Walking in the Footsteps of Christ – Day 14
Thursday after 2nd Sunday of Lent
A Lenten Journey with the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis
These Reflections which take the Rule of the Third Order as their springboard, were originally published in Lent 2012 are being republished during Easter 2020 as a way of deepening our faith during the Covid19 pandemic which is affecting the whole world
From the Principles:
The Third Aim:
To live simply (continued)
Our personal spending is limited to what is necessary for the health and well-being of ourselves and our dependants. We aim to stay free from all attachment to wealth, keeping ourselves constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us.
From St Francis:
In his Last Testament, St. Francis writes, ‘For I, being in sin, thought it bitter to look at lepers, and the Lord himself led me among them, and I worked with them. And when I left their company, I realised that what had seemed bitter to me, had been turned into sweetness of soul and body.’ (The Testament of St Francis)
‘Big Issue! Big Issue!’ How do you respond when you hear the cry of the vendor of the newspaper for the homeless? Or how about that other request we meet in the High Streets of our towns from personable young people, wearing brightly coloured tabards, known as chuggers, ‘Would you like to give just £2 a month to support Water Aid/Save the Children/Barnados?’ Wherever we live in the world it is very difficult to NOT be ‘constantly aware of the poverty in the world and its claim on us.’
The challenge we face in living simply and being free from the attachment to wealth is that there is so much need in the world that we can fall prey to donor fatigue and, if we listen to the siren voices of ‘good sense’ and ‘personal security’, we lapse into justifying why we do not give away more of the good gifts with which God has provided us. Most of us are not called to literal poverty and a life of sine proprio but we are all called to be good stewards and not be wastrels of God’s generosity. The Principle is this personal spending is limited to what is necessary for the health and well-being of ourselves and our dependants. From family to family what is deemed necessary will vary, we do not all have the same life to live and our lifestyles will differ. However, whether we only buy from the charity shop or find ourselves in a plush restaurant we are called to prudence and care for others.
The world can be more generous than it is.
It remains the embarrassment of this generation that the world produces enough food to feed every single human being yet one half of the world has enough to eat, one quarter of the world is malnourished and fears famine, and one quarter of the world is overweight and obese. In the United Kingdom and the United States almost half of the food produced for local consumption is thrown away, by retailers, by restaurants, or in the home.
How do we turn this around? How do we learn to stop ‘passing by on the other side’ when the beggar sidles up to us, or the earnest young person with a clipboard approaches us? Francis points the way with the lesson he learnt from the lepers. Those whom he used to despise became a source of sweetness. He reminds us that each of us belongs to only one family. When I help the child in a country far away I am helping my own son, when I buy The Big Issue I am giving shelter to my sister, when I give food to the unkempt beggar it is my father who I am lifting out of the gutter.
It is not easy, and we cannot say ‘Yes’ to everyone: but we must ensure that we are saying ‘Yes’ to someone! And having done that, when we can give no more, we can give our regrets to those whom we cannot help secure in the knowledge that our prayer for them comes from a sincere and generous heart.
Show us, good Lord,
the peace we should seek,
the peace we must give,
the peace we can keep,
the peace we must forego,
and the peace you have given in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Carly Micklem – used by the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland)
How have I limited my personal spending?
Which charities and causes have my personal support?
How do I demonstrate this?
99 Words to Breathe:
If one billion people in the world think peace – we’ll get peace.
You may think ‘how are you going to get one billion people to think PEACE.
Remember, each one of us has the power to change the world.
Power works in mysterious ways.
Visualize the domino effect, and just start thinking PEACE
Thoughts are infectious.
Send it out.
The message will circulate faster than you think.
It’s time for action.
The action is PEACE.
Spread the WORD
Yoko Ono – artist, musician and peace campaigner
‘The Principles’ are from the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis – this version amended for corporate reading by Andrew Dotchin
‘The Words of Francis’ are from ‘Through the Year with Francis of Assisi’ selected and translated by Murray Bodo – copyright © Collins Fount 1988
Prayers are from ‘The Book of a Thousand Prayers’ compiled by Angela Ashwin – copyright © Zondervan 1996
‘You have breath for no more than 99 Words. What would they be?’ were collected by Liz Gray – copyright © DLT 2011
These Reflections, ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Christ’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged