The FOUR PILLARS
Our life as secular Franciscans in built upon what are commonly referred to as: “The Four Pillars.” These pillars (Spirituality, Formation, Fraternity and Apostolate(s)) provide us with opportunities to live out our Franciscan charism, within our secular community and the greater world.
The interplay among the Four Pillars addresses the content, approach, living, and the sharing the Spirituality of the Secular Franciscan life… our Franciscan identity and mindset; our formation process for progressively molding and shaping our members; our focus on fraternity aimed at living our spirituality with those who are on the same journey; and our Apostolate of working with our fellow Franciscans in cooperative, collaborative, action to render service in response to the Gospel to those in need. The Four Pillars give us focus to live authentically The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, which is to: observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.
The Spirituality Pillar is the heart of the Four Pillars. The quality of spiritual growth and the anchoring of a charism demand the interacting of knowledge and a discipline. When one becomes knowledgeable of a particular way, there is the need to integrate through practice the identifying elements of that spirituality. Embracing our Franciscan spirituality and its attending Pillars requires continuous action. Prayer and contemplation anchor the Spirituality Pillar. It is the means to being attentive and pursuing the application of our Franciscan spirituality on a daily basis. Our quest is to nourish and make strong the Spirit of God within us. We realize this internal quest through the external stimulus of prayer by . lifting our hearts and mind to God.
Formation is the vehicle whereby we learn to internalize and integrate the Spirituality, Fraternity, and Apostolate Pillars into every aspect of our lives. It informs, forms, and ultimately helps to transform us. During the formation process, information serves to give insight, to understand, and to practice an authentic Franciscan way of life. This gives way to an internalized and integrated facet of the Franciscan way of life. Ultimately, with time and application, there is a transformation. Formation serves to direct us to identify and utilize our time, our talent, and our resources in this lifelong process, and to truly discern our vocation as Franciscans.
Community life! It depends to whom you talk. Each one has his or her idea of community life. However, as a Franciscan and within a Franciscan framework there is clarity as to what is community. It is to pray together, to learn, to serve, and to grow as members in our Franciscan Spirituality and way of life. Our living life in fraternity calls us to attend to the interpersonal aspects of our life together. The Franciscan model for fraternity life is the Trinity. Those who make up a fraternity establish a brotherhood, a community of equals among themselves with the Holy Spirit as their Minister General. Fraternity is the basic cell of the Order that helps us lives in today’s world by going from gospel to life and life to the gospel, while remaining faithful to the conditions of our secular state in life. Respecting and encouraging each other’s gifts and uniqueness helps shape a fraternity that builds a more fraternal world and helps us to serve as witness to the kingdom of God.
The fraternity apostolate is our privilege and responsibility to go forth as witnesses and instruments of the Holy Spirit and the Church. When we come together in our fraternity gatherings we interact with each other, but the fraternity apostolate gives us the added opportunity to cooperate and minister with each in both internal and external actions to feed, to clothe, to comfort… to make Christ present in the name of Francis. Secular may have both individual and group(Fraternity) apostolates through the grace of the Holy Spirit.