Fundamental Thrust of the Order (SFO) is to live the Gospel Life!
I was re-reading, or at least beginning to, that wonderful text "To Live as Francis Lived" by the late Frs. Leonard Foley, OFM, Jovian Weigel, OFM, and Patti Normile, SFO (who is very much alive!). This book was published in 2000 by St. Anthony Messenger Press of Cincinnati, Ohio. I have read the book several times (especially because an earlier version on which this book is based, is part of this website already. Here's the link to my reflections on: "Seeking Franciscan Perfection")
There are many texts concerning SFO that are excellent, and by emphasizing this "Guide for Secular Franciscans" (subtitle of the book), it is not in any way my desire to deny the excellence of other guides and teaching materials. However, this is the guide that always is good reading and study, by way of private ongoing formation, for yours truly. The two friars who are the authors along with Patti, had a very great devotion to the SFO and of course, to the Franciscan family as a whole. I visited Fr. Jovian in 1996, I believe, but Fr. Leonard went to Heaven before I got to Cincinnati.
I don't know for sure what books St. Francis had access to, after all this was 800+ years ago, but it is evident from his writings that he had access to a Bible. Reading and praying with the Scriptures was apparently fundamental with St. Francis, and so it should also be with all of us Franciscans. The Rule is a positive guide to Christian Living. (p. 11, Let's Get Specific). "Your ... Rule and the Constitutions present the gospel life for you." So if you still can't understand what has to be done as a Secular Franciscan, start with the Scriptures and Rule/Constitutions. This may seem like dry reading to some, but I assure you it is stuff St. Francis would want you to read as one of his followers!
God (the Holy Spirit) has given you the specific Vocation to be professed a Secular Franciscan, and that means He also has given you the Grace to carry out this Vocation, this life. When there is a lag or a dry-spell in your spiritual life, return to reading of the Scriptures (daily reading recommended), and reviewing the Rule and Constitutions. I am embarressed to say that my own track record in reading the Constitutions isn't so hot, but I do look at the Rule more often, and Scriptures more of than that - I need to in order to write reflections such as these. Scriptures are important to me because I'm involved in prison ministry and that's (what we hope) these folks read all day long.
Maybe you're not involved in Apostolates and/or Church ministries - you'll still be in need of reading periodically in the New Testament, particularly the Gospels. Why? Because St. Francis tells us to live the Gospel Life - and without this Spiritual food, that would be even more an uphill battle than it already is.
So in order for us to continue to live the Gospel life, we need to do so with a generous spirit. Be open to God, and to the people whom you serve. It is not necessary to shout to the world "Hey, look at me, I am a Franciscan," but it is necessary to set a good and generous example of what Franciscan life is like. My sisters and brothers in St. Francis, I wish you God's blessings that the life you aspire to as Franciscans may continue to benefit other people, especially those who need it the most. (I know, that's making a judgement, but you know who is in need in your community or parish).
In Our Eucharistic Lord,
Fred Schaeffer, SFO