27 Aug Koinonia: A Secular Franciscan in today’s world
The Second Vatican Council and the Rule of OFS given in 1978 have made clear the role of the laity in the church and in the world. They recall all the faithful to the baptismal mission to which, without any exclusion, all are called: “They are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. They carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with respect to the Church and the world”. And it is in this context that all members of the Secular Franciscan Order, on the day of their Profession, are called to renew their baptismal promises. Thus they commit themselves to live the Gospel in the world according to the example and teachings of Christ, inspired by the Writings of Francis and following the Rule of OFS. In their secular condition, the Secular Franciscans must therefore witness that the Franciscan charism and spirituality are lived according to the different aspects of life, such as family and work, in joy and suffering, with the presence and participation in social life, in the fraternal relationship with all creatures, up to the meeting with all, who are brothers and sisters in the same Father (GGCC art.12).
The challenge generated by the rapid change and sometimes by the deterioration of the moral and traditional values of the family and the society, must involve every member of OFS to live authentically their identity as a Franciscan secular. This must be rooted in the Gospel of Jesus which continually invites them to the highest, visible and effective witness without ever forgetting that the mission entrusted to each baptized person requires a continuous search for the face of God in one’s brothers and sisters and in every situation of life. Jesus reminds us of this when he says that: “…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25: 35-36). In all these situations, the coherence of faith helps and encourages us to see each one as brothers and sisters, to love them as we ourselves would like to be loved, in deepest respect for the Gospel commandment of love. An ethics of reciprocity can help us to find permanent solutions to the many discriminations and indifferences of our time. The world needs ‘persons renewed in love’ who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty by serving others, people who recognize that they have been called to live not for themselves, but for Christ and for the world.
Secular Franciscans are therefore called to “…commit themselves to a faith-inspired reflection on the Church, her mission in today’s world and the role of Franciscan laity in the Church”. (GGCC art. 14.1). In order not to frustrate the commitment of one’s mission in the world, each Secular Franciscan should never forget the fact that although he/she is called to live in an atheist world, wounded by the indifference of division and individualism, “baptism does not take them from the world at all, as the apostle Paul points out: «So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God» (1 Cor 7:24). On the contrary, he entrusts a vocation to them that properly concerns their situation in the world. The lay faithful, in fact, «are called by God so that they, led by the spirit of the Gospel, might contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially in this way of life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they manifest Christ to others»”.
This is an extract from an article written by Br. Pedro Zitha OFM. Download and read the full text:
Koinonia 2020-2: “The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant”