Posts Tagged ‘Secular Franciscan Order’

…Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those granted nearness to God.

-Sura 3:46

                The Crusades were a horrific time within the Empire phase of Christianity. It was about anti-Semitism (travelling to and from the Holy Land was a great excuse for the warriors to cull the Jewish in the lands) and to let blood run high in the Holy Land battling the “infidel”.

During one such crusade time a disgraced Crusader received a call to something different. Francis was a party animal, one of those wealthy ne’er do wells many towns and communities know of. He thought to increase his lot by bravery in the Crusades…suffice to say he was not a good Knight, and wound up injured in a burnt out church where Jesus spoke to him through the San Damiano cross calling him to rebuild his church. After stealing supplies from his father, and rebuilding 3 fine parishes he was once again revisited and redirected to actual community based around hope and loved. Even beaten and imprisoned by his own parents, just emboldened this man to cast of (literally) the clothes of wealth and walk naked into the world.

The Franciscan movement is what began. Part of the life lived that receives little mention outside of the international circles (as most just know Francis for his love of animals, not activism) so he has been reduced to the garden statue or fountain. Yet it was in the midst of crusade times this rabble rouser and friends upset the apple cart, and not just in the challenge for equity and justice for the poor. Nope, he also crossed treasonous lines by going back onto the Crusader path to meet with Sultan.


To pray together.

To talk.

To share bread.

To be community.

Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was ever inclined to God and obedient to Him, and he was not of those who associate gods with God.

-Sura 3:68

Francis and his community understood an eternal truth. God is the source of all that is, all that exists within and through and lived out of the Holy Mystery. The source-Love- was not to be confused with the manifestations. That is…the wells are not the river.

We want the labels to divide. Those in power hope that we allow the labels to divide. Yet, there is another way. A way where we acknowledge the One River, and sample one another’s well water in a safe place of community, sharing prayers, sharing discourse, sharing bread. Being like Francis and the Sultan. That piece of light in the darkness.

And he will teach them the Book, and The Wisdom, and The Torah and the Gospel.

-Sura 3: 49

This is why my family hosts an inter-faith Questing through the Qur’an; and a Brunch & Bible (where we travel the roads of the Gospel of Luke & Acts of the Apostles) on alternating weeks. To share the foundation stories. To see where we connect. To hear where we differ.

To know  we are still united in our diversity.

                Much like Francis’ call to bring the gifts of peace, hope, faith, joy and love to Sultan. But also to receive these same gifts from Sultan.

For, what are we in humanity,

if not neighbours….


The Gospel story, the faith story has not ended. It is not sealed. Each of us in our journeys, our lives continue to write in the book of life about how we live within, through and out of the love that is the Holy Mystery. So what is the new chapter you are starting in this moment?

Did you know in Franciscanism there is no historic Reformation?

Just a community constantly called to invention, reformation, restoration and reconciliation.

spong3I am monastically formed. I have done my Curseillo. The wife and I were blessed to be apart of a formation/discernment process for Companions in Mission with the FCJ Sisters that renewed a call to expansive-cosmic Christianity. I would also work alongside the formation materials of the Order of St. Luke the Physician in healing ministries. I continued to learn from the ancient writers, and their orders ala Ignatius of Loyola.

Before that though, I was and still hold to Franciscan formation. It began with a book, John Michael Talbot’s The Lessons of St. Francis when I was trying to understand Christian prayer in 1998-1999 upon returning to church.

From there the journey opened a world of formation and community. For my writing opened the ability to write for and be an editor on an international journal; write for another national religious publication, be a writer/editor for a local publication and locally aided in provided great spiritual formation for youth who had never even heard of Christianity, and created a dialogue within the political realm federally of our nation when I ran. It saw me go through and be mentored by members of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans; Third Order, Society of St. Francis; and as both the OEF and TSSF had no Calgary chapter, but community of Franciscans transcended denominationalism, I could fellowship, journey and learn with the Roman Catholic Order of Secular Franciscans. All these orders were what is dubbed, Third, or as Francis told his fellow Friar when the brother received the call of love…go forth, marry and carry on living the life, for without new families and communities growing the work of the other orders dies away (just ask the Shakers).

It was a formation that some would understand as putting works above faith, yet that is wrong. It is a formation that shows faith and works as so woven together it would be like pulling apart your own DNA strands.

Preach the Gospel everywhere you go, if you must use words.

-St. Francis of Assisi


The most important part of the formation the drive for mystic wisdom. Understanding it is easy to accumulate knowledge (anyone who has a smart phone knows knowledge is at our fingertips). Within Franciscan teaching it is the application that matters. I am a student of life, psychology, sociology, anthropology, culture, religion, spirituality, politics, history, story—the list can go on. Learning is the first step, but it is not moving from the learning until it is so applied it becomes second nature. Francis discipled his followers not to move onto the next teaching of Jesus until they were living the first one this way. The underpinning to be learned was the Great Commandments for out of that flows everything.

The question asked by the lawyer of Jesus in the market after Jesus shared the Great Commandments, the commandments that had me decide to go back to church when I read them in a broken and discarded Gideon’s New Testament in the bottom of my closet…the question that led to another shaking of the institutional foundations:

Who is my Neighbour?

spongUpcoming: Watch for my review on John Shelby Spong’s last call to reformation Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith today (2018) as he enters retirement following a stroke, here he stands once more.


Our home has always been a bee hive of activity. During my journey in the ministry, one saint has been there, St. Francis of Assisi, former rich boy, failed soldier, and beggar. Trouble Maker, or as I worked spiritual development with the Lay orders and explained it to my Dad, apptly described as “shit disturber.”

It is interesting that as my family goes deeper within the New Thought Movements, and we begin to discern which path for us to take, and perhaps rejoin the ministry within (Centres for Spiritual Living or Unity) it strikes me that Francis re-enters my mind more deeply. The formation, the vows, the Rule of Life all have spoken so deeply and engrained themselves within my life that I walk the Charism daily without even formerly acknowledging it, it just happens when I am healthy.

It was the basis of my book, Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, how to develop one’s own spiritual praxis.

Matthew Fox’s (the defrocked Dominican priest, current Episcopal Priest, wisdom teacher) recent works around Hildegard of Bengin and Meister Eckhart showing the connection of wisdom/mystery schools, panentheism, mysticism and the Holy Mystery.

For the untrained reader this may appear as a senseless ramble, yet like the two mystics Fox writes on and works with, Francis shook the world just as much– it not more. When he renounced the world of materialism to be one with Holy (full on acknowledgement of the Unity of all things) and entered into the world to transform it…well he attracted followers that also challenged and shaped his understanding of the world.

Clare, a wealthy young lady, who renounced aristocracy, and would prayerfully fight four popes on equality fo women to choose their own path…an she would win (we remember this blessing each Easter with our eating of Hot Crossed Buns).

And then little randy Brother Leo, who well couldn’t keep from leering at the ladies, and chasing them, Francis could have cast this friar out, but Francis was astute. If the whole world was celibate, soon there would be no more children of God for it is very hard to have babies in celibacy. So Francis would commend, release and re-vow Leo to go forth with the love of his life, And with a slight wink, to produce many fine bambinos.

As I continue to reflect, I ponder the metaphysics that connect with Francis’ story, connect with the Master Teacher, Rabbi Jesus, and wonder about my own city and community, and wonder if there is a place for a grassroots Franciscan Mystic movement within Alberta?

Discernment continues—

By Tyler Ragan

My personal rule talks of me

being a voice for the voiceless. It

is a simple line to attempt to

describe a life long call God has

placed on my heart throughout

my journeys.

I’ve been a high school student

standing up against hatred in my

community. I’ve lobbied governments

to protect the arts. I’ve

written letters for Amnesty International.

And as a street pastor, I

petitioned the provincial government

of Alberta not to close a

desperately needed homeless

shelter that was seeing God’s miracles

pour out.

It was these actions that led to

this line being written in my rule.

I have been speaking out to

protect the social programs

church leaders helped to build

(social services, disability, public

health care).

It culminated on January 23,

2006 when Canada held a federal

election, and I participated as

a candidate for the New Democratic

Party in Calgary Northeast.

I was nominated May 5, last

year and my campaign began

minutes after. Some might wonder

why I take this step as a youth

pastor, and a member of the

Third Order, Society of St.


For me it was a unique way to

reach out to the community I live

in and get down past the surface

issues and to raise awareness

across a city about the agencies,

organizations and people that are

trying to stop the bleeding and

pain of poverty and devastation

we are wreaking on our environment.

As a candidate, I found while

door knocking what was needed

was a listening ear, and someone

willing to help direct people to

the parts of government they

could talk to. In some cases, an

advocate was needed to government

or non-profit agencies.

The most shocking thing is

that while conventional wisdom

says having a strong faith will

hamper you in public life, many

people were comforted when I

said I would pray for them.

After speaking those words as

well, how many people asked for

me to simply pray with them

there on their doorstep, or after

a debate, or at a bus stop.

Campaigning for a political

party as one with strong beliefs

and principles is hard, because

you have to support a platform.

I found it easier to be able to

step away from the platform and

open up a dialogue with the people

of my community. I took a

pastoral outlook and realized

winning was not the important

thing. This unique eight-month

calling had given me the opportunity

to reach out to those

that were hurting and in pain,

those that may never darken the

doorways of a church or know

where to go for help.

My message was simple: I will

listen and try to make things

better, for I have hope that a

better world is possible for us all.

My attire was simpler, blue

jeans and a hoody, as a youth pastor,

not a politician; I did not feel

comfortable in the trappings of

the office.

Finally, when it came to

fundraising – I looked out at the

hurting and those in need. saw

and toured many organizations

that helped children with developmental

disabilities, abused

seniors, and the homeless – I

knew I could not ask for money

for a campaign. I took the initiative

of asking people to direct

the donations they would have

sent to my campaign to these

agencies that were producing

miracles for God’s children.

When it was all over, and the

votes were tallied, I was third of

five on the ballot and felt at


Why, you might ask? Some

would say I failed my calling by


But I was proud of the hard

work of my volunteers; I had

always spoken from my heart and

held to my beliefs. The best and

most humbling part was the

Wednesday night after Election

Day being able to face the youth

I minister to and let them know

that one person can make a

positive impact.

Why did I run? To give a voice

to the voiceless and inspire a new

generation to take up the reigns

of care for creation and community

leadership, winning or losing

was irrelevant in this special calling

from God.

Tyler Ragan is a part-time

youth pastor at

St. George’s Anglican

Church, political activist and

secular Franciscan (on pg.9)

Post-sectarian? Where did that word come from? Well, it could just as easily read post-denominational but didn’t want to rip off Matthew Fox too much. It truly isn’t as brutal as his journey from the Roman Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church, but it has given me pause to think and reflect on discernment.

After leaving the TSSF/OEF and fellowship with the OFS I reflect on the desire for the monastic life.  But what is the secular monastic life? It is the rule of life ministry that leads into discipline within a supportive community to discover the living (Cosmic) Christ.

So as I sit and pray/meditate I look within to seek the will of the Holy Mystery. Am I called to be an Ecumenical or Anglican or Catholic Secular Franciscan? Am I called to another order where my only fellowship unless I travelled many miles is online?

None of the above. For a realization that has crept into my soul is simple, the vocation is there regardless of the titles, and yes the community is forming. Something new has emerged on the horizon, that is why it is post-sectarian (denominational) because this call to be a monastic within the community is to be lived within my ecclecticness.

English: Flag of the Anglican Communion

English: Flag of the Anglican Communion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Português: Ordem Franciscana Secular do Brasil...

Português: Ordem Franciscana Secular do Brasil : Fraternidade São Francisco(?) : Igreja Sagrado Coração de Jesus, Petrópolis, estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Photo credit: enkrates)

Was it ten or eleven years ago when I was kneeling saying a rosary that I heard Christ speak to me? A voice calling me to rebuild the church? Before then in 1997 when seeking to learn how to pray, my minister guided me to self-discovery that led to a bookshelf at the local Smithbooks of Michael Talbot’s orthopraxy at Little Portion titled “Life Lessons of St. Francis” that began to aid me in synergizing my life lived with my pilgrimage for the holy.


Unbeknownst to me (or simply forgotten) that the Catholic Parish I would find myself in, was actually named after a Secular Franciscan, St. Thomas More, where I can honestly say I had my most gospel experience of ministry and what it meant to live out the love of Christ for community—even though I could not complete my R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Guided by Sister Josie and the Basillian Fathers Bob & John serving in the (prayer) Ministry of Praise and Inn from the Cold.


Yet what was the stumbling block? This is something unique, but it could also be my wandering spirit, as I do enjoy attempting to craft new paths. It was shortly after my time in the parish that I began (or was it during?)  my pilgrimage through the churches of my past that had shaped my understanding.


It was also during this time that I joined the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans completing my inquiry and Postulancy, during this time my pilgrimage of past churches too me back to the church of my original baptism, St. George’s Anglican and saw me transfer orders into the Third Order, Society of St. Francis to complete my novitiate, and came into fellowship with the local Calgary chapter of my Roman Catholic Brothers and Sisters in the Secular Franciscan Order.


A feeling led me to complete my pilgrimage of personal spiritual pilgrimage back at Foothills United Church where I returned to the fold as it were (the church of my confirmation), surrendering my vows in my Franciscan vocation and entering discernment for ministry. Where the committee and I came through guidance by the Holy Spirit that it was not ordination or just being licensed that was my calling (even though Universalists have ordained me, and churches have licensed me as a lay pastor) was to the Diaconal ministry or more specifically those called to justice work.  Which led me to make another decision as I served at The Mustard Seed in Calgary and a call to the ministry of justice and word seemed like seeking an honourific for nothing more than having it…so I concluded my discernment to continue my work for those without voice, my call to make my own corner of this world a little bit better for my children and neighbours.


I will save the intervening of other spiritual organizations that have contributed to my journey, (see the endnotesY) , but this winding eclectic path has brought me to my current year of sabbatical, completing my M.A. and awaiting my first unit of C.P.E. it has been an interesting fall. See on October 13, 2012 a syncretise or serendipitous occurrence attending a concert promoted through Franciscan Friends that brought Tony Melendez to Calgary. The true impact aside from his story, aside from this man’s ministry truly being launched because of the loving actions of Blessed John Paul II at World Youth Day 1984 in Los Angeles, was that the concert myself, my soul mate and our friends attended was at…you guessed it…St. Thomas More Catholic Church. To find the words to explain the powerful experience of this man’s testimony that brought tears to my eyes as the parish became a convergence of soul matters. You see it was a powerful time in this church, the last time I had been at church with my Mum & Nan together when they were both still completely healthy was there, it was my most blessed time in ministry, coupled with the music and the story was overwhelming.  It felt like a home coming kind of night. These are the words that took so long to process.


Now before this night I was exploring a renewal of my monastic life, as a secular monastic one is able to have the family and be active in the world. Through my research on Mariology I had stumbled across the Ecumenical Catholic Church, which had a lay order through The Order of Mary the Theotokos (OMT) whose rule was basic Franciscanism.


As I sit in low Mass at St. Mark’s RC Church or reading my catholic edition NRSV (New Revised Standard Version Bible) during worship with my family at Cornerstone Christian Assembly/King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church and facilitate bible studies in my home parish of Rainbow Chapel there is a vocational call within my soul, and I wonder if I may have missed it?


So, as my beliefs rest within discernment within a community as I continue my sabbatical journey, in this the 50th year of Vatican II, in what has been declared the year of faith…I lay down where my path is right now:


Do I join the OMT even though there is no local fellowship or do I pursue concluding my R.C.I.A. and joining the Secular Franciscan Order?


What is an ol’ broken down Robin Hood to do folks?

Y Rockyview Alliance Church – My Preschool and where I served with the Young Adults

Centennial Presbyterian Church where I attended Vacation Bible School and was a youth pastor

Symons Valley United where I was a youth and young adult worker

Campbell-Stone United Church where I was a youth pastor

Central United Church – youth group volunteer, attended Alpha Course

Knox United Church- Congregant

Spiritual Directions – trained as a Shaman; didgeridoo making/playing; restorative writing; teacher

Calgary Church of Christ – youth group volunteer

Alberta Bible College- Earned my B.A.; Emerge 2012 Speaker

Canadian Theological Seminary- Earned my M.A.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral – Adherent

Calgary Roman Catholic Diocese  – Youth Leader Training

Unity Church of Calgary – attendee

Prince of Faith Lutheran Church – council member, professional lay leader

Taoist Society – learned Tai Chi

Robert McClure United Church – attendee

Calgary Parks n Rec- learned Yoga

Holy Cross Anglican – attendee

Anglican Cursillo weekend


Druid International Org – trained in Druidism

Great Bend Church of Christ/Rosscarock Church of Christ – Pulpit Supply

Lakeview United Church – Pulpit Supply

King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church – Facilitator of Christianity 101

St. George’s Anglican Church – Youth & Children’s coordinator; People’s Warden; First Baby   baptized; Alpha Course Leader

Anglican Sower/Presbyterian Record/ THAW/TSSF Journal – Writer

Christian Science Church (Red Deer)/Church of Christ, Scientist (Calgary) – Attendee

FCJ Christian Life Centre – Dream Work; labyrinth; personal retreats; Companions in Mission     formation

Ordained Universal Life Church Monastery

Trained in Order of St. Luke the Physician

The Mustard Seed- Street Level Support Worker; Em-Beds Support Worked; Sunalta Team Lead; Street Level manager; Chaplaincy relief; Permanent Supportive Housing Team Lead; Community Living Properties Team Lead; Housing Team Lead; Relief Staff; Mountain Mover; Donor; volunteer Street Youth Pastor; Volunteer Apprentice Night Leader; Meal Volunteer;

St. Thomas More Catholic Church – Lay Minister of Praise; Inn from the Cold volunteer; Adherent

Crossroads Community Church – Attendee

Order of Ecumenical Franciscans – inquirer/postulant

Saskatoon Theological Union – Spiritual Direction training and international church understanding; what sanctuary is and what church is.

Third Order, Society of St. Francis – Novitiate

My own personal pilgrimages that were mixtures of spirituality, faith, outreach and history through Canadian cities of Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Ottawa, Hull, Winnipeg, and into the U.S. through Arizona.

Currently at: Cornerstone Christian Assembly/King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church – attendee

St. Mark’s RC Parish – attendee