Thinking, as we move into this New Year, about my Franciscan vocation, and the call to prayer that has, ultimately, shaped all of my life, I have discovered two marvellous posts by the Church of Ireland priest Patrick Comerford, both addresses under the titles Saint Francis (1): Lifestyle for today? and Saint Francis (2): Community Life for today? given at the Francistide Observance of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Saint Ann’s Church, Dawson Street, Dublin, on Saturday 3 October 2009. Start with the first address here.
They are long addresses, but I would strongly urge you to read them in full. Canon Patrick speaks at length on our Rule of Life, on the Cross of San Damiano, and most importantly on the Franciscan call to rebuild the Church, and the life of the Church as community. He says:
Francis can be seen as being both Catholic and Evangelical. His conversion was the principal impetus for his mission, yet that mission included a call to the traditional church.
Francis valued the traditional expressions of Church life, yet his rule of life and his gathering of friars was then a fresh expression of church…
It is no wonder that as the tradition of religious communities was being explored once again, rediscovered, revived and rebuilt in the Anglican Communion in response to the Anglo-Catholic revival, many of those involved turned for inspiration to the Franciscan tradition.
The gentle approach to obedience in the Franciscan tradition has been described as a “middle way” in the monastic tradition, and so the Franciscan tradition has an immediate appeal to Anglicans of the Via Media.
The Daily Office, which is the office book of the Society of Saint Francis, was among the first to be fully up-dated with the Common Worship Lectionary, and so was used in the wider Anglican Communion. But it also provided the model for the offices of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer in Common Worship…
But Francis and Franciscan values also have a relevance to the wider, international and global community.
This is a world that has never been more in need of those Franciscan values of Peace, Poverty, and respect for the environment.
The Church exists to call the world into it not so much that the world may become the church, less so that the church may become the world, but that through the Church the world may enter into the Kingdom of God.
In age of a nuclear overkill, climate change and global poverty, Francis and his rule for his community, first shaped 800 years ago in 1209, continue to call us back again to the true values of Christian community and lifestyle.
But do read both addresses in full—my extracts here don’t begin to do them justice.