Franciscan documents

Franciscan bits & pieces picked up by Ted Witham tssf

Acting on a Franciscan Moment in Time

Sally Buckley tssf

Assistant Provincial Minister, Australian Province


A Franciscan moment in time … the words have haunted me since I heard Sr Ilia Delio utter them at Mercedes College, on that Monday night of her visit to Perth.

We are standing at a Franciscan moment in time, she said … or words to that effect.

This is something which has been coming clearer into my conscience over the last few years, gaining momentum over the last few months, to the point where I knew God was trying to goad me into writing something.

Are we / am I living in a Franciscan moment?

I am so pleased I am here this year, at our annual Convocation.  Each time I miss it, I feel the isolation of living so far from my beloved community more acutely.  I feel as if part of me has been lopped off!

However, a Franciscan moment in time … I was reflecting upon this yesterday and what it might mean, when the thought of our Aims flowed through my mind.

  • To make our Lord known and loved everywhere
  • To spread the spirit of love and harmony
  • To live simply

Or, as we pledge as we renew our profession vows:

“… seeking to spread the knowledge and love of Christ, to promote the spirit of love and harmony as the family of God and to live joyfully a life of simplicity and humble service after the example of Saint Francis” [page H3 of the Manual].

Our first Aim exhorts us to make the Lord known and loved everywhere.  What was it for you that initially attracted you to Francis and Clare?

I remember a few years ago down home, the various church leaders and pastors were asked to be involved in a Youth for Christ activity with our local State High School.  At the training session the night before, they went round the room asking everyone (as one of those ice breakers / get to know you type things) what we wanted to be remembered for.  As you can probably imagine there were a variety of answers, all very nice etc.  Well, when it came to me, I said I wanted to be remembered as a lover.  Well, you might imagine the stunned silence which followed!!  I could see the look pass over the facilitators face “silly woman!”  So I explained; “a lover of God and of God’s creation”.  Well, you could hear the breath being let out in relief!

I thought slightly indignantly, why is it such a crime, why is it such a scandal to be remembered as someone who loves?  Isn’t God the God of love?  Isn’t all that we have and all that is around us, the blessings of a God who loves abundantly, wastefully?

I know I get very passionate about this – that God loves us, beyond our comprehending, that we are precious, unique individuals, beloved in God’s sight.  This knowledge puts me on my knees in humble gratitude.  But it is not just me that God loves excessively, it is the whole of God’s created order – every other living person, every tree and ant, every dog and cat, every worm, and every star in the whole of Creation.  The blind, maimed beggar in the lowest of slums, the woman with a starving child at her dry breast, the rich man in his ivory tower, even the corrupt and cruel.  God longs for each one to find themselves into a relationship with him.

Through Francis we have an example of someone who, I believe, caught this vision and understood it.  We have many stories in our Franciscan tradition which illustrate this, which leads me into the second Aim of the Order:

To spread the spirit of love and harmony.

In 2005 I was privileged to have attended IPTOC (the Inter Provincial Third Order Chapter) in Canterbury, England.  At that time there was a very real fear (which in many ways hasn’t dissipated) that the Anglican Communion would split with the Episcopal Church of the United States being kicked out of the Communion over the gay issue.  From this meeting a letter was drafted to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Communion, pledging our support and putting the Franciscan way forward as a model for seeking reconciliation between parties.  It read:

Dear Archbishop

We, the sisters and brothers of the Society of St. Francis, write to you from our First Order and Inter-Provincial Third Order Chapters, which included the Abbess of the Second Order as an observer, meeting here in Canterbury, to send you our love and support as you lead the Anglican Communion during these times of division and difficulty.

In preparation for our Chapters, many of us studied The Windsor Report in which you and the Primates of the Anglican Communion called upon members of the Church to safeguard the unity which is ours through honest communication and fervent prayer. During our deliberations, we shared our heart-felt concerns about the life of the Church and about your personal pain as you lead us in preserving our unity. We appreciate your desire to appeal to the Anglican Communion to value diversity as a core element of that unity. As faithful members of the Church, we wish to give witness to the truth of the Gospel and to commit ourselves to live alongside our sisters and brothers who understand the Gospel differently than we do.

While this is a difficult task, we are learning to do this in our Franciscan way of life. As an international community with members in various provinces of the Anglican Communion, we recognize our common vocation as ‘lesser brothers and sisters’, united in faith and intentional living together. While bound together as one family, we struggle to cherish differences in gender, culture, theology, economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and varied religious histories. We have learned to listen to each other, to read the scriptures together, to share our particular experiences of God, and to live in solidarity with the poor, oppressed, marginalized and to live with each other.

From this Franciscan vantage point, we offer to you, to the Primates and to the members of the Anglican Communion a model of moving forward as Church: walking in the way of Saint Francis of Assisi whose embrace of the leper and the way of non-violent love knit together a universal family of Christians, rooted in the Gospel, growing in joy and simplicity and extending a Reign of God marked by justice and peace.

We are very aware of the challenges set before you as the Archbishop of Canterbury and we support you in your continuing steadfast faith in the Gospel message of compassion and inclusion, as well as in your commitment to listening and dialogue. We pledge to you our daily prayers as together we strive to rebuild the Church in accordance with the will of God.

With our love and prayers,

And was signed by the Ministers General of the First and Third Orders and the Abbess of the Second Order sisters.

This was sent off on our behalf.

When it became clear that there was going to be some serious division at the last Lambeth Conference, it was decided, mainly by the international Third Order, to hold a prayer vigil and to have a place of peace and prayer in Canterbury, to which Bishops and others were welcome to come.  This is a very real witness to the out working of our second aim – to seek reconciliation, to be peace makers.

At IPTOC, the various Provincial Ministers give extensive reports on what is happening in their provinces.  When it came to reporting on JPIC – Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, I sat squirming a bit – firstly, I had never heard of JPIC, and secondly it was almost like our Province hadn’t heard of JPIC, because we certainly had nothing to report, nor did it seem like we were doing anything about it!

It was in Canterbury that I came across Franciscans International.  One of our speakers was Fr John Quigley ofm a truly dynamic speaker and at that time the director of FI.

Franciscans International is a recognised Non Government Organisation at the United Nations.  At the time they had offices in both Geneva and New York – the main office being Geneva.

Their main work is in advocacy for the poor – giving them a voice with those who are making the decisions.

Their Charter is to work at the United Nations in the three areas of Peacemaking, Care of Creation and Care of the Poor.

At that time their current projects were mainly in the field of human rights and their strong advocacy in the care of the poor, against the trafficking of persons and with refugees.  The issues are always much bigger – trafficking of women & children has become “trafficking of persons”; the issue of migrant workers – migrant workers and their families.

They encourage the peacemaking work to begin at the grassroots level and are looking at supporting various initiatives in this area, especially by strengthening existing grassroots networks etc.   Great concern about current situation in Africa – one of their projects at that time was assistance with conflict resolution between Burundi and Rwanda.

In the Care of Creation field, they were involved in an International Conference on the Environment which was to take place the following year.

They work with World Council of Churches but they don’t do much at a UN level.  FI has representation on Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (a child of the WCC), with HIV/AIDS and Fair Trade as priorities.

He said: “we have a profound obligation to speak for the poor in forums everywhere.  The train is moving and the world doesn’t wait for us.”

It is the first time in 800 years that Franciscans are working together!

Anglicans have been in FI from the beginning and a much needed and very important witness to working together.

So that was my wake up call … but I had gone to sleep!  After my initial excitement and enthusiasm, the passion had cooled.

I was excited with the opening of an FI office in Bangkok, and pleased that some from our Province had gone to training seminars, but some things are a long way from sleepy, isolated Esperance and the rigours of serving a parish!

Then the Global Financial Crisis hit.  The greed and corruption in and of the corporate world is just staggering.  I remember a random thought going through my mind, we need to get back to a more simple way of living, may be the Franciscan way of life has something to offer.  But the thought was gone before it had time to put down roots, but it does lead conveniently into our third Aim: to live simply.

My husband, Chris, and I saw some of the fall out of the GFC first hand when we were in the UK and Ireland last year – brand new housing developments lying empty because no one could afford to buy them, banks going belly-up, or refusing to lend money.  One of my parishioners, emigrating from the UK to come to live in Esperance with his family, was caught up in the mess.  He was literally weeks too late in putting his house on the market, by the time he did, the market had crashed, mortgage companies were declaring bankruptcy left right and centre.  He will have been in Australia two years in January and the house is still unsold.  It took them 12 months to find someone to rent it.

But, by and large, Esperance, and Western Australia have been shielded from the worst of it.  The greed and unaccountability came home to me at the beginning of the year when BHP Billiton walked away from their Ravensthorpe Nickel Project; literally walking away from an investment of some 4 billion dollars.

Chris and I went over to Hopetoun soon after the announcement that the mine was closing and were shocked at the utter waste which was taking place – brand new equipment being thrown away in the boxes they had arrived in, placed into landfill dumps on site.  A lucky few (very few) voluntary organisations had managed to “be in the right place at the right time”, or rather knew someone in the right place at the right time, and managed to receive some of these discarded goods.  We went to the brand new FESA Head Quarters in Hopetoun and were shown round.  Most of the office and operations rooms had been kitted out with mine discards – desks, urns, toasters, bain maries, even computers!  All had arrived in their original packing, not having been opened.

Then there was the human cost – people who had lost their jobs.  Their own employees they kind of looked after, but it was the contractors, the businesses they had encouraged to start up, even days before the announcement was made, who were left high and dry.  Anyone who has opened up their own business will know of the incredible set up costs, which generally takes two years of hard slog to recoup, here were people who had made the move, started to set up new businesses and suddenly found that their major customer was not going to be there.

There was and has been no accountability – no one has been called to account for the waste – money which would have run a small country – just a convenient tax write off on the corporate balance sheet.

Last weekend I attended the Perth Synod and our Bible study was run by Professor Ian Harper, from Melbourne, who is a university lecturer and is on the Fair Pay Commission.  I had meant to make proper note of his credentials before I left home.  As well as the Bible Study, Archbishop Roger asked him to speak after morning tea on Saturday morning.  I found him an interesting and inspiring speaker, and a devout Christian and I think I’m right, an Anglican to boot.

He spoke of a corporate world gone mad with greed, selfishness and excess, and which had lost touch with reality.  He spoke of the absurdity of these executives going cap in hand to the US congress for hand outs, arriving in Washington in their private jets and helicopters.  Prof. Harper suggested that the GFC had awoken peoples’ moral sensibilities and the ordinary folk are no longer prepared to put up with the greed and opulent lifestyles of these corporate highflyers.

Jesus tells the parable of the man with the barns as a warning and in Matthew 6: 19-21:

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This goes just before one of the passages in the Gospels which remind me most of Francis, Matthew 6: 25-34:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

In Archbishop Roger’s Charge to Synod he spoke of a prophetic moment missed by the Anglican Communion.  At the Lambeth Conference of 1998 there was a resolution passed unanimously which has faded into virtual oblivion and certainly overshadowed since by the great debate about human sexuality.

Does anyone remember the “Make Poverty History” campaign?!

He writes in part:

“… in our total obsession with the human sexuality question we have missed out on our church engaging in a prophetic way with what has turned out to be one of the most devastating periods in the economy of the world.  The lack of moral and ethical standards by financiers, international investment agencies, individuals and boards has infected the whole global market.  Anglican churches and dioceses across the world have been seriously impacted with subsequent cuts to jobs and mission initiatives. …

Offer a though for those who have lost jobs, houses and whose lives have been shattered by the financial greed of a few.  Consider that the swine flu pandemic was caused by a culture of destitution in which humans and animals live together in single dwellings eking out an existence that barely keeps body and soul together.  The effect of the financial crisis on the poor is catastrophic as charity dries up and compassion loses its charm when financial loss is sustained.  The unbridled greed that was assisted by a total lack of moral conscience has touched every aspect of life on this planet.

… [he continues:]

While the emphasis was on alleviating the debt crisis for the poorest nations, the call to transparency and accountability in the area of loan portfolios and investment was clearly articulated.  The report called upon the Anglican Communion, worldwide and in each local scene, to counter the culture of greed that was leading to bad investment and risky debt procedures.  It called upon the church leaders to engage passionately with governments, banking institutions and global investment personnel to exercise extreme caution in the lending market.

If we had engaged on this resolution with a minute part of the passion and fire we have exercised on the sexuality debate, the world’s poor would be in a different place today, and so would we.” [Archbishop’s Charge to the First Session of the Forty-Seventh Synod of the Diocese of Perth, pp. 23-24]

As I said at the beginning, I am haunted by Sr Ilia’s comment:  We are at a Franciscan moment.

One of the down sides I find about being so isolated is that when I happen to miss the annual Convocation, it hurts beyond belief.  I rarely am able to get to one of the normal meetings, but I have always tried to attend the Convocation, it is vital to my sense of who I am as a Franciscan.  I think in the 21 years I have been involved in the WA Third Order, I have missed 2, and one of them was last year.  With the lack of a regular newsletter, I have felt I had really drifted aimlessly.  Like being sent to some far off land with no contact from your family and the people you hold dear.

By April this year I was really beginning to struggle and so Sr Ilia’s visit came a just the right time and it was such a blessing to be able to attend and to make contact with many of you again.

Then, through a Facebook friend, a Tertiary from South Africa, I was put in touch with a book which I felt re connected me with my Franciscan roots.  It is a book called Chasing Francis.  The book is purely fiction, and is the story of an evangelical pastor in the US who is burnt out and has a breakdown in front of his congregation and is basically booted out by his elders who put him on stress leave.  He travels to Italy where he has a much loved uncle who had become a Catholic Franciscan Friar and is based in Assisi.  Throughout the book there weaves the fictional story of the pastor, the stories we love so much of Francis, vivid descriptions of Assisi and the Umbrian countryside and something else going on just below the surface – encounters with people who were living out the Franciscan vocations and making a real difference in their world.  Whether these stories are pure fiction or whether they are based on true stories and actual people I don’t know, but it spoke to and stirred something deep within me – a reconnection with my Franciscan vocation, and certainly prepared me spiritually for what was to come in Sydney.  [For those interested, the book is Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron and is published by NavPress, and Koorong have it in stock!]

In Sydney, as you have heard, the Province of Australia, PNG and East Asia proudly launched JPIC!  Yippee!!!!  The whole Sydney conference was around that social justice theme, as you will have seen from David Noble’s report which you have in your folder.  It is only in its infancy, but things are moving and certainly Glenys McCarrick of Queensland [Day 19 of the prayer list!] is a very enthusiastic driving force, so watch “this space” in future Provincial newsletters.

I guess this is a very long winded way of leading to the question, if we are living at a Franciscan moment in time, and we are called to live a Franciscan vocation, what can we do?

Professor Ian Harper said that part of what we must do as Christians is to build communities of hope – hope is essential to life.

St Paul writes in Romans 5: 1-5:

1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”

I believe as Franciscans we are called to be the Hope bearers at this time.  That it is through our vocations, through the aims of this society by which we aim to live that we can fulfil this calling at this Franciscan moment in time.

Ignatius and Benedict have been all the rage for years, now it is Francis’ time!

Francis is not the saint of the bird bath, or the slightly mad, before his time tree hugging hippy.  I believe ours is a holistic spirituality which embraces and encompasses the whole of creation, the whole of the human condition.  Ours is Jesus’ commission from Isaiah 61:

1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners;

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor,

So what can we do?

Who are we in all this?

What is it that attracted us to Francis in the first place?

Do we live our Franciscan charism?

How can we be more intentional / more vocal / more “out there” about living and promoting the Franciscan way?

About living out our belief in Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in our world?

How do we make the most of this Franciscan Moment in time?

At this point I was going to suggest split up into small groups to discus some questions, but much of this ground we covered yesterday in the Community meeting.  I was thrilled to see the resolve to “get out there” and up our profile with stalls at YouthCARE and the diocesan Synods.  I really believe that this is the right time for us to get our message “out there” and pray that what came out of the brain-storming session will be followed up on.

Perhaps we can discuss this further, informally over morning tea?

So, I would like to finish with the prayer that Archbishop Roger used to finish his charge:

May God bless you with discomfort

at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,

that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

at injustice, oppression and exploitation,

that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

God bless you with tears

to shed for those who suffer pain,

rejection, starvation and war,

that you may reach out your hand to comfort them

and turn their pain to joy.

May God bless you with foolishness

to believe that you can make a difference,

that you may do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of the Holy and Life-Giving Trinity

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you now and always.  Amen.

Revd Sally Buckley tssf

Tssf WA Convocation 2009.


A Commentary on the Principles

Principles of the Third Order


Pope Innocent III grants Francis permission to preach penance

Pope Innocent III grants Francis permission to preach penance

Day One — The Object

Jesus said, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.’

I have decided to follow Christ. He leads me to the cross, the place of death and new life. What areas of my life am I being called to die to? What must I relinquish? Who is the master of my life?

Day Two — The Object (continued)

In the example of his own sacrifice, Jesus reveals the secret of bearing fruit. In surrendering himself to death, he becomes the source of new life. Lifted from the earth on the cross, he draws all people to himself. Clinging to life causes life to decay; the life that is freely given is eternal.

The fruit of life is its results. My fruit comes from dying to self which allows the Spirit to be at work within me. What is the fruit of my life? How can I bear more fruit in the church, among my neighbours, in my Third Order community?

Day Three — The Object (continued)

Jesus calls those who would serve him to follow his example and choose for themselves the same path of renunciation and sacrifice. To those who hear and obey, he promises union with God. The object of the Society of Saint Francis is to build a community of those who accept Christ as their Lord and Master, and are dedicated to him in body and spirit. They surrender their lives to him and to the service of his people.  The Third Order of the Society consists of those who, while following the ordinary professions of life, feel called to dedicate their lives under a definite discipline and vows. They may be female or male, married or single, ordained or lay.

Francis’ life provides an example of union with God. What difference has my Franciscan calling made in my life? I have vowed to keep my Rule. How do I fall short in observing the spirit of discipline and commitment?

Day Four — The Object (continued)

When Saint Francis encouraged the formation of The Third Order he recognised that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of The Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.

We are called to simplicity in the spirit of poverty, to chastity in or out of marriage in the spirit of celibacy, and obedience to our directors. It is a challenging calling. But I am not alone. How does meeting together with my Third Order group give me encouragement and strength?

Day Five — The First Aim of the Order

To make our Lord known and loved everywhere.

The Order is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God; that true life has been made available to us through his Incarnation and Ministry; by his Cross and Resurrection; and by the sending of his Holy Spirit.  Our Order believes that it is the commission of the church to make the gospel known to all, and therefore accepts the duty of bringing others to know Christ, and of praying and working for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The life of Francis drew people to the Lord. His faith was shown by his preaching and his lifestyle. Are people attracted to Christ by my life? In the Lord’s Prayer, I pray, ‘Your Kingdom come’. In what ways am I helping to fulfil this prayer?

Day Six — The First Aim (continued)

The primary aim for us as Tertiaries is therefore to make Christ known. This shapes our lives and attitudes to reflect the obedience of those whom our Lord chose to be with him and sent out as his witnesses. Like them, by word and example, we bear witness to Christ in our own immediate environment and pray and work for the fulfilment of his command to make disciples of all nations.

When those outside the church and those seeking a faith see me, how much of Jesus do they see?

Day Seven — The Second Aim

To spread the spirit of love and harmony.

The Order sets out, in the name of Christ, to break down barriers between people and to seek equality for all. We accept as our second aim the spreading of a spirit of love and harmony among all people. We are pledged to fight against the ignorance, pride, and prejudice that breed injustice or partiality of any kind.

It is often easier to associate with like-minded people. This can lead to discrimination. We are called to be bridge-builders and overcome barriers between people. Is this difficult for me? What are my personal preferences and prejudices? Which people do I find it hardest to love? Who do I exclude and reject?

Day Eight — The Second Aim (continued)

Members of The Third Order fight against all injustice in the name of Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus. This can only be achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and not as a means of self-fulfilment.

What areas of injustice and inequality and discrimination are there in society, my community or my church, and what am I doing about it?

Day Nine — The Second Aim (continued)

As Tertiaries, we are prepared not only to speak out for social justice and international peace, but to put these principles into practice in our own lives, cheerfully facing any scorn or persecution to which this may lead.

Am I willing to suffer misunderstanding and persecution in the cause of peace and justice? How do I remain at peace and unruffled in the face of unfair criticism?

Day Ten — The Third Aim

To live simply.

The first Christians surrendered completely to our Lord and recklessly gave all that they had, offering the world a new vision of a society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material possessions. This vision was renewed by Saint Francis when he chose Lady Poverty as his bride, desiring that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be overcome by love. This is the inspiration for the third aim of the Society, to live simply.

It can be difficult to decide how to live simply. What is my attitude towards those who are more wealthy, and those who are less wealthy than me? Am I able to avoid coveting the possessions of others?

Day Eleven — The Third Aim (continued)

Although we possess property and earn money to support ourselves and our families, we show ourselves true followers of Christ and of Saint Francis by our readiness to live simply and to share with others.  We recognise that some of our members may be called to a literal following of Saint Francis in a life of extreme simplicity. All of us, however, accept that we avoid luxury and waste, and regard our possessions as being held in trust for God.

Many people place their security in their bank balance and investments, and the drive to acquire more wealth. Where is my true security? Am I using my resources as God would have me?

Day Twelve — The Third Aim (continued)

Personal spending is limited to what is necessary for our health and well-being and that of our dependants.  We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us. We are concerned more for the generosity that gives all, rather than for the value of poverty in itself. In this way we reflect in spirit the acceptance of Jesus’ challenge to sell all, give to the poor, and follow him.

When Jesus called the rich young man to follow him, the man decided to keep his wealth instead. How would I have responded? Why did Francis forbid the brothers to handle money? Do people see me as a generous person?

Day Thirteen — The Three Ways of Service

Tertiaries desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve in the three ways of Prayer, Study, and Work. In the life of the Order as a whole these three ways must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each individual’s service will vary according to his or her abilities and circumstances, yet each individual member’s Personal Rule of Life must include each of the three ways.

We serve the Lord through prayer, study and work. How much of my time and energy do I devote to these ways of serving? What are my priorities? Do I need to revise them?

Day Fourteen — The First Way of Service


Tertiaries seek to live in an atmosphere of praise and prayer.  We aim to be constantly aware of God’s presence, so that we may indeed pray without ceasing.  Our ever-deepening devotion to the indwelling Christ is a source of strength and joy.  It is Christ’s love that inspires us to service, and strengthens us for sacrifice.

My love of God is expressed partly in the time I give to listening to him in prayer and meditation. How much time do I give to this conversation with God? What does my life of serving others show about my prayer life?

Day Fifteen — The First Way of Service (continued)

The heart of our prayer is the Eucharist, in which we share with other Christians the renewal of our union with our Lord and Saviour in his sacrifice, remembering his death and receiving his spiritual food.

Some people approach the Eucharist expecting an emotional ‘high’, others offering a sacrifice of thanks and praise. Which is more pleasing to God? Where do I fit in? Do I welcome the work of the Holy Spirit transforming me through the Eucharist?

Day Sixteen — The First Way of Service (continued)

Tertiaries recognise the power of intercessory prayer for furthering the purposes of God’s kingdom, and therefore seek a deepening fellowship with God in personal devotion, and constantly intercede for the needs of his church and his world. Those of us who have much time at our disposal give prayer a large part in our daily lives. Those of us with less time must not fail to see the importance of prayer and to guard the time we have allotted to it from interruption. Lastly, we are encouraged to avail ourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through which the burden of past sin and failure is lifted and peace and hope restored.

How does God feel while surveying the people of this world, especially their sufferings? Can I sense some of God’s love and compassion? Can I respond in intercession? Do I see my need for reconciliation with God, and how do I seek it?

Day Seventeen — The Second Way of Service


‘This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ John 17.3. True knowledge is knowledge of God. Tertiaries therefore give priority to devotional study of scripture as one of the chief means of attaining that knowledge of God that leads to eternal life.

Theologians are at work uncovering secrets in the scriptures which enrich our faith. How am I benefiting from their discoveries? How am I growing in knowledge, in faith and in love?

Day Eighteen — The Second Way of Service (continued)

As well as the devotional study of Scripture, we all recognise our Christian responsibility to pursue other branches of study, both sacred and secular. In particular some of us accept the duty of contributing, through research and writing, to a better understanding of the church’s mission in the world: the application of Christian principles to the use and distribution of wealth; questions concerning justice and peace; and of all other questions concerning the life of faith.

God is continually speaking to us through scripture, through life experiences, and through other Christians. Am I listening and learning? Am I sharing what I have learnt with others? How?

Day Nineteen — The Third Way of Service


Jesus took on himself the form of a servant. He came not to be served, but to serve. He went about doing good: healing the sick, preaching good news to the poor, and binding up the broken hearted.

Francis found joy in ministry to lepers. How do I serve others? What should I do to minister in God’s world?

Day Twenty — The Third Way of Service (continued)

Tertiaries endeavour to serve others in active work. We try to find expression for each of the three aims of the Order in our lives, and whenever possible actively help others who are engaged in similar work. The chief form of service that we have to offer is to reflect the love of Christ, who, in his beauty and power, is the inspiration and joy of our lives.

Francis set an example of joyful love in everything. Does my life show forth the love of Jesus?

Day Twenty One — The Three Notes of the Order

Humility, love, and joy are the three notes that mark the lives of Tertiaries. When these characteristics are evident throughout the Order, its work will be fruitful. Without them all that it attempts will be in vain.

Imagine that you have died, and you can hear what people are saying about you at the funeral. What would they say? What are the main characteristics of your life?

Day Twenty Two — The First Note


We always keep before us the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples’ feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.

Why did Francis value Brother Juniper so highly? Am I willing to take the lowest place? Or do I expect others to look up to me?

Day Twenty Three — The First Note (continued)

Humility confesses that we have nothing that we have not received and admits the fact of our insufficiency and our dependence upon God. It is the basis of all Christian virtues. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, `No spiritual house can stand for a moment except on the foundation of humility’. It is the first condition of a joyful life within any community.

Sometimes we jump to conclusions about what others think about us, and become offended. One aspect of humility is ascribing the best of motives to other people. How do I deal with apparent feelings of prejudice or rejection towards me? Can I truly place all my dependence on God?

Day Twenty Four — The First Note (continued)

The faults that we see in others are the subject of prayer rather than of criticism. We take care to cast out the beam from our own eye before offering to remove the speck from another’s. We are ready to accept the lowest place when asked, and to volunteer to take it.  Nevertheless, when asked to undertake work of which we feel unworthy or incapable, we do not shrink from it on the grounds of humility, but confidently attempt it through the power that is made perfect in weakness.

I know I am not perfect. I also know that I cannot see all my own faults. Can I accept my own faults without trying to justify myself? Am I willing to undertake a lowly position, instead of insisting on my status?

Day Twenty Five — The Second Note


Jesus said, ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13.34-35) Love is the distinguishing feature of all true disciples of Christ who wish to dedicate themselves to him as his servants.

A description of love is given in 1 Corinthians 13.4-7. When I read it, can I put my own name there in the text, in place of the word ‘love’?

Day Twenty Six — The Second Note (continued)

Therefore, we seek to love all those to whom we are bound by ties of family or friendship. Our love for them increases, as our love for Christ grows deeper. We have a special love and affection for members of the Third Order, praying for each other individually and seeking to grow in that love. We are on our guard against anything that might injure this love, and we seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged. We seek the same love for those with whom we have little natural affinity, for this kind of love is not a welling-up of emotion, but is a bond founded in our common union with Christ.

The word ‘love’ has many meanings. Do I truly see this selfless love as a discipline and attitude that seeks the best for others?

Day Twenty Seven — The Second Note (continued)

The Third Order is a Christian community whose members, though varied in race, education, and character, are bound into a living whole through the love we share in Christ. This unity of all who believe in him will become, as our Lord intended, a witness to the world of his divine mission. In our relationships with those outside the Order, we show the same Christ-like love, and gladly give of ourselves, remembering that love is measured by sacrifice.

Christ’s love took him to the cross, where he made the supreme sacrifice for the world. If love is measured by sacrifice, how do I rate? What am I willing to suffer to show Christ’s love working in me?

Day Twenty Eight — The Third Note


Tertiaries, rejoicing in the Lord always, show in our lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. We remember that we follow the Son of Man, who came eating and drinking, who loved the birds and the flowers, who blessed little children, who was a friend to tax collectors and sinners and who sat at the tables of both the rich and the poor. We delight in fun and laughter, rejoicing in God’s world, its beauty and its living creatures, calling nothing common or unclean. We mix freely with all people, ready to bind up the broken-hearted and to bring joy into the lives of others. We carry within us an inner peace and happiness, which others may perceive, even if they do not know its source.

Joy is founded on security, a deep-seated trust in the goodness of God. Do I reflect joy? Do people see joy in my attitudes? Do I bring joy to them?

Day Twenty Nine — The Third Note (continued)

This joy is a divine gift, coming from union with God in Christ. It is still there even in times of darkness and difficulty, giving cheerful courage in the face of disappointment, and an inward serenity and confidence through sickness and suffering. Those who possess it can rejoice in weakness, insults, hardships, and persecutions for Christ’s sake; for when we are weak, then we are strong.

Francis gave Brother Leo the parable of perfect joy, which has been a source of inspiration to many of Francis’ followers. This parable teaches us to be content in spite of adversity, refusing to let outward events shape our inner peace. Is this true of me?

Day Thirty — The Three Notes

The humility, love, and joy, which mark the lives of Tertiaries, are all God-given graces. They can never be obtained by human effort. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Christ is to work miracles through people who are willing to be emptied of self and to surrender to him.  We then become channels of grace through whom his mighty work is done.

‘Make me a channel of your peace’ is a prayer sometimes wrongly ascribed to Francis. Yet it embodies so much of his own way of life. How much of a channel of God’s grace am I?

*This commentary was prepared by David Bertram, African Province for use by Tertiaries.

Readings for the Feast of St Francis


4 October


We brought nothing into the world so we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we will be content with these. (1 Timothy 6.7-8)


God our Father, you always delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart: grant that, following the example of our blessed father, Francis, we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Evening Prayer 1 (Transitus)

Psalm 104               Genesis 1.24-31                Luke 12.22-34

Morning Prayer

Psalms 19, 148               Isaiah 52.7-15               1 Corinthians 1.17-31


Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3.17-23

Psalm 148 or 16

Galatians 6.14-18

Matthew 11.25-30

Evening Prayer 2

Psalms 8, 145               Isaiah 55              Matthew 10.5-22

Proper Preface

And now we give you thanks, because you have raised up our father Francis to bum as a shining light in your church, that, inflamed with love for you and the whole of your creation, and. bearing in his body the marks of your Son’s passion, he might bring to glory many sons and daughters …


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5.3)

Franciscan table

Franciscan table

Manual, Third Order, Society of St Francis, Australian Province

Great Thanksgiving for St Francis

Two Thanksgiving Prayers for the Feast of St Francis

  • These are designed to be used in the context of the Eucharist (Second Order) in A Prayer Book for Australia, but they may well be adapted to the Prayer Books of other Anglican/Episcopal churches.
  • In Australia, you may need the permission of a diocesan bishop under Section 4 of the Constitution to use Thanksgiving Prayer 2 in a public setting.

St Francis

St Francis

Thanksgiving Prayer.1

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

All glory and honour be yours always and everywhere,
mighty Creator, everliving God.
We give you thanks and praise for our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who by the power of your Spirit was born of Mary
and lived as one of us.
By his death on the cross
and rising to new life,
he offered the one true sacrifice for sin
and obtained an eternal deliverance for his people.
And now we give you thanks
because you have raised up our father Francis
to burn as a shining light in your church,
that inflamed with love for you and the whole of your creation,
and bearing in his body the marks of your Son’s passion,
he might bring to glory many sons and daughters.

Therefore with angels and archangels,
and with St Clare and St Francis and all the company of heaven,
we proclaim your great and glorious name,
for ever praising you and saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Please turn to page 128, A Prayer Book for Australia

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Thanksgiving Prayer.2

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right in every place and in every way to give you thanks,
O Most High Lord God, Creator of the Universe,
for brother son and sister moon,
for brother wind, sister water and sister fire;
for all the goodness of life you bring forth from Mother Earth.

You sent you only Son Jesus Christ among us in great humility,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
and every tongue confess him Lord
in the crucible of his crucifixion and the glory of his resurrection,
and the wonder of his presence with us always.

And so we praise you with all the mysterious beings of heaven,
with Saint Clare, with Saint Francis, and with all your saints,
saying with them the ancient words of praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Please turn to page 137, A Prayer Book for Australia

Spiritual Director or Adviser?

Each Tertiary is required to have a Spiritual Director or Adviser. What you have depends on where you are in your Franciscan journey. In 1995, we developed this diagram to help people see the range of possibilities in this important relationship.

Spiritual Director or Soul Friend?

Spiritual Director or Soul Friend?

Transitus of St Francis

A Vigil Memorial Service
celebrating St Francis’ “passing over”
from this life to the glory of heaven

Liturgy prepared by Pearl McGill tssf

A Tertiary of the Western Australia Region



(A large wooden cross stands before the altar, surrounded by candles)

Ministers kneel in silence and pray

(All Kneel)



Leader Let us bless our Lord and God, living and true
All To him we offer all praise, all glory, all honour, all blessing, and every good forever. Amen ,

(The Office of the Passion)

Leader Brothers and sisters,
a very ancient tradition draws us together on the eve of this St Francis’ Festival
to celebrate his Transitus:
the final stage of his journey home to God.While rejoicing in the saint’s holy death and glorious entry into heaven,
we give thanks to God the Father,
that in his Son, and by his Spirit’s power, we too can welcome death as our “sister”, and trusting in his mercy,
can live now in the sure hope of resurrection.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you

All And also with you.
Leader Let us pray(silent prayer)
Leader Lord God,
on this night you gave to our holy father Francis,
the Poverello of Assisi,
the reward of perfect beatitude.In your love, lead us who celebrate his Transitus, to follow closely in his footsteps,
and come, in our turn,
to worship you face to face,
in a joy that knows no ending.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the .Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

All Amen. Amen. Alleluia!


Reader 1 St Francis was lying grievously ill and in pain in the Bishop’s house in Assisi, when a doctor was called for the last time. He said to Francis:
Reader 2 “I must tell you, that according to our science, your malady is incurable and in my opinion you will die at the end of September or the beginning of October”.
Reader 1 Raising his arms to heaven, the sick man joyfully cried out:
Reader 3 “You are welcome, welcome, my dear sister Death,”
Reader 1 Then turning to a friar he asked that Brothers Angelo and Leo be called to help him share this good news by singing beside his bed. In spite of their tears, the two brethren began to intone the Canticle of Brother Sun:
All sing All creatures of our God and king,
Lift up your voices, let us sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Bright burning sun with golden beams,
Soft silver moon that gently gleams,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Reader 1 The friars sang the Canticle many times a day to comfort the saint’s failing spirit, and sometimes through the night as well. Not all were pleased.Finally Brother Elias came to Francis and said:
Reader 2 “Well-beloved Father, for my part I rejoice that you should be joyful; but I fear this city, which regards you as a saint, may be scandalised to see that you do not prepare yourself for death in quite another manner”.
Reader 1 The saint smiled and replied:
Reader 3 “Leave me, good Brother, for in spite of what I endure, I feel myself so near to God, that I cannot hold myself from singing”.
Reader 1 Responding to Francis’ expressed desire, Br Elias arranged for him to be carried to the Portiuncula. The magistrates of Assisi consented, and sent an armed escort. When the cortège reached Santa Maria le Mura, Francis raised himself on the litter, and seemed for some time to be contemplating this lovely and familiar view of the city, which he could no longer see. Then painfully he lifted his arm and blessed it:
Reader 3 “May you be blessed, dear city of God. Once you were a lair of brigands, but God has chosen you to become the home of those who know Him and who reverence His most blessed and glorious Name”.
Reader 1 At the Portiuncula, St Francis was given a tiny hut in the forest near to the Chapel of St Mary of the Angels. Again he sensed the solitude of this beautiful place so often visited by the Spirit of God, and he rejoiced as he heard from within the chapel the friars sing:
All sing Swift flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for your Lord to hear,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Fire, so intense and fiercely bright,
Who gives to us both warmth and light,
O praise Him, O praise Him,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Reader 1 This forest solitude was the right setting for Francis’ “passing over” to God, for it was to be an event of radiant beauty. Francis took leave of this world with the same simplicity and courtesy that had marked all the events of his life. He forgot no one or nothing; his sons, his daughters, the places he loved, the Lady of his thoughts, all the creatures with whom he had been so united, shared in his farewells and benedictions. He recommended to his brethren the beloved Portiuncula:
Reader 3 “Brothers, this is a holy place. Hold it ever in veneration and never abandon it”.
Reader 1 In honour of his Lady Poverty, he asked that he be laid naked on the ground, and covering with one hand the wound in his side he said:
Reader 3 “My task is done, may Christ teach you to do yours”.
Reader 1 His friars begged him to forgive them for any offences, and to bless them again. This he readily did, placing his hand successively on the head of each, and then he addressed himself to Bernard of Quintavalle:
Reader 3 “I absolve too, and I bless as far as I am able and even still more than I am able, all my absent brothers. See that these words reach them, and bless them in my name”.
All sing All you with mercy in your heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing now: Alleluia!
All you that pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and cast on him your care:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Reader 1 Nor did Francis forget Sister Clare, who he learned was weeping at the thought of losing her father and friend. He sent a message to his “little spiritual plant”:
Reader 3 “I, the little brother Francis, wish to follow to the end the poor way which was that of our Lord and of His Mother, and I conjure you, my daughter, never to be separated from it”.
Reader 1 Then he added:
Reader 3 “And say to Lady Clare, that I forbid her to give way to sadness, for I promise her that she and her sisters will see me again”.
Reader 1 Francis also sent a message to his friend, the Lady Jacoba of Rome, that she should come in haste with what is needed for his burial. Before the courier left the room a brother ran in to announce her arrival, and Francis cried weakly:
Reader 3 “God be praised, let the door be opened, for .the rule forbidding women to enter here does not apply to Brother Jacoba!”
Reader 1 The Roman Lady had carried with her all that was needed for the saint’s burial, and a box of almond biscuits, which Francis tried to, but could not eat.More and more often the Canticle of Brother Sun was heard from the hut, with the new verse Francis had composed in praise of “our sister Death of the Body”:
All sing And you most kind and gentle death,
Waiting to hush our final breath,
O praise him, Alleluia!
You lead back home the child of God,
By way that Christ the Lord has trod:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Reader 1 On Friday 2nd October, Francis asked for bread, and he blessed it and, like Christ at the last Supper, distributed it to all present, while the Gospel of St John was read beginning at the Passion. (Ch 13:11)
(Bread is blessed and quietly distributed to those present, while READER 2 proclaims the Gospel)
Reader 1 At dusk on the next day, “she to whom no one willingly opens the door”, presented herself, and Francis saw her enter. The little poor man received her courteously:
Reader 3 Be welcome, my Sister Death”
Reader 1 and he begged a brother to announce as a herald of arms does, the solemn arrival of his expected guest; for he added:
Reader 3 “It is she who is going to introduce me to eternal life.”
Reader 1 They placed him on the ground in a coarse sack-cloth to honour the sombre guest, his head was covered with ashes and dust. Then with failing voice he intoned Psalm 142, and those around him continued with him:
Reader 3 Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi…..
Alternate verses beginning with the right side
With a loud voice I cry out to the Lord*
with a loud voice I beseech the Lord.
My complaint I pour out before him;*
Before him I lay bare my distress.

When my spirit is faint within me,*
you know my path.

In the way along which I walk *
they have hid a trap for me.

I look to the right to see, *
but there is no one who pays me heed.

I have lost all means of escape; *
there is no one who cares for my life.

I cry out to you 0 Lord;  †
I say, “You are my refuge, *
my portion in the land of the living.

Attend to my cry, *
for I am brought low indeed.

Rescue me from my persecutors, *
for they are too strong for me.

Lead me forth from prison, *

that I may give thanks to your name.

The just shall gather around me *
when you have been good to me.

Reader 1 There was a great silence. Evening had already stolen into the hut. Francis lay motionless. The final stage of his Transitus had begun.One of his biographers wrote:
Reader 2 “He died singing, in the forty-sixth year of his age, and the twenty-fifth of his conversion”.
Reader 1 Immediately a multitude of crested larks flocked wheeling about the roof of the hut and for long, with their sad chirping, bewailed the loss of their friend. At the same hour, a Brother, one of no small fame, saw a shining star, borne on a white cloud, mounting towards heaven. The soul of the Little Poor Man was flying to eternal happiness.


All sing Let all things their creator bless,
And worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Praise God the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, three in one;
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
(The ministers process out in silence)


Francis makes his Transitus

Francis makes his Transitus

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