November 17, 2019

Franciscan Friday: Franciscan and Lutheran

Basilica of St Francis, Assisi (2019)

In my reading about St. Francis and Franciscan spirituality, I was happy to find that there are Lutheran Franciscan orders. The following is from the Common Questions section of The Order of Lutheran Franciscans.

In the Lutheran tradition, there are several Franciscan orders:  the Evangelische Franziskaner-Tertiaren was founded in 1927 in Germany, the Franciskus Tredje Orden is part of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, the Evangelische Kanaan Franziskus-Bruderschaft is found in the Evangelical Church in Germany and Helige Franciskus Systraskap is a women’s religious community in Sweden.

There are a couple of independent Lutheran religious orders in the United States, including St. Augustine’s House, a Lutheran Benedictine monastic community located in Michigan.

It is important to remember what Martin Luther wrote in his work, Judgment on Monastic Vows in 1521: “And so, if you vow to take up the religious life, and if you live with people of like mind, with a clear conscience that in monasticism you seek nothing to your advantage in your relationship with God, but because either your situation has brought you to embrace this kind of life, or it appeared to be the best way of life for you, without your thinking thereby that you are better than the one who takes a spouse or takes up farming, then in that case you are neither wrong to take vows nor wrong to live in this way, insofar as the propriety of the vow is concerned.”

There are also Episcopal/Anglican Franciscan orders and others of interdenominational character.

Rev. Chris Markert, OLF, posted several testimonies of people who have chosen the Franciscan Lutheran way. Here are a few of them.

“I am drawn to being Franciscan because it is radical – in that it goes to the roots of what it means to lose oneself in order to find oneself.  This Franciscan thing is not a solo ‘spiritual’ journey or exercise; it happens in community.”  

• Carolyn Swenson, Postulant

“For me, Franciscans live simply so that they may simply live – in service and love to ‘the least of these.’”  

• The Rev. Jeff Brown, Postulant

“A Franciscan is somebody who takes on the challenge of aligning their life with Christ. The Franciscan way to go about this is simplicity, holiness, and accountability (i.e. poverty, chastity, and obedience). I am a Franciscan out of spiritual conviction. I see the Spirit offering me ways to simplify my life and teaching me how to center myself around Christ in deep and profound ways.”  

• Brother Mike Patterson

“The Franciscan Vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are a compass to keep me headed in the right direction, and the process of formation has opened me to more deeply explore what it means to follow Christ through the examples of Francis and Luther.”  

• Brother Martin Johnson

Some have seen an organic connection between St. Francis and Luther. Wendy Murray has argued that Francis was “the Catholic who paved the way for Martin Luther’s reform.”

One characteristic of Franciscan spirituality is an openness to a generous ecumenical perspective. Because it is rooted more in orthopraxy than in doctrinal precision and purity, it is a way of life that those from different traditions may follow.

This is appealing and encouraging to me.

Comments

  1. Those are interesting quotes.

    –> “The Franciscan Vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are a compass to keep me headed in the right direction, and the process of formation has opened me to more deeply explore what it means to follow Christ through the examples of Francis and Luther.”

    And here I thought the best way to follow Christ might be through the example of Jesus. Oh, well.

    And if anyone ever approached me and said, “I want to follow Christ by modeling your example,” I’d be quick to say, “Whoa, Nelly!”

    The perfect example is Jesus, the exact representation of the Father, not Francis, not Luther, not Wesley, not Calvin, not Paul, not…

    Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe not.

  2. Christiane says

    Yes, St. Francis of Assisi WAS a ‘reformer’ and his work is still inspiring many in the whole Church today. You don’t have to be ‘Catholic’ to be Franciscan, not at all.

    There is a strange story about an actress in a film made about St. Francis, this:

    “Dolores Hart was the first film star to kiss Elvis Presley. She went on to perform in several more films in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1961 she played St Clare in Francis of Assisi. That year she met Pope John XXIII. She told him:
    “I’m Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare.”
    The Pope said: “No, you are Clare!”
    Those words were prophetic, as a few years later Dolores entered the Regina Laudis Benedictine Abbey in Connecticut, and took her final vows there in 1970.”

    I’ve always wondered how the Pope ‘knew’ 🙂

    https://youtu.be/VPKy6lq0p9U

    • Susan Dumbrell says

      My daughter is named after St Francis.
      She is now 45yo and is my rock and support in my trials with my husband John.
      May all you are named the same share the blessings of St Francis. She is my channel Peace in my strife.
      She would not like my mentioning her this way but a mother’s love and appreciation is overflowing.
      She lifts me up and makes me consider all alternatives so I don’t jump in the deep end and make mistakes.
      I hold her in my hands before God.

      Susan

      • Christiane says

        Hello Susan!

        So good to hear from you. Your daughter sounds like a wonderful woman and you are both so fortunate to have each other.