As Secular Franciscans, we live a Rule of Life that moves us from Gospel to Life, Life to Gospel, Contemplation to Action, Action to Contemplation. Contemplation takes many forms (Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Devotional Prayer, Centering Prayer). Our Action takes form in JPIC. So I ask myself, “How can I live my Rule to the fullest and make JPIC an integral part of my every day?” An important question for all of us.
Instead of giving you facts and checklists and instruction on what you should or should not do, I am going to introduce you to a method or a process for daily discernment – a way to hear how you are personally being called by God as a Secular Franciscan to bring justice into the world, to promote peace always, and to ensure integrity of God’s creation everywhere.
What is our response to be? How are we called into this beautiful life that God has gifted us? This is where my fellow Secular Franciscans often flounder and become overwhelmed. There are innumerable instances of injustice in the world, many violent uprisings in nations and among peoples, and unimaginable devastation to God’s beautiful creation. I am often asked by my Brothers and Sisters, “What can I do?” “Where do I begin?” “What does God want of me?”
First, remember to ‘breathe’! You, and you alone, are not responsible for settling every injustice, war or destructive act in the world. You are a part of the Body of Christ, one of many parts, bringing God’s light into the world. Trust that your times of contemplation will inform your times of action. During those times of prayer, what do you notice? You can then respond to God’s invitation to be the hands and feet of Christ among us.
There is A WAY.
As Franciscans, we can look to our Father Francis to guide us on THE WAY. When I think of St. Francis, I think of simplicity or singularity of purpose – he saw God in all things and all people, and he loved God in all things and in all people. Simplicity does not mean an easy, comfortable life but it promises an uncluttered life – a life devoted to finding and praising God’s goodness in all things.
Simple living is an ongoing process. That process, which itself can be considered a form of prayer, involves: dialogue with the Lord, examination, re-evaluation, and encounter with all of God’s creation (both human and non-human) over and over again. Today I introduce to you a simple JPIC discernment tool that will give you the guidance you seek to answer your call to action.
I have taken material from a Jesuit Ecological Daily Examen and modified it into a Franciscan JPIC Daily Examen. It is a tool for prayer, reflection and action that you can use to deepen your call to right injustice, create peace and care for creation. Hear the Cry of the Poor! Hear the Cry of the Earth! The Examen is a prayer that was first taught by Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. A fellow Franciscan once quipped, “Jesuits are just Franciscans with a PhD!” We are all one family. So here we go…
Normally the Examen is prayed daily (usually at the end of the day) or even twice daily (mid-day & end-of-day) and so leads to that ongoing daily conversion that we as Franciscans speak of… but for for the purposes of this teaching, I am doing something a little different. Over the next six weeks, I will give witness to a ‘life’ Examen (one movement per week) rather than a daily Examen, in the hopes of demonstrating how this can work as our Secular Franciscan JPIC discernment tool. Then over the second 6-week set, I will walk you through your own personal daily JPIC Examen.
Stay tuned…. Margaret
Stay tuned…. Margaret