Creating the Third Order…Pope Benedict XVI

by Sister Julie Ann on February 15, 2008

jesusofnazareth.jpgAn excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth found while the Holy Father presents the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, may be helpful when discerning whether the Third Order of St. Francis is where one is ‘called to be’…

“For Francis, this extreme humility was above all freedom for service, freedom for mission, ultimate trust in God, who cares not only for the flowers of the field but specifically for his human children…For he did not want to found a religious order: He simply wanted to gather the People of God to listen anew to the word-without evading the seriousness of God’s call by means of learned commentaries.

dscf0754.JPGBy creating the Third Order, though, Francis did accept the distinction between radical commitment and the necessity of living in the world. The point of the Third Order is to accept with humility the task of one’s secular profession and its requirements, wherever one happens to be, while directing one’s whole life to that deep interior communion with Christ that Francis showed us. ‘To own goods as if you owned nothing’ (cf.1 Cor 7:29ff.)-to master this inner tension, which is perhaps the more difficult challenge, and, sustained by those pledged to follow Christ radically, truly to live it out ever anew-that is what the third orders are for. And they open up for us what this Beatitude can mean for all. It is above all by looking at Francis of Assisi that we see clearly what the words ‘Kingdom of God’ mean. Francis stood totally within the Church, and at the same time it is in figures such as he that the Church grows toward the goal that lies in the future, and yet is already present: The Kingdom of God is drawing near….” (page 78-79)

The world needs you. God calls you. We invite you.

6 thoughts on “Creating the Third Order…Pope Benedict XVI”

  1. Openness to a Third Order Regular Franciscan charism includes a desire to live a penitent’s life. Flowing from Pope Benedict XVI’s words, one is drawn to a particular congregation’s spirit. Here are some phrases from the Constitutions of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity that attempt to articulate this deep life-force from which we live together:

    “Our foundresses embraced the Franciscan heritage which we gratefully treasure. Like them we have answered the call to live the Gospel as Francid did in fraternity, total self-emptying, joy and peace. We, too, let Francis’ humility and simplicity, his love for God and neighbor, his reverence for created things, his spirit of poverty and prayer, his esteem for work permeate our lives.

    As our Seraphic Father had, so we have special devotion to the mysteries of the Incarnation, the Eucharist, and the Cross, in which the tremendous love of God is visibly shown to us.

    Like Francis we profess reverence, loyalty and obedience to the Church and her God-given leaders. With Francis we labor to restore God’s Church through dedication to his service.”

  2. Sr. Caritas says:

    The contents of this book caused me to reflect on my own religious vocation. I’m a Franciscan. What makes Third Order Franciscans DIFFERENT from any other religious order…Dominicans, Jesuits, Ursulines, etc. You ask the question…aren’t religious orders all the same? Last week I truly learned: Franciscans ARE different. We really are. And WHY are we different? Because St. Francis didn’t really give us a specific work to do such as other religious orders are called to do. No, St. Francis calls us to …”live the way Jesus Christ lived”…and we find that way of living, that particular lifestyle in the Gospels. Franciscans are different because we strive to live, act, reach out, serve, touch, heal, forgive others in the way that Jesus did. And the works that we do are works of service through which we strive to convert our own way of living into that which is Christ’s…and Francis’s way of living. So if you want to be different and believe Christ / God is calling you to a religious way of “being different” then Franciscans are different. Come…Christ’s people need you.

  3. Thanks for inviting young women who desire to live Jesus’ Gospel life to consider our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity discernment retreats.

    It is not too late to sign up for the Feb. 29-March 2, 2008 weekend. Peace and all good.

  4. Sister Pat Sevcik says:

    “to own goods as if you owned nothing…” these words strike me in new ways, especially as I mentor Angela during her Postulancy. Angela’s material “goods” are few, but her spiritual “goods” grow day by day. Angela wears a plain “uniform” of navy blue skirt and vest with a white blouse and a navy blue jacket on Sundays. Her transition to learning the way of life of a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity is in process. Each day there is a deeper unfolding for her of the Word of God and the way of Jesus. Angela looks forward with longing to the day that she will enter our Novitiate. We pray for her daily, as well as for the young women who are searching to know the direction that God wants in their lives. May God bless everyone!

  5. Sister Sean Marie says:

    Francis recognized the gift and became the image of the Giver. May our lives reflect the same aspiration so we may say authentically “blessed are the poor in spirit.”

  6. Pope Benedict XVI, also recognized St. Francis of Assisi’s call to “live according to the form of the holy Gospel” on World Day of Consecrated Life, February 2, 2008. During the Saturday evening liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica, he addressed a group of consecrated men and women with these words: “At the root of the different expressions of Consecrated Life there is always a strong Gospel inspiration…St. Francis of Assisi in his turn affirmed that it was God who revealed to him that he should live according to the form of the Gospel.”

    Our Holy Father later also highlighted St. Clare as one who “imitated Francis’ experience to the full: ‘the form of life of the Order of the Poor Sisters’, she wrote, “is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rule I, 1-2;Franciscan Omnibus n. 2750).

    Do you find joy in listening, reflecting and putting the Word into action? Consider our May 30-June 1, 2008 Franciscan discernment retreat.

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