Dear sisters and brothers,
On April 28, we celebrate the Feast of Blessed Luchesio and Buenadonna, the first Secular Franciscan family. Tradition holds that they received the habit from St. Francis himself. While we really cannot know the origins of our Order, we do know that Luchesio and Buenadonna were renowned for their Christian example and charity.
This year, beginning on April 28, the Consilium Internationale Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis asks that each of us reflect on and act for families. (Yes, we have a council and minister for all of us all over world!)
Our General Constitutions say:
“The spirituality of the family and of marriage and the Christian attitude towards family problems should be a theme for dialogue and for the sharing of experiences; they should share the important moments of the family life of their Franciscan brothers and sisters and they should give fraternal attention to those - single, widows, single parents, separated, divorced - who are living difficult situations …” (Constitutions, 24:2)
As the international leadership of our Order suggests, I invite you to reflect on these questions:
Before we try to answer these questions, perhaps we should ponder the words of Pope Francis about struggling families. In The Joy of Love, he reminds us to remember the omnipotence of God, especially His mercy:
This offers us a framework and a setting which help us avoid a cold bureaucratic morality in dealing with more sensitive issues. Instead, it sets us in the context of a pastoral discernment filled with merciful love, which is ever ready to understand, forgive, accompany, hope, and above all integrate. That is the mindset which should prevail in the Church and lead us to “open our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society”. (Amoris Laetitia, 312)
As we remember good Luchesio and Buenadonna, let us open our hearts to all families!
The season of Lent has been called, wisely and beautifully, "the springtime of the Church.” This year our ecclesial spring begins on March 1. For Franciscans, it can be - maybe should be - a time of deep and abiding joy. (Remember that “joy” and “happiness” are not the same thing!) After all, it is a chance for closeness with the One who loves us beyond all telling.
For us who follow Christ in the manner of Francis and Clare, there are many things we do NOT have to worry about in Lent. We don’t have to worry about how others observe the season. We don’t have to worry about whether this or that person should receive Communion. We don’t have to worry that serving the poor might harm us in some way.
Our focus need not be on what is wrong with others, the world, or even ourselves. We can make God Himself the focus of our conversion. This is what the little poor man of Assisi realized. Francis kept his focus on God. In the prayers of Francis, many words for God come tumbling out of him all in a rush. Here is the prayer he wrote after visiting the Sultan Malik al
Kamil in 1219. If you pray it slowly, you might feel a new, God - centered way to enter Lent.
The Praises of God
You are the holy Lord God Who does wonderful things.
You are strong. You are great. You are the most high.
You are the almighty king. You holy Father,
King of heaven and earth.
You are three and one,
the Lord God of gods;
You are the good, all good, the highest good,
Lord God living and true.
You are love, charity; You are wisdom, You are humility,
You are patience. You are beauty, You are meekness,
You are security, You are rest, You are gladness and joy,
You are our hope, You are justice, You are moderation,
You are all our riches to sufficiency.
You are beauty, You are meekness, You are the protector,
You are our custodian and defender, You are strength,
You are refreshment, You are our hope,
You are our faith, You are our charity,
You are all our sweetness, You are our eternal life:
Great and wonderful Lord,
What are your words for God?
Secular Franciscan Order
Old Mission San Luis Rey
4050 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92057
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