|Franciscan Rule - Commentary
Guided by the spirit
of St. Francis, who simply and in a few words wrote down a Rule and Form of Life, this
latest version of our Rule emphasizes the spiritual and Inspirational basis for our way of
life rather than the canonical or juridical aspect.
"The Rule and Life of the brothers consists in living in obedience, chastity and
without property". However, at the same time, he made it quite clear that the vows
were the minimum expected. He immediately adds a measure which goes beyond the canonical
dimension of the vows by his affirmation that the life of the brothers consisted, moreover
and especially, "in following the teachings and footsteps of Our Lord Jesus
As an Inspirational
document, the Rule nourishes a way of life, stays close to the origns, fosters ideals,
creates a future and proposes goals. Our new Rule is rather like " our Franciscan
gospel". In it we discover light for our fraternal way of life, which is the
appropriate environment for living out our consecration and the stimulus for performing
the works of mercy. The Rule also collects the very words of Francis which, in spite of
the centuries, have not lost the fundamental insight of that liberated man to whom:
"The Most High Himself revealed ... how I was to live". The considerable number
of citations from the writings of St. Francis ensures what Pope Paul VI in "Ecclesiae
Sanctae" calls "a truly living spirit". The present TOR Rule does not
stifle the Spirit but, seeking to inspire rather than impose, it leaves room for the
heart, for poetry, and for faith. Its tone and simplicity are closer to the original
Franciscan experience and to the Francis of the Proto-Regula and the Regula Non-Bullata.
More than a legal document, it seems rather the "Ideario" of an evangelical
fraternity which seeks to express its own personal experience.
The text is entitled
but seems to have much more to do with Life than with Rule. It reflects Francis who
liked to call the Rule "life" because it is closer to the idea of
"charism" and "spirit" than to "norm", "law" or
"canon". The necessary canonical legislation, regulations, and the special style
of life or work, are all important aspects which each Franciscan Institute following this
Rule will emphasize in its particular law: the Constitutions, Statutes, Chapter
The Four Fundamental Values of the Rule:
Poverty and Minority
After an intense
examination of the characteristics of Franciscan spirituality which have inspired the
different Institutes of the Franciscan Third Order Regular, there were four fundamental
values which could be recognized. Neither poverty nor minority could be understood in a
Franciscan sense except from the gospel life which demands "metanoia" or
penance, nor did penance mean for Francis something other than living the gospel. These
values are not contradictory but complementary to one another since they arise from the
same spirituality. They are all important, indeed, each is essential for the Tertiary
Family. It would not be very difficult to do a comparative study to show how these four
characteristic values are interwoven throughout the primitive Rules and Constitutions of
the Order. An examination of our present Constitutions and General Statutes will reveal
how the four values of penance, prayer, poverty and minority permeate them.
Appraisal of the TOR Rule Approved by Pope John Paul II
- presents the Gospel
project of Francis as he describes it in his Testament.
- it offers and
expresses abundantly all facets of the Franciscan ideal of life.
- it is the genuine
expression of Francis' life for his followers among the brothers and sisters of Penance.
- it includes all those
elements which constitute the common identity of the Third Order Regular Family.
- it is a
"classic" document which will always need to be re-read and re-translated for
each period of history.
- it is an
- it proposes an
integrated collection of attitudes towards living the gospel.
- it gathers together
the characteristics of Franciscan spirituality.
- it creates and
expresses the basic unity among the Institutes of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
and the Secular Franciscans, and with the First and Second Orders.
- it provides a common
text for TOR Institutes of brothers and sisters of both the active and contemplative life.
- although written in a
classical format, it embraces the teachings of the Vatican II Council on religious life.
- it encourages a
knowledge and familiarity with the Writings of St. Francis.
- it constitutes a font
of inspiration for initial and continuing formation.
- it is arranged in 9
Chapters, 32 Articles, plus an Introduction (Letter of St. Francis to his Penitents), and
concludes with an Exhortation and the Blessing of St. Francis.
- it cites: 59 texts
from the Bible; 86 from St. Francis, and 20 from Franciscan sources.
- faithful to the Testament
of St. Francis, written "in a few words and simply", it proposes a Rule of
Franciscan Life which is: brief, spiritual, permanent, universal, inspirational, unifying,
pluralistic, and inexhaustible.
LET THE FRIARS NOT SAY: THIS IS ANOTHER RULE! ... It is a reminder, an admonition and an
exhortation, it is my testament which I, brother Francis, your little one, give you, my
At the direction of
the Church, the brothers and sisters of the Third Order Regular Family have turned in
search of "water, humble, pure and chaste" to the fount of their origins.
Leaving behind the weight of centuries, regulations and customs, antiquated forms, we have
gotten closer to Francis, the simple, evangelical, penitent "made prayer" to
discover in the clear springs of his writings and life a greater clarity in living
according to the form The Most High revealed.
Title of the Rule of 1982
Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters
of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis"
The new Rule is in
accord with the previous Rules approved by Nicholas IV (1289), Leo X (1521) and Pius Xi
dates from the time of St. Francis and the Order of Penance and the "Memoriale
Propositi" of 1221.
Order" is a
term which was not easily accepted by the Franciscan penitents since it might imply a
dependence on the Friars Minor but by the time of the Rule of Nicholas IV it had become
commonplace in papal and other documents.
"Regular" is a term which refers to
the observance of community life already begun in hermitages and hospitals during the
lifetime of St. Francis. It was officially defended and received papal approval in 1323.
The addition to the
title which is not found in the previous Rules is "..and Life.. ". This term is
found more than 80 times in the writings of St. Francis, especially in the Regula
Nonbullata where it means, above all, the style of life inspired by the Gospel, the Way of
life of those who have been captivated by Christ.
In the Church of St.
Nicholas in - Assisi (site of today's Post Office), Francis opened the missal and found
the three texts: "go and sell.. ", "take nothing along... " and
"deny yourself ". This is the Life and the Rule of the Lesser Brothers, the Poor
Ladies, and the Brothers and Sisters of Penance "of St. Francis".
LIFE is a way of expressing the
vital character of the Rule which is the "book of life" 2 Cel 208, the
"norm of life" 1 Cel 32, and the "Rule which gives life" A, Clareno.
LIFE means to be humble,
prayerful, poor, penitent .... to be a peaceful, joyful brother or sister, to incarnate
the spirit of our way of being Christians, Franciscans.
LIFE in the terminology of St.
Francis, means the commitment of the fraternity which receives its expression in the text
of the Rule. This is written and corresponds to the realization of the Life.
LIFE because this Rule seeks to
be more soul than law.
LIFE indicating identity,
behavior, attitudes and values.
In the Name of
the Lord Jesus!
The beginning of the Rule and Life
of the Brothers and Sisters of the
Third Order Regular of St. Francis.
First Letter to the
Faithful: the words of Francis in this letter addressed to the penitents are
especially meaningful and also introduce the Rule of the Third Order Secular (Secular
Franciscan Order) approved by Paul VI in 1978. They inspire the whole Rule and express in
a special way our basic charism of Penance.
The Letter was
discovered by a Protestant Franciscan scholar, Paul Sabatier in 1900 in the Guarnacci
library of Volterra, Italy. At first, it was thought to be an extract of the Letter to All
The Faithful since this Letter, although well known, had not yet been published in its
entirety at that time. It is thought to have been written c. 1212 so that only the Prayer
before the Crucifix and the Form of life given to St. Clare would be earlier!
Fr. Kajetan Esser
OFM preferred the sub-title "Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance"
as less generic and more exact. He points out that it is evident that Francis was not
writing to All The Faithful but to the "Penitents" - those Brothers and Sisters
of Penance who had accepted his evangelical or penitential program of life. That the Third
Order or "Franciscan" Order of Penance developed from these Brothers and
Sisters, Fr. Esser states there is no doubt. Indeed, in their studies, Frs. Rafaelle
Pazzelli,TOR and Lino Temperini,TOR conclude that this Letter is the first
"Rule" given by St. Francis to his followers among the penitents.
The content of the
text presents the key ideas through which Francis proposed to form the Brothers and
Sisters of Penance. In it one can discern the concept of the Saint concerning the
"core" of the religious life, something which in other works is not easy to
discover. Tile words of Francis reach the depths of theology and the mystical life.
involves: the love of God, the love of neighbor, striving against our sinful tendencies,
to turn to the sacramental life (especially, the Eucharist), to live and work in total
conformity to a life of conversion, to bring forth works worthy of Penance. In very few
places does the insertion of the soul into the life of the Trinity appear so clearly
expressed as here.
The concept of "body" is used by Francis in the
sense of flesh or fallen nature, the cause of sin. It is not equivalent to
"body" in the modern sense of being part of human nature. This can be recognized
also from the very configuration we find set up in the text.
The simple sentences
of the letter reveal a deep knowledge of the essential relationships of the Christian
life. It is only when we overcome pride and self-centeredness that we can develop love for
God and our neighbor, a love which is nourished by the Eucharist.
The PROLOGUE is used to offer a synthesis
of the entire Rule.
terminology of "Rule and Life" is a medieval formula which intends to express
the identity of a corporation. Here is summed up the attitudes, the values and the Gospel
principles which Francis proposed to his followers.
This Chapter begins with the classic formula of the Regula Bullata, the Rule of St.
Clare, and is very similar to that of the Regula Non-Bullata. It presents
our "Form of Life", emphasizing the spiritual dimension, of the members of the
Third Order Regular within the Franciscan Family. We profess the canonical vows of
obedience, poverty (the original and traditional formula of "sine proprio" was
changed to avoid civil problems), and chastity meaning consecrated celibacy.
Our following of
Christ is to be after the manner proposed by St. Francis, the history of religious life
and the recent instructions of the Church. The four values of penance, poverty, prayer and
humility appear explicitly.
Our following of
Christ is proposed according to the form lived by St. Francis. It constitutes the note of
identity with respect to other forms of religious life. We are Franciscans living a
community form of life.
Some phrases are
taken directly from Francis' 2nd Letter to the Faithful. They "are called to
make greater efforts" in their observance of "the precepts and counsels of Our
Lord Jesus Christ", and let them "deny themselves as each has promised the
In this first
chapter, one can already notice that in the composition of the Rule, care was taken to
remain faithful to the original texts while weaving them together.
The article on penance or evangelical conversion begins with the solemn declaration that
to be a Franciscan TOR means to persevere in the faith and in the life of penance. The
article gives a special emphasis to our basic charism of penance/ metanoia/ conversion.
Three times the text will underline this value.
The way we are to
live and express this conversion passes through prayer, poverty, and humility. This states
the inter-relation of these four basic values.
consists in abstaining from evil but, above all, persevering in doing good.
We are to know the
Lord: in Scripture, in Creation, in the Sacraments, in Jesus Christ, and in recognizing
our condition as sinners.
We are to adore the
Lord with pure minds and heart: to be able to adore the Lord with pure minds and heart we
need to confess our sins to a priest.
We are to serve the
Lord: (in penance) in other words to serve Him in our neighbor by works of charity. For
Francis bringing forth fruits of penance means to love our neighbor and to do him good.
Fraternity is the inheritance we have received from St. Francis, the "Universal
Brother", and it is the environment in which the four basic values must grow and
develop. The Franciscan life cannot be understood apart from Fraternity. This factor of
fraternity exceeds the purely legal, canonical categories of obedience to the Church, to
the Pope, and to the Ministers of the fraternity.
Franciscan style promotes our sense of belonging to the Church, the Order, and the
wide-spread Franciscan Family. We see in these institutions something near, cherished,
The superiors of the
Order are designated as "ministers" of the fraternity. They are called"
i.e. they have received a "mission".
between the brothers and sisters should be characterized by respect, courtesy, tolerance,
devotion, admiration, veneration, in other words, by the virtues which strengthen the
sense of fraternity.
We are to
"foster", or to work together with the whole Franciscan Family. In so doing, we
construct unity and express our communion as children of the same Father, St. Francis of
Acceptance into this Life
This chapter is
concerned with the admission of candidates to our way of life and with their initial and
considered, above all, as the longing for evangelical life, a living in an attitude of
quality of the TOR, penance or conversion, is highlighted in this chapter where it is
cited four times.
Extending a welcome to our way of life. A vocation is a gift of God and to Him belongs the
initiative. Our task is to help in discerning the vocation of the candidate and to accept
this gift of God beginning with receiving him or her in a Franciscan way, that is,
"kindly". The entire fraternity has the responsibility of collaborating in
vocational promotion. Each of us can give the witness of our own vocation.
The Ministers have
the responsibility to discern and to decide the suitability of the candidates.
The conditions for admission into the Fraternity:
- Spiritual: That the
candidate have faith in the Church and Sacraments.
Human Maturity: That the candidate has the ability to live this way of life.
Provincial has the responsibility to give the final word on the reception of the new
member. However, other words, including the next to the last, belong to the Fraternity!
It is advantageous
that there be a gradual process until the definite admission. It begins with a period of
probation "Let them be initiated.." into this life which is again defined as a
fraternity. The criteria for admission are drawn from the Gospel. Franciscan religious
life is presented as "an evangelical life" lived at an intense and radical level
as presumed from the texts of Matt. 19,21; 16,24.
Initial Formation is the second step in this process. The Lord is the first Director and
the principal One in charge! There must be an openness to let oneself be led by Him. The
beginning of formation is declared to be a process of conversion. This uninterrupted
conversion is the objective of what is called Continual or Permanent Formation. Our simple
and humble style of life and even our religious habit and clothing, besides signifying the
embrace of a penitential life is an element in the process of formation. The theological
concept of "consecration to Gospel life" may be understood in a passive
(consecrated BY God) and an active (consecrated FOR God) sense. Penance/conversion is
stressed three times.
The Profession/Consecration or "being received into obedience" is the third step
in this process of formation. The phrase means a promise to live in fraternity in a way of
life which is not monastic. "To observe this rule and life always" denotes the
perpetuity of the consecration. "This life and this rule" means that the
consecration of one's whole life is not totally expressed the three counsels of obedience,
poverty and chastity but is an offering or consecration of one's whole being. "To put
aside cares and worries" is to observe poverty and minority while "To serve,
love, honor and adore" is the expression of continuous conversion to God from a
contemplative dimensions The phrase "With a single heartedness and purity of
intention" is a way of expressing the evangelical value of chastity in a way similar
to that of Vatican II (PC. 12) It underlines the idea of an unrestricted abandonment of
all so as to give oneself exclusively to God's service.
Continual Formation is developed further from the previous article. The love of God and
our love for Him finishes by making or converting us into the dwelling place of the
Blessed Trinity. Our love becomes increasingly all-embracing and we enter into the
spirituality which is expressed in the Catiticle of the Creatures.
"increase" is a call to continual conversion, one which is never finished. Love
unifies and allows us to offer ourselves completely and undivided to the service of God
and our neighbor (chastity). It makes it possible for us to be more available for the
works of mercy. The fundamental concept of this article is expressed in the words
"continually turning to God".
The Spirit of Prayer
presents a synthesis of the characteristics of Franciscan prayer: Trinitarian (9-11),
praise (9-10), ecclesial (9), contemplative (9), cosmic (10) biblical (11), eucharistic
(12), penitential (13), christocentric (13).
This article emphasizes the prayer of adoration and praise - blessing in the repetition of
the words: "let them adore" (3X) and "let them praise" (4X). We are to
unite ourselves in prayer with the whole Church in the Liturgy of the Hours with those
same sentiments of praise and adoration. Francis desired that in the prayer of the Divine
Office "the voice unites with the mind and the mind is united with God". We
fulfill this ministry of prayer as humble believers. The second paragraph of this article
is dedicated to those cloistered nuns who profess the TOR Rule.
In our prayer of praise of the Lord, as befits sons and daughters of Francis, we include
all creation. We pray in, for and with all creatures and recognize our brotherhood with
them. Our prayer is one of thanksgiving for His Holy Will, for His Son with the Holy
Spirit, for all created things both spiritual and material, and for ourselves who have
been created in the image and likeness of God. "May You be praised, My Lord, with all
Your creatures. "
The absolutely essential means of coming to "be conformed" to Christ and His
Gospel is meditation on the Word of God. After the example of Francis, our following of
Jesus, is learned and is reached through adhesion to the Scriptures which we meditate and
preserve in our hearts. Creation and events are illuminated by the Word of God. Before
making any important decision, Francis always turned to the Scriptures and recommended to
his followers "the perfumed words of Our Loid Jesus Christ".
The great esteem of Francis for the Eucharist is reflected in this article. We are to
participate fully in the Eucharistic Sacrifice with great humility and great veneration.
We are to give all reverence and honor to Jesus present in the Eucharist by our visits and
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Further, we are to reverence His Holy Name and be
respectful even of the written words which consecrate His Body and Blood. In the
Eucharist, the Lord reveals and makes peace between all creatures and God. The Eucharist
is the sign and cause of our unity.
A sincere recognition of our sins and the need to confess them before receiving Holy
Communion. Fasting and deeds of mercy are means to encourage a spirit of sorrow and
in Chastity for the Sake of the Kingdom
Chastity is a both a gift of God and a response of man. It is a gift and work of God who
formed us in His Image and created us through and in Christ. We accept this way of life in
chastity based on the words and example of Christ, our Redeemer.
Our profession of chastity is for the Kingdom. This demands that we " be careful
in what concerns the Lord" and seek His Will and to please Him. In this way, our
behavior will express love for God and love for all His children. Any insistence on the
dimension of availability ( chastity FOR the Kingdom = purpose) should be balanced by a
focus on the presence of the Kingdom as a reason for consecrated chastity (chastity FOR
the Kingdom = cause).
By our life, we should be signs of the Mystery of the Church expressing the Union of
Christ with His Spouse, the Church. Our witness to this love and spiritual marriage is a
gift of grace.
imitation of Francis, we look to Mary, the Handmaid of the Lord. Our fraternal and filial
relationship with Mary is not just an attitude of devotion. She is the perfect Model of
the Lord's disciple and our inspiration for a total commitment of service to God. She
shows us how to listen to God's Word in the Scripture and events of life, to believe in it
in all circumstances and to live all its demands. Even when we do not understand, like
her, we are to keep it in our hearts (Lk 2, 19, 50-51) until light comes. We confide in
her maternal concern and protection.
The Way to Serve and Work
This is the chapter
which is dedicated to Minority or Humility. It is expressed in our way of life and moving
through the world. Therefore, any Service or Work should reflect our Franciscan spirit and
identify us. To "live in conversion" not only supposes service to God but also
to serve as "minors" in working for a better world.
Francis based his idea of minority on the person of Jesus:
- who came to serve and
not to be served.
- who chose to announce
the Good News and peace to the poor.
- who adopted an
attitude of humility and meekness..
This chapter gathers
together the views of Francis about work and its purpose:
- to work so as to give
- to avoid idleness.
- to provide for the
needs of the Fraternity.
- to share the
situation of ordinary people.
- to serve others.
Therefore, in deciding to say "yes" to a work or occupation, we see being able
to work is a gift of God, to be done with fidelity and devotion, as a way of avoiding
idleness and providing a service and a means of expressing our condition as poor people.
We are to refuse any
work which smothers the spirit of prayer and devotion by not allowing space for prayer,
which ends up in activism, and which does not reflect spiritual values or which is not in
accord with our status as poor brothers and sisters.
We reflect and "preach" the value of minority or humility:
- in humbly accepting
wages for the work done.
- in being satisfied
with having the necessities of life.
- in remembering that
we are servants of God and followers of holy poverty.
- in sharing with the
poor what is not needed.
- in seeking to avoid
power and authority and prosperity.
- in being servants (
repeated 5X in nos. 18 & 19 ).
- in being submissive
to every human creature for the sake of God.
This vision of
Francis agrees very well with the criteria expressed in Perfectae Caritatis 13 and in
the new Code of Canon Law.
This article begins with a list of qualities, attitudes and behavior which makes those who
practice them living witnesses of humility and thus believable witnesses of Franciscan
peace. Francis wants his followers to be meek, modest and humble and proposes that they
speak to all respectfully and speak whatever may seem useful. Wherever they go they are to
avoid arguments, involvement in litigations, or in judging others.
To carry on a
program of peace, they should be happy in the Lord, joyful, suitably gracious and
Life in Poverty
In this chapter,
poverty is presented as an ideal of life. The specific forms of expressing poverty are
left to the Constitutions and General Statutes. The inspiration of Francis overcomes
merely juridical concepts such as speculative divisions into vow and virtue which are not
in his radical concept of poverty.
Poverty for Francis
is total renunciation:
- of one's will.
- of pride in one's
talents and abilities.
- of oneself.
They are truly poor:
- who restore to God
all His words.
- who keep nothing back
but give all to God.
- who desire to be at
the feet of others.
- who love those who
- who do not rush to
We are to be poor with and for the poor:
A. With Jesus who chose a life
of poverty and who emptied Himself (kenosis).
- the christological
and scriptural motivation for our poverty.
- with Mary, under the
aspect of the poor handmaid, so dear to St. Francis.
- Some consequences of
- that it rests not on
a sociological but a theological base.
- that a personal and
community austerity be accepted if we are to be content with only the necessary in regards
to food, clothing, trips, the use of money.
- that we have a real
trust in Providence.
- unity and
complimentarily between poverty and humility.
B. With the weak and lowly of
- This is to be the
motive for our pastoral charity and our works of mercy and for our choice of apostolates.
Poor pilgrims, they are truly poor in spirit who:
- try to follow and
- do not
- are not
- are-free and
available as travellers and foreigners.
The greatness and
value of poverty is that:
- it makes us heirs of
more important goods.
- it makes us kings in
the Kingdom of heaven.
- it frees us from
- it inspires us to
and service are our true riches and we should want to possess nothing else under heaven.
The Fraternal Life
The fraternal life
is the heart and the composition of the Franciscan experience. The papal letter of John
Paul II "Franciscanum vitae propositum" reminds us that the following of Jesus
Christ is "living in fraternity". The Fraternity is where the fundamental values
of penance, prayer, poverty and minority are expressed and develop. In one or another form
the idea of fraternity appears throughout all the chapters of the Rule.
The concept of
fraternity is not exclusive but inclusive and embraces:
- the religious
community (local, provincial, congregational)
- The Franciscan Family
(other TOR religious institutes, the SFO, and the Ist & 2nd Orders).
- All of creation.
The Franciscan community is inspired by the Word of God.
- The brothers and
sisters shall love another as Jesus loved; it is a privileged way of proclaiming Jesus
- Love is translated
into deeds; shown in our works.
fraternity expresses its love:
- by explaining to
others its needs. by asking for help.
- living unaffectedly
this interdependent life.
- allowing others to
live in atmosphere of freedom and trust.
- being personally
concerned to attend to others' needs (trust, charity, poverty, humility, freedom)
A community may be
considered truly blessed when it is:
- sincerely unselfish.
- looks out for the
- is grateful to God
for all that happens.
- loves a brother for
himself and not for his "usefulness".
- wants to be what God
wants it to be.
The weak in the Fraternity:
A. Each of us is weak in some
way. We often offend others and feel offended by others therefore the Rule asks for mutual
- whenever there has
been any reason for irritation.
- if there have been
any uncharitable words.
- for any action which
has offended charity.
B. Anyone who has failed in our
way of life through weakness:
- is to be corrected by
the Minister or other brothers or sisters but never by shaming or speaking badly about the
- is to be treated with
mercy without getting excited about sin nor behaving in a way that inhibits an attitude of
C. We need to clearly recognize
that our fraternity is made up of human beings and thus there will always be faults such
as discourtesy, inconsiderate words or actions, carelessness, uncharitable judgement, bad
taste, violent reactions, sin.
D. Each of us is sustained and
helped by everyone else. Because of our status as penitents, "minors", we always
need to count on the compassion and pardon of our brothers and sisters.
The Obedience of Love
As was the case of the other evangelical counsels, here the following concepts are
- the christological
motive behind our obedience.
- the dimension of love
which goes further than merely canonical or organizational regulations.
- the spiritual
foundation, inspirational rather than a juridic theology .
demands a self-emptying, a self-denial which should be understood in very close relation
to poverty and humility. For Francis, it is an "Obedience of Love" when a friar
or sister sees something better or more spiritually useful that what the superior commands
and yet makes the sacrifice of one's own will to God and tries to carry out the superior's
command. It is an "obedience of love" because it gives to God and our neighbor
that which belongs to them.
"let them obey"
A. The positive aspect:
- obey like Jesus Who
seeks and fulfills the will of the Father.
- to seek in our
Chapters and meetings the will of God
- to encourage one
another to fulfill the Rule.
- to encourage oneself
to follow the Christ.
- to serve and obey
B. The negative aspect:
- to renounce one's own
- to forego any power
or dominion over our brothers.
- to refuse any
profession which encourages prerogative and preeminence.
Three times in this
article there is a reference to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Model of loving obedience.
The one responsible:
- the minister and
servant of the Fraternity. The very titles describe how a Franciscan superior is to
exercise this role and authority.
- the friars and
sisters are to faithfully obey their ministers according to the Rule.
Rights and responsibilities in the Fraternity:
A. The duties and
responsibilities of the ministers:
- to be the Minister
and Servant of the fraternity. to visit the friars and sisters.
- to admonish them (but
liuiiibly and kiiidly).
- to encourage and
B. The rights of the friars and
- to go to their
ministers when they can't fulfill the Rule.
- to be welcomed by the
ministers with charity and kindness so that they can treat them with ease ... as employers
with their subordinates.
- to feel the freedom
to speak about their problems.
No one is indispensable!
The poor and the
ordinary people of society do not consider themselves indispensable or essential. If,
theoretically and practically, the office of superior is considered as a service then
this attitude will not be a serious problem for the fraternity.
The Apostolic Life
This chapter deals
with one of the most characteristic aspects of the Third Order Regular. The apostolate
understood, above all, as the exercise of the works of mercy is essential to our
consecrated life. This final chapter of the Rule is the natural development of our
fraternal life of penance lived according to the evangelical counsels. It seeks to be
something like an existential expression of our identity translated into a life of service
to the poor and those in need. It presents the mission which grows out of the inner life
of the fraternity and is adorned with kindness, humility, joy, mercy .... in other words
with Franciscan qualities.
The soul of every apostolate is. Love:
Let them love: God
with all their heart and soul and their neighbor as themselves.
Let them praise: the
Lord in all His works (for this have they been sent) by their witness (in word and deeds)
making known that there is no other God.
Love is translated
into Mission. It is the "fruit(s) worthy of penance". There is no divorce
between contemplation and action. Every conversion results in charitable service to the
The wounded and the erring:
A. They are to be Messengers of
- having it first of
all in their own hearts.
- then announce it with
- being instruments of
reconciliation by their conduct, by their meekness and kindness, and by their efforts
B. They are to be Apostles of
- to cure the wounded.
- to bind up the
- to lead back to God
and His Church those who have strayed.
The explicit and
implicit references are to all the works of charity and mercy carried out by the many
congregations of the TOR Family.
C. The demands of Charity:
- to dedicate
- to abandon one's body
to the Lord.
- to expose oneself to
visible and invisible enemies.
- to suffer
persecution, misunderstanding or ridicule.
Humility in doing works of charity:
In any work of
charity (praying, serving, working) we are to act without showing off, without trying to
please ourselves, and without interior vanity in the words, deeds or whatever God does
Everywhere and in
- recognize that all
goods belong to God.
- thank God for all
goods that have come from Him.
- make a serious effort
to possess "The Spirit of God and His holy workings".
- be faithful to the
Church and firm in our Catholic faith
- be faithful to the
three Franciscan ideals: the holy gospel, humility, and poverty.
St. Francis desired
that his disciples should have a copy of the Rule and to know it well, to speak of it
often in their i-neetings, to recall the vows. The brothers and sisters are to observe it
faithfully as each one has promised to do until death.
He asks no more of
us than that we should live as each one has promised ... in true faith and conversion of
heart. In us, even after seven centuries, his vision lives on in the Threefold Family of
brothers and sisters which God raised up through him.
To those who were,
who are, and who will be his followers, St. Francis gave his special blessing which are
the closing words of the Rule. This Blessing is taken from the Testament of St.
Francis to conclude this new Rule as it concluded the Rule of 1927, It serves as a link to
the past versions of the Rule and the traditions upon which the present one is built and
whose authentic Franciscan spirit it hopes to preserve and renew in our times.
and adapted by Fr. Seraphin Conley,TOR from La Regla de la Tercera Orden de San
Francisco, P. Luis Cuesta Nozal, TC, Pastor Bonus, no. 83, Curia General T.C.,
Roma, 1990 pp. 209-235.
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