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Stella Matutina » 2005 » September, the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis blog
The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis
Stella Matutina

September 27, 2005

Led and pushed secular to be…

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 7:23 am

Led and pushed secular to be,
“We are not monks you know”,
on every day need we pray,
and refuse a lusty show?

The thrust of the modern Secular Franciscan Order, and perhaps many of the modern Third Orders, is just that. The laity are told to be secular. In the case of the SFO that seems to be why the Order changed its name even, from The Third Order of St. Francis to The Secular Franciscan Order. The Order seeks to be more worldly. Of the world even as it is in the world. That is not the mission the people of God have been given. They are called to be in the world as lay people. That is true. But, and this is most important, not “of the world??. Everything in and of this world will pass away or perish.

Our hopes are not in this world. The work we must do as lay people is. We are not monks, it is true. However, as laity we are to live with the same focus on Christ as priests and religious do, and no one should ever tell us ‘You are not religious??, though it happens often. We NEED to be religious in our focus, and do all we can in our spare time to forget the world, to pray and fast and prepare ourselves for the work we must do in the world. That is why the Rule of 1221, that St. Francis gave us is so helpful. It shows us in an easy way how we are to live to prepare daily for the life and work God has given us in the world. We live the Rule all the time, and especially in the depths of our heart. We work in the world and return to the Rule to stay focused as we must on Christ. We must ‘become the Rule’. Why else would St. Francis give us such a demanding Rule? Every day we do need to pray, to deny ourselves, and take up our crosses. In time, we find refreshment in the demands of the Rule of 1221, the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis in these modern times.

And if we don’t live that Rule, which calls us away from sinful things including entertainment, we might get trapped by the things of the world. These things include many distractions which we must refuse. Anything that keeps us from focusing on Christ is sinful and must be refused. Some things are inherently sinful in and of themselves, like lusty shows. We need to avoid both the things that keep us from Christ, and the things that are inherently sinful. May the Lord give us all the grace, strength, and wisdom to see this, and to do it.

September 2, 2005

Strength for me does come from we…

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 7:39 am

Strength for me does come from we,
fraternal communities on the way,
still Francis blessed my life at home,
in favor of distant play.

God likes crowds. The Lord moved among crowds. There are more stars in the heavens than anyone can count. More grains of sand on the seashore. More fish in the sea. No two snowflakes look alike. The hairs on our head are counted.

Heaven will be like that, and the work of heaven on earth is like that. While we are all different, it is also true we will each be judged, individually. However, salvation was offered collectively, to us all, by the great grace and sacrifice of the Lord. And it is in the spirit of communities dedicated to Christ that we find the strength to grow in the way of love and the Gospel that he gave us. The Church is community, here and in heaven. The family is our greatest community of favor and friendship in most of our lives. In these communities we love one another and serve God in building up what he wanted for us. A place to rest in the friendship, love, and service of others and be close to God.

Yet, St. Francis knew all too well that each of us must move in and through these communities on our own, and each of us is subject to the law of sin that is in our souls. He knew we would each stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ, and his glance would cut through muscle and muck, stories and sinew, and penetrate us to the bone and the truth of who we each are and what we each did with out life. He knew, as the Lord said, that unless we do penance we will perish, and so, having tasted the sweetness of the Lord and the life of penance he gave it to us laity to open a door for us to the Lord. That door we must each walk through alone, and usually at home, and it is this he blessed by giving us the Rule of 1221. A way to live that will bring us closer to God and help us live peaceful and holy lives in the world.

The alternative would be for him to have shoved us out in the world and told us to get involved in other great collective adventures and endeavors for the good of others. Not a bad idea; just not too practical. We must change first to change others. The first focus he wanted for us was on our selves. We do not and cannot be distant to our lives and live the Rule of 1221. It is a Rule of life that is fulfilled within the framework of our lives where we live, not in distant places and certainly not in distant projects. We need to lead penitential lives, of prayer, fasting, discipline and simplicity, where we each live. To be holy in our own lives. That is the way St. Francis gave us in his original Rules and the example of his life.