Thursday, April 18, 2019

Franciscan Day in Hilton






Pax et bonum

Although Lent is almost over ...



A Celtic Prayer for Lent: You are God
Celtic oral tradition (1st millennium)

You are the peace of all things calm;
You are the place to hide from harm.


You are the light that shines in dark;
You are the heart’s eternal spark.


You are the door that’s open wide;
You are the guest who waits inside.


You are the stranger at the door;
You are the calling of the poor.

 

You are my Lord and with me still;
You are my love, keep me from ill.


You are the light, the truth, the way;
You are my Savior this very day..

 

Litany for Lent
Lord Jesus, you have come to save us from our sins.
Lord, have mercy.
You fasted to encourage us to do penance.
Lord, have mercy.
You suffered temptation to give us strength.
Lord, have mercy.
You were transfigured to give us hope.
Lord, have mercy.
You suffered insults to bring us salvation.
Lord, have mercy.
You accepted death to bring us life with you.
Lord, have mercy.


Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Secular Franciscan Priority for the Next Three Years: Fraternity


(As published in the Winter 2018-19 Tau-USA)

From the National Executive Council

NATIONAL PRIORITY FOR 2019-2021

At the 2018 Chapter, the National Fraternity Council (NAFRA) discussed the question of national priorities for 2019–2021. Many suggestions were presented, and several were mentioned multiple times, but no one priority stood out clearly. It was the consensus of the body that the incoming National Executive Council (NEC) should decide our national priorities for the  upcoming three years. The NEC is happy to announce that this was accomplished at our December 13–16, 2018, meeting in St. Louis, Mo. During this meeting, we prayerfully considered the needs of the national family, as well as the feedback from the NAFRA Geo Groups at Chapter, and the decision became clear to us. While in past years NAFRA has set as many as six priorities, this year we chose to narrow our focus to one—Fraternity Life.

Note that concentrating on fostering vibrant fraternity life does not imply that previous priorities will be ignored or neglected. Formation, JPIC, Communications, and Spiritual Assistance will all play an important role in strengthening our local fraternities.

The decision to choose Fraternity Life was confirmed for us in a wonderful way! A few weeks after we chose this priority, we received a Christmas letter from our General Minister. In this letter Tibor Kauser encouraged us to repeat our “yes”unconditionally—saying yes to God, yes to our vocation, and yes to our neighbor. He then repeated three times “…this will give new life to our fraternities, too!” (See our General Minister’s Christmas Letter on page 5)

To help all of us achieve this priority we decided to highlight three aspects of fraternity life:
National Priority 2019-2021

Fraternity Life

1. Deepening our Franciscan Vocation
2. Growing in Fraternal Communion
3. Cultivating Universal Kinship

Our relationships with God, with our OFS brothers and sisters, and with all people made in
the image and likeness of God will be the subject of future reflections, as will some of the means
(commitment, conversion, communication) we must use to enable our fraternities to grow in
holiness.

Meanwhile, let us begin by reflecting on the spiritual reality and purpose of our fraternities. We’re so used to participating in various groups, both within and outside the Church, that it’s easy to treat our fraternity as just another group, rather than as an integral part of our vocation. Let’s look at our foundational documents. How do they portray fraternity?

Our General Constitutions state: Art. 28.1. The fraternity of the OFS finds its origin in the inspiration of Saint Francis of Assisi to whom the Most High revealed the essential gospel quality of life in fraternal communion (See Constitutions 3.3 (below); Testament 14).

Art. 3.3. The vocation to the OFS is a vocation to live the Gospel in fraternal communion. For this purpose, the members of the OFS gather in ecclesial communities which are called fraternities. Art. 100.3. Fidelity to their own charism, Franciscan and secular, and the witness of  building fraternity sincerely and openly are their principal services to the Church, which is the community of love. They should be recognized in it by their "being," from which their mission springs.
 
Points to ponder:  

• The fraternity is not an afterthought. It originated with St. Francis, and its essential gospel quality was revealed to Francis by God Himself.

• We don’t just “live the Gospel.” We live it “in f r a t e r n a l commu n i o n . ” Fraternal
communion is thus defined as a constitutive element of our vocation. We have a specific way of being in the world, and a specific way of being together… in fraternal communion.

• The Constitutions tie building fraternity to our Franciscan mission of “rebuilding” the Church. In fact, they term it one of the principal services we as an Order do for the Church. Recall that during our profession we promised to spend our efforts doing this very thing.The local fraternity is a visible sign of the Church, a community of faith and love. Together with all the members, you now pledge yourselves to spend your efforts to make the fraternity a genuine ecclesial assembly and a living Franciscan community. (Rite of Profession, Ritual of the Secular  Franciscan Order). If we fail to take this seriously, if we work half-heartedly, if we rarely show up at fraternity gatherings, we are failing our brothers and sisters, we are failing to live our profession, and we are failing the Church.

• Thomas of Celano tells us that Francis and his brothers rejoiced when others were added to their company. “Immediately four other good and sound men were added to them as followers of the holy man of God. …At that time Saint Francis and his brothers felt great gladness and unique joy whenever one of the faithful, led by the Spirit of God, came and accepted the habit of holy religion whoever the person might be: rich or poor, noble or insignificant, wise or simple, cleric or illiterate, a layman of the Christian people. This was a great wonder to those of the world and an example of humility, challenging them to the way of a more reformed life and to penance for sins.” (1 Celano 31)
 
Ask yourself: do people today feel that “great wonder” when they visit our fraternities? What sort of example do they see?

• “Come to [Jesus], a living stone, rejected by men yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house….”(1 Peter 2:4-5a)

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Franciscan Gathering


The Importance of the Franciscan Gathering 

 A gathering of the fraternity should occur at least once a month. The monthly gathering is important because it shows that you have dedicated yourself to the “Franciscan Way of Life” in community with your brothers and sisters. True Franciscanism requires sacrifices, at times, for the good of your fraternity and of the Franciscan Order. You have an obligation to schedule your times of serving other church obligations around the day of your regular Franciscan gathering.

 Your Franciscan way of life begins in, is nurtured on, and blossoms out of your Franciscan gathering. This is your community life. Only for a good and acceptable reason should you skip a regular gathering. There are times, such as health problems and family responsibilities, that you may have to skip a regular meeting of the fraternity.

 We all owe it to our God, St. Francis, and our brothers and sisters; your presence is NEEDED at the gathering.

- from The Secular Franciscan

Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A Reflection on Our Profession



Reflection on Our Profession

As Secular Franciscans

By: Rich Backlas, OFS

     As a young lad I remember going with my mother to the local post office, as she mailed a care package to one of my relatives who was in the military.  The time was World War II.  In the post office there was a prominent poster showing Uncle Sam with the American Flag in the background.  He was pointing with his hand directly in front, pointing at you, with the slogan that read “I WANT YOU.” 

     As a prankish boy I would go to all the different corners of the post office room to try to avoid Uncle Sam’s gaze upon me but no matter where I went I could not escape that gaze or pointing hand.

     As I grew older I reasoned, how would this poster be, if the person portrayed was Jesus Christ saying, “I WANT YOU.”

     At our last ongoing formation gathering, we had a very informative question and answer session about Padre Pio and his life.  A servant of God, truly a devoted priest of Jesus Christ, he dedicated his life of servitude to accomplish all that was asked of him.

     His gifts of discernment moved hearts of the mild mannered and the hardened as well.  People, who would normally be shunned by society, were brought to a renewal of faith and salvation history took place.  Padre Pio became an example to all of us as Franciscans to follow his example.  He, as Francis, our founder, become our role models.

    We are called to a commitment to use our gifts, to bring about a positive change in the world.  The challenges we face in the new year of 2019, within our Church, compel us to take an active role as Franciscans to bring about a common good!  While we might question how effective we can be, we must realize that all things are possible with God.

     “And if God is for us, who can be against us?”  May we dedicate ourselves daily, to do His will.  Amen.


Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The results are in


This fall we conducted a survey of parish and non-parish ministries in which Fraternity members engage. The hope was to get a sense of the broad range of ways in which the members live out their Franciscan vocations, and perhaps to offer some ideas and inspiration for expanding our own activities.
 
Fraternity members belong to a number of different parishes. Among the most common volunteer activities are lectors, Eucharistic ministers, and music ministers. Some members are involved with prayer groups and Bible study, Vacation Bible School, evangelization, and conducting Communion services. Some engage in outreach activities, such as Stephen Ministry, food pantries, clothes closets, and Thanksgiving/Christmas basket programs. Still others use their gifts behind the scenes, such as serving on buildings and grounds committees or counting the collection.
 
In addition of parish-related ministries, Fraternity members are active in the broader world.
 
A number of members are involved in pro-life activities - Project Rachel, Focus Pregnancy Help Center, Rachel’s Vineyard, Sidewalk Advocates, 40 Days for Life Pro-life vigils, Good Friday Stations of the Cross for Life, and Feminists for Non-Violent Choices. Some are involved with ministries and groups, including prison ministry, the Catholic Daughters, Church Women United, the Ladies of Charity, the Children’s Agenda, Magnificat Women’s Breakfasts, the Diocesan Public Policy Committee, and volunteering at the Padre Pio Chapel.  There are others who evangelize when they get the opportunity - such as when undergoing dialysis - or who regularly visit and help those who are infirm, homebound, and so on.
 
The picture we get is of Franciscans who take to heart our call to embrace the Gospel, and to proclaim God’s message to the world through our words and actions.
 
Perhaps in reading what others do, we may get ideas about other things we can do individually.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 17, 2018

St. Francis and the sinful priest


One version of the story ...

By the time Francis was an old man, he was widely known as a saintly man. He was afflicted by a disease that robbed him of his sight and he suffered so severely from the stigmata that he could not walk. He rode a donkey from town to town.

There was a town who's priest was living in sin with a woman. When the townspeople heard Francis of Assisi was coming to their town, they rejoiced, hoping the holy man would rid them of their sinful priest.

When Francis arrived, the people carried him to the door of the rectory and demanded the priest come out to face the chastisement of the saintly Francis. When the priest opened the door Francis dropped to his knees and raised his hands up until he clasped the hands of the sinful priest.

Francis kissed the priest's hands and said "All I care about is that these hands can bring me Jesus."

Pax et bonum