Thoughts about Becoming a Secular Franciscan

What is the Franciscan message for me?
A good Franciscan example is the best teacher of all. It is worth a thousand instructions, a thousand books. It leads and says, “This is the way. Come follow me.”

A good prayer life is also essential. Every person must establish his or her own prayer pattern for each day, including, if at all possible, Mass and Communion. A while ago we said that reading was all-important; now we add, we need to pray, pray, pray. And we need to think and meditate — Read, think and pray. Pray to the Holy Spirit to help your thoughts zero in on the MESSAGE.
What is the message for me, how can I use it in my daily living?
How can I use it in my ongoing formation?
Francis’ conversion was an ongoing process, it didn’t happen one bright morning in Assisi. It took years, sometimes agonizing years for him.
When one is professed it is only the beginning. Formation begins on the day a candidate attends the first instruction class, and it ends the day of his or her death.
A Franciscan in formation, which means every one of us, should go about like a lighted candle — simple and humble. The thought comes to me of the sacred Host that is so ordinary to look at; yet so EXTRAORDINARY in the vastness of what it is.
We are Pilgrims on our way — peaceful and quiet.
Remember a lighted candle doesn’t make any noise, but everybody knows it is there.

How do Secular Franciscan strive for spiritual perfection?
They do it the Gospel way. They strive to follow the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus and try to come to KNOW Jesus intimately. First of all, they endeaver to bring about an inward radical conversion (metanoia), and they do this by an ongoing stripping away of worldly inclinations and taking on instead, Christ-centeredness. They try to rid themselves of their own absorption with their own ideas, their own egotism, their wanting their own way — then take on an openness to the ways, thoughts, suggestions, etc. of others. It is important for a Secular Franciscan, at all times, to be an example of Gospel-living in the world where he lives.
The S.F.O. can be looked upon as a school of perfection because sincere dedication to following its ways helps to mold us in a pattern that points our steps in a forward direction towards spiritual perfection.

Is the Secular Franciscan Way the best way to salvation ?

Not necessarily the best, but a candidate can be absolutely sure that there is no more exalted charisma than that of St. Francis of Assisi. The very fact that it is called the Gospel Way is proof of this truth. The Gospel Way is the way of Jesus Christ. You can’t top that. His way Is the perfect way.

Is the S.F.O. a purely devotional society ?
No, we are lay People. Our Franciscan life takes place in our neighborhood, in the community, in the marketplace; among people in all walks of life. Our next door neighbor is our concern. Our parish, government, ecology, and all of God’s creation are our concern. We live a dual role: First: devotional — our prayer life is absolutely essential to being a good Franciscan. Second: our life in the world — It is very aptly put in our Rule, we go from “Gospel to life and from life to Gospel.” One does not end and the other begin; they intermesh, bound together like Siamese twins, one cannot exist without the other.

Is profession in the Secular Franciscan Order a permanent commitment.
Yes. Inquirers about the Secular Franciscan way are persons who have answered a call by God to intensify a striving for holiness by following the Franciscan way. One is not quite satisfied to let things drift as they have been. One has a feeling that there is so much more to the spiritual side of life than they have been experiencing. The question will present itself, “Will I find the answer to my need for a stronger spiritual life in this Franciscan way?” As you attend the regular meetings and open yourselves to instructions, the answer to that question will unfold for you. Either it will be the way for you; or it will not, in which case there is no point in your continuing with it.
Now, in our “Ritual” we have this:
“On behalf of this fraternity, I warmly welcome you, and I note your desire to inquire into the Secular Franciscan way of life. Be assured that in your search you will have the support and the encouragement of our prayer, our formation and our example. And always keep in mind the words of St. Francis to Brother Leo: ‘In whatever way you think will best please our Lord God and follow in his footsteps and in poverty, take that way with the Lord God’s blessing.’” (From the Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, Ceremony of Introduction and Welcoming,).
After you go through the ceremony of Reception, you, a candidate, become an active member, and go on preparing yourselves for a permanent commitment when you will be professed.
From the beginning of your inquiry, you will be engaged in a gradual step by step process of working towards a life-long commitment to intensify your striving for spiritual perfection.
The entire Fraternity has an obligation to help you to shape yourself in this way by their example.
In this formative period you will be guided into forming yourselves in the Gospel way by using what you have learned in the instruction sessions, and taking them right with you into your every-day living situations. The Franciscan way should begin to live with you.
As you grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, He will become a more a intimate part of your life. You will be going from Jesus in the Gospels to Jesus in you. You will be lifting Jesus out of the pages of the Gospel and bring Him to life in your every-day existence. He will begin to live within your conscious, rather than in your subconscious.
You will come to know better this person, Jesus. He will be a live person walking right with you wherever you go.
The formation of a Secular Franciscan is indeed a lengthy process in which each of you, and each of us, individually, form ourselves minute by minute and day by day and year by year.
And so, for you who are new to this way of life, you will gradually come to a voluntarily and purposeful commitment to step across the threshold of a new environment where you will find yourselves happily and permanently part of the way of St. Francis.
Now, I have a question for you: Is the Secular Franciscan Order for me and am I called to live it?

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