Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director – October 2018

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director

October 2018

 Greetings to you my sisters and brothers in Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. All peace and good be with you! Blessed Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. May the peace and joy of our seraphic Father be yours in ever greater abundance as we journey with Francis in imitating Jesus and Mary.

I know I said in my last letter to you that we would start the discussion on Candidacy, the Rite of Admission and tips on progressing thru the process. But something important has come up that I feel needs to be discussed. That is what do you do when a really nice person that seems to be a strong, loving Catholic with strong social convictions is in formation but there is that nagging sense that “maybe they should be part of the Dorothy Day group” the Blue Army or some other catholic organization. The Franciscan Order is one way of approaching God. As our rule of life says: “The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.1

An example of this really “Nice Person” could be a simple one. As stated above, they are good Catholics, very involved in many things. Holy and noble things like the Rosary society, the Blue Army, maybe the Saint Vincent DePaul Society, AA, NA2 and so on. So much so that they have a hard time committing to the process, committing to Fraternal Life and the life of the region and national fraternities.

In the Franciscan Journey3 it says: “Initial Formation (Inquirery / Candidacy) prepares you for permanent profession as a Secular Franciscan. Our way of life MUST TAKE PRIORITY in your life. When choices must be made between SFO requirements and other groups, SFO takes priority”

Now, if a person seems to be in this situation and is willing to put those other “Holy” things aside for the Order, no problem. But if not, they may need to make a difficult choice. And if they can’t or will not, the council must make the choice for them. Fraternity and the Order must take priority. Obviously there are exceptions for Family Life and special occasions. But even family life can be a concern. If a person has a spouse that is not participating and not supportive there can be problems. The spouse could start getting upset if their partner is fully engaged in the order and they don’t like it!

Another good example is a person has a strong personal devotion to a noble Saint or other aspect of the faith, could even be something like “Fatima”. And that person tries to proselytize the fraternity and has them commit to the same devotion. So someone might say “how can that be bad?” In the “Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order”4 it explains that as Franciscans we are bound to liturgical pray. It lists the approved forms of prayer we are to use focusing on the Liturgy of the Hours. The Rosary and Franciscan Crown are suggested to be said in May and October5.

When someone who is a “really Nice Person” and even a good Catholic has a hard time complying with any aspect of the rule, constitutions, statutes and other governing documents there is a very real possibility they should not be professed. This is hard, I know. It is not like someone who obviously shows signs that they have no vocation. But this needs to be done to protect the fraternity and actually the individual. Next month we will continue the discussion on Candidacy, the Rite of Admission and tips on progressing thru the process. I promise!

Pax et Bonum Peace and all Good

Ted Bienkowski, OFS SKD

Regional Formation Director

 

1 SFO Rule, Chapter One – Rule 1

2 Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous

3 The Franciscan Journey, Chapter One, Page 2, last paragraph

4 The Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, Appendix II, Pages 103 & 104

5 The Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, Appendix II, Page 104, number 7

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