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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What would our founders think?

As a member of a religious order, I am always wondering how much of what I am doing is in conformity with the life of the one who founded my community. I know that it's not just me. Indeed, whenever some members of a religious community misbehave, the quick response is "St. X would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what his community is doing." Not surprisingly, many of those quick to voice such statements are themselves members of religious communities.

If anyone looked at the way I live my life, it would be easy to say that I do not live the level of austerity that St. Francis lived - I'm writing on computer to offer one big example of what I mean. Francis had trouble with his followers having breviaries, I'm sure that he probably wouldn't have wanted them to have Thinkpads.

So, does this mean that I'm not living my Franciscan life faithfully? I certainly am not in 100% conformity to Francis but the Christian life calls me to become like Christ - not to become like Francis. Francis is holy only because he imitated Christ. In this sense, Francis repeats the words of St. John the Baptist "I must decrease so that he might increase". This is the way with any saint - their lives and examples are proclaimed so that they might direct us to Christ, and through Christ to the Father. In this sense, one statement I hear quite a bit "There was only one Francis is correct". Francis had is call from God to which he responded faithfully, but the rest of us are not called to live in the same way. If we protest because certain religious do not follow the examples of their orders founder, should we not first protest against ourselves because we do not follow faithfully the example of Christ?

This doesn't mean that I shouldn't strive to live more Franciscan each day, indeed I should - just as I should strive to live more Christian every day. This doesn't mean that I can and do behave in ways that are opposed to the charism of St. Francis - in those cases I need to be corrected and challenged. The reason why we have a charism of conversion is a recognition that we are not the way that God wants us to be - but we also know that through God's grace and the prayers of St. Francis that we can be. So, please be kind to this unreformed Franciscan and pray that this unreformed Franciscan can become kinder to others - even the Jesuits.


Blogger Jonathan St.Andre, T.O.R. said...

Good words my Brother! Merry Christmas!

9:26 AM  

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