An echo of St. Francis’s vision of God’s call to “rebuild my church” resounds in the 21st century inspiration of ‘prophetic creativity,’ a concept that appears in recent Franciscan and church documents.

In a presentation the opening night of Chapter, Sister Agnes Marie Regan, OSF, encouraged Secular Franciscans to respond to God’s call to study and act on prophetic creativity, especially as it is presented in Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti, the International OFS Council (CIOFS) document Instrumentum Laboris and the Ministers General Christmas letter.

Prophetic creativity is seeing as God sees with spiritual eyes and then acting while allowing God’s grace to strengthen us to do his will.

“It is innovative action taken in response to the Holy Spirit working with and within us,” Sister Regan explained.

The creativity is important and mentioned no less than 44 times by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti, she said.

“Pope Francis spoke about the need for prophecy in the church today, saying ‘prophecy is born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God, not when we are concerned to keep everything quiet and under control. When the Gospel overturns certainties, prophecy arises. Only someone who is open to God’s surprises can become a prophet’.”

Pope Francis signs encylical Fratelli Tutti at the Tomb of St. Francis in Assisi.

Prophets create action, Sister Regan said, and quoted Pope Francis again, “You want a prophetic church? Then begin to serve and stop talking. Not theory, but testimony.” Prophetic creativity enables us to “not save up our- selves but to spend ourselves for others,” according to Pope Francis.

Sister Regan noted that by the nature of our baptism, we are called to be prophets. She admitted that the call can feel un- comfortable. She cited Biblical characters like Sarah, who laughed when God told her she would bear a son because she was too old; Moses, who said, send my brother, I can’t talk; Jacob, who had a wrestling match with God; and Jonah, who wound up in the whale’s belly.

A better model for how to respond would be Mary. We recite her answer every evening when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

“So, if we say we feel uncomfortable, let’s think about how Mary accepted it,” Sr. Regan said, referring to lines from the Magnificat:

My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour

Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from hence- forth all generations shall call me blessed.

Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His name.

God is calling us to focus our prayer and our energy in His direction by falling in love again with our profession. She cites a quote from Encarnacion del Pozo, OFS, former minister general, to continue the call for action within the order that began with restructuring in 1978.

CIOFS Presidency at work in Rome. Photo by R. Stronach, OFS.

CURRENT MINISTERS GENERAL: (from left) Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano, TOR; Tibor Kauser, OFS; Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, OFM; Fr. Roberto Genuin, OFMCap; Fr. Carlos Trovarelli, OFMConv, and Sr. M. Magdalena Schmitz, representing CFI-TOR.

“I firmly believe that, based on the experience of the first 40 years, the future of formation in the Order must be oriented toward being. Only by doing, without being, the Order will not mature and regress to a simple and tired routine,” del Pozo said.

Since we are all thirsty for a deeper relationship with God, we should be open to the direction in which prophetic creativity can lead us. Some of this is out- lined in Instrumentum Labororis. Those directions include creating new fraternities and infusing life into old ones.

“Seek new ways to help the development of the spiritual life of the sisters and brothers. They’re hungry for a deeper relationship with God and a broader understanding of their Franciscan call,” Sister Regan said.

Prophetic creativity calls for personal presence, witness, prayer, active collaboration, and service that goes beyond the day-to-day administration. “[Service]…is not limited to ‘bureaucratic issues’ nor to the execution of the guidelines of the Council of the higher level but requires ‘prophetic creativ- ity’ for the realization of the Secular Franciscan life, both as individuals and as Fraternity, consistent with the Gospel and the Mageristerium of the Church,” she quoted from Instrumentum Laboris.

She emphasized that all Franciscans are called to take part in creative prophecy. It all works with the daily conversion to which we are called.

“All of us have to look at it and ask ‘What is my part in this?’” she said. “Conversion is impossible without motivation and change. It directs us to look at Jesus and Francis for our examples,” Sister Regan said.

Never fear that you lack the ability to pursue the renewal, she added. “God does not choose those who are qualified. He qualifies those he chooses,” Sister Regan said.

What would happen if everyone responded to God as Francis and Clare did?

Sister Regan cited an answer from Jan Parker, OFS, national minister.

“We would grow closer to God and each other. We would engage more deeply in what we promised and there would be a rebirth of our Franciscan or- der. Our fraternities would become more alive with enthusiasm, hope and joy.”

The challenge is to heed the call by St. Francis as it is cited in Rule 6:  Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialogue of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.

“Let’s commit our lives to the message of Jesus and let it take over our hearts and minds with full excitement,” Sister Regan said.