The theme of the OFM General Chapter 2015 starting from 10th May up to 8th June is MINORITY & THE LESSER ONES OF OUR TIME.
Yes, the areas of MINORITY and the concern for the LESSER ONES were the ideals of our Holy Seraphic Father, St Francis of Assisi.
[Pope Francis meeting with those gathered for the chapter on Tues 26th May]
Ever wondered how will a Franciscan identify him or herself as a Minor - Minority?
Before I share on how am I a minor, bear in mind that it is very difficult to put a way of life in a word-for-word concept; not easy to explain in words. First, to be a minor, means to be little. Little in the sense that we are nothing but mere mortal creatures; we are nothing at all, and thus, we must desire nothing, have nothing, long for nothing but heaven.
I remembered when I studied the writing of St Francis and the history of the Franciscan Orders...Francis identified himself with the minors of his time; he striped off his luxurious clothing in exchange for the rugged clothing of a poor beggar. At one time when his father (a cloth merchant) demanded that Francis returned all the clothe materials that Francis gave away to the poor, what Francis did was shocking...Francis stripped himself NAKED in the public square and returned everything that was on his body to the father; that very day Francis denounced his earthly Father, and said that he only has one father - God the Father.
I identify myself as a minor as best as I can with the help of God; yes, I am not as bold as what St Francis did like to take on the beggar's clothes, denounce my earthly daddy and go naked in public. I desire to be a minor by striving for the below (I just share a few, omitting any mention of my mission works):
To be a minor, to be little, to be insignificant the first step is to ask this:
"What do those who are little in my society experience? What is it like to be a minor in the environment I am living in, in church, in the work place, in public...those who are homeless, voiceless, powerless?
- On the top of the list is PRAYER - my minority, my littleness, will be hypocritical if I am not little internally, if I am not small before God the Mighty One.
- ...next on the list ONENESS with REALITY - to be one with all that is real around me, acknowledging that suffering is part and parcel of life. Realizing and being one with the happenings around my environment, my community...global warming, excessive waste, suffering of the illegal immigrants, joy of family life, success experienced after a hard work. Just to embrace everything, good and bad, that comes before me. Why be willing to embrace everything around me? If I cannot accept everything, good and bad, I will be found always trying to change things. This is not good, because always trying to change things will lead to a troubled inner-self, we become worried. But, when we just learn to accept everything, to accept reality, we are at peace. The trick is always to remember that God is LOVE...God gives us only what that is LOVING - GOOD; this we must trust and believe! God will never give us anything that will harm us, because we are sons and daughters of God.
- Thirdly, I see myself as a minor by DENOUNCING myself - this is the reason I am always seen and judge that I am "close" to students; I play with them, pray with them, talk to them...I put myself last while I serve others, I always tell myself that if I do not lose my convenience, then that is not charity. If I do not feel pain, a sense of loss of personal comfort if I do not feel the pain of giving up time and effort for others, then to me that is definitely not Charity in the real sense. I also tend to denounce my rights, always eager to stand for the rights of others first; that is why I turned down many offers to be a Principle and the offers to be given money to start a school.
- The next way I see myself a minor is to be in SOLIDARITY with the poor - if those in society who are suffering do not possess certain items in life. Then as best as I can, I try to either not have that item or to possess only part of it; for example the mobile phone is a daily essential, but those who are not well off can only do with a basic phone, so I get myself a basic phone only, not a brand that is way too expensive.
- Lastly, is IDENTITY - I identify myself with those I serve - that is why many teachers comment that I am close to students; I play with them, eat with them, pray with them, talk with them. Many can see that I hardly have anytime to bond with teachers...I must feel and experience, what those I serve feel and experience. If I do not do this, then I am not serving the students and the poor.
...What about YOU? How do you identify yourself a minor? How are you in solidarity with the lesser ones in our time?