Thursday, December 31, 2020

Now is a Very Good Time to be a Secular Franciscan

(This blog post was originally published on August 21, 2019. During 2020, I decided to pin this blog post to the top of the blog. The only way to do that in Blogger is change the date to some time in the future. So, that is why this blog post says it was published on December 31, 2020. The blog posts below this one are in chronological order.)

This is a very good time to be a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. A lot has happened since the Second Vatican Council. Here are what I believe are the major milestones for the Secular Franciscan Order. All are very positive developments and bode well for the Order.

The Second Vatican Council encouraged religious communities to explore the founder's charism. The Degree on The Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life Perfectae Caritatis Proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965 is the first major milestone in the renewal of the Franciscan Movement. It said "The spirit and aims of each founder should be faithfully accepted and retained." As a result, among Franciscans there was a renewed interest in Sts. Francis and Clare and their earlier followers.

After Perfectae Caritatis, the next major milestone is the publishing of St. Francis of Assisi: Writing and Early Biographies: English Omnibus of the Sources for the Life of St. Francis in 1972 by Marion A. Habig and Raphael Brown, et al. In its day, the Omnibus, as it was affectionately referred to, was the "gold standard" of sources for information about the life of St. Francis. The Omnibus gave Franciscans and scholars access to the early Franciscan sources.

The next important milestone is the development and approval of new SFO Rule in 1978. Amazingly, the new rule for Secular Franciscans incorporates Francis of Assisi's "First Letter to the Faithful," which had been misplaced for 750 years. The 1978 rule is perfect for our time. Secular Franciscans are encouraged to devote themselves to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.

The next important milestone is the publishing of Studying The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi - A Beginner's Workbook (1st Edition) in 1996 by William R. Hugo, OFM Cap.  I highly recommend Hugo's method for studying Franciscan documents. Simply put, you have a mind and Hugo shows you how to use it.

The 2nd Edition of Hugo's book is coordinated with the Francis of Assisi: Early Documents Volume I, II and III, which is the next important milestone. The three volume set, published in 1999, is in widespread use by scholars, academics, and the laity.

The next important milestone occurred in 2001. That is when "The Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (CFIT) was established in 2001 by the English-Speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) to promote a contemporary retrieval of the distinctive theological and spiritual vision that animates the Franciscan movement." Around 2007, CFIT established an internet presence allowing scholars, academics and laity to have access to an array of digital documents, including the three volume set of Franciscan documents published in 1999.

In 2010, during a General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI offered the world a catechesis on St. Francis of Assisi and two more on St. Bonaventure.

The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) published For Up to Now: Foundational Topics for Initial Formation in 2011, which is the next important milestone for the Order. The FUN Manual is an absolutely outstanding resource that is widely available on the internet as a digital document.

Finally, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013, a papal conclave elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as his successor in March 2013. He chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. The first pope to do so.

Yes, this is a very good time to be a member of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Zoom Meetings

This year because of Covid-19 rather than meeting in person we have been having Zoom video conferences, i.e., virtual meetings. Visitors are welcome. So, if you are interested in learning more about the Secular Franciscan Order and particularly the People of Peace Fraternity, you can attend one of our monthly Zoom video conferences. To find out more contact Jack Hill, Formation Director, at

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pope Benedict XVI's Catechesis on St. Francis of Assisi

I found this catechesis on St. Francis of Assisi by Pope Benedict XVI. It is worth reading. Click on the text below.

General Audience, Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Pope Benedict XVI's Catechesis on St. Bonaventure

Lately, I have been spending some time reading about St. Bonaventure, a 13th century Franciscan theologian. I found these two documents written by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 that I thought might be of interest to other Secular Franciscans. They are well worth reading. Click on the links below to read them.

Benedict XVI - General Audience, Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Benedict XVI - General Audience, Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Friday, April 3, 2020

Look for Opportunities To Show Love During The Coronavirus Pandemic

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, in addition to following social distancing guidelines, what are we to do?

Recall that one of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

Centuries later, St. Francis began his letter To the Brothers and Sisters of Penance by citing The Greatest Commandment. Today, his letter serves as the prologue to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Recently, I came across a blog post written by Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. It is called “The Coronavirus and Sitting Quietly in a Room Alone.” In it I found an answer to my question.

Bishop Barron said that since our normal activities are severely curtailed, maybe it’s time to sit at home with a good book, do a little introspection, pray and grow closer to God. I think doing that would be a way of showing our love for God. He suggests slowly reading one of the Gospels in its entirety — perhaps the Gospel of Matthew, which we are using for Sunday Mass this liturgical year. He suggests trying lectio divina, a contemplative way of scripture reading. He also suggests trying one of the spiritual classics, such as, The Confessions of St. Augustine, The Rule of St. Benedict, or Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. To his list of classics I would add The Journey of the Mind Into God, by St. Bonaventure.

If you decide to read The Journey of the Mind Into God you might want to avail yourself of many helpful commentaries available on the Internet. Look at several to get different perspectives. I am part of a book discussion at my church and we are slowly reading St. Bonaventure’s classic. It is interesting to hear what others think. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, once a week we were attending a communion service and then meeting afterwards to discuss the book. Now, there is no communion service and instead of meeting to discuss the book we are videoconferencing.

Bishop Barron also encouraged us to look for opportunities to show love and be a sign of hope for others during this crisis. Is there anyone you could pray for? Is there anyone you could call or contact? Without breaking social distancing guidelines, is there anyone nearby that you could help?

Peace and blessings