The Secular Franciscan Order
The Franciscan family,
as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit
in the Church, unites all members of the people of God -- laity,
religious, and priests - who recognize that they are called to
follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each
other, they intend to make present the charism of their common
Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.
The Secular Franciscan
Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an
organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout
the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these
fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive
for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their
profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner
of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.
The present rule,
succeeding "Memoriale Propositi" (1221) and the rules approved by
the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular
Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church
in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to
the Holy See and its application will be made by the General
Constitutions and particular statutes.
Chapter Two: The Way Of
The rule and life of
the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who
made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God
Christ, the gift of the Father's love, is the way to him, the
truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he
has come to give abundantly.
Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful
reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to
therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person
of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in
the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis,
who often said, "I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God
in this world except His most holy body and blood," should be the
inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.
They have been made
living members of the Church by being buried and raised with
Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the
Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses
and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming
Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by
his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in
full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an
trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.
United by their
vocation as "brothers and sisters of penance" and motivated by the
dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and
deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change
which the gospel calls "conversion." Human frailty makes it
necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.
On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the
privileged sign of the Father's mercy and the source of grace.
As Jesus was the true
worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the
soul of all they are and do.
Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above
all the Eucharist. Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of
the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the
life of Christ.
The Virgin Mary,
humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call.
She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared
the protectress and advocate of his family. The Secular
Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating
her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.
United themselves to
the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the
Father's hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to
their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor
and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and
Trusting the Father,
Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life,
even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let
the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from
temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them
be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the
goods received for the benefit of God's children.
Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and
strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should
strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for
possession and power.
Witnessing to the good
yet to come and obligated to acquire purity of heart because of
the vocation they have embraced, they should set themselves free
to love God and their brothers and sisters.
As the Father sees in
every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many
brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and
courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an
image of Christ.
A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place
themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the
lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life
worthy of people redeemed by Christ.
together with all people of good will, are called to build a more
fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be
brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone "who follows
Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself," let them
exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian
spirit of service.
Let them individually
and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the
testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives.
Especially in the field of public life, they should make definite
choices in harmony with their faith.
Let them esteem work
both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and
service of the human community.
In their family they
should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity, and
respect for life, striving to make of it a sign of a world already
renewed in Christ.
By living the grace of matrimony, husbands and wives in particular
should bear witness in the world to the love of Christ for His
Church. They should joyfully accompany their children on their
human and spiritual journey by providing a simple and open
Christian education and being attentive to the vocation of each
Moreover they should
respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which "bear the
imprint of the Most High," and they should strive to move from the
temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of
Mindful that they are
bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should
seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue,
trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the
transforming power of love and pardon. Messengers of perfect joy
in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to
others. Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ,
which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend
toward the ultimate encounter with the Father.
Chapter Three: Life In
The Secular Franciscan
Order is divided into fraternities of various levels -- local,
regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral
personality in the Church. These various fraternities are
coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of
On various levels,
each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister
who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.
Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a
ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each
member and to the community.
Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different
ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the
various needs of their members and their regions, and under the
guidance of their respective council.
The local fraternity
is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the
whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of
love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense
of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the
apostolic life of its members.
Requests for admission
to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local
fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new
brothers and sisters.
Admission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of
initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and
profession of the rule. The entire community is engaged in the
process of growth by its own manner of living. The age for
profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are regulated by
Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.
Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should
discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue.
Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is
an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the
To foster communion
among members, the council should organize regular and frequent
meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan
groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate
means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage
everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with
deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.
necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship,
of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters
should offer a contribution according to their means. Local
fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher
As a concrete sign of
communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels,
in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well
prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this
request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan
families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for
To promote fidelity to
the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive
greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or
president, with the consent of the council, should take care to
ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious
superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the
higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.