Observing the Gospel
Francis did not set out to found an Order, people just followed him. As you will know there are three Franciscan Orders founded by Francis:
Three First Order: Order of Friars Minor, Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.
Second Order: The Poor Clare Sisters (founded by Francis and St Clare of Assisi).
The Third Order: Third Order Secular and the Third Order Regular, including many communities of sisters.
The First Order follow the same Rule but have different Constitutions.
The Second Order has its own Rule.
The Third Order Secular has its own Rule.
The Third Order Regular have their own Rules.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want to make one point. Each of these Rules has one statement in common which reads:
To observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Note that the word observe has two meanings:
Observe – keep the rule – e.g. keep off the grass; keep the Rule and the Rule will keep you!
Observe – look at and see – and what you see put into practice.
It is the second meaning that Franciscans vow to observe when they make their vows and promise to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
As did Francis: he looked at the Gospel, he looked at Christ and he endeavoured to put into practice what he saw in the Gospel, in Christ. That is the meaning of following Christ after the manner of Francis. That is being Franciscan.
Margaret McGrath FMSJ
8th August 2016