A review of Live Like Francis by Leonard Foley and Jovian Weigel (Franciscan Media, 2016)
This little book began life over half a century ago as The Third Order Vocation. It was subsequently updated to harmonize with the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order approved by Pope John Paul II in 1978. In that form, it has been widely used by people exploring a call to living Franciscan ideals in the midst of daily life. This latest form of the book looks outwards to people beyond the SFO who might also wish to explore the Franciscan way.
It is structured as a spiritual workbook rather than something you would simply read through from cover to cover. Fifty-two chapters offer a year of weekly reflections covering every aspect of life as a Franciscan Tertiary in five parts. Part 1 (Foundation) goes to the heart of the Franciscan (and Christian) vocation – Jesus Christ. Part 2 (Conversion) explores the process of turning to follow Christ in terms of poverty, humility, chastity, and obedience. Part 3 looks at the life of prayer. The largest section of the book, Part 4, follows the Tertiary into the world and explores the Tertiary's role as one who seeks justice, peace, and the well-being of creation. And the brief concluding section touches on the Franciscan family.
Within those sections, each chapter follows a common pattern. It begins with a reading from St Francis (or from time to time the Rule of the SFO) and a meditation on that reading. This is followed by a number of questions intended to explore our response to the reading and meditation. There follows a related reading from the Bible and one from the wider Franciscan family in order to root our reflections in both Scripture and tradition. By way of conclusion, there are some questions/suggestions challenging us to apply our meditations to daily life and a concluding prayer.
So far I have only dipped into this book and read sections rather than working through it week by week in the manner intended. But what I have read convinces me that taking a year to work through these meditations would be a valuable exercise for any Tertiary (or indeed anyone who is serious about following Christ). I plan to use it that way myself and to recommend it very strongly to my fellow Anglican Tertiaries and to any novices and enquirers who cross my path.