“The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this Family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.” (Art. 2, SFO Rule of 1978)
In the last weekend of April, I attended the Chapter of Elections for St. Elizabeth of Hungary Regional Fraternity; the Region our fraternity belongs to. Gathered were representatives from fraternities located in northern New England. We came together to pray, to break bread together, to socialize, to make decisions, and to celebrate Eucharist together. During that weekend, I experienced the union that Article 2 speaks of, I saw that we were not a lone community, but really are a part of a larger Order.
Today, May 9th, 2009, we hope celebrate a Profession, a person, before the whole fraternity, will “pledge themselves to live the gospel of in the manner of Saint Francis.” We will have the opportunity to renew our own profession of the Rule. The question we need to ask ourselves, is this renewal just superficial, or is it a heartfelt declaration that we again intend to intensely live the Rule?
As part of my commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Franciscan Order, I have been reading Franciscan book containing a selection of New Testament readings, and a selection of writings of St. Francis and other early Franciscan authors. And reading these two sources together and reflecting on them, fills me with inspiration, but also with sadness. Sadness about how short of the mark I am in living the gospel in the spirit of St. Francis. I ask all of you in joining with me in rekindling the fire of the Franciscan spirit in our fraternity, in our Order, a fire that will burn brightly for the all the Church and the world to see.