(4) When Saint Francis encouraged the formation of The Third Order he recognised that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of The Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.The Principles speak of living in the spirit of poverty, chastity, and obedience in everyday life rather than literally.
I’m not convinced about this. I suspect Francis actually meant us to live these things as literally as possible given our station in life. It is not that poverty, chastity, and obedience can be taken as entirely metaphorical. But rather that we must ask how far we can live them while also fulfilling our everyday responsibilities.
A professional needs to dress in a certain way. A worker may well need reliable private transport or their own computer. What does poverty mean in this context?
What does chastity mean in a culture where sex has been trivialized and commodified? Is it merely a matter of abstinence? Or is it, rather, about the quality of our relationships, our commitment to the other, treating the other as a person rather than merely an object for our own gratification?
What does obedience mean in an age when respect for authority is seen as a quaint, possibly pathetic hangover from an earlier era?
Then again surely all Christians are called to these disciplines. So the the Franciscan way is not something extra so much as an articulation of the way we should already be living.