Tag: Saint Francis of Assisi

I’m a Candidate. Vote!

I’M A CANDIDATE!
Once again it is election time in America. Pray for me because I am now a candidate. A candidate for what you may ask? Please continue reading…

UNITED STATES MIDTERM ELECTIONS
Yes, at the time of this writing, midterm elections are exactly two weeks from today with the million-dollar question being: “Who will control the House and the Senate?” once the last ballot has been cast and the votes tallied. Of course, as Christians, I believe it is our daily duty to pray for our President, elected leaders, and our country…and I do. But over the next two weeks we must prayerfully consider the candidates, their proposed policies and platforms, then GO VOTE!¹ The results? Only God knows. But something else that only God and a few select individuals know is that I, too, am now a candidate, but not the kind you may be thinking of. Please let me explain.

CANDIDATE ALLEN
As many of you know, for more than twenty-five years I have considered myself a contemplative Christian with a heart for prayer (which is partially responsible for the birth of Nexus Prayer.) I am also very active in my local parish and serve as an advocate for various local causes in my community and beyond. But following a season of prayer this past January, I heard God calling me to deeper waters by joining a religious order and making vows dedicating myself to serve the most vulnerable of our society. Yes, I am already heavily involved at church, and in teaching, and sharing nexus prayer wherever I can, but I believed God was inviting me to a higher calling – a calling to a vocation that took into consideration the needs of “the least of these” – especially with all that is happening on the political and social fronts of America today. Us versus them. Matthew 25:40-45

MONK OR FRIAR?
That part was easy. I desire to serve. The hard part was narrowing down what “kind” of religious order would be the best match for me and me for them. Generally speaking, friars are different from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience) in service to society, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. Whereas monks live in a self-sufficient community, friars work among laypeople and are supported by donations or other charitable support. A monk or nun make their vows and commits to a particular community in a particular place. Friars are often part of a dispersed community (a monastery without walls as I like to think of it.) Friars may also commit to a community spread across a wider geographical area known as a province, and so they will typically move around, spending time in different houses of the community within their province.²

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-​1226)

BROTHER CANDIDATE: A FRIAR IN FORMATION
When it came to my personal decision, dozens of orders were considered, but God helped me narrow it to two: the Benedictines and the Franciscans – the first known for their dedication to prayer, silence, and solitude (a good match for me) and the latter known for both their prayer life and service. The Benedictines serving God within the confines of the cloistered monastic walls (monks), and the Franciscans serving both God and man outside the same walls (friars) – even helping tear down the walls of intolerance, hatred, injustice, bigotry, racism, poverty, and more. In the end, God showed me that the Franciscans and Franciscan Spirituality were the path and The Way God intended for me. But then… which Franciscan order?

Since the time that Saint Francis founded his first order of brothers some 800 years ago (The Friars Minor, OFM, or the Lesser Brothers as they are sometimes called), many diverse Franciscan orders with different charisms have emerged in both the Roman Catholic Church, as well as orders of friars (and sisters) that exist in other Christian traditions, including the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans and the Order of Lesser Sisters and Brothers.

In the Anglican Communion there are also a number of mendicant groups such as the Anglican Friars Preachers, The Society of St. Francis, and the Order of Saint Francis. It is this last (but certainly not the least) order, The Order of Saint Francis,³ that has both accepted me as a candidate and placed me in formal formation.

The Order of Saint Francis 2018 Convocation | Photo Copyright ©2012 in perpetuity by Order of Saint Francis (OSF). All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

ORDER OF SAINT FRANCIS
As a contemporary expression of Franciscan tradition within the Anglican Communion, the Order of Saint Francis is unique among other Franciscan orders. That’s because although it is an active, Apostolic Christian religious order within the Anglican Communion and in communion with the See of Canterbury, it is not based in an enclosed communal setting, Instead, OSF brothers live independently in different parts of the world, with ministries based on the needs of their local communities. Members are baptized men who have been confirmed within the Anglican Communion who voluntarily commit to live by a set of professed vows for a term of years or for life. Like all Franciscan orders, every OSF Brother continues his spiritual pilgrimage under formation within the order regardless of their status: candidate, postulant, novitiate, professed, or life professed. The order was founded in 2003 by Br Nicholas Kis and is currently blessed to have about 40 vowed brothers serving Christ across the world.³

Needless to say, although I am quite humbled and joyful about this exciting development and personal transition, there is much more to share, and I will do so here soon. I certainly would appreciate your prayers. But for now, … GO VOTE!

NOTES & REFERENCES

1 GO VOTE | League of Women Voters of Texas (Non-Partisan)

2 Monk or Friar | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

3 Order of Saint Francis | OSF Summary Content Copyright ©2012  in perpetuity by Order of St. Francis (OSF). All Rights Reserved. Used by Nexus Prayer International with express written permission of the Order of Saint Francis.

4 Photo Credit: “I Voted” by Parker Johnson via Unsplash in Public Domain. |Used and modified with permission by Nexus Prayer International.

6 Photo Credit: Saint Francis of Assisi |The oldest surviving depiction of Saint Francis is a fresco near the entrance of the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco, painted between March 1228 and March 1229. | In Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons and License Art Libre.

7 Photo Credit: Order of Saint Francis 2018 Convocation | OSF Photo Copyright ©2012  in perpetuity by Order of St. Francis (OSF). All Rights Reserved. Photo used by Nexus Prayer International with express written permission of the Order of Saint Francis.

St. Francis joins Nexus Prayer

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-​1226)

JESUS, SAINT FRANCIS, & NEXUS PRAYER
A WINNING COMBINATION

So, today, Saint Francis joined Nexus Prayer. (Or did Nexus Prayer join St. Francis?) You decide. Either way, our mission is the same – trying to authentically live out the Gospel in our daily lives while sharing the love of Jesus with our generation.

Nexus prayer has been a part of my daily spiritual activities for more than three years now. During that time, God has been ever-so-slowly transforming me from the inside out as I’ve spent quality one-on-one time just listening to him in prayer. As a result, I believe I’m a kinder, gentler, and wiser version (he said humbly) of my former self. That’s not so surprising since I’m convinced that the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Jesus.

But what has been surprising this year is my increased awareness of and interest in all things Franciscan. Perhaps I should not be so shocked by my attraction to Saint Francis as I’ve worn a San Damiano cross for over twenty years and, as mentioned elsewhere on this site, most of the spiritual mentors who have been busy planting seeds in my soul for years are all Franciscans – John Michael Talbot, Richard Rohr, and Murray Bodo to name just a few. I just never thought of myself actually becoming a Franciscan. Until now.

“The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Jesus.”

The Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, along with their companion values of simplicity, humility, harmony, compassion, service, and prayer all resonate with me, albeit with a modern-day twist. Those admirable qualities notwithstanding, there are several important reasons why I am compelled to embrace a Franciscan lifestyle today, and why since the middle of July I have been prayerfully discerning a call to a Franciscan vocation (Anglican or Secular Order) in the near future.

All of these Franciscan virtues (Jesus’ virtues really) will be explored in future posts to my journal. For now, however, suffice it to say that there are several important reasons I feel compelled by God to continue my walk with Jesus, but now have St. Francis as my traveling companion:

THE DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA
First, because perhaps like no other time in the history of our country (at least during my lifetime), many of the government leaders and people in our society (including Christians) seem to reflect the divided states, rather than the United States of America. Whether the issue is immigration, race, gun control, religion, gay rights, women’s rights, or the plethora of other human issues and societal ills, the current social and political climate have never been more polarizing. Us versus them. Still not convinced? You need look no further than the current controversy surrounding the Supreme Court to know that what I am saying is true.

THE NEED TO DO SOMETHING
Second, thanks to nexus prayer, I believe I am closer to God than ever before in my life and clearly hear His call to be obedient to step forward as an advocate for all the disenfranchised and most vulnerable members of our society wherever I am able. I desire to be a voice of love, peace, compassion, and reconciliation in contrast to so many who are stoking the coals of hatred and the flames of bigotry and racism. I can’t do everything, but I can do something and believe it is my Christian responsibility to do so. James 4:17 This is just one reason why my wife works in the mission field of sex and human trafficking at Redeemed Ministries and why I’ve recently begun volunteering and teaching at the Hope Center – a ministry that serves the homeless men and women in the North Houston Area.

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
Finally,  although I will never measure up to the examples of Jesus, Thomas á Kempis, and Saint Francis, I feel led to walk this path today because I believe as Christians we are called…

  • To recognize the human dignity of every person as created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 | Genesis 2:7
  • To be good stewards of our planet and take good care of God’s creation. Genesis 1:1-31
  • To share God’s unconditional love for all, and be a light in the darkness. John 3:16 | Matthew 22:36-40 | I John 4:7-12
  • To live the Gospel radically for “the least of these” Matthew 25:34-45 | Matthew 5:16
  • To be advocates for justice for the most vulnerable in our society: the poor, aged, sick, homeless, refugees, immigrants, and victims of sex and human trafficking. Isaiah 61:1 | Matthew 25:34-40
  • To be peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 | Matthew 5:11-17

Prayer is good. Nexus prayer is great. But as the Apostle James reminds us, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:14-17 To this end, I’ve already taken baby steps in my life to be the hands, feet, and voice of Christ to my generation (more on this later), just as I believe Saint Francis did for his. In other words, the prayer not written by, but usually attributed to Saint Francis has also become my prayer:

Lord Make Me an Instrument
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
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen

Image Credit | Saint Francis of Assisi
The oldest surviving depiction of Saint Francis is a fresco near the entrance of the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco, painted between March 1228 and March 1229. | In Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons and License Art Libre.

© 2018 Nexus Prayer

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑