A Gentle and Courteous Spirit

A Gentle and Courteous Spirit


OFS Rule 13. As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.


Rule 13 presents me with great difficulty. I want to be gentle and courteous to people, but they make it so difficult (no excuse!) I refer to specific telephone we get from telemarketers and nuisance calls. I seem to be getting droves (sometimes 5-6 per day) of a telemarketing calls from medical information services. These voices (pre-recorded of course) always start with “Do not hang up. This is in answer (or similar wording) to your inquiry about your KNEE pain, (or some other part of the body). I have no knee pains or whatever, and I suspect a scam coming on – on any case, I hang up on them. Problem is if they ‘get me’ when I am particularly busy (editing the web site, for example) with something that demands my 100 per cent concentration, I often have a few choice words for them. If I am writing a Reflection, that will immediately get me out of whatever spiritual mood I was in. Their call is a recording, so nobody hears my comment, but GOD does. It may not bother me at that very moment, but later, trying to pray, or meditate, it stops me dead cold. So, who am I hurting: me!


I like the wording in the TOR Rule, Art. 20.  “Let the sisters and brothers be gentle, peaceful and unassuming, mild and humble, speaking respectfully to all in accord with their vocation. Wherever they are, or wherever they go throughout the world they should not be quarrelsome, contentious, or judgmental towards others. Rather, it should be obvious that they are ‘joyful, good-humored,’ and happy ‘in the Lord’ as they ought to be (cf. Phil. 4:4). And in greeting others, let them say, ‘The Lord give you peace.’


Not be quarrelsome, contentious, or judgmental, I need to think about that deeply. I know I can be an old grouch, but like a deacon-friend once told me, “Fred, you don’t have to be a doormat.” Given half a chance telemarketers will walk all over you! But there are also nice people who make telemarketing calls. I worked for an airline company for many years, an International carrier, and there was a time when I had to make such calls. I tried to be nice to them (even though I wasn’t a Franciscan yet), but they weren’t nice to me. It is good that I served in the U.S. Army, otherwise I would have blushed at more of the uncouth words that were used. As a Franciscan my ears are red a lot! Yes, I should be ‘joyful, good-humored,’ in treating other people, and so should all Franciscans. Maybe it is too much to suggest that all people try to be ‘joyful, and good-humored,’ in the treatment of other people. Can you imagine how many explosive situations could be avoided?


Let me tell you a true story. Something that happened to me when I was a young (and very inexperienced) Private in the Army. The scene was "Basic Training," the first 6-weeks’ time in any soldiers' experience, even today. I was 21 years old and for the first time of my life I felt very unsure of myself. You see, the company unit I had been assigned to, was all African-American. I was the only 'other' category. When that became evident when I first entered the barracks, I thought, "this will never work." But it did, and to this day I realize that my pre-judgement was very wrong. I also learned a valuable lesson.


There were some people who did not accept me at all. Understandable. But the majority did, they treated me as one of their own, and in fact, the issue that we were different just didn't enter into the matter. You see, it is all about respect, and, about not forming opinions before a new situation is tried out. As I got wiser with the years, and especially when St. Francis's philosophy began to make a difference in my life, I realized that if we show respect for the other person, all will go relatively smoothly.


‘The Lord give you peace.’
Fred Schaeffer, OFS, 1/24/2019

Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

Vero Beach, FL


Term expires: 2/10/2022

Fred Schaeffer, OFS

Helen Caldarone, OFS

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 Jack Reddy, OFS


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Fred Schaeffer, OFS

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