“The Rule and life of the Secular Franciscan 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.” SFO Rule: Article 4
I have ten minutes to create a post for this blog, so here goes!
The Franciscan way of life, both religious and lay, has taken many different forms over the centuries. Different lifestyles, different ways of prayer, different emphasis of mission. But it must all remain rooted in this, the Gospel and the way Francis strove to faithfully live the Gospel!
For a lay Franciscan, this can prove to be a challenge. But in accepting this challenge, he or she enters a blessed way of living. The will be high moments, and low. There will be times of satisfaction, and frustration. But we are not alone in this journey; we will have brothers and sisters here on this earth; and others in heaven, who will encourage us on! The challenge is to get off our duffs and do it.
Saints Francis and Clare, and all Franciscan Saints, pray for us!
In the Scriptures for this past Sunday, we read from the Book of Wisdom, that God creates life, only life. He meant for humanity to be immortal. It is only because humanity allowed evil into its hearts, that death came in.
In the reading from the Gospel of Mark; we see Jesus as the source of healing and life. A woman needed only to touch his cloak, and she was healed of her illness. Jesus restores a little child to life. And he will, by his death and resurrection, will free all from the power of death.
But death can take many forms. There is physical death, and then is the slow death of one’s spirit, one’s soul. Sometimes, the harsh circumstances of life can grind us down. So much so, that we begin to to feel dead inside to the beauty of creation; the love of others; the love of God.
It is in moments like this, that we need to turn to Jesus, through Word and Sacrament; through prayer and meditation. In encountering Jesus Christ, we encounter the healer, both of body and soul. Now this does may not mean an instantaneous healing. But if we remain open to the Spirit of Christ, working within us; we may feel a little more peace, a little more hope. And a new dawn will break open for us.
We all have had rough patches during our lives. These are the times when our life situations can seem to be difficult, chaotic, and uncertain. We question why things did not turn out as we hoped; and what the future holds. I have rediscovered a prayer written by the Trappist monk, and spiritual writer, Thomas Merton. He included this prayer in his 1958 book, “Thoughts in Solitude.” I discovered it on a prayer card, issued by a society dedicated to promoting his writings. I would pray it at times, then forget about it, find it, and forget about it, again. It does seem to pop up in my sight or consciousness during those times when I need it. I offer it below for any of you who might need it:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
“Someday,” is a word with many uses. It is used by those of us who prefer to put things off; “Someday, I will learn to paint.” Someday, I will lose weight.” “Someday, I will become that better person.” Life challenges us to not wait for someday, but to begin now to be all we can be.
In the life of faith, also, we use the word: “Someday.” How many of us make promises to God? That someday, we will have a deeper prayer life. That someday, we will become better Christians. Jesus challenges us to begin today; that “someday,” becomes “now.”
The Franciscan world is abuzz with the word that another biography of St. Francis of Assisi, written by Thomas of Celano has been found. A posting, dated January 27, 2015, on the English Speaking Conference of the Order Friars Minor (OFM) reported the details of how it was discovered. Scholars believe that Thomas of Celano wrote it shortly after writing the First Life of St. Francis and way before he wrote the Second Life. It is being reported that it contains information about Francis, which is missing from the other biographies; or had been changed in later issues.
It is know that multiple biographies were written about the Saint, one only has to look at the three volume collection: “Francis of Assisi, The Early Documents,” compiled and translated by Regis Armstrong, OFM CAP, J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM CONV, and William Short, OFM. That fact that we even have early versions for Francis’ biographies can be considered somewhat of a miracle. When St. Bonaventure wrote his “Life of Saint Francis (Legenda Maior)” and presented it to a General Chapter of the Friars, the Chapter accepted it as the official biography, and for reasons that still remain unclear, ordered all copies of earlier biographies destroyed. Again, I consider it a miracle that, according to Ewert Cousins, translator and editor of a collection of Bonaventure’s’ works; twenty copies of Celano’s first Life have survived, and only two copies of the second Life still exist. Now another work by Celano has come to surface! What new insights and revelations will come to light? The Franciscan world waits in anticipation!