Sunday, October 20, 2013

After Francis' Own Heart

Of the religious orders I interviewed recently, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate  (FI) was the one with which I had worked personally: about 20 years ago, as project manager for their then-new book publishing arm, the Academy of the Immaculate.

     A relatively new religious institute, the friars strive, in the words of their website, "to be perfectly conformed to the poor, humble, crucified Jesus through a life of charity, supernatural obedience, and poverty. They are totally consecrated to the Immaculate Virgin after the recent example offered by St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe.” The FI continue the work of this Polish martyr through evangelization and serving the poor in a variety of ways internationally.

 When I interviewed Fr. Johannes Smith, FI,  I was touched, as with the other orders, by the friars’ life of complete self-gift and service. Most inspiring to me was their utter reliance on God. Witness Fr. Johannes’ answer to my question "Do the friars ever actually go hungry?"

FrJS: A lot of people don’t know that our Lord promised St. Francis that no Franciscan would ever die of starvation. And you look back 800 years later and there have been hundreds of thousands of Franciscans, ... but there isn’t one recorded case of a Franciscan who died of hunger, despite the fact that we beg for our meals.
There is one case that we know of where they tried to starve a Franciscan, and it didn’t work: and that’s St. Maximilian Kolbe. They put him in the starvation bunker. Already he had been giving away most of his food ration to the other prisoners; he had tuberculosis—he was a sick man to begin with—and yet he survived. He was one of the last of the prisoners to go...
JF: And they gave him an injection finally... 
FrJS: Yes, a lethal injection; that’s how he was killed. So it’s one of the beautiful things about being a Franciscan: on the one hand, we don’t know humanly speaking where our next meal’s coming from, but on the other hand, we know it will be coming from Divine Providence.

To learn more about the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, click here or visit their website. See also the group website on their related orders.