Some Reasons Why to Take a Franciscan Spirituality Course

by Postulant Leslie Gonia on February 23, 2011

 

Father Charles Smiech, OFM is teaching an Introduction to Franciscan Spirituality course to Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Postulants, Novices and Sisters at our Motherhouse in Manitowoc, WI.  Postulant Leslie Hammond Gonia shares a reflection on the  class.

Father Charles Smiech, OFM

Father Charles Smiech, OFM, is presenting An Introduction to Franciscan Spirituality course to Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Postulants, Novices and Sisters during the month of February 2011.

During the course Franciscan Spirituality offered at Holy Family Convent, Fr. Charles Smiech has given us a wealth of knowledge.  Fr. Smiech has given us a picture of St. Francis of Assisi that was as honest and true as Francis himself.  We were given a clear view of the joys and ideals as well as the depression and struggle that Francis experienced. 

Silence and solitude are essential to the Franciscan journey.  Francis went often to the caves of Mount Subasio to seek solitude.  In the solitude, Francis went on an interior journey seeking to empty himself of his interior clutter in order to be free in spirit.  Francis was seeking to discover his interior relationship with Christ.  We are called to go deep within and discover an interior relationship with Christ. 

Our inward journey is not always an attractive one to make because we are plagued with our own personal phantoms and we are required to look closely at ourselves.  During this process, we find our faults and they are not very fun to look at.  As we find our limitations and admit to them, we begin the process of dying to self.  Then as we die to self, we begin to decrease so that Christ can increase, or in other words, we begin to become little. Becoming little was something that Francis strove to do for his whole life. 

This is the journey of Initial Formation and it is a difficult journey of traveling inward.  However, the gifts to be found in our interior lives are worth the journey. I think all people whether they are in religious life or not should have an interior life.

What do you think?

9 thoughts on “Some Reasons Why to Take a Franciscan Spirituality Course”

  1. Sister Anne Marie Lom says:

    I think Leslie summed up a complex and multi-faceted Francis very well! I appreciate the difficulties encountered and the courage needed to embark on the “interior” journey. I have found there is great reward in pursuing the interior life both from experiencing God's unconditional love and from having something to offer people who need support in their life struggles. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into Franciscan Spirituality.

  2. Sister Anne Marie Lom says:

    I think Leslie summed up a complex and multi-faceted Francis very well! I appreciate the difficulties encountered and the courage needed to embark on the “interior” journey. I have found there is great reward in pursuing the interior life both from experiencing God's unconditional love and from having something to offer people who need support in their life struggles. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into Franciscan Spirituality.

  3. Although some of us were not able to sit in on Fr. Charlie's class, we did hear his Franciscan wisdom preached at the Eucharist occasionally. Leslie's comments about the need for everyone to have an interior life supports the development of the three Franciscan orders. Pope John XXIII, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, had this to say:

    “Francis was called “another Christ”, in the sense that he showed in his life and conduct the very pith and kernel of Our Lord's teaching.

    We all have to fight against the lusts of the flesh. Many people also desire material wealth and dream of money, but Saint Francis teaches every one of us, whatever our social condition may be, to fight against “the lust of the eyes”, which is full of deceit and vanity. The wealth of Christian life does not consist in money and all its cares and demands. To some extent it is necessary for our very existence, but we must not lose our hearts to it. In the presence of his father and of the Bishop, Francis gave up everything, even the clothes he was wearing — such was his love for poverty. “

  4. Leslie, you are so correct in gleaning that our inward journey is not always an attractive one; it is not for the faint of heart and requires much prayer as well as a good sense of humor:) May St. Francis and St. Clare continue to inspire you, and all of our young women in formation, to be creative along this journey with Jesus!

  5. Ssharon says:

    Leslie, I enjoyed your reflections on St. Francis that Fr. Charles Smiech, O.F.M. presented. Just a thought that many Saints tell us of their struggles in following the pathway to God or Heaven and hopefully we “are Saints in the MAKING!” While attending the 125th. Anniversary of Mingo Junction, Ohio Parish in Fall I stayed with some Franciscan Srs. & while there I encountered many interesting, inspiring books on their shelves. In their kitchen was a prayer by St. Bernard of Clairvaux which was part of his Sermon for the Feast of All Saints years ago. “All night long my heart was hot within me & the fire burned during my meditation as I was preparing the delicacies I'm about to serve you! I speak of the fire that the Lord, Jesus, came to kindle upon the earth. For to prepare spiritual food there must be a spiritual kitchen & a spiritual fire. Now, I have only to distribute to you what I have prepared. But, consider the God who gives rather than the minister who distributes. For, I am only your servant who, God knows, begs the bread of Heaven & the food of life for myself & for you. Please God, that I may be a faithful cook & that my sould may be a useful kitchen!” Isn't that a gem? I read an article on “Prayer” in a magazine and I think it was THE COLUMBAN and the life of St. Francis could be summed up (and our life) in this quote by Fr. Arturo Aquilar: (in the place of the word PRAYER you could also put LIFE) “Prayer is a surge of the heart; a simple look toward heaven embracing both trial and joy.”

  6. Sr. Delores says:

    Thanks, Leslie for your reflections on the course. Silence and solitude are critical for our apostolic ministry, yet other things distract us or take us away. Francis knew how important it was to go and be with the Lord.
    God bless you as you journey with the Lord…

  7. Sr. Elaine says:

    What a beautiful reflection! We are called to “die to self” a little more each day. This can be a real challenge some days, but well worth the effort. It seems that when situations appear to be most difficult, hindsight helps us to see it is then that we have grown the most. God asks that, in faith, we give our all to Him.

  8. Sr Sarah says:

    …and it is funny that the dying to self is not flashy, and once and for all. Rather it is the slower process of changing thoughts and then actions. Sometimes, when we think “I have finally died to this thought, and it has no more power over me… it creeps back into our lives. Humility and patience are good companions for this journey into the heart of Christ.

  9. Leslie (Postulant) says:

    Thank you Sisters for all the supportive comments. The challenge of dying to self would be almost imposible without a supportive community.

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