Tag Archives: Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Saint Jseph

27 February: our Journey of Love.

The final part of Sister Margaret’s reflection on the way of penance, Franciscan style. Thank you again, Sister! The last sentence is enough to ponder on throughout Lent.

We, as Franciscans, have been invited to join the way of penance. At times we will fail, for it is not always easy to turn away from ourselves, or to turn away from the values of the world which are, for the most part, so different from the values of God. When we do fail it is then, more than ever, that we need to turn to God and tell him we are sorry and carry on in our journey of penance – our journey of love, our soul’s journey into God.

Margaret FMSJ

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25 February: Lent is a joyful season.

Sister Margaret’s continuing reflection on Penance.

Penance affects the whole person and reflects itself in the lives of all men and women who profess to live a life of penance – reflects itself in their relationship with God, with themselves and with others.

We can say that penance (penitence, repentance) is the total and continuous giving of self to God in a life of love. When we understand it in this sense then the Lenten Preface does make sense. Lent is a joyful season, a season to be celebrated, not suffered, for it encourages us once more to turn continuously from ourselves to our God. This in turn means that we are more able to turn in love towards our brothers and sisters.

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21 February: Doing Penance: What did Saint Francis mean?

Zakopane, Poland

Sister Margaret gave me the following week’s posts when Lent was already filled, so I’ve had them filed away. It’s a privilege to offer her Franciscan perspective on Lent this year.

In the first three verses of his Testament,Francis of Assisi reveals to us that he had discovered anew the true meaning of penance. He does this by saying: The Lord granted me to begin to do penance in this way: while I was in sin it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers. Note that, for Francis, the life of penance was a gift from God.

If we even begin to mention the word penance today the majority of people start to close up inside themselves as negative words and feelings flow into their minds and senses. Penance, they think, that awful practice where I have to do something that is uncomfortable to me.

How often, when the season of Lent in particular is drawing near, have we heard the question, or been asked it ourselves: What are you doing for Lent? The next words you might then hear are: I know what I am going to do. I’m giving up sweets and cakes – and I might even lose some weight while I am about it.

Is that really what Lent is all about, what penance is about, where the whole focus is on me with no mention of God and it’s all rather negative? Is that what Pope Innocent III was commissioning Francis to do when in 1209, orally approving Francis’ proposed Way of Life, he instructed him and his followers: Go with the Lord, brothers, and as the Lord will deign to inspire you, preach penance to all. Is that really what Francis meant when he sent his eight brothers out telling them: Go my dearest brothers, two by two into the various parts of the world, announcing to men peace and repentance?

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MMG

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6 October: Franciscans Observing the Gospel.

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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:

First meaning

Observe – keep the rule – e.g. keep off the grass; keep the Rule and the Rule will keep you!

Second meaning

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

 

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