Is God Calling You to a Vocation in the Secular Franciscan Order?   2 comments

The following writing describes what the Secular Franciscan Order is NOT and what it is, requirements for admission, characteristics of a good Franciscan, and the three stages of formation. Most important is that the call to make this life-time commitment is from God, and God alone, and that this call must be discerned.

First of all, the Secular Franciscan Order is not just another church group, club or “do good” social organization where one may participate for a while and then drop out. It is not a support group for the lonely or troubled or where one may come to resolve issues best taken up with a professionally, trained counselor.

The Secular Franciscan Order is one of the Orders in the Church, and profession is a life-time commitment. It was founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. It is the only Third Order in the Church founded by the founder of the First and Second Orders and whose founder wrote its first Rule. (Saint Francis founded the First and Third Orders, and Saint Francis and Saint Clare founded the Second Order.)

All in the Church are called to holiness and to be a saint. The Secular Franciscan Order is for those Catholics, not in a religious order, who are called by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the goal of holiness by embracing the Franciscan charism. It is for those Catholics who want to serve God and the Church by following in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. The call is a gift from God and must be discerned by the person and by the Order.

To be admitted into the Order, one must be a faithful, committed Roman Catholic, in good standing with the Church and absolutely loyal to the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Father and the Magisterium. One must be a person of strong faith, attending Mass on Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation and perhaps during the week.

One must have a strong faith in Jesus and a desire to follow him. Our Rule states that the “rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.”

The SFO is to bring hope to the world; therefore, people who lack hope, are gloomy and pessimistic would not make good Franciscans. Perfect people would not make good candidates as we are a group of imperfect, sinful people, trying to do better. Our Franciscan life is not lived in isolation but in community; therefore, since we are not perfect, communication skills in relating to others is needed along with much forgiveness, patience and understanding.

Much is required, including work in ministries. Our experience has been that The Little Poor Man of Assisi asks his Little Plants to perform many tasks for Our Lord.

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Dream of Innocent III of Francis Holding Up the Church

Dear Brothers And Sisters, By Anne Mulqueen, SFO NAFRA Formation Co-chair I am writing my final article as Co-Chair of the National Formation Commission in the form of a letter rather than as a formation piece. Why? Because, while in Rome, presenting at the International Formation Workshop last March, I had an awakening that still fills me with wonder. The instrument of this awakening was a humble and holy friar named Fr. Felize Cangelosi. He simply said that the seal of the Holy Spirit received in baptism and confirmation and intensified by our “Yes” to a lifelong commitment as Secular Franciscans makes our Christian and Franciscan relationships stronger than blood.

During our days together, presenters and participants experienced fraternal life that was so loving and inclusive that we knew it was gift and grace and certainly more important than position, nationality, or any other earthly distinctions. We were immersed in an atmosphere of unconditional love that left the fragrance and taste of God ever present.

My prayer for you is that, in your fraternities, you experience, or will experience, the love for each other we had in Rome. If it is not present, you must be that channel. How do we do this?

(1) By connecting with God, the source of all love, through prayer, both private and communal, and exhibiting a sense of internal honor and moral integrity in our fraternal life.

(2) By responding to the needs of the poor in our fraternities – not only the financially poor, but those living with difficult life situations. Essentially, it is living the Beatitudes in fraternity.

(3) By developing the virtue and grace of gratitude. Grateful people are receptive, generous, forgiving and give to others because they know how much God has given to them.

(4) By answering God’s call to grow into his likeness, not simply as individuals, but as fraternities. How we relate to each other is as important as how we relate to God. Jesus said, love God and love your neighbor. Apparently, the two cannot be separated.

I do believe that if Secular Franciscans decide to live and love this way, we will taste the Goodness of God in this life. Heaven will begin right now! Please pray for me, and know that you will always be in my prayers.

Your sister in Christ, Anne

Source: TAU USA Fall 2006

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In Memory of Fr. Emmeran Frank, OFM, November 29, 1921 – June 21, 1997

Teach me O my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of my life – in disappointments and in the thoughtlessness of others – in the insincerity of those I trusted and the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me put myself aside; think of the happiness of others; hide my little pains and heartaches so that I may be the only one to suffer by the crosses that come across my path. That they may mellow me, not harden or embitter me. As I go my rounds from one distraction to another let me whisper from time to time a word of love to Thee. May my life be lived full of power for good and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.

Source: http://www.ourladyofthepearl.com

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2 responses to “Is God Calling You to a Vocation in the Secular Franciscan Order?

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  1. So are members of the other 22 Catholic churches excluded from becoming Franciscans?

  2. That’s an interesting question. I am not trained or an expert in such things, but will give you my opinion. From the beginning, with St. Francis and St. Clare, the rules of the Friars Minor (1st Order), the Poor Ladies (2nd Order) and the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (3rd Order – the Secular Franciscan Order) have been approved by the Popes. The rule that the Secular Franciscan Order has now was approved and confirmed by Pope Paul VI on June 24, 1978, and delivered over to the Order on October 4, 1978, by the four Ministers General of the Franciscan Family. Only the Church in Rome has had jurisdiction over the Franciscan Orders. So my best guess or opinion is that Franciscans must be members of the Roman Church.

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