The Course invites all members of the Franciscan Family and interested people all over the world to study and be aware of the present situation in the world through analysis of events. It calls for a reflection on the causes and consequences of the events and from the perspective of Franciscan/Christian values come up with resolutions that would be translated into action. If together we make efforts to "bring forth good deeds," then we will feel more strongly that we belong to the same family. We employ the See-Judge-Act Methodology in dealing with the topics in each lesson.
Diagrammatic Presentation of the See-Judge-Act Methodology
Who are we? We are Men and women who like Francis and Clare of Assisi desire to live the Gospel life.
We SEE the real situation: social, political, cultural, religious, concretely manifested in poverty, hunger, powerlessness, unjust relations between the sexes, alienation of foreign cultures and other religions and wanton exploitation of natural resources, among others. We see the unjust distribution of wealth and power due to economic and political systems, like globalization, that breeds racism, oppression, violence and war.
- We JUDGE this Reality from the vantage point of God’s plan for this world. What is God’s plan for this world? What does Holy Scripture say about this world? How about the Church Documents and Franciscan Sources? How would the world look like from the point of Faith?
- We ACT. What can we do for the realization of God’s Reign in our world? We can adopt a simpler lifestyle, respect life, protect God’s Creation, and promote Peace and Justice, show solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, and the stranger
Interpretation of the Diagrammatic Presentation
We refer to all of us, women and men who endeavor to put into practice the values spelled out in the CCFMC. We see our individual and communal responsibility, our possibilities and our limitations. We consciously accept the reality of the world as it is, at its social, cultural, religious, and ecclesiastical levels. At the same time we try to recognize God’s plan as expressed in the Sacred Scriptures, in the documents of the Church and of the Franciscan Order, in the CCFMC lessons and as God Himself manifests, in our spiritual experience or conscience and in the Signs of the Times.
The Second Vatican Council (in Gaudium et Spes) challenges us to listen attentively to the many voices in the world, especially to the cry of the poor. The Council Fathers refer to the world as the Reality where evil and good coexist. The Good is manifested in those actions that nurture the basic yearnings of people and is the sign of God’s actual presence in our world: to live and let live, to know and be known, to love and be loved, to accept and be accepted; to be free and to liberate others. Evil, on the other hand, lies in events that stand in opposition to people’s basic yearnings, events that indicate the apparent absence of God in and from this world.
We JUDGE the Reality from Faith’s point of view. We look at the Reality through the eyes of God, as it were, as He reveals Himself to us in Sacred Scripture and in Church and Franciscan Documents. These sources are our norms for judging reality. They enable us to relate reality, as it is, to the Utopia of the Reign of God and to recognise the necessity for change and transformation.
Judging the Reality from the perspective of the Gospel/Franciscan values is a process that demands a change of heart on the part of the agents for change. An agent of change must be attuned to the Holy Spirit, just as Francis and Clare were, must constantly aspire to love God, fellow-human beings and Creation, and must be impelled by the need for ongoing conversion; in short: we need a healthy love for the world, an insatiable thirst for sound spiritual values and the stamina to work for change towards a desired reality that approximates God's Reign.
Where we find abuses, we investigate their causes. We ask ourselves what kind of interests and ideologies are behind them. We examine closely the situations we wish to change and at the same time make sure that our interventions are in line with responses to people’s basic yearnings. We are required to be critical in our approach to all that surrounds us; to open ourselves to a broad range of criteria for judging reality and to tolerate different and partly contradictory views.
The goal of our action is the utopia, the ideal situation which we would like to achieve, and of which we know that we can never completely realize. In Church language this action is a call "to adopt a prophetic stance." It is not merely a question of removing social or economic abuses, but of creating an atmosphere in which more joy, more truth, greater justice and peace can reign. It is a question of creating situations that approximates ‘the new Heaven and a new Earth’.
Knowledge and faith, however important, without action are fruitless. They must lead to action. In Evangelii nuntiandi Pope Paul VI reminds us that what the world needs today are witnesses, those who teach more by witness of life or deeds. We Franciscans, both women and men, and all those who desire to follow the example of Francis and Clare, can be a strong and vigorous force for change when we put into practice the beautiful inspirations from our many documents, e.g. the 25 Lesson of the CCFMC.
We look for the small steps that are possible for us to take in order to make the values of the Reign of God tangible so that people can experience them.