With today being the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, I thought it would be a perfect day for me to write about Franciscan spirituality, how it relates to Traditional Catholic Femininity/Womanhood, and how we, as women, can utilise it, whether we are single, married or interested in religious life.
St Francis of Assisi was more about living the gospel than preaching the gospel. Everything that he did was done with compassion, joy and humility.
The core of the Franciscan spirituality centers on one key fact: God is love. Its key emphasis is on the goodness and love of God, and in seeing that goodness and love expressed in all of God’s creation.
Franciscans see God and His goodness, not just in the rose, but also in the leper, in the dirt, and even in suffering.
While the majority of people tend to polarise everything into all good and all bad, Franciscans affirm God’s presence and His goodness in everything. They understand that in order for us to truly experience God, we need to go encounter Him in the world, in creation, in its simple state.
Yes, Franciscans are both pastoral and evangelical in flavour. However, they achieve desired change, peace and harmony around them, not through preachy theology, but through interacting with others in very simple ways, through harmonious living with nature and most importantly, through works and being an example.
As women, we really do have the power to change the world for the better, for ourselves and for families, because it has been said that women are the heart of the home, the pulse of marriages, & barometer of a society’s success.
We are capable of creating this change, through our vocations, whether we are single, married or religious and we CAN do all this without compromising or diluting our inherent femininity and womanhood.
We don’t have to be aggressive, pushy, forward…..basically masculine; we can do it, using our feminine nature.
Pope John Paul II stated that the vocation of women,( single, religious or married) is to establish sanctuaries of love and life amidst the shattering reverberations of the world’s darker inclinations. This basically indicates living out our God-given femininity and womanhood in our vocations.
The prayer of St Francis of Assisi says:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
This prayer encompasses the Franciscan spirituality, which is why I believe that embracing the Franciscan spirituality as women is not just a good way to express our femininity and womanhood, but also a great way to create change within our homes, within our marriages, within our families, and within our communities. The change then becomes like a ripple-effect, spreading outwards into the world.
You don’t even have to be a Poor Clare or go into a religious order to do this…..unless, of course, THAT is your vocation.
Rose growing upwards through St Franci of Assisi’s hands
Here is a summary of the key characteristics, values and features of the Franciscan spirituality, and how we can apply it, as women:
To Be Instruments Of Peace And Live In Joy
Our homes and communities should be peaceful. We should try and foster an atmosphere of peace within our family and marriage. Create joy wherever you go. This can seem rather difficult at the moment with the upheaval going on currently in the world, and the media force-feeding us information and images to keep us in a state of fear, helplessness and hopelessness.
Yes, it is good to keep informed, but sometimes, you just have to switch off the TV and go do something that brings peace and joy to you or your family. Bake a cake, watch a comedy, listen to music, play a musical instrument, play with your pets, watch cute videos about baby animals on YouTube, or do some gardening. Simply engage yourself, your loved ones and your children in activities that bring joy and peace.
To Live In Communion With Christ and Be Open To The Holy Spirit
Modern society can disconnect us from ourselves and from God so easily. Ther are always excuses for why we can’t make time for God, including being too busy, focusing on work or studies, not having enough time and so on. However, we need to realise that making time for God is just not optional. It is a necessity, in order for us to stay safe, sane and grounded amidst life’s chaos.
So attend Mass regularly. Go to Adoration at least once a week and you will see how easily things will begin to fall in place.
To Live As Sisters And Brothers Of All People And Of All Creation, And To Be Committed To Upholding The Dignity Of All Creation
I commented yesterday to my friends about how currently people just can’t seem to want to live together with others. Everyone wants to break up and separate. States in the US are demanding secession, the UK wants to leave the EU, Scotland wants to leave the UK, even the earth itself is being split in multiple places due to earthquakes and volcanoes.
Sometimes, I wonder if the all these natural disasters were are seeing on the earth is not due to current continual events of war, discord, pain, and violence. Perhaps, the earth is simply reflecting humanity’s violence an chaos. We need to be more tolerant and compassionate towards each other.
This beautiful earth that God gave is being destroyed and poisoned. Be more environmentally conscious. Don’t litter. Take care of your pets, your garden, your houseplants and each other.
Retreat into nature. Go for a walk. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Adopt a pet. Tender your gardens and houseplants. People today have become so completely disconnected from the natural world around them that it is no wonder everyone is angsty all the time. Live harmoniously with people and creation. Avoid conflict and anyone who brings conflict into your life because the poison will spread and before you know it, you are irritable, angsty and taking it out on loved ones and people around you.
Live harmoniously with people and creation. Avoid conflict and anyone who brings conflict into your life because the poison will spread and before you know it, you are irritable, angsty and taking it out on loved ones and people around you.
Uphold the dignity of creation. You cannot do this and then be pro-choice or be cruel towards animals. When you are able to encounter God and His goodness in all creation, you would treat creation with tenderness. You will see His beauty and His love, not just in the face of that cute little kitten you see on Facebook videos, but also in the face of the sick and the helpless.
To Be At The Service Of The Less Fortunate
There are so many ways you can do this. Volunteer work is one of them. You can also donate, not just money, but food, clothing, furniture and so on to those in need.
Look around you. Really, look around. Did you notice the lady that comes to church always in the same pair of shoes? Did you notice the family next door, whose kids are wearing school uniforms several sizes too small? Did you notice anyone around that is less fortunate? Or we too busy caught up in our own world, pursuits and troubles?
Yes, of course, we all have troubles, but just take the focus off yourself for a moment. Be grateful for what you DO have and try to help those in a less fortunate position as yourself. It will amaze you how much better you feel and how a lot of your own personal problems will get resolved.
To Live In Simplicity And Humility
Keeping up with the Joneses is not cool or clever. We need to learn to live simply and humbly. Too many mothers today refuse to stay home with their children because they want to work so they can have the latest car, the biggest house and more and more stuff to impress others.
As a result, their marriages and families are suffering. They proudly claim that women can have it all. Does that not sound like greed and Satanic propaganda to you?
Ask yourself – if there was no one for me to impress, would I really buy this stuff or work these extra hours?
If you think that it is impossible for a family to live on one income, you are wrong and THIS IS THE REASON WHY.
What is important – your career or your legacy? You decide, but also remember, you will be held accountable by God for your choices, at the end of your life.
To Share In The Life And Mission Of The Church, And Participate In The Apostolate Of The Laity
Be faithful to the doctrine and teaching of true Catholic Church. Take part in the sacraments frequently. Participate in your local parish. There are many ways to get involved, including joining the church choir, playing piano or organ, being a catechist, being a cantor or lector, or simply assisting in the coffee mornings.
To Have A Life Of Prayer That Is Personal, Communal And Liturgical
Prayer is our life-blood. It is not enough for us to simply say “Ah well, I pray enough at home. I do not need to attend Mass” Yes, you do.
Pray as a family, pray as a community and pray the rosary frequently
The EWTN library explains more about the Franciscan spirituality HERE
Below are also resources that can help you learn more about St Francis, build a closer relationship with him, understand the Franciscan spirituality and how to effectively apply it to all areas of your life, whether you are single, married or in religious life.
St Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
ad Jesum per Mariam