- THE IDENTITY OF THE THIRD ORDER
THE IDENTITY OF THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR
I. The Identity of the
4. The charism of the Order orients, guides and animates our religious life and our formation. It is presented at the beginning of the Plan as the source of inspiration for all formation, both initial and ongoing. 9
Each province, vice-province and delegation should formulate a similar section at the beginning of their Ratio, in accordance with their own spiritual patrimony and contemporary circumstances.
A. Religious life
Throughout the centuries various institutes have incarnated this gift of the Spirit through the work of illustrious men and women. The "charism of the founders" is recognized and approved as an experience of the Spirit.
Each institute that receives the approval of the hierarchy is recognized with its « founding charism» and its own character. This character bears within itself a particular style of sanctification and of approach to the apostolate of the Church. 12
The religious consecration, as a fulfillment of this gift, is an act of faith, a covenant with God, rooted in baptism, which involves the whole person and all of his intellectual, affective and volitional faculties. The religious life is part of the life and holiness of the Church and is inserted within her mission in the world.
Living in community is one of the essential characteristics of the religious life 13 the community does not exist without the personal consecration of its members and by its very nature is missionary. 14
For us the life-giving environment of formation is always the local fraternity, which is the synthesis and the real expression of the Order and of the province. 15
B. Charism of Saint Francis
6. The spiritual experience of Saint Francis can be summarized as follows:
- the encounter with the Incarnate and Crucified Christ;
7. In his Testament Francis himself described his own conversion as a gift from God. His encounter and embrace of the leper marked the beginning of his conversion: < That which seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body.> 18 From that very moment he abandoned the mentality of the world in order to enter a new life, one centered on conformity to Christ.
To the many people who were attracted by him and who wanted to follow him on the way of
penance, in the First Letter to the Faithful, he maps out in a simple way the key elements
of his plan for penitential living: listening to the word of God, love of God and
neighbor, hatred of sin, frequent reception of the Eucharist, and a life which brings
forth fruits worthy of penance.
C. Charism of the Order
8. Our Order <<is an evangelical fraternity which has its historical and spiritual roots in the ecclesial Order of penance, in the penitential movements and in Saint Francis of Assisi,> 20 it has emphasized and developed the following aspects of Franciscan penitential living: 2l
- living the Gospel in fraternity
9. The members of our Order commit themselves to realizing more generously their call to holiness, which is born of baptism, and which they have in common with all Christians; they have as their model Saint Francis of Assisi, who followed the Lord Jesus Christ, choosing the evangelical way in continuous conversion.
In the spirit of Saint Francis, the friars oblige themselves freely to live in fraternity, to observe the evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity, devote themselves to contemplation and the various works of the apostolate, especially the works of mercy: 23 evangelization; ministry of the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation; service of the infirm, the marginalized and the poor 24 education; parish ministry, the mission ad gentes and other activities in collaboration with the local Church.
The penitential life and the works of mercy are the two poles of
9 Cf Const.
25; EE 45; VC 68.
10 Cf. VC 4.22.
11 Cf. LG 43.
12 Cf. MR 11.
13 Our Order is a religious institute. «A religious institute is a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows either perpetual or temporary... and live in common as brothers or sisters> (cn 607, 2).
14 Cf. Const. 123.
15 Cf. VC 51.
16 Cf. 2 Test 13-14 (FF 114).
17 Cel 198 (FF 786).
18 2 Test 3 (FF 110).
19 Cf 2 Lf 25 (FF 190).
20 Const. 1.
21 Cf. Const. 2; 1 Lf.
22 Cf. Const. 120.
23 Cf. Const. 2.
24 Cf. Const. 89; SG 88. 94-95.