Apr 4, 2012

Franciscan Simplicity

The Pearl of Great Price, illustration from Th... 
Our Franciscan Rule tells us that we are to live simple lives. Certainly, St. Francis lived up to this! There are Gospel and Scriptural references that illustrate this for us; Here are two examples that we can apply to our lives.

1. The rich fool (Lk 12: 16-21)
The man in this parable is going to enjoy all his wealth by building up more and more of his riches for his remaining years. He has put off the treasures of heaven for the treasures of this life. The catch of course is that he spends so much time working to build it up and does not know that he will not live to enjoy it. He not only does not have stored treasures in heaven, but he wasted his time storing earthly treasures. The verse ends with "Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God".

In today's world we can easily fall prey to building careers instead of seeking getting closer to God. The draw of money, entertainment, gadgets and more are tempting when contrasted against corporal works of mercy, and a desire to grow in holiness. Yet, as we are all aware true satisfaction does not come from excesses, but from holiness, both in this life and in heaven.

2. Pearl of great price (Mt 13:45-46)
"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it." Jesus is telling us that all of our possessions combined does not compare to the pearl of His love and graces. He is the "Way, the Truth and the Life".

In order for us to possess that pearl we must give away our love of the things of this world. So, how do we live life in the 21st Century as Secular Franciscans? Our rule says to live poor in spirit, that is in simplicity, "seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods and strive to purify [their] hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power".(OFS rule Art.11)  In his on going formation booklet Way of Life Joseph Portasik O.F.M. says "The key to detachment is 'simplifying [one's] material needs'. Secular Franciscans, therefore, should examine their attitudes toward, and their use of temporal goods. Simplicity does not mean deprivation, nor is it manifested by unkempt and haggard appearance and dress. Rather, simplicity signifies living in moderation according to one's means and state in life, and sharing what is over-and-above with needy brothers and sisters.". Jesus also reminds us that "For your heart will always be where your riches are." (Lk-12:34) POC. Bob, OFS