(This article appeared in the Spring 2024 Issue of TAU-USA #111)

by Jane DeRose-Bamman, OFS, National Minister

The theme for this edition of the TAU-USA is “Renewal.” What comes to mind? A day of rest? Something one does for a magazine subscription or a driver’s or professional license? What happens when we do not renew something? We may become burned out or exhausted in terms of our mind, or we may need to pay extra or pay a fine in terms of a license, or perhaps we might not be able to practice our profession/work.

How about a renewal of our commitment to the Gospel? Sure, it doesn’t “expire,” but our efforts may be flat or lack effectiveness. As brothers and sisters of penance, the ongoing renewal of our hearts – ongoing conversion – is key to living out our profession of the OFS Rule. There are two areas that refer to renewal I would like to highlight here.

Article 7 of our OFS Rule states: “United by their vocation as ‘brothers and sisters of penance’, and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel itself calls ‘conversion.’ Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily. On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.” 

When referring to the new OFS Rule in 1978, (now almost 46 years old) the Ministers General challenged us to: “…welcome the Franciscan message that it contains and the guidance it offers you in living according to the holy Gospel. A cornerstone of the renewal that we hope for, is to return to the origins, to the spiritual experience of Saint Francis of Assisi and of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, who received their inspiration and guidance from him.”

beautiful walkway through trees & shrubsThe phrases: “road to renewal” and “a cornerstone of the renewal” appeal to me. Our road or journey to renewal is daily conversion. If our goal is to be renewed in Christ, then an important aspect is to return to our original commitment. Our Seraphic Father St. Francis reminded all: “for until now – we have done nothing.” Each day of our journey, we are reminded to begin again.

There are different approaches to achieving this daily conversion. Lately, I begin the day by reflecting on an article of the OFS Rule and then praying the profession renewal prayer.

San Damiano Crucifix & Secular Franciscan Profession Promise A few years after I professed, I attended a workshop on the OFS Rule and Constitutions given by Fr. Benet Fonck, OFM, (long-time Spiritual Assistant to the OFS and author of Fully Mature in the Fullness of Christ). Several of us at the workshop asked: “How could we live the Rule as working people – there seemed to be so much to do and only so much time in the day? What was the minimum required to fulfill our obligation?” Fr. Benet replied that each day we should be sure to have three things: prayer, fraternity and evangelization.

  • Prayer – spending time with God
  • Fraternity – spending time with one or more members (it can be as simple as an email or

a brief call – something to stay connected with our Franciscan family).

  • Evangelization – sharing our faith

This simple but profound message helped me to get back to the basics, to begin again each day with the true meaning of the journey and to minimize distractions from the goal of serving Christ. May our commitment to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order never expire and lead us closer to the ultimate cornerstone of our faith – Jesus Christ. Praise be Jesus now and forever!

What approaches do you take? 

Easter Blessings from the National Executive Council.

See page 19 of Tau-USA #111 to order Prayer Cards