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.
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
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.
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.
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.