Since I was one of many who did not go to the 19th Quinquennial Congress (the Q) back in July, I asked those who did go top share their experiences. They left me with three distinct impressions.
We are called to fraternity. A highlight that everyone shared was the experience of other Secular Franciscans from around the country. The Q was a unique opportunity to discuss our shared vocation to live the Gospel life according to the example of St. Francis of Assisi. I am reminded that our fraternity “should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.” (Rule #22)
We are all in formation. Almost everyone mentioned the wide selection of books that were available and the opportunity to listen to some amazing speakers. Everyone in attendance learned something that was transformative in some way. This was another reminder to me that my conversion is incomplete.
We are people of peace. Several of the attendees took a way a feeling of love, joy, and peace. Of course, being peacemakers requires that we are leave our comfort zones. But this highlights the importance of community–we are not in this alone. We have our friends to help us, and most importantly, we have a relationship with Christ that is nurtured through prayer and contemplation.
Everyone expressed the desire to attend the next Q; but more importantly, they expressed the hope that those of us who did not attend would be able to do so.
In the meantime, we can all reflect on the following questions:
- What gifts do you bring to our fraternity? What gifts do you receive from our fraternity?
- What does being a Franciscan mean to you? How has this understanding changed?
- How do you work for peace and justice? What obstacles do you face in being a peacemaker?
I invite you to post your responses in the Comments section; it would be a great way to share your insights and struggles.
Peace and all good!