How the Next Generation of Franciscans Understand the Vowed Life

by Sister Martin on March 5, 2013

A couple weeks ago, the International Franciscan Conference – Third Order Regular (IFC-TOR) updated its website and put on the most recent copy of Propositum. The feature article in this issue is a summary of how young religious throughout the world understand the vows as lived by Franciscans and the Franciscan charisms of poverty, minority, prayer, and contemplation. Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Martin Flavin is the author. Click here to read the entire text. Read here only a sample of what the next generation of Franciscans has to say.

THE EVANGELICAL VOWED LIFE

The women of faith in this 21st century who have recently embraced the evangelical way of life which Saint Francis enunciated for his 13th century followers recognize the importance of the canonical vows. In their reflections submitted for the International Franciscan Conference – Third Order Regular study, they show an understanding of the vows’ relations to their contemporary life. Some of their comments on the vowed life in general are presented here:

    • “When we choose to profess the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience we are deepening that Baptismal commitment and choosing to express our lives as proof of God’s undivided love for us individually as well as for His love for all people.”
    • “Being quiet witnesses in a boisterous society, being sent as guests to various parts of the world, living in relation with one another and with those we serve is the way we Franciscans live out the vows in a meaningful and challenging way in today’s world.”
    • “Being consecrated places us in the position of breaking the mold of our present day society. Fidelity to the vows we profess helps to create a way of life in harmony with all those around us, with nature and God, thus providing a difference in today’s world.”
    • “The vows are means to live our consecration through which we confront the challenges of today’s world.”
    • “We live the evangelical vows with enthusiasm in the following of Jesus Christ, allowing ourselves to become passionate for His Gospel and His work for the Kingdom. Our vowed life maintains us in conversion and innovative creativity which challenges us to live in the love of all God’s creation.”

THE VOW OF POVERTY

For Francis and Clare, the vow of Poverty directly pointed to the Poor Christ Who “though rich beyond measure, emptied Himself for our sake.” Like Christ we are to be content with little of this world’s goods, “beware of money,” and be “happy to live among the outcast and despised.” Francis defined poverty, in the Rule of 1221, saying “Christ is evangelical Poverty.” Through dependence upon the Son of God the religious becomes the poor one. (Article 21)7

Radical poverty, rather than only denying a Franciscan the right of ownership, encourages detachment from worldly possessions and recognition of dependence upon Divine Providence in every aspect of our lives, individual and fraternal, cultural and cosmological, social and psychological. The young religious reflected on Poverty thus:

  • “The vow of poverty is the vow of mutual sustainability. We are to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us, without possessing things. We need to take care of what God has given us. We are to be countercultural in our world where material goods are so much more important than people.”
  • “Poverty for the consecrated person is a commitment to hold one’s possessions in common and to live a simple lifestyle in a spirit of charity and humility. Poverty means giving of one’s time and talents to another. How we practice poverty community determines how we share it with others in the world.

Curious…click here to read more.

2 thoughts on “How the Next Generation of Franciscans Understand the Vowed Life”

  1. Any research on the next generation of Franciscan women world-wide is something that I am very interested in reading now and in the future. Sister Martin weaves their wisdom skillfully.

  2. The vows have always been counter-cultural. This article does so well at presenting their counter-cultural stance in today’s world. Thanks to Sr. Martin for the research and clear presentation.

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