Among the followers of St. Francis there were saints and teachers who were endowed by God with a natural and supernatural kinship with their holy founder. They developed the Franciscan spirituality which had its origin in the simple practical life and the rules of St. Francis; and they gave further, clearer expression to it both by their lives and their writings. Thus they pointed out the characteristic traits of Franciscan spirituality, both in a practical and a theoretical way.
Concerning the distinctive features of Franciscan spirituality, as contained in the Franciscan tradition, suffice it to say that its essence is doctrinal Christocentrism and practical imitation of Christ, conformity with Christ, prompted by love. Distinctive aspects of Franciscan piety are childlike love of God, our Father, devotion to the Humanity of Christ, His Sacred Heart, the Holy Eucharist, the mysteries of the Nativity and the Passion, His Virgin Mother Mary, and reverence for the Catholic priesthood. Franciscan love of God finds expression also in charity to our fellowmen, understanding them as our brothers, especially in aid to the poor and sick and in apostolic zeal for souls, Christian and pagan. Total poverty detaches the Franciscan soul from creatures, but at the same time it recognizes God in created things and uses the latter to mount to God. Emphasis is placed on the will, and hence on love and action above speculation. The atmosphere in which the Franciscan spirit develops is one of individual freedom of the spirit, absence of coercive and confining methods, love of enterprise, and a sense of realism. On the path of this traditional Franciscan way of life many have attained sainthood.
Thus, The Seraphic Order, which recounts their lives and virtues, can well serve as a practical textbook of Franciscan spirituality.
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