In "A Specific Vocation for a Particular Mission" by Benedetto Lino, OFS, this month's (July 2012) Ongoing Formation - Monthly Dossier, Benedetto makes reference to the beauty of the simplicity of God (as Francis did), and in his last sentence, "Francis’ vocation was that of being simply Christian. He never sought any further description than that of being wholly and completely Christian. We, too, need to understand that to be his disciples means to be simply and solely Christian, as he was."
I'm re-emphasizing this 'simplicity' to make sure we all realize this as a part of our vocation and charism - to be simply and solely Christian. St. Francis didn't put on any airs, he preached simply. In our complex society, is it possible for us to also be simple people?
If you have a knack for leadership, that's great - but being a servant and having a sense for humility and minority, will get you into Heaven faster. "The Secular Franciscan Order is a permanent commitment to identity as fully as possible with the life and mission of Jesus Christ through spiritual growth, Christian witness and service, and an experience of fraternal life."(1)
You'd also want to re-read the following:
A Reflection on the Franciscan Life by Fred Schaeffer, SFO
In order to live a simple Franciscan life, we have to "de-clutter" both what we are thinking about as well as how we live in our houses. I am absolutely terrible in that sense, because I am not good at "de-cluttering." I was looking for some room around my computer to lay down an open notebook binder (in fact, the F.U.N. Formation Manual) - but I no longer have a clear surface around me, so the notebook lies on top of what is already there. Some people can't live like that. I simply don't "see" what is underneath. I'm too busy with all this writing to even care - but it is not simplicity. Simplicity is just enough furniture and no excesses. Simplicity is a radical model of living, like 800 years ago, when friars simply didn't have much. They became satisfied with little.
Today, however, we have to have big TV's, a 800-watt sound system that drives the neighbors crazy six houses away! I used to live in New York where people live closely together, apartment houses six stories high with 6-10 families per floor - if one has a noisy neighbor, it is possible to go absolutely insane! I know this from experience! A simple Franciscan will have enough love of neighbor to be satisfied with a little radio rather than a 800-watt amplifier.
Being a "simple Franciscan" is in part about living frugally, but we really mean something else. We're reflecting on the inner person. What is our disposition about prayer and about having that special, filial, relationship with the Lord? That relationship comes from living a simple Christian life, a life totally dedicated to Christ, without pretenses, in total abandonment to Him - it is a gift of God, given to those who obey Him, and the Tenets of our Faith, the Catholic Church. It is a gift to those who offer up all they do in the name of Jesus. It is a gift of a contemplative relationship of spouse (brother or sister) to Jesus. Secular Franciscans whose spirituality is that of a simple Franciscan, as our Seraphic Father was, will find great solace and love in contemplation and, finally, unity with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Peace and Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
June 7, 2012