THE IDEAL FRANCISCAN
Of the many writings about St. Francis that have interested people for several centuries, the MIRROR OF PERFECTION has stirred up its share of wonder and research. It is apparently the recollections of Bro. Leo, one of the first followers of St. Francis, about the beginnings of the Order and especially, the Saints many thoughts and words. Preserved in no other writing by or about Francis is his description of the Ideal Friar: And now,
How he described the perfect friar:
The most blessed Father, having in some degree transformed the friars into saints by the ardour of his love and by the fervent zeal for their perfection which fired him, often pondered on the virtues that ought to adorn a good Friar Minor. He used to say that a good Friar Minor should imitate the lives and possess the merits of these holy friars: the perfect faith and love of poverty of Brother Bernard; the simplicity and purity of Brother Leo, who was a man of most holy purity; the courtesy of Brother Angelo, who was the first nobleman to enter the Order, and was endowed with all courtesy and kindness; the gracious look and natural good sense of Brother Masseo, together with his noble and devout eloquence; the mind upraised to God, possessed in its highest perfection by Brother Giles; the virtuous and constant prayer of Brother Rufino, who prayed without ceasing, and whose mind was ever fixed on God, whether sleeping or working; the patience of Brother Juniper, who attained the state of perfect patience because he kept the truth of his low estate constantly in mind whose supreme desire was to follow Christ on the way of the Cross; the bodily and spiritual courage of Brother John of Lauds, who in his time had been physically stronger than all men; the charity of Brother Roger, whose whole life and conversation was inspired by fervent charity; the caution of Brother Lucidus, who was unwilling to remain in any place longer than a month, for when he began to like a place, he would at once leave it, saying, Our home is not here, but in heaven.
SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER
St. Francis followed Jesus so totally that he is called a "mirror of perfection." Few followers of Francis could live so radically. As a result, the "First Order" split into three branches: the Friars Minor, the Friars Minor Conventual and the Friars Minor Capuchin. Today, in the United States, the historical differences are hardly noticeable. The "Second Order" is the contemplative Poor Clares. Since women did not begin ministering in the Church as active sisters until the 1500s, St. Clare followed St. Francis in poverty and prayer, if not in mobility and preaching. Today, the Poor Clares generally preserve a cloister as a way to focus their lives and work in prayer.
The "Third Order" is now called the Secular Franciscans. They are men and women, married and single, old and young. Seculars carry Francis and Clares spirit of simplicity, joy, poverty and prayer into their families, their work, their play.
From the early days, some Secular Franciscans lived and prayed in communities while they continued their jobs and volunteer work with the poor. Eventually, the groups became institutionalized and "regularized," that is, received an official "rule of life" from Church authorities.
We have an active community of Secular Franciscans here in Louisville. If you would like to receive more information about the Franciscans - priests, brothers, sisters, contemplative nuns, single and married Secular Franciscans - contact The Marian Center, 165 Sears Ave., Louisville, KY 40207 or call St. Boniface Church and speak to Fr. Stephen Schneider, OFM, at 584-4279. Additional information can also be received by writing the Franciscan Vocation Office, St. John the Baptist Province, 10290 Mill Road, Cincinnati, OH 45231.
"Would I might wake St. Francis in you all,
Brother of birds and trees, Gods Troubadour,
Blinded with weeping for the sad and the poor:
Our wealth undone, all strict Franciscan men, Come let us chant the canticle again
Of mother earth and the enduring sun.
God make each soul the lowly lepers slave:
God make us saints, and brave."
Saturday, November 03, 2001