I recently asked a room full of Secular Franciscans to write three words to describe the OFS Rule. Replies included, “conversion, prayer, humility” and “Gospel to Life”, but my favorite response was “who we are”. What does the 40th Anniversary of the Rule mean for us, if not to live more fully who we are called to be? How are we to do this? We are blessed with many helps to live what we have professed, all within reach, and many right here on our website.
First, and most importantly, we have each other. We have promised to take a long, unhurried journey together. Something happens when we take time to share, heart to heart, about being Franciscan. Our stubbornness and reluctance melt away, and we see more clearly. We draw close in Christ. We experience conversion. I cannot imagine living the Rule without fraternity. How critically important that we take “come away” time to be with our sisters and brothers.
The words of the Rule itself provide inspiration and guide us. “Celebrate the Rule” cards highlight some of these words and call us to ponder their application in our lives. The video entitled “Forty Years of the ‘New’ Rule: A Treasure for the OFS” helps us appreciate how the Holy Spirit guided the wording of the 1978 revision of our Rule, and the priorities therein. Another wonderful help is the June 24, 2018 letter from our General Minister and brother Tibor Kauser (en español). His beautiful reflection on the Rule is a great source for individual or group study.
Six of our own OFS-USA servant leaders have produced some amazing and creative resources. These are listed below, along with a document entitled “Initiatives – OFS-USA” describing how fifteen different Regions plan to celebrate the Rule. You can access these resources here:
- OFS Holy Half Hours on the Rule – Kathy Taormina OFS
- Formation on the Rule – Mary Bittner OFS at Franciscans of the Prairie Region
- Being Franciscan Today! Sharing Your Dream: Communal Visioning – LaVerna Region
- Ongoing Formation on the Rule – Lady Poverty Region
- The Words of Our OFS Rule – Kathy Taormina OFS
- The OFS Rule – We Hold a Treasure – Troubadours of Peace Region
- Initiatives – OFS-USA
Lastly, I would like to suggest a patron saint for our Jubilee year, one that perhaps may surprise you. It has occurred to me only recently that the date of the approval of our 1978 Rule – June 24 – is the same date on which we celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. This is so interesting! We can easily see some connections. St. John the Baptist called all to repentance, to conversion, and his life was one of poverty and humility. When the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” He said, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” (See Luke 3:10-14). Is this not a call to the Franciscan life?
Another interesting fact is that the feast of St. John’s birth occurs six months from the birth of Christ, and close to the summer solstice. From June 24 forward, days grow shorter and light decreases. This is a tribute to St. John who said, “I must decrease” (See John 3:28-30). Six months from now at Christmas, Christ our Light appears, shattering the darkness. Let us meditate on how John the Baptist models for us a true “kenosis” – a pouring out of self to make room for Christ – “He must increase.” May St. John the Baptist continue to point us to Christ, the true Light of this world, as we celebrate our Rule, and our call to live the Gospel.
Peace and Jubilee Joy!
Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
“You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”