Franciscan Virtues Through the Year: 52 Steps to Conversion from Saint Francis of Assisi is a book to help you recognize and foster the Franciscan Virtues in your life. A welcome addition to formation for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Order Franciscans. $10.95 Bulk discounts.
Here is the Introduction and two sample chapters from Franciscan Virtues Through the Year:
How can we have Franciscan virtues? Aren’t all virtues virtuous? How could some virtues be Franciscan and others not be?
Truly all virtues are Franciscan virtues. St. Francis intended to follow Jesus, and Jesus taught us to follow him by practicing the virtues. The Franciscan virtues are those virtues was St. Francis of Assisi specifically embraced in his life.
This study is intended to take you through the year by studying one virtue per week. If you are a member of a Franciscan Order, your Order may wish to use these virtues as part of your formation process. They may have another time frame for studying the virtues. Each virtue contains specific suggestions for you to follow so that you can understand how the virtue is implemented in your Order’s Rule and Constitutions.
In order to complete this study, you will need a Bible, particularly the New Testament. You will also need a journal which can be a simple notebook, preferably with lined paper.
“Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command.” (Saint Francis of Assisi, Prayer before the Crucifix of San Damiano, 1205/06)
Two Sample Reflections
Scripture: “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”(Matthew 25:13)
Writings of Saint Francis: Reflect and see that the day of death is approaching. With all possible respect, therefore, I beg you not to forget the Lord because of this world’s cares and preoccupations and not to turn away from His commandments, for all those who leave Him in oblivion and turn away from His commandments are cursed and will be left in oblivion by Him.” (Saint Francis of Assisi, A Letter to the Rulers of the Peoples, 1220)
Incident from the Life of Saint Francis: One time when blessed Francis was at that same place, a certain brother, a spiritual man, an elder in religion, was staying there. He was very sick and weak. Considering him, blessed Francis was moved to piety towards him. The brothers back then, sick and healthy, with cheerfulness and patience took poverty for abundance. They did not take medicines in their illnesses, but more willingly did what was contrary to the body. Blessed Francis said to himself: “If that brother would eat some ripe grapes early in the morning, I believe it would help him.”
One day, therefore, he secretly got up early in the morning, and called that brother and took him into the vineyard which is near that same church. He chose a vine that had grapes that were good and ready for eating. Sitting down with that brother next to the vine, he began to eat some grapes so that the brother would not be ashamed to eat alone, and while they were eating them, that brother praised the Lord God. As long as he lived, he always recalled among the brothers, with great devotion and flowing tears, the mercy the holy father had done to him. (The Assisi Compilation, Section 53)
Have you ever typed a response to someone in an email chatting on your phone to someone else?
St. Francis never had this temptation, but this is a good example of someone lacking the virtue of attentiveness. Attentiveness is a broad virtue. It means not only paying attention to the person to whom we are speaking, but also paying attention to whatever task we are doing or whatever ministry God has given us to perform. Attentiveness means attention to God in prayer, without letting our minds be distracted to other things. It means focusing on God and seeing all things in relation to Him. This is the message that Francis was trying to get across to all the governing authorities of his day. He was telling them to not be so caught up in the things of the world that they seldom if ever pay attention to spiritual matters and their final demise. It was just as easy in Francis’s day as it is today to get caught up in matters of the world and to forget about God or to put Him aside until we have “more time.”
Spend a minimum of five minutes meditating on the Virtue of Attentiveness. Do not write anything during this time. Merely begin your time by praying, “Lord, help me to understand the Virtue of Attentiveness and where I need it in my life.”
At the end of your meditation time, ask yourself:
What needs your attention? Who needs your attention? Are you attentive to that situation and to that person? If so, how are you attentive? If not how can you become more attentive?
Are you attentive to how God is moving in your life? If so, how are you attentive to this? If not, how can you do better?
Find another section in Scripture which illustrates the Virtue of Attentiveness. Find a statement of Jesus or an incident in His life that deals with the Virtue of Attentiveness. Write these into your journal.
If you are a member of a Religious Order, find one place in your Rule or Constitutions which calls for the Virtue of Attentiveness. Explain why you chose this section.
Practice the Virtue of Attentiveness this week. Record in your journal any memorable insights or happenings.
Each evening examine your day for the times when you were attentive and for the times when you lacked attentiveness. Pray each night, “Lord, make me attentive to Your Presence and Your actions in my life, in the lives of others, and in the world around me. Amen.” At the end of the week, record in your journal what you have learned from this exercise.
Scripture: Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)
Writings of Saint Francis: the Lord says: Behold I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be prudent as serpents and simple as doves. That any brother, then, who desires by divine inspiration to go among the Saracens and other nonbelievers, go with the permission of his minister and servant. If he sees they are fit to be sent, the minister may give them permission and not oppose them, for he will be bound to render an accounting to the Lord if he has proceeded without discernment in this and other matters. (The Earlier Rule, Chapter XVI)
Incident from the Life of Saint Francis: Although at the time battles were being fought between the Christians and the unbelievers every day, trusting in the Lord he was not afraid to approach the Sultan even at clear peril to his life. After being afflicted with numerous heavy blows and insults, he finally gained a personal audience with the Sultan. (The life of St. Francis by Julian of Speyer, Chapter VII)
Courage is not foolhardiness. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one, and to react with strength in the face of pain or grief. Courage makes difficult things bearable. With courage we can even find a certain joy in the midst of great suffering or fear because we recognize that our current is coming from God and not from ourselves. St. Francis recognized that his Friars would have to have this sort of courage if they were going to go into dangerous situations. Sometimes we find ourselves in dangerous or trying situations which come upon us without our consent. In these times, we need to remember that God is with us. Our courage comes from waiting for His grace and trusting in His mercy.
Spend a minimum of five minutes meditating on the Virtue of Courage. Do not write anything during this time. Merely begin your time by praying, “Lord, help me to understand the Virtue of Courage and where I need it in my life.”
At the end of your meditation time, ask yourself:
Do I consider myself a courageous person? Why or why not? Do other people consider me to be courageous? Why or why not? Who do I see as courageous? Why would I call that person courageous? How can I imitate their virtues? Do I want to imitate them? Do I want to be courageous? If not, why not?
Find another section in Scripture which illustrates the Virtue of Courage. Find a statement of Jesus or an incident in His life that deals with the Virtue of Courage. Write these into your journal.
If you are a member of a Religious Order, find one place in your Rule or Constitutions which calls for the Virtue of Courage. Explain why you chose this section.
Practice the Virtue of Courage this week. Record in your journal any memorable insights or happenings.
Each evening, examine the day for the opportunities you had to show courage. If you cannot remember any opportunities, ask God to show you. Pray, “Lord, I am not as courageous as I would like. Please develop the virtue of courage in me. Please help me to keep my eye on you, and not on myself. Help me to know that you walk with me and that you are holding me up through my day. Let me lean on your strength and take courage from that. Amen.”
At the end of the week, record in your journal what you have learned from this exercise.
1 Review Hide Reviews Show Reviews
Practice.practice practice! !!!!!