II. THE SFO RULE , CHAPTER TWO

Peter Keogh, National Minister SFO-Oceania

As we celebrate the 25th year of the promulgation of our revised Rule, we are taking the opportunity of reviewing the Rule and its effect on the SFO in that short period of time. The Rule was the opportunity for Secular Franciscans to revert to the basics of our way of life and to view them in the light of the changing times surrounding the Second Vatican Council.

Father Carl has spoken on the first part of Chapter Two, and I have been given the task of talking to the second part, that talks of how the Secular Franciscans live, and what they do.

This Pauline Rule of ours is not like the earlier Leonine Rule, a prescriptive document that told us "what we must do". It is a "descriptive" Rule, that sets out clearly for us what we should try to achieve. The change is a subtle one, that reflects the changes that Vatican II introduced into the Church, particularly through documents such as Gaudium et Spes.

It included the Laity in the Church as full participants along with the Hierarchy , Priests and Religious. This inclusion brought with it not only the rights, but also the responsibilities, that come with full and active membership of Christís People, His Church.

This second part of Chapter Two of our Rule, from Articles 10 to 19, is the section that covers the activity of the Secular Franciscan, the witness of the Franciscan lifestyle, in the day to day life of the layperson who is a follower of St. Francis of Assisi. This section could go under the title: "What you receive as a gift, give as a gift ". Some of these come under headings, such as:

The Witness of Franciscan lifestyle:

Manifest the authenticity of our Christ-centredness, and motivate others to a similar commitment.

Simple Living:

Personal qualities, according to your role and state of life.

Obedience: Conformity to Christ, Poor and Crucified (Art.10).

_ Discover the will of God.

_ Discover the prompting of the Spirit.

Poverty: Conformity to the Poor and Humble Christ (Art.11).

_ Steward of all gifts.

_ use in moderation, justice, generosity.

Purity of Heart: Conformity to the loving Christ (Art.12 ).

_ One-track mind : to see God.

_ Freedom to love completely.

_ Freedom from ulterior motives.

Universal Community: Conformity to the healing Jesus (Art.13).

All people are equal:

_ Image of the Lord.

_ Gift of the Father.

_ Revealer of God's love.

All are Brothers and Sisters:

_Common Father in God.

_ Common Brother in Jesus.

A sense of, and will toward, universal community:

_ Especially toward lowly and needy.

_ Freedom from prejudice, oppression, discrimination.

Selfless Service: Conformity to "man for others " (Art.14).

Service with no strings attached.

Use of time, talents, energy.

Initiative to:

_ rebuild Church;

_establish the Kingdom of God;

_ create a more fraternal and evangelical world.

With these areas of Evangelisation clearly spelt out, Chapter Two then moves on to the Ministry of the SFO.

The Franciscan Style of Ministry.

Ministry : Exercising the given roles of priest, prophet and king in one's given state in life to proclaim the Good News, build up the Kingdom, and restore the Church in a chosen or commissioned way.

Franciscan "flavour" to Ministry:

_ Person to person activity.

_ Positive Alternatives.

_ Attention to the lowly / needy.

_ Communication of Joy and Hope.

Modes of Ministry:

Individually Privately

In Community Publicly

_ Small Group.

_Whole Group - short term.

_Whole Group - long term.

Some Areas of SFO Ministry :

Building Spirituality - Prayer groups, Retreat programmes, etc.

Ecclesial Ministries - lector, choir, parish council, etc.

Service Ministries - spiritual and corporal works of mercy, etc.

Secular Ministries - vocation of one's worldly profession, and

other public and or political works.

The SFO Rule, Articles 15 to 19, gives some guidance to the members and the fraternities as to the type of ministry that they should engage in. These listed below are commissioned by the Church and expressed in the Rule:

(Art.15) PROMOTE JUSTICE.

(Art.16) DEVELOP NEW ATTITUDES TOWARD WORK.

(Art.17) BUILD THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.

(Art.18) ESTABLISH CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY.

(Art.19) BRING PEACE IN JOY AND HARMONY.

Summarised, that is:

Justice and Peace,

in Activity,

in People,

In Places.

Chapter Two of the SFO Rule clearly shows the Franciscan lay lifestyle. The Rule goes on to explain the ideal situation for this gospel style of living, and that, of course, is in Fraternity.