FMSL Life

Welcome to our FMSL life! 

 

Our life is all about experiencing and demonstrating the Good News of God’s love, as announced, and lived by Jesus Christ. As Sisters of the Third Order Regular (TOR) of St Francis, our Gospel life has three related aspects: prayer, community and mission.  These are described in our TOR Form of Life document, or Rule (TOR FL) which consists of writings by St Francis, St Clare and early Franciscan writers. Our Constitutions are a further reflection on this Form of Life by and for the FMSL.

Prayer

 

Our life of prayer is always to be heart centered and whole-hearted:

‘In their heart they should cherish, love, reverence, adore, serve, praise, bless and glorify the most holy and supreme eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ (TOR FL 9)

Our love relationship with God through faith is enriched, strengthened, and deepened in dedicated times of personal prayer each day.

(FMSL Constitutions, n 2; cf. n 29)

Our times of community prayer remind us that we never pray in isolation but together with the whole Church, on behalf of all humanity, and giving voice to God’s entire creation.

‘In this spirit, in union with the whole Church, the Brothers and Sisters should celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours’ (TOR FL 9)

‘The Brothers and Sisters should praise the Lord, the King of heaven and earth, in union with all his creatures.  They should give him thanks because… he created all things … and made us in his own image and likeness,’ (TOR FL 10)

The particular spiritual gift, or charism, of the Third Order Regular of St Francis is ongoing conversion.  As St Francis did, we are always ‘obliged to make more and greater efforts’ to conform ourselves totally to the image and likeness of Christ in which we were created. (TOR FL 1; cf. 11)

Our daily participation in the sacraments of the Church helps us to experience an ever-stronger union with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Through, with and in Christ, we share in his relationship with the Creator, and feel ‘How glorious, holy and great it is to have a Father in heaven!’ (TOR FL, Prologue)

We are called to make visible, through all we say and do, this life with God that we nurture in our hearts.  In this way, our whole life becomes a prayer.

‘They should conduct themselves in everything so that love for God and everyone in the world may shine forth in all that they do.’ (TOR FL 15)

 

Community

 

‘Let them show by their actions that they love one another,’ (TOR FL 23).

Our sisterhood is a communion of persons striving to give ourselves wholly for each other in mutual service.  Francis saw life in fraternity and sisterhood as an expression of the complete self-giving which unites God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Francis recalled Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, ‘that they may be consecrated in unity even as we are’ (TOR FL Prologue).

So, Francis wrote in our Form of Life:

‘With confidence, let them make their needs known to one another, so that each may find what is needed and all may serve one another.’ (TOR FL 23)

It follows that ‘life in a community of love and service is the privileged place of our meeting with God.’ (FMSL Constits., n. 1)

Jesus proclaimed a Kingdom in which God is Father of all people, who are equal in dignity as his beloved children.  This means they are sisters and brothers to each other, without exceptions, preferences, or divisions. 

Our community life, as a sign and instrument of God’s Kingdom, should witness to this truth.  It is Jesus Christ who calls us into sisterhood in communion with him and with each other.  Therefore, ‘The Eucharist is the centre of our daily response to God’s personal call and is the highest expression of our common life.’ (FMSL Constits., n. 25)

Community, then, is essential to the Franciscan expression of our consecrated life.  It is also essential to our mission as Sisters.

Mission

 

Our Congregation is not dedicated to one particular kind of service, just as our founder, St Francis, did not form communities to meet a certain social need.  The brother and sisterhood itself was his focus as an instrument and witness of Gospel life.  His concern was that the brothers and sisters be wholly available to respond to the Spirit’s direction wherever they were.  Like Francis, it is not by a particular work but the spirit in which our service is done that we proclaim the Gospel message.

Francis taught:

‘In their service and work, they should not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, which all earthly things are meant to foster.’

(TOR FL 18)

In imitation of Jesus our Saviour, who came ‘not to be served but to serve’ (Mk 10:45), our way of working should be free of any ambition for status or material gain.

‘In return for their work, they may accept what is necessary for their material needs and those of their Brothers and Sisters.  What they have over, they should give to the poor.  They should never want to be in charge of others.’ (TOR FL 19)

Our manner of service should witness to the Gospel in the modern world.  It should be ‘peaceful’, ‘humble’ and, ‘joyful in the Lord’.  We should avoid quarrelling and judging others. (TOR FL 20)

 

Sr Clare Bernadette with the Town Chaplaincy team
Sr Attracta with the Apostleship of the Sea team

In the footsteps of Jesus Christ who ‘emptied himself’ (Phil. 2:7) Francis teaches us to work faithfully ‘like the poor’ (TOR FL 18) and to be happy living among the poor and marginalized. (TOR FL 21) Our FMSL Constitutions develop this point:

‘Like St. Francis, we will show preference for the poor in our apostolate, welcoming and performing for them even the humblest tasks’

‘We will work for the promotion of justice and peace, co-operating when possible in projects to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the deprived.’ (FMSL Constits., n. 13 and 14)

As followers of St Francis, who related to all creatures as brothers and sisters, our mission includes the whole of creation.  Francis urges us to ‘celebrate the love which the Father has for the whole world.’ (TOR FL 9)

St Francis’ vision of cosmic kinship is promoted through our simple lifestyle, in which all we have is shared.  It is a prophetic witness in this time of global ecological crisis, as our Constitutions remind us.

‘Let us therefore find ways to live simply, in harmony with all people and Mother earth; not exploiting, but respectfully using and enhancing God’s gifts. Thus we shall co-operate in the renewal of creation with God the Source of all Good’. (FMSL Constits. n. 1)

Tree planted in the grounds of our former convent in Canterbury, in memory of Willie Anderson
Assisi Garden, St. J. Convent
Convent grounds, Belwadi