Why do people join the Third Order? At a basic level it is about being called by God to this discipline, this life style. But what that means is different for each one of us. Read some of those reasons in the stories below:
Why did I become a Franciscan? I could say I came across the Franciscan Third Order by mistake, but in reality, God's hand was always there.
It was at a time when I had been searching for a deeper spirituality than my church could offer me. It's not that I was unhappy with my church, but I needed something more than Sunday services. I wanted to make a deeper commintment to the way I followed Christ, and St Francis was a perfect example for me. With my interst in all things monastic increasing, I was particularly drawn to the disciplines involved in belonging to a Religious Order.
So having discovered the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, I set about reading as much as possible about St Francis and discovered that I was drawn to his ideals. I related to the passion he had for the Gospels, and the teaching of Jesus, 'This is the way - follow it'. I found myself saying, 'yes, this is what Christianity is about. This is the way I want to follow Jesus'.
By now I was in contact with the local Third Order chaplain who invited me to attend the next meeting. The rest, as they say, is history.
For me, belonging the the Third Order of the Society of St Francis has given me the aspects of religious life that enhance my focus on Christ. The discipline of a 'Rule of Life' and the taking of life-long vows has been the commitment that helps me to live a life of service to others. As has being part of a 'community' of like-minded people as we meet together to study the ways of St Francis and St Clare and how they followed in Jesus' footprints.
Franciscan Society, a Religious Order
It was December 2007 when I started out as a novice testing a vocation in The Third Order of St Francis. After 2 years I was professed into the Order, a world wide religious order.
My goal was - How do I live as a good Chriatian in all areas of my life?
I was first attracted to the Order through an invitation at our Church of St Philip's during notices by Chris Barfoot, to come along and see for myself what the Third Order of St Francis (TSSF) is about. I had been baptised and confirmed at St Philips about 3years earlier. I read the bible daily, joined in church activites, but in truth my life then, fell into 2 categories: 1) church life and 2) living in the world
My quest was to search out what or where to after church Sundays. It bothered me that I did not know how to be to the world after church, how was I to act?
I felt special and nurtured in church, but how do I take that, the gospel, and my ways, reconcile this, and take it into the world through the rest of the week, and stay a ‘Christian’ with all my failings. There were times I really felt like grand standing, breaking out the pipe bands, letting loose with a huge megaphone to the people, and shouting out “listen up, did you know there is a God who loves you”,
“Do you know who Jesus really is, have you heard”. Ah but a little voice saying, settle down, and I would have to have a nap, (so tired after all that thinking).
From Chris Barfoots invitation, my first introduction was meeting up with 5 other TSSF members at St Aidens Anglican church in Remuera. I was one of three enquirers from St Philips that day. We were welcomed by a teacher, a grandmother and lay preacher, a chaplain and a priest, and our own Chris Barfoot, all members of the Society. They all talked a little about themselves, and the Franciscan aims for about an hour or so. To me, it wasn’t all about what they were saying, but also to how they were being, it was like at my Mums place, sat down at the kitchen table, in a warm atmosphere, the smell of cooking, listening to her words as she worked, filled with good, bringing me close, with lots of laughing.” What I am trying to say, is I felt close on the first meeting, as I would do in my family home. We joined them in coffee and tea with home made cakes. Later, I went home with a renewed hope. I wanted to know more.
A Franciscan writer has said ‘if anything specific can be observed about St Francis it was his great concern to desire nothing specific”.
Francis’s spiritually was simply to observe the Gospel.