My problems are as follows:
1. I have a lot of books, about 200 or so. As a student, I can easily make an excuse for this... But it does weigh on me. Please advise me on this. (They are 90% history and nonfiction. 10% classic literature. Many are religious. This makes it different from just collecting trash novels, right??)

  1. ...And my biggest issue: I wear make-up foundation every day. Basically, when I don't wear it, people will tell me I look sick and will sometimes make fun of me. It is something I am really struggling with. I hope I can just wake up one morning and throw it all away, but I am afraid of going even a day without my face covered with it. I have made a lot of progress in phasing it out, though. Would you think this is excusable for now?

And would you say, just from this, that it seems I would have a correct mentality? Is this too extensive, or not extensive enough..? I do give a lot of thought to it, but unfortunately as I said I do not have much direction to depend on. This is not so much a cry for validation, but rather a sincere regard for your experienced advice.


#7

Sounds marvelous.

I don't wear make-up because I learned that women cheating on their husbands and prostitutes, were distinguished by the wearing of cosmetics in the ancient world. If you have a medical reason for wearing it, then go no further than foundation. I know of a religious sister who wears lipstick on medical advice because she has very pale lips and she looks sickly without it.

Books--don't worry about it. Offer them to God and let Him dispose of them. You'll soon start reaching conclusions about what you need and what you don't need.

Are you praying the Franciscan Crown?

I see your special text is in Cyrilic. If you want orthodoxy in religious life, look to Poland.

HTH

Blessings,
Cloisters


#8

I would see nothing wrong in what you are doing, as regards to simplicity. I use makeup and I see nothing wrong in it. By that I mean no vanity. I work in retail, selling window coverings. Since people are looking to me to help them decorate their home, it requires that I look like I understand color and style. If I could get away with wearing no makeup, I would, but I can't. I actually tried, and found people didn't want to take "style" advice from me unless I "looked" the part. Therefore I wear foundation, blush and eyeshadow (all lightly applied, so as to look "natural"). For me, keeping it simple means that I don't spend a fortune on makeup. I buy drugstore cosmetics. If you ever have a job where you need to look professional, you will need to wear makeup. If you need to wear foundation to not look sickly, then wear it. Just don't spend a ton of money on it.:D Unlike in ancient times when wearing cosmetics meant you were a prostitute, these days, not wearing them means you don't care about taking care of yourself in the most basic of ways. By that I mean that it is seen as a sign that you don't care about your basic health and so on. These days, wearing makeup, for a woman, is the same as making sure your clothes are clean and not full of holes.
One of the things I have found with simplicity is that if I am not careful, I can make it very complicated. I can get so caught up in worrying about whether or not my simplicity is simple enough that it becomes a source of worry. Or pride that my "simple life" is more simple than someone else's. Or thinking that I understand what simplicity is more than someone else does. And so on.

Kris


#9

[quote="AssisiFollower, post:1, topic:321414"]
Thank you for taking the time to help me with my question.

I am discerning becoming a Franciscan sister. I am 20 years old and currently finishing school, so I have a few years to continue discerning, until I finish my BA at least. My objective for the present has become to dedicate my studies and my prospective degree to the Church, as I think a degree in my field would be useful to the Church.

I want to be dedicated to a more scrutinized lifestyle, but I do not know where to turn for direction. I really am dedicated to working my best to incorporating Franciscanism into my "lay-life" (and perhaps ultimately to replace my lay-life), but there is no Franciscan spiritual direction available to me where I live at present. As I commented in an earlier post, the OSF in my county is not orthodox and so I will not consider taking direction from them. I do have a spiritual director, but he is not himself a Franciscan and the direction is more based upon general vocational discernment.

If anyone has experience in the Franciscan vocation, I would really appreciate a response with some advice for taking steps toward living in Franciscan values. My questions pertain most immediately with the material situation -- what does poverty for a lay person look like? I speculate often on my lifestyle in this regard, but it is difficult to receive advice because those unfamiliar with Franciscanism (and dedication to any religious order) perceive scrupulosity in this too easily, and tend to discourage.

As a note, *my concerns come not from scrupulosity but from sincere regard for Franciscan values. *(I am not scrupulous, if that will help in the generosity of your advice. I joined the OCD/scrupulosity group on CAF to see if I had any similar feelings, and I found that I do not.)

Thank you so much for your consideration on this.

[/quote]

cmswr.org/member_communities/membercommunities.html
imaginesisters.org/

I'd look into finding a good faithful group of Franciscan sisters/nuns near you and see about spiritual guidance with them. The above two links should have some great resources for finding such communities.


#10

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.