Faithful) did not envision what today is called religious life. Yet these texts are
essential if we are to be faithful to the "spirit of the founder, " as Vatican
II teaches. The model the work group followed is Francis' Testament. It begins with what
many recognize as the propria indolis of the TOR "The Lord granted me, Brother
Francis, to begin to do penance in this way..." (27)
the Reute meeting
meeting of the Work Group, Sr. Margaret Carney submitted a report to the U.S. Federation
of Franciscan Sisters. Fr. Thaddeus Horgan sent his observations to Fr. Roland Faley. This
report was distributed to the male Membership of the Interobediential Congress. Points of
clarification were noted, especially those dealing with the charism of metanoia for the
Congregations of the TOR. (28)
Both Sr. Margaret
and Fr. Thaddeus stressed the idea that more research and education was needed by our
members to help them understand the writings of Francis, the distinct identity and charism
of the TOR and the history of the Order and Rules given to the TOR throughout the
The December, 1980
Franciscan Federation Newsletter contained articles of background information regarding
the Rule project and the Reute meeting. The draft text of the Rule, along with a
commentary was included. The research committee of the Federation composed a questionnaire
to help individuals and groups critique and comment on the Reute Rule draft. (29)
Research Committee, together with a special ad-hoc committee compiled, studied and
processed the American response to the Reute draft. (30) After reading
and discussing the responses received, the committee concluded that there were several
points of concern among Franciscan Tertiary Congregations in the U.S. These included:
- 1. More education
about penitential sources and the life and writings of Francis is needed.
- 2. The TOR charism is
seen as: continuous conversion,
expressed in literal living of the Gospel.
of Sr. Roberta Cusack and Fr. Thaddeus Horgan on the Reute meeting were printed in the
Franciscan Federation Newsletter, September-November, 1980.
Margaret Carney's report (Sept. 21, 1980) explained in great detaiI the enviroment of the
Reute meeting, the obstacles encountered and the results achieved. Fr. Thaddeus Horgan's
letter (Sept.20, 1980) spoke of problems resulting from Minorite versus Tertiary
traditions and spirituality. He urged the involvement of major superiors in the Rule
project "so that it truly will he more representative of our Franciscan Penitential
appeared in the Franciscan Federation Newsletter, January, 1981; along with
background information by Sr. Margaret and Fr. Thaddeus.
report of this combined committee and the results of the consultation were printed in the
Franciscan Federation Newsletter, May-June, 1981. 125 responses were received; 59
of these represented their Congregations.
- 3. It is important to
write a document that would support the unity of the various Congregations of the TOR.
- 4. Approval of a Rule
draft should be provisional; in order to give people time to study and live it.
This report was sent
to the IFC.
to the Reute Text
In December, 1980,
Fr. Roland Faley, Minister General, sent copies of the Reute draft, along with pamphlets
giving an explanation and justification, to all the TOR Ministers Provincial for
distribution to the friars. In an accompanying letter, he said:
The General Chapter
of 1977 endorsed the work that we had done at the Madrid Interobediential Congress of
1974. At the same time it was felt that we must maintain ties with the other Rule projects
that have been initiated. Our insertion in this work of revision has been constant since
1977. In this work we have adopted the position of maintaining a single Rule for all
Tertiary religious, men and women. For that reason primarily, we and the other
Congregations which are members of our Interobediential Congress have joined forces with
the Franciscan International Commission to produce a single text."
In a letter to the
friars, Fr. Raphael Pazzelli, one of the four definitors appointed to assist the IFC,
added to the words of Fr. Roland:
... in the year 1980
there has been plenty of collaboration from the various Congregations that profess the
Rule of the TOR. Our point of view (penitential spirituality) is being recognized today.
This is due, to a great part, to the addition of American members in the working group and
in the International Franciscan Commission.
Some may object that
this new project (Reute draft) is not totally permeated with the penitential element like
that of the Document of Madrid, the Rule project will have to serve all the tertiary
Congregations and many of these Congregations were begun in the last century completely
outside the penitential spirituality.
As a general
principle that all accepted - it was agreed to put in the Rule project the various
elements of Franciscan spirituality by which the various Congregations are inspired. Later
it will be the task of every Congregation to stress those elements more properly their
own, using supplementary documents as our Document of Madrid. In this way we are able to
keep the unity of the Rule for the entire TOR family. ,12
Both Fr Roland and
Fr. Raphael asked that the text be studied by all the friars and conu-nents and concrete
modifications sent to the Provincials. After the Provincial Curias discussed the
Roland Faley, TOR, letter of Minister General to Fathers Provincial, December 8, 1980.
(32) Fr. Raphael Pazzelli, TOR, letter to the friars, December 8, 1980
material, both from friars and Curias was to be forwarded to Fr. Raphael in Rome.
A copy of the
summary of comments and suggestions of friars, houses, Plenary Council and Provincial
Curia was forwarded to Fr. Roland and Fr. Raphael in Rome. Copies of this report were also
sent to all the houses of the Provinces and to the Research Committee of the Federation to
be included in the American response to the Reute draft.
In a memo to the TOR
General Curia, Fr. Roland Faley gave his personal reflection on the developments toward a
new Rule. He noted that a positive step was the fact that all were working to produce one
text that would eventually become a Rule for all Franciscan Tertiaries. He felt that the
present draft (Reute) was not clearly framed within a spirituality and distinct charism.
Although he favored the Madrid Statement, he would be willing to put it aside if something
better were developed. He was concerned about the time frame, saying:
At the very moment
when new studies are appearing on the origins of the Order and the whole Tertiary
tradition, should we not have the patience to wait for the results and develop something
which would have a very solid base? (33)
He wrote to the
director of the CFI assuring them of his collaboration.
This was a meeting
of the Work Group to collate and discuss responses to the Reute text. Responses to this
draft were received from 205 Congregations, 16 Provinces of International Congregations
and the Research Committees of the American and English Federations. These responses came
from 30 countries and were in 10 languages. Approval of the Reute draft was given by 105
Congregations. With approximately 430 TOR Congregations, this was the most extensive
consultation ever undertaken in the entire Order.
Before writing the
Brussels text, the work group studied several sources; the writings of Francis, the
history of the Order; the post-Vatican II documents of Franciscan renewal; the responses
received from TOR Congregations and the TOR Rule of 1927. From this emerged a conviction
that four primary characteristics of the charism of Francis should be foundational for the
revised Rule: penance (metanoia); prayer; poverty and minority. Three other related values
also ran through the text: peace; joy and simplicity.
Each of the three
Tertiary Franciscan renewal documents (the French Rule, the Dutch Rule, the Madrid
Statement) represented current Franciscan consciousness as seen by various groups and
Congregations. None contradict the other, but there is a difference in emphasis. These
perspectives had to be brought into harmony and then placed alongside the TOR Rules. The
new text had to be acceptable to all: Congregations of men and women; contemplative and
active; Congregations of vastly different historical and cultural roots.
Roland Faley, TOR, Memo to (TOR) General Curia, March 2, 1981.
Reute text was heavily influenced by the Rule of 1223 and the Testament of Francis. The
Brussels text made greater use of the Rule of 1221 and the first and second versions of
the Letter to the Faithful. This new document was written almost entirely in the words of
Francis and as such was a radical departure from all our past Rules. Its intent was to
give us Francis' proposal for our life of total and continuous conversion to God through
literal living of the Gospel.
Brussels text was shorter than Reute. The number of chapters was reduced from twelve to
eight and the number of articles reduced from thirty five to twenty eight. An optional
prologue was added (the first part of Francis' Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of
Penance) and an epilogue which included the blessing of Francis. The title for the Order
was changed from Religious Franciscan Order to Regular Order of St. Francis. This title
parallels that of the Secular Franciscan Order, with whom we share our roots, heritage,
and early Rules.
CFI and BFI announced a meeting of all Superiors General of Franciscan Congregations who
follow the TOR Rule to be held in Rome, March, 1982. The purpose of the meeting was to
work towards acceptance of the Brussels text as our TOR Rule. If agreement could be
reached, it would be submitted to SCRIS.
to the Brussels Text
extensive consultation was not provided for, several important meetings were held to
discuss the Brussels text.
(Aug.): Annual Federation Council Meeting
the annual AFC meeting, the history of the Rule project and the Brussels text were
explained and discussed. (34) What became apparent at this meeting was
the fact that while a new written document was being prepared, greater values underlying
the words of the text were being uncovered.
the approval of the statutes revision, the Federation of Franciscan Sisters became the
Franciscan Federation of the Brothers and Sisters of the U.S. Beginning with the
Interobediential Congress in Madrid in 1974, the U.S. Federation of Franciscan Sisters and
the male Congregations who follow the TOR Rule had cooperated in many ways. These
included: the Rule project; workshops and retreats devoted to the charism and the identity
and history of the Franciscan Order of Penance. Now they form one Federation.
August, 1981, the U.S. Franciscan Federation published the Brussels text, including an
introduction of this proposed draft and a commentary by Sr. Margaret and Fr. Thaddeus.
This was widely distributed. No large scale response to the Brussels text was planned, as
happened with the Reute draft. Suggestions were to be sent to Superiors General (who would
be meeting in Rome) or to the U.S. Federation, which would forward them to the Work Group.
(34) Among the participants were Sr. Margaret Carney, Sr. Roberta Cusack, Fr.
Thaddeus Horgan, Fr. Raphael Pazzelli. Sr. Ann Carville succeeded Sr. Roberta Cusack as
Executive Director of the Franciscan Federation and U.S. representative to the CFI.
to the Brussels Text
In October, 1981,
Fr. Alberico Candela, TOR, Secretary General, sent copies of the Brussels text through the
Ministers Provincial to all the houses of the Order. The English translation was prepared
by the European English speaking group working on the Rule project. The Rule text was
accompanied by an explanatory presentation. This contained information on the nature of
the Rule draft, replies from various TOR Congregations, title of the Order, structure of
the draft text and sources.
At the invitation of
Fr. Roland Faley, TOR Minister General, the members of the Franciscan Tertiary
Interobediential Congress met in Assisi. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the
Brussels text and to plan their strategy for the upcoming Rome meeting. Sr. Margaret
Carney and Fr. Thaddeus Horgan were also present at this meeting.
Nearly 200 Superiors
General (of approximately 430) attended, representing 35 countries and nearly 200,000
Franciscan Tertiary religious. Also in attendance were members of the BFI, CFI, and Work
Group. The purpose of this International Assembly was to discuss the Brussels text, with a
possibility of this eventually becoming a new TOR Rule.
The BFI and CFI were
responsible for the preparation, coordination and proceedings of the assembly. Members of
the Work Group gave presentations on contemplation, poverty, minority and conversion. They
presented in outline form the content of each chapter of the proposed text. Language
groups of participants studied the text and proposed amendments.
changes were made in the Brussels text:
1. One article (n.
10 in the Rome text) on the life of contemplation was added.
2. The prologue
(words of Francis to his followers) and epilogue (blessing of Francis) were to be an
integral (not optional) part of the text.
3. The title was
changed from Regular Order of St. Francis to Third Order Regular of St. Francis.
The Rome draft was
approved by the Superiors General (188 to 2). The BFI was instructed to prepare a final
text for presentation to the Holy See for their examination and approval.
The members of the
Assembly were received in private audience by Pope John Paul II. Sr. Elizabeth Delor,
president of the Assembly, in her remarks to the Holy Father on the purpose of the visit,
We are today
repeating that which St. Francis did when he presented himself to the Lord Pope and asked
for the approval for his way of life. (35)
(35) Sr. Elizabetli Delor, OSF.
The Holy Father
recalled that like Francis (we) profess:
submission to Holy Mother Church and to the Lord Pope. This attitude is all the more
significant in that your objective is to renew the Rule of the Institutes of the Third
Order Regular of St. Francis, conforming them to the guidelines of the Second Vatican
Council and of submitting this project to the approval of the Apostolic See. (36)
The Rule text
approved by the Superiors General in Rome was published in the March-April, 1982,
Federation Newsletter. A reflection on the Rome Assembly by Sr. Ann Carville, OSF, was
published in the July-August, 1982, Newsletter and Pope John Paul's discourse was printed
in the November-December, 1982 Newsletter.
to the Rome Assembly
In a circular letter
to all the friars, Fr. Roland Faley, Minister General, reflected on the Rome Assembly he
had attended. Despite diverse currents of thought on the Rule text and some lack of
understanding regarding the history, charism and identity of the TOR, Fr. Roland believed
that the conclusions of the Assembly were positive. Mutual respect grew into a better
understanding and finally a true sense of oneness. The Lord was at work!
Following the Rome
Assembly, the amended Rule text was submitted to the Sacred Congregation for Religious
(SCRIS) and approved by it in October, 1982. The only change made was the addition of
Chapter Four (articles 14-17) on The Life of Chastity for the Sake of the Kingdom. The
Rule text was then submitted to the Holy Father by Cardinal Pironio, Prefect of SCRIS on
December 17, 1982, "...asking him, to kindly ratify it by a solemn Pontifical
document, dated December 8." (37) In a letter dated April 30,
1983, Cardinal Pironio informed the Sisters and Brothers of the Third Order Regular of the
papal approval of the new Rule.
Pope John Paul II
officially approved the Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order
Regular of St. Francis in the Brief Franciscanum Vitae Propositum. In it he said:
Since we know how
diligently and assiduously this 'Rule and Life' has traveled its path of aggiornamento and
how fortuitously it arrived at the desired convergence of different points of view through
collegial discussion and consultation, for this very reason with well-founded hope We
trust that the longed for fruits of renewal will be brought to full realization."
On May 11., 1983,
the BFI sent news of the approbation of the new TOR Rule. In their letter, they said:
Franciscan Federation Newsletter, July-August, 1982.
(37)Edward Cardinal Pironio, letter to Reverend Sisters and Brothers (of the TOR), April
(38) The Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular
of St. Francis and Commentary (Pittsburgh: Franciscan Federation, 1983), p.6.
We have placed our
renewed Rule, the fruit of so much work of interchange and collaboration, into the hands
of our Holy Mother the Church and today, we receive it, confirmed by the Pope, as a
precious gift, an inestimable treasure entrusted to our fidelity. (39)
to the new Rule
In his report to the
TOR General Chapter, Fr. Roland Faley, Minister General said:
On April 27, 1983, I
was informed by the Holy See that the Holy Father has approved the Rule and it bears the
date of December 8, 1982. I do believe that the revised Rule, in which our penitential
charism is presented as a basic value, also allows for the spiritual heritage of other
Tertiary Communities, while retaining the one Rule of the entire TOR Family. (40)
Several proposals of
the General Chapter spoke of the new Rule. Among them are the following:
I . The General
Chapter receives with joy the news that the Holy Father confirmed with a pontifical Brief
the Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
and invites the entire Order to accept in a spirit of fidelity and submission to Holy
Mother Church and to the Holy Father this spiritual document.
2. The General
Chapter sees this Rule as an inspirational document which expresses the fundamental lines
of our spirituality and tradition ... Another value of this Rule is the fact that it
unites in a special way all the Brothers and Sisters of the great family of the TOR of St.
All should consider
seriously the contents of the new Rule and this can be done by personal initiatives and by
groups of study and reflection both in the local communities and in the Province. This
also can be done together with other Tertiary Congregations as a common endeavor, and this
indeed might be a better way. (41)
In his first letter
to all the friars of the Order, the new Minister General, Fr. Jose Angulo,TOR, spoke of
the new text of the TOR Rule. Not only is it to be studied, but it is to be assimilated
and put into practice. He reminded the friars of the fundamental aspects of our charism
emphasized in the Rule: penance; prayer; attention to the poor and all who suffer.
Elisabeth Delor, OSF. President of the International Franciscan Bureau, letter to the
Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, May 11, 1983.
of the 106th General Chapter of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance, Rome,
May 8-21, 1983, p.49.
If we come to a
clear understanding of our Rule, we will find in it many points to help us renew our
fraternities and to place ourselves at the service of the world of today and its many
The approved Rule is
part of a long process involving many people. The final text is the result of
consultation, collaboration, editing, sacrifice and a search for unity in a common charism
in the midst of the the diversity of many Congregations. The Rule is a spiritual and
inspirational document written in Francis' words. It presents the evangelical counsels;
insisting on the "attitudes" of poverty, chastity, obedience. It treats the four
fundamental values: conversion; poverty; minority and contemplation, woven in the web of
fraternity, lived in simplicity and joy.
The U.S. Franciscan
Federation prepared and published the new TOR Rule and Commentary. In her "Commentary
Introduction" to the new Rule, Sr. Margaret Carney said:
The new Rule
engenders renewed life. It gathers us in a new place between the monuments of our past and
the horizon of the future towards which we move in alternating passages of light and dark.
Our Amen! to this Rule binds us together for a new stage of the pilgrimage of penance and
peacemaking in our time. (43)
Significance of Writing a Rule
The above details to
some extent the process that took place in writing our new TOR Rule. Emphasis was given to
the TOR point of view. What did this process signify?
As was mentioned
earlier, a Rule is a sacred document, written by a founder of a religious Congregation
(Francis' Rule of 1223 to the friars of the First Order), or given by the Holy See (the
various Rules of the TOR over the centuries).
The uniqueness of
the present TOR Rule is that it was written by members of the Order. Momentum for a new
Rule came from the grass roots: various organizations and federations trying to express
Tertiary Franciscan spirituality in the post Vatican II Church. During a ten year period
meetings were held, world-wide consultation of members achieved and approval given by
Superiors General to a new Rule text. That this happened is more amazing considering the
diversity of languages, cultures and nationalities, lack of understanding by many of the
history and charism of the Franciscan Order of Penance, and the absence of any one
juridical body with authority over all.
That we did our work
well is evident in that the Holy See changed nothing in the Rule text that was submitted.
A chapter (on Chastity) was added and our new Rule was approved by Pope John Paul II.
In the Rule
commentary, Sr. Margaret Carney says it well:
No other generation
of the Third Order Regular has enjoyed the immense responsibility and the privilege that
this time in history has bestowed upon us. Due to the developments in the theology of
religious life, the ecclesiology forged by the
(42) Fr. Jose
Angulo, TOR, Letter to all the Friars of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of
Penance, Novemer 17, 1983.
(43) Rule and
Commentary, p. 4.
scholarship that has resurrected authentic source material for our use, the technology of
modern travel and communications - due to all of these factors, and due most especially to
the insistent promptings of the Holy Spirit, we have had the opportunity to help formulate
our Rule. (44)
We were consulted in
the formulation of the new Rule, now we must "own it" and take responsibility
for putting it into practice in our own lives.
Bro. Paul McMullen,
(44) Rule and
Commentary, p. 77.
Analecta, TOR. Rome:
Curia Generalizia TOR, 1974.
OFM Cap. and Ignatius Brady, OFM, ed. Francis and Clare - The Complete Works. New York:
Pautist Press, 1982.
on Formation. Greensburg: Chas. M. Henry Printing Co., 1980.
Boff, Leonardo, OFM.
St. Francis: A Model for Human Liberation. New York: The Crossroads Publishing Co.,
Cada, Lawrence, SM,
et al. Shaping the Coming Age of Religious Life. New York: The Seabury Press, 1979.
The Cord. St.
Bonaventure: The Franciscan Institute. Vol.32,No.9, October, 1982.
The Cord. St.
Bonaventure: The Franciscan Institute. Vol.33, No.9, October, 1983.
Dondero, John, FSC
and Thomas Frary. New Pressures, New Responses in Religious Life. New York: Alba
Faley, Roland, TOR. To
Come and See. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1985.
Faricy, Robert, SJ. The
End of Religious Life. Minneapolis: Winston Press, 1983.
Federation Newsletters, Pittsburgh, 1980-1985.
OFM.,ed. St. Francis of Assisi - Omnibus of Sources. Chicago: Franciscan Herald
Kathleen, OSF. Guidelines for Instruction to TOR Franciscans on the Origins, Development
and the Spirituality of the Penitential Life and Rule. Pittsburgh: Franciscan
to the TOR Rule. Pittsburgh: Franciscan Federation, 1984.
TOR. History qnd Spirituality of the Franciscan Penitential Movement. Pittsburgh:
Franciscan Federation, 1978.
The Rule and Life
of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis and Commentary.
Pittsburgh: Franciscan Federation, 1983.
Sammon, Sean, FMS. Growing
Pains in Ministry. Whitinsville: Affirmation Books, 1983.
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