|Compiled and edited by:
Fr. Seraphin J. Conley, T.O.R.
Second edition, Rome - 1994
/ DIRECTIONS FOR THE FRIARS
FOR UNDERSTANDING AND ASSISTING
THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER
The present "Directions" have been elaborated by
the Conference of General Assistants of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) on a mandate
from the Ministers General. The Presidency of the International Council SFO and the
religious responsible for the formation of the friars have been consulted. These
"directions" respond to an urgent requirement after the completion of the
legislative texts of the SFO ( Rule, General Constitutions, Ritual ) and the approval of
the Statutes for the Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the Secular Franciscan Order.
A reciprocal acquaintance and vital communion required by belonging to the same spiritual
family does exist and should continue to be developed among all Franciscans. (1)
The Rule and Constitutions of the SFO (2) frequently confirm
the principle of belonging to the same spiritual family. They refer to the vital,
reciprocal communion and to the duty of the First Order (OFM, OFM Conv., OFM Cap.) and the
Third Order Regular (TOR) to provide pastoral care and spiritual assistance. There is, in
fact, a double substantial relationship between the SFO and the First Order and the Third
Sharing the common charism:
The Rule of the SFO speaks of the "life-giving
union" with one another that must exist between the seculars and all the branches of
the Franciscan Family, in order to make present, in various ways and forms, the charism of
their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church (cf. Rule SFO 1)
Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance:
In virtue of this communion, according to a secular
tradition, it is the competency of the Superiors of the First Order and the Third Order
Regular to assure this assistance through "suitable and well-prepared religious,
" and the pastoral visit to the Fraternities of the SFO (cf. Rule SFO, 26).
The Secular Franciscan Order, pledged to "renew its own
life, its own formation and the organization of the Fraternities" must count on a
spiritual assistance updated and dynamically coordinated with the other components of the
Franciscan Family in its single mission.
The SFO General Chapter of Fatima says: "As regards the
role of animation of the Spiritual Assistants themselves, there is need for a particular
formation, or preparation, of the friars regarding the SFO. This preparation must be
conscious and must be incorporated into the program of formation - initial and ongoing -
of all the friars. Even though not all are, or will be, Spiritual Assistants, it certainly
is necessary to know, understand and affirm the truly essential role of the SFO for the
realization of their own personal vocation. " (3)
The religious Franciscan Orders, to whom belongs the
"altius moderamen," have not only made their own the principle of
"life-giving union with each other" and made it evident in their legislation,
but also the Ministers General and Provincial, in Letters and various interventions,
continually exhort the friars to know the SFO still more and better, requiring an adequate
preparation of the Spiritual Assistants. (4)
The present "directions' aim to be a contribution common to all the Orders, possibly
to be inserted in their "formation plans" for the knowledge of the SFO within
the Franciscan Family, in its mission to the Church and in the world, and for the
preparation of those who are called to serve as Spiritual Assistants.
A. INSTRUCTION DURING THE
DIFFERENT STAGES OF FORMATION
a.) Life of St. Francis, Founder of the Three Orders.
b.) General introduction to the Franciscan Family:
First Order, the Friars Minor (OFM, OFM Conv., OFM Cap.).
Second Order, the Order of St. Clare.
Third Order, "the Brothers and Sisters of Penance" which corresponds to the
present SFO, Secular Franciscan Institutes, and the more than 400 Congregations of men
& women of the Third Order Regular Family.
Other Franciscan movements.
c.) First contacts With an SFO Fraternity and with the Franciscan Youth.
a.) In the general theme of the universal call to holiness
and of the religious vocation, speak also of the secular Franciscan vocation seen as part
of the common charism in life-giving union with one another in the mission of the Church:
"Go, repair...... "
b.) When treating of the history of the Franciscan Family, speak about the
Penitents and about the origins of the Third Order.
c.) Read the Rules of the First, Second and Third Order Regular & Secular. [the
Confirmed Rule of 1223; the Rule of St. Clare, 1253 and the "Urbanist" Rule of
St. Clare, 1263; the Seraphicus Patriarcha of Paul VI, 1978 for the SFO, and the
Franciscanum vitae propositum of John Paul II, 1982, for the Third Order Regular.]
a.) The History of the Franciscan Family including the SFO in
its essential lines throughout the centuries; its presence and development in one's own
country; the birth of new Orders and Congregations from the SFO.
b.) The nature, identity, structure and organization of the SFO according to the
new Rule and Constitutions emphasizing the unity of the Order.
c.) Readings: the "unconfirmed" Rule of 1221; Memoriale propositi of
1221; the Supra Montem of Nicholas IV of 1289; and the Misericors Dei Filius of Leo XIII
4. Theological Formation
a.) In the course of ecclesiology, along the lines of Vatican
II, deepen the theology of the laity and secularity (Vatican II, Evangelii nuntiandi,
Cristifideles laici; Letter of the Ministers General) concerning the Franciscan lay
faithful, social teaching of the Church from Rerum novarum to Centesimus annus: the
sections which refer to the duties and responsibilities of the laity; co-responsibility
and collaboration between the clergy and lay religious and the seculars in the mission of
b.) In the field of pastoral initiation have pastoral experiences together, guided
by the Spiritual Assistant.
participate in fraternity meetings, moments of prayer, celebrations in the different
phases in the life of the Fraternity.
become familiar with the norms regarding the spiritual and pastoral assistance and the
identity of the Assistant (cf. General Constitutions and Statutes OFM, OFMConv., OFMCap.,
TOR; SFO Constitutions and Statutes for the Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the SFO.
5. Ongoing Formation
Bring about the communion with one another, by force of the
common charism and as a sign of witness in the church, in accord with the indications of
the Constitutions and Statutes of the SFO, the First Order, and the Third Order Regular.
a.) At the local level
in the local Chapter, study the letters of the Ministers General regarding the SFO and the
documents of the SFO itself; make them the object of discussion and deeper study, together
with the Seculars, whenever possible.
to prepare the main liturgies and celebrate them together, especially on the Franciscan
feasts, and to have experiences of prayer in common.
to plan and carry out combined pastoral, charitable and social activities with
"courageous initiatives" according to the necessities of places and times.
b.) At the provincial level
the friars and seculars should study together the documents about the theology of the
laity (cf. 4/a).
organize common meetings, assemblies, spiritual chapters and spiritual exercises.
in the formation meetings and the celebrations of Chapters, program moments when Seculars
are present with a message of a witness.
c.) Through correspondence course (on the model of the Course "Build With
Living Stones, Bonn, Germany)
II. FORMATION FOR THE SPIRITUAL
1. Initial Formation
a.) Annual School of Formation for new Assistants and Animators
at the national level (and regional, if necessary).
promoted by the National (or regional) Assistants, possibly in collaboration with
Franciscan universities or theological institutes.
include in the material to be presented what has been indicated in nn. 2, 3 and especially
b.) Make a collection of material, and keep it always up to date, for the various
necessities of the Assistants and Animators.
c.) Knowledge and exchange of programs and initiatives between National Assistants,
and also between the Regional Assistants, especially wherever there is a Conference of
2. Ongoing Formation
a.) Renewal courses every three years; information about assistance, about the
various questions which arise, about what is happening in the SFO.
b.) Reading of the reviews and means of information of the different Orders in
relation to the SFO and to assist in the national and international fields.
a.) The Ministers General and Provincial
promote the interest of their own friars in the SFO and the communion between the
religious and Secular Franciscans.
ensure the formation and promote interest among all the religious with regard to
see to it that the SFO has a place in the programs of initial and ongoing formation
of all their friars. (5)
be informed, in the visits to the communities of friars to Franciscan parishes and
in chapters, about the SFO and about the quality of assistance given to it.
b.) The Spiritual Assistants
be the first to promote, organize and animate courses and meetings for formation in accord
with the major Superiors and those responsible for formation.
take care of moments of guided experiences, especially with those friars studying
during their pastoral visits, seek contacts with the student-friars to provide them
with information about the life and engagement of the Secular Franciscans in the Church
and in society.
It is necessary to indicate and encourage formators, lay and religious, who would
be suitable for the particular formation of the friars at all levels. This task belongs,
above all, to the Spiritual Assistants.
3. Experiential Method
Use, at all levels, an experiential method: integrate the formation programs with
concrete experiences, followed up by guided reflection on these experiences.
a.) On the part of the Formators
carry out the service in a team.
the formators and leaders of the SFO and of the other branches of the Franciscan Family
are to form part of the team.
an exchange of ideas and teaching material is to be favored
among the formators of the same linguistic area and also with those of other areas.
b.) On the part of those in Formation
common moments, at different levels, with those in formation who belong to the other
branches of the Franciscan Family.
5. Teaching Material
The National and/or Provincial Assistants are to be responsible for gathering and
continually updating the specific materials of information regarding the SFO such as:
sources, documents, texts of the Magisterium, leaflets, manuals, historical outlines,
reviews, publications, posters, brochures, videos, cassettes, etc.
Teaching material is to be made available to the educators and to the friars.
Any necessary teaching aids which are not to be found or that are difficult to find should
There should be a fraternal collaboration between the different linguistic and
other areas, especially with those having the most difficulty in finding material, by
1 Cf. Statutes for the Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance
in the Secular Franciscan Order, Rome, 1982, n.1.
2. cf. Rule 1; Const. 1,4; 85-91; 92. 94. 95.
3. cf. Conclusions of the General Chapter SFO, Fatima,
1990 in Bulletin CIOFS, XII, n. 2, 1990, p.6.
4. Constitutions, General Statutes, Pastoral Letters.
5. cf. Statutes for Assistance, 6/3; 15;22.