Jul 22, 2011

Our World.

Franciscan Spirituality is aimed at “hitting the world head on” as Francis did in his lifetime. After his conversions and before answering God’s call to engage his world, Francis was leading a life deeply fixed in prayer. Stories of his long nights praying in the forest cave are well known. His life of prayer continued until his death, but during those first years praying for guidance in the cave resulted in his call to live the life of the Gospel and to preach to the world.

He faced the world as he found it by tending to lepers, begging alms and giving away all that he had to anyone who needed it. He did not consider anything as his own, not even the clothes on his back. He would take trips around Italy and many parts of Europe preaching and giving example of a life lived as Jesus taught it. Without fear he even walked into the Sultan’s camp to preach Jesus to the Sultan himself even though it was in the middle of the war between the Christians and the Moslems! As a result of his Christ- like demeanor and peaceful example of the Gospel life, the Sultan spared Francis’s life and declared special consideration for Francis and his followers. Even today Muslims accept Franciscans as the curators of Christian sites in the Holy Land.

Francis did not want monasteries; he looked upon the world as our monastery. This is where he wanted our influence to be felt first hand, in the world but not of the world as taught in the Gospels. Secular Franciscans are by definition “in the world”. Like Francis we must be aware of “hitting the world as we find it head on”. By virtue of being born, God has chosen us to live in the world as it is today. As in all past generations, He has certainly provided our generation the opportunity in both small and big ways to live the Gospel life. Our opportunities are found in everyday life as we find ourselves in life’s situations. We all see the evils of our time especially the attacks on the Gospel life today. It does not have to be dramatic, but how are we choosing to live the Gospel life … outside the cave?  POC.  Bob, SFO  (from the July "Canticle" of the St. Francis Fraternity in Easton, Pa)