Sunday, December 6, 2009

HOLY POVERTY AND THE HOLIDAYS (Advent reflections for Franciscans based on an article by Br. JR)-Part II

For the Secular Franciscan, he must gently remind himself that he does not own everything that is within his means, just because he does not live in a religious community. This is not the way of Francis. He did not live in a religious community when he embraced poverty and the Gospel. He was alone. The community came later. The Holy Rule came later. He wrote the rule the manner of life he lived in solitude as a secular man.

Francis designed a simple tunic with a hood and wrapped a rope around his waist. This was the only garment that he kept as his own. He did not possess a closet full of clothing that he never wore. This he had left at his parents’ home or had given away. The only garments he had were what he needed for his daily life and work.

If we are married, have children, older parents or both, charity and justice require that we provide for our families. Providing for our families should not prevent us from practicing real poverty when it comes to ourselves. On the contrary, the family is the domestic Church. Every effort, every talent, and every possession should be spent on making the domestic Church a reflection of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Every cent or material resource that a Secular Franciscan has really belongs to his family and to the poor, NOT TO HIMSELF. Let us observe how Francis returned his clothes to his father while standing naked at the square in front of the bishop’s home. Francis begins his life with Holy Poverty by returning to his family what is rightfully theirs and more. HE KEEPS NOTHING FOR HIMSELF. He is but a good steward.

When the first secular men and women asked to be admitted to the Order, Francis gave them the Rule of Penance. These men and women have stood out through the centuries by their lives of poverty and their generosity toward their families and the poor. They have stood out for their simplicity in entertainment, dress, living conditions and associations. The many Secular Franciscans brothers and sisters who became saints or blessed were committed to poverty as Christ taught it in the Gospel. Their fidelity to this commitment, led them down the road to peace, joy and a deeper relationship with God, just as it did for Francis.

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