It struck me as I met my Novice Guardian today, that it may be worth sharing my journey having decided to become a 3rd Order Franciscan (Tertiary). It was our second meeting today but let’s go back a couple of years and I’ll try to articulate how I got here…
I’ve been interested in new monasticism for a while – reading Thomas Merton, engaging with Benedictines online, exploring celtic spirituality and wading my way through Richard Rohr’s fascinating books. Our time at Lee Abbey gave me a good insight into how a regular rhythm of prayer could add so much to my interest in creative prayer. Moving from just asking God for help or coming with a shopping list of needs to having a daily time of ‘devotional’ prayer, silence and listening for the still small voice.
A good friend said she was becoming a 3rd Order Franciscan and explained some of the process – it sounded exciting to me that you are able to write your own rule of life that runs in parallel to the community commitments but I wanted to explore other options. I began looking into having a rhythm of life not just of prayer and at the same time continuing to explore new monastic community at a local level. It was at the national bi-annual conference of Diocesan Spirituality Advisors that I got a really good introduction to the whole idea from Ian Mobsby who was one of the main speakers.
I decided that of all the communities available to join (they are not all orders as such), St. Francis appealed to me most as it seemed to me that he was someone who was passionate about many of the same things as me. Reading about St. Francis, it also became apparent that he did a lot of thinking around some of the same major theological questions that I’ve been grappling with.
On reflection (before my first meeting with my Novice Guardian), it struck me that St. Francis showed the characteristics from all 6 streams of spirituality that Richard Foster and ‘Renovare’ focus on (contemplative, charismatic, holiness, social justice, evangelical, incarnational) – something I had been interested in exploring further at Lee Abbey.
So, I sent off the application form and waited to hear about being given a novice guardian. This took some time but I was pleased to hear that my novice guardian would be a lovely gentleman here in Wells who happens to go to the same church we’ve settled at. We had out first meeting and talked through the process, why I wanted to become a member of the order and agreed to meet again after the summer holidays to discuss the ‘postulancy notes’.
If you’re interested in the 3rd order Franciscan movement – you can find more information at www.tssf.org.uk (for the European Province).