Statutes of the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit
Chapter I: Our Identity
1. The Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit is a Public Association of the Faithful erected by the Most Reverend Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, with the intention that it will be recognized in due time as a clerical religious institute of diocesan right (cn. 589).[i]
2. We submit everything in humble obedience to the discernment of Holy Mother Church and in particular to the Bishop of Phoenix (cn. 590).[ii]
3. The founders of this community are priests and brothers formed according to the rule and tradition of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of Penance. Led by the Spirit of the Lord, we brothers left our former religious community to begin a Franciscan missionary effort in the southwest United States of America. In this mission we continue to embrace the rule of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis and its charism of metanoia/poenitentia or ongoing evangelical conversion of life (cf. HTOR).[iii]
4. As penitents we seek to be totally converted to God, to take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of the Lord. Our conversion requires a change in our interior attitudes and plans and contrition for past behavior. We exhort every brother to do penance for personal sins and those of the whole world and, as voluntary penitents, to reflect joyfully our turn toward God through concrete and specific actions and sacrifices. Our conversion is complete when we are totally united to the Father through Jesus Christ.
5. We live this charism of conversion by the spiritual martyrdom of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience (LG, 44).[iv] By professing the promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience, men become members of a brotherhood that is founded on the Gospel and enlivened by the Holy Spirit.[v] This brotherhood exists to glorify God, to sanctify the Holy Church, to spread the Gospel, and for the perfection of its members in the service of charity (LG, 43; TOR Rule art. 2).[vi]
6. God calls this fraternity to live conversion by a life in the Spirit that embraces the charismatic aspect of the life of Saint Francis who sought above all things “the Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation” (LR, x:8).[vii]
7. Guided by the Spirit of prayer and devotion as instructed by our holy father Saint Francis we embrace the intellectual life (Mt 10:16)(LR, v:2; LAnt).[viii] We train our minds and hearts according to the great intellectual tradition of the Roman Catholic Church and the culture that she nourishes. Our dedication to this tradition will enable us to build culture and thereby contribute to this heritage. The brothers shall especially embrace the intellectual tradition within the Franciscan Order.
8. As an outward expression of our consecration, the brothers shall wear the habit of this community which consists of a grey tunic and hood which symbolize our penitential way of life and a plain cord tied about the waist with three knots to symbolize the promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience made to God (VC, 25).[ix] The brothers are encouraged to wear sandals and may wear a rosary from their cord to express devotion to the Holy Mother of God.
Chapter II: Entrance Into This Life
9. When a man desires to join our community, he should understand and appreciate the beauty and the sacrifice of our way of life. One brother shall be appointed by the Community Servant with the advice of his council to be the Vocation Director. The Vocation Director is responsible for arranging the first introduction of the candidate to the community. The Vocation Director shall also discern whether the candidate is truly called by God and is suitable for our Franciscan way of life. If he is found suitable and feels called by God to our way of life, then the Vocation Director shall present the candidate to the Community Servant who may accept the candidate with the consent of his council. Upon approval by the Community Servant and his council, the candidate must be approved by the Bishop of Phoenix for admission.
10. The candidate will live in the community as a postulant for at least three months. He shall be given time to make a transition from the world to the culture of religious life. In this regard he shall be taught to be charitable, courteous, punctual, attentive to the needs of others, and all other aspects of religious decorum. The Postulant Director shall present an evaluation of the postulant after three months to the Community Servant and his council. The Community Servant with the advice of his council may admit the postulant to begin the novitiate. A candidate’s admittance into the novitiate must be approved by the Bishop of Phoenix.
11. The formal admittance of the candidate into the novitiate marks the candidate’s entrance into the community. He will be invested with a habit of probation, recieve a religious name, and begin a year of reflection, meditation, prayer, and contemplation (cn. 648).[x] The novice shall be taught our charism of conversion and Franciscan spirituality. He shall be taught to pray at all times in the Spirit (Eph 6:18), to adore Christ in the Eucharist, and hear the voice of the Father so he may faithfully carry out His will. He shall be taught spiritual discernment, lectio divina, Marian devotion, and liturgical piety.
12. The novitiate shall last 18 months to provide enough time for the novice to be well educated and trained in the life of our community. Every four months the Novice Director shall write an evaluation of each novice which shall be presented to the Community Servant and his council (cn. 652).[xi] The evaluations shall also be read and discussed with the novice. After the fourth evaluation the novice may request to profess vows once the 18 months of novitiate are complete. At any point in the novitiate a novice may leave the community, vis a vis, the Community Servant may dismiss a novice at any point during novitiate (cn. 645, 653)[xii].
13. Upon the request of a novice, the Community Servant with the consent of his council may invite the novice to profess promises. Admittance to temporary profession must be approved by the Bishop of Phoenix. The novice must apply by a handwritten letter that expresses his desire and freedom to profess promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience in this brotherhood for three years (cn. 657).
14. Those who profess temporary promises will live at least one year learning the apostolate of the community. During this time they should work closely with perpetually professed brothers in order to be mentored in a ministry of the community. Since it is a privilege to train men in formation in the life of ministry, the competent ministers shall give preference to the men in formation for employment in the apostolates.
§1 Also, upon making temporary promises they may begin to study for a degree. This shall be decided based on the needs of the community by the Community Servant in consultation with the candidate, his director of formation, and with the advice of his council.
15. Any brother who believes he is called by the Spirit of the Lord to the ministerial priesthood shall submit this discernment to the Community Servant who with the consent of his council may send him to seminary for training. This must be approved by the Bishop of Phoenix.
§1 There may be cases when the community believes a brother should seek ordination. In this case the Community Servant may invite the brother to study for the priesthood.
§2 When it is discerned that a man is not called to study for the priesthood, then he should be prepared through training and education for another role in the apostolates of the community. This discernment shall take into account the needs of the community and the aptitude, skills, and gifts of the individual brother. This shall be decided by the Community Servant with the advice of his council.
16. After three years of temporary profession, a brother may request in writing to the Community Servant to be admitted into a perpetual observance of promises in this fraternity (cn. 657).[xiii] The Community Servant with the consent of his council may admit the brother into perpetual profession. This must be approved by the Bishop of Phoenix.
§1 The time of temporary profession may be extended if the temporary professed brother or the Community believes there is a need for a longer period of discernment (cn. 567§2).[xiv]
17. The Community Servant shall appoint, with the advice of his council, a Postulant Director, a Novice Director and a Post-Novitiate Director. One brother may hold one or more of these roles at the discretion of the Community Servant.
§1 These formation directors shall rely on Potissimum Institutioni for the principles that form healthy and fervent religious.[xv]
§2 The Novice Director shall see to it that a Ratio Formationis that describes our formation process and the methods employed to form men in our way of life be completed in the first three year term of the community. The Ratio Formationis must be approved by the Community Servant with the consent of his council and confirmed by the Bishop of Phoenix. It shall be the Novice Director’s responsibility to ensure that this document is followed and properly updated. Any change to the Ratio Formationis must be approved by the Community Servant with the consent of his council and the Bishop of Phoenix (cn. 650).[xvi]
Chapter III: The Spirit of Prayer
18. Our fraternal identity is rooted in our common prayer life. As Franciscans, central to our life of prayer is praising God for who He is (cf. PrsG; CtC).[xvii] Our brotherhood offers to God a sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:15, Rom 12:1). By praising God together we are bound together by a spiritual anointing (Ps 133, Itin, Prologue, iv).[xviii] As we seek to practice the presence of God we receive the mind of Christ and can live together with one heart and mind (Acts 4:32).[xix]
§1 Since the Eucharistic Celebration is the source and summit of our life the brothers participate daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (LG11, CCC1324). It is preferable for the brothers to celebrate Mass together as a community.
§2 Each member of our fraternity is obligated to live the life of prayer. We shall offer our sacrifice of praise to God through the daily praying of the Liturgy of the Hours (LR iii),[xx] communal charismatic praise and worship which includes praying and singing in the spirit by means of the gift of tongues (Acts2:4; Rom 8:26; 1Cor 12:10)(2LtF, 21), adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (1LtCus, 7; LtOrd, 26).
§3 All the brothers of this fraternity shall pray the Divine Office each day according to the mind of the Church.[xxi] It is preferable to chant the hours of the Divine Office in common.
§4 St. Francis based his life on the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit because they are “spirit and life” (Jn 6:63). Therefore, we strive to hear our heavenly Father speak to us through daily meditation on the Scriptures (cf. Test, 14).[xxii]
§5 Let the brothers find their joy in doing penances both great and small in order to purify their hearts and grow in virtue. The brothers should happily seek the forgiveness of their sins and reconciliation through the Sacrament of Penance on a regular basis. Each brother shall have a spiritual director who they meet with regularly. They shall be attentive to the spiritual practices of fasting and almsgiving so as to develop an internal and external poverty and to demonstrate ongoing conversion.
19. In imitation of Saint Francis who lived many years as a hermit and wrote a rule for his brothers to follow in hermitage, the brothers shall continue the practice of hermitage. This Franciscan Hermetical practice was fostered throughout the history of the Third Order. It is important for the spiritual development of our community that the brothers step away from active ministry and into extended time of quiet prayer. The hermitage is not an escape from the difficulties in community life (LtMin, 8), but a time of spiritual renewal through extended periods of quiet prayer, preferably with another brother (cf. RH).[xxiii]
§1 Each friar shall also set aside two days every two months for a time of hermitage. Each friar shall have a retreat of five to eight days per year.[xxiv]
§2 The Community and Local Servants shall provide for and encourage hermitage and retreat opportunities for the brothers under their care.
Chapter IV: The Life of Chastity for the Sake of the Kingdom
20. Celibate chastity is a gift to be received from God (1 Cor 7:7). This gift empowers the brothers to love in a particular way, which includes seeking deep intimacy with God (ER, 8), a total and radical giving of self (LtOrd, 29), and generously offering one’s life for the sake of the Kingdom (Mt 19:12).
21. To foster the marvelous gift of celibacy the brothers strive to live a life of faith making use of humble and constant prayer. They seek an intimate union with Christ and a son's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
22. Conscious of the difficulties of the life of celibacy, the brothers shall avoid all that endangers chastity and apply themselves to the practice of self-discipline, mortification and custody of the heart and senses.
Chapter V: The Way to Serve and Work
23. The brothers find joy in the work that they do because it contributes to the common good of society and of the fraternity (Test, 20). The common life of all shall be ordered to develop within the brothers the virtues necessary to overcome idleness and procrastination. The common life shall also be ordered to provide the leisure necessary for each brother to do those things that edify and replenish the spirit.
§1 The Local Servant shall ascertain those resources necessary for each brother to accomplish the work to which he has been assigned.
Chapter VI: The Life of Poverty
24. Our community desires to live poverty in external practices and interior dispositions. We are seeking to be truly poor in spirit so as to take possession of the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:3) and to taste the overwhelming goodness of Divine Providence (Mt 7:11).
25. No immovable assets may be retained for more than a period of one year.[xxv] As for residence, we may live in religious houses assigned and provided for us (cn. 634§1).[xxvi] The brothers shall always seek to live among Native Americans, the poor, or otherwise marginalized populations.
26. The brothers have made promises to be set apart from the world. Therefore, they should be wary to have any technological devices that disrupt religious life or extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion.
§1 Each fraternity may have one television for community recreation, however, the religious houses shall be without internet, antenna, cable and satellite connection.
§2 No technology device that has access to the internet shall be taken into the cloister.
Chapter VII: Love of Brothers and Sisters
27. The brothers should seek to be honest and trust one another so as to truly develop fraternal bonds. Let them be quick in affirming the good in one another and slow to speak when angry (Adm XI).[xxvii] Let them always speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).
When someone sins against the Rule or our way of life they should be kindly reminded by the servants and the brothers of the promises they made to God. They should often ask forgiveness for personal failings.
The Community and Local Servants shall provide a forum for brothers to responsibly air grievances, complaints and fraternal corrections (Adm XXII).[xxviii]
28. One brotherhood day, at least every other month, provides time for the brothers of each fraternity to gather together and enjoy one another’s company and thereby strengthen fraternal bonds. The brotherhood days should consist of at least one event that is nourishing and edifying to the individual and the entire community. This gathering will also consist of a communal meal.
29. The community shall gather once a year for a brotherhood week. Outdoor recreation is encouraged at some point during this week.
30. The brothers will always remember in prayer those who generously provide for them and members or affiliates of our community who have passed to eternal life.
Chapter VIII: Governance
31. At this early stage of existence the brotherhood will be governed by the following norms.
All the founding members will convene in chapter to elect a Community Servant from among the priest-brothers, by secret ballot, to act as superior of this community for three years (cns. 623; 624).[xxix] This chapter, which convenes as the primary authority within this brotherhood, shall discern and establish a communal and pastoral vision that the Community Servant and his council will set out to achieve by God’s grace through his term of office (cn. 631§1).[xxx]
32. The Community Servant is bound to act in accord with universal and proper law (cn. 596§1).[xxxi] He is obliged to act with fatherly care to all the brothers and to be among them with great love and patience, always ready to encourage them and admonish them to do greater deeds in Christ (cns. 618; 619).[xxxii]
33. The Community Servant will be assisted in the governance of the community by a council of four perpetually professed brothers.
34. After the election of the Community Servant, the chapter will elect his Vicar from among the priest-brothers. The Vicar is bound to assist the Community Servant in the care and administration of the community.
§1 Once the Community Vicar has been elected then a councillor will be elected from among the priest-brothers.
§2 Two other brothers, who may or may not be priests, will be appointed as councillors by the Community Servant to complete the council (cn. 627§1).[xxxiii] All election results are subject to confirmation by the Bishop of Phoenix (cn. 625§3).[xxxiv]
35. The Community Servant, with the advice of his council, will fill the following roles: Finance Officer and Local Servant.
§1 The Finance Officer is the administrator of the goods of the institute and as such shall keep an account of the community finances (cn. 636§1).[xxxv] The Finance Officer shall render a financial account to the Community at the annual Community Chapter. This annual report will be sent to the Bishop of Phoenix. In addition the Bishop of Phoenix may ask for an account of the finances at any time.
§2 A Local Servant shall be appointed to each house in the fraternity to care for the brothers with a fatherly care and to ensure that the religious house is orderly and all needs are provided to each brother for the success of the common life and the ministry.
36. A religious house exists to support and encourage the common life of the brothers. Under the care of the Local Servant, life in a religious house is ordered in such a way that the brothers are able to interact in a familial manner that reflects the love of the Holy Family.
§1 A religious house consists of at least four brothers (cf. cn. 610).[xxxvi]
§2 The brothers shall gather at least once every two weeks but preferably once a week for house chapter to discuss and manage those issues that are common to life lived in fraternity.
Chapter IX: Apostolic Life
37. The Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit are called by God to preach penance, serve in evangelical apostolates which seek to minister to and live among the poor, work in ecumenical outreaches, and evangelize with a special focus on praying with others for the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fostering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.[xxxvii]
The brothers should be open conduits of God’s love and grace. Rather than controlling others they should manifest the humble presence of God in the world. The brothers are encouraged to pray for, minister through, and teach the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
38. The apostolates of the community are: 1) Educational Ministry, 2) Mission Churches, 3) Retreat, Pilgrimage and Conference Evangelization, and 4) Healing Ministry. These apostolates form the basis of our missionary identity and are the foundation for our discernment of new ministries.[xxxviii]
39. Ministries are those specific and ongoing works by which the apostolic goals of the community meet the needs of the Church. The Community Servant is responsible for the development and implementation of these ministries in cooperation with the local diocesan bishop (Eph 2:20-22).
Ministries are subject to the discernment of the Community Servant in collaboration with his council.
§1 Assignment of an individual brother to the ministries of the community shall be made by the Community Servant after he receives the advice of his council.
40. We recognize three different categories of ministry in our community: Community Ministry, Personal Ministry, and particular ministry events.
§1 Community Ministry is a ministry of the institute that an individual friar is assigned to by the Community Servant with the advice of his council that aims to accomplish the apostolic mission of the institute.
§2 Personal Ministry is any ongoing ministry that a brother asks permission to perform in addition to the Community Ministry assignment. This must be approved by the Community Servant.
§3 Particular ministry events may be performed once a brother receives permission from the Local Servant for each individual situation.
41. Instructed by Jesus who sent his disciples out two by two to preach, teach, and heal in his name, the brothers shall be assigned to community ministry with at least one other confrere (Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1).
42. To ensure the integrity of our way of life we will not take a ministry that will impinge upon our community life. The community shall carefully discern any parochial assignment offered by a diocesan bishop to the community as a whole or an individual brother so that it is in conformity with our identity and mission (Test, 24).[xxxix] Let the brothers support the local clergy through their prayer and other evangelical missions.
43. These statutes may be amended by a 2/3 vote of all perpetually professed members of this community and with the consent of the Bishop of Phoenix. (cn. 587§2; 595)[xl]
Abbreviations for Primary Franciscan Sources
- Canticle of the Creatures
- Letter to Brother Anthony of Padua
- The First Letter to the Custodians
- The First Letter to the Faithful
- The Second Letter to the Faithful
- A Letter to a Minister
- A Letter to the Entire Order
- Exhortation to Praise God
- The Praises of God
- The Earlier Rule (Regula non bullata)
- The Later Rule (Regula bullata)
- Rule for Hermitages
- The Testament
The number that corresponds to the above texts within the document refers to the sentence numbering as found in:
Primary Franciscan Sources:
Francis of Assisi: Early Documents. Edited by Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. Conv., and William J. Short, O.F.M. New City Press: Hyde Park, NY, 1999.
St. Bonaventure. The Souls Journey Into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis. Translated by Ewert Cousins. Paulist Press: Mahwah, NJ, 1978.
Secondary Franciscan Sources:
HTOR History of the Third Order Rule. Edited by Margaret Carney, O.S.F., Jean Francois Godet-Calogeras, Ph.D., and Suzanne M. Kush, C.S.S.F. Franciscan Institute Publications: Saint Bonaventure, NY, 2008.
- Canon in the Code of Canon Law: Latin- English Edition. Canon Law Society of America: Washington, D.C., .
- “Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.” In Vatican Council II: The Concciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company: Northport, NY, 1975.
- Pope John Paul II. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata: On the Consecrated Life. Libreria Editrice, Vaticana, 1996.
- “Potissimum Institutioni: Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes.” Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1990.
 Unless otherwise indicated, the term “brother” or “friar” is used to denote any member of the community. When referencing an ordained member of the community, this document specifies “priest-brother.”
 The Community Servant is the superior of the community. See articles 27-31 for the role and responsibilities of the Community Servant.
 The Community Council consists of two elected priest-brothers (one will be the Servant Vicar) and two appointed brothers who may or may not be ordained. See “Chapter VIII” for more on the Council.
 A fuller expression of the spirituality of our community is laid out in “Chapter III: The Spirit of Prayer.”
[i] See canons 312-320 in the Code of Canon Law for juridical norms pertaining to Public Associations of the Faithful.
[ii] Cn. 590§1 “Inasmuch as institutes of consecrated life are dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the whole Church, they are subject to the supreme authority of the Church in a special way.”
[iii] Pazzelli, TOR, Raffaele. St. Francis and the Third Order: The Franciscan and PreFranciscan Penitential Movement. Franciscan Herald Press: Chicago, IL, 1982.
“Conversion” as a charism was explained in its historical context in Raffaele Pazzelli’s authoritative work entitled St. Francis and the Third Order.
Pazzelli explains that the charism of conversion is central to the life of the Church and especially for those who became members of the Order of Penitents. This Order was formed for those who were assigned to do penance for weightier sin and for those who voluntarily sought a penitential life as an expression of an interior conversion. St. Francis was the latter.
History of the Third Order Rule. Edited by Margaret Carney, O.S.F., Jean Francois Godet-Calogeras, Ph.D., and Suzanne M. Kush, C.S.S.F. Franciscan Institute Publications: Saint Bonaventure, NY, 2008.
The History of the Third Order Rule examines four values at the heart of the Franciscan Life: poverty, minority, contemplation, and conversion. Faley, TOR, Roland J. “Biblical Considerations on Metanoia.” Analecta TOR 13 (Rome, 1974): 1-16.
Fr. Roland Faley explains the scriptural development of the terms used for conversion. This work was written as source background for the writing of the TOR Rule that was promulgated in 1982 by Pope Saint John Paul II.
Scanlan, Michael. “Be Penitents: A Pastoral Response.” Analecta TOR (Rome, 1983): 211-220.
Fr. Michael Scanlon, TOR, in his article “Be Penitents," connects the charism to the work of the Holy Spirit and with specific works of the Penitent.
Cantalamessa, OFM, Cap., Raniero. “Chapter One: Conversion.” In Sober Intoxication of the Spirit: Part Two. Translated by Marsha Daigle-Williamson, Ph.D., 1-18. Servant Books: Cincinnati, OH, 2012.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap. places conversion at the heart of charismatic renewal in Chapter One of Sober Intoxication of the Spirit: Part Two.
Cantalamessa, OFM, Cap., Raniero. “ANOINTING FOR THE SOUL: The Holy Spirit makes us share the fragrance of Christ’s holiness.” In Come, Creator Spirit: Meditations on the Veni Creator. Translated by Denis and Marlene Brown, 151-170. The Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN, 2003.
[iv] LG 44: “The faithful of Christ bind themselves to the three aforesaid counsels either by vows, or by other sacred bonds, which are like vows in their purpose. By such a bond, a person is totally dedicated to God, loved beyond all things.”
[v] The term “promises” is used to describe the sacred bonds that each brother will make to the Bishop within the institute. The common canonical term is “vows” to express the religious’ commitment to the evangelical counsels. At a further date, when the Public Association becomes an Institute of Consecrated Life of Diocesan Right, we anticipate changing this language from “promises” to the more common term “vows”.
[vi] LG 43: “From the point of view of the divine and hierarchical structure of the Church, the religious state of life is not an intermediate state between the clerical and lay states. But, rather, the faithful of Christ are called by God from both these states of life so that they might enjoy this particular gift in the life of the Church and thus each in one's own way, may be of some advantage to the salvific mission of the Church.”
TOR Rule, article 2: “With all in the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church who wish to serve God, the brothers and sisters of this Order are to persevere in true faith and penance. They with to live this evangelical conversion of life in a spirit of prayer, of poverty, and of humility. Therefore, let them abstain from all evil and persevere to the end in doing good because God’s Son himself will come again in glory and will say to all who acknowledged adored and served him in sincere repentance: “Come blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”
[vii] Later Rule, X reads from line 7: “Moreover, I admonish and exhort the brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ to beware of all pride, vainglory, envy, and greed, of care and solicitude for the things of this world, of detraction and murmuring. Let those who are illiterate not be anxious to learn, but let them pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and it’s holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity…”
[viii] Later Rule, V: “Those brothers to whom the Lord has give the grace of working may work faithfully and devotedly so that, while avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things must contribute.”
In St. Francis’ Letter to Saint Anthony of Padua, he repeats the above admonition: “I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers providing that, as is contained in the Rule, you ‘do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion’ during study of this kind.”
This admonition demonstrates St. Francis’ preference for his followers to be absorbed in prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit. But he does not see learning or teaching in its academic view as being opposed to the life of prayer and in the Holy Spirit. This is an important point for us as Franciscan’s who are involved in education. We believe that our study and teaching is an activity that happens within the context of our devotion and prayer, thereby giving the Holy Spirit full reign to lead and guide this activity.
St. Bonaventure gives a similar injunction in the Soul’s Journey Into God: “Therefore I exhort the reader, before anything else, to turn earnestly in prayer to Christ crucified, whose blood takes away the stain of our faults, and I do that lest he think that the reading alone will be enough for him, without the anointing, or that speculation will be enough without devotion, or study without admiration, consideration without exultation, effort without piety, knowledge without love, understanding without humility, or zeal without the grace of God.”
[ix] Vita Consecrata, §25 “The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ.”
[x] The habit of probation is a grey tunic and hood, with a cord. The cord will be without knots.
Cn. 648 §1 “To be valid, a novitiate must include twelve months spent in the community itself of the novitiate, without prejudice to the prescript of cn. 647, §3.”
[xi] Cn. 652 §1. “It is for the director and assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices and to form them gradually to lead correctly the life of perfection proper to the institute.”
§2. “Novices are to be led to cultivate human and Christian virtues; through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection; they are to be taught to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to read and meditate on the sacred scriptures; they are to be prepared to cultivate the worship of God in the sacred liturgy; they are to learn a manner of leading a life consecrated to God and humanity in Christ through the evangelical counsels; they are to be instructed regarding the character and spirit, the purpose and discipline, the history and life of the institute; and they are to be imbued with love for the Church and its sacred pastors.”
§3. “Conscious of their own responsibility, the novices are to collaborate actively with their director in such a way that they faithfully respond to the grace of a divine vocation.”
§4. “Members of the institute are to take care that they cooperate for their part in the work of formation of the novices through example of life and prayer.”
§5. “The time of the novitiate mentioned in ⇒ cn. 648, §1 is to be devoted solely to the task of formation and consequently novices are not to be occupied with studies and functions which do not directly serve this formation.”
[xii] Cn. 645 §1. “Before candidates are admitted to the novitiate, they must show proof of baptism, confirmation, and free status.”
§2. “If it concerns the admission of clerics or those who had been admitted in another institute of consecrated life, in a society of apostolic life, or in a seminary, there is additionally required the testimony of, respectively, the local ordinary, the major superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.”
§3. “Proper law can require other proof about the requisite suitability of candidates and freedom from impediments.”
§4. “Superiors can also seek other information, even under secrecy, if it seems necessary to them.”;
Cn. 653 §1. “A novice can freely leave an institute; moreover, the competent authority of the institute can dismiss a novice.”
§2. “At the end of the novitiate, if judged suitable, a novice is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If there is doubt about the suitability of a novice, the major superior can extend the time of probation according to the norm of proper law, but not beyond six months.”
[xiii] Cn. 657 §1 “When the period for which profession was made has elapsed, a religious who freely petitions and is judged suitable is to be admitted to renewal of profession or to perpetual profession; otherwise, the religious is to depart.”
§2 “If it seems opportune, however, the competent superior can extend the period of temporary profession according to proper law, but in such a way that the total period in which the member is bound by temporary vows does not exceed nine years.”
§3 “Perpetual profession can be anticipated for a just cause, but not by more than three months.”
[xiv] Cn. 657 §2. “If it seems opportune, however, the competent superior can extend the period of temporary profession according to proper law, but in such a way that the total period in which the member is bound by temporary vows does not exceed nine years.”
[xv] The document Potissimum Institutioni was promulgated 1990 as an instruction from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. This document details the stages of formation in religious life and gives principles for formation programs to train new members.
[xvi] Cn. 650 §1. “The scope of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the guidance of a director according to the program of formation defined in proper law.”
§2. “Governance of the novices is reserved to one director under the authority of the major superiors.”
[xvii] The practice of praise, sometimes rather exuberant praise is crucial to the inner logic of our community and the way in which we experience God’s call on our lives. This paragraph indicates a holy progression in our communal prayer life.
First, we root our identity in our relationship with God, especially as it is expressed in prayer. The form of vocal prayer is our communal manner of offering a sacrifice of praise. Our vocal praise is the symbol by which we make an offering of our lives to God and express our love and devotion to Him through word and song. It is a rational sacrifice, logos latreia, (Rom. 12:1-2), to praise God with the words of the liturgy, Scripture, and devotion from our hearts.
Second, by praising God in extended periods throughout the day, we begin to encounter the presence of God and we continually practice the presence of God in our lives. We commonly use the term “anointing” to express this daily encounter with the Holy Spirit (CCC 2672). In the Eastern Christian tradition they often invoke the name of the Lord by recitation of the Jesus Prayer and thereby encounter the Lord’s presence. It is also referred to as hesychia, translated as silence or peace. There is sufficient evidence in the spiritual tradition to refer to the experience of the Holy Spirit, either through liturgical ritual or through spiritual encounter, by the term “anointing”.
Third, by offering our lives by the praise of God and by the experience of His presence we take on the mind of Christ, the Anointed One.
Finally, the Spirit of God brings peace and harmony that enable our community to live peaceably together as is expressed in Psalm 133: “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, Which ran down to the skirt of his garment: As the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion. For there the Lord hath commandeth blessing, and life for evermore (Douay Rheims).”
[xviii] A further explanation of the term “spiritual anointing” can be found in:
Cantalamessa, OFM, Cap., Raniero.. “ANOINTING FOR THE SOUL: The Holy Spirit makes us share the fragrance of Christ’s holiness.” In Come, Creator Spirit: Meditations on the Veni Creator. Translated by Denis and Marlene Brown, 151-170. The Liturgical Press: Collegeville, MN, 2003.
See also the quote in endnote 7 from the “Prologue of St. Bonaventure’s Itinerarium” (the Soul’s Journey Into God, Prologue, 4).
[xix] Brother Lawerence. The Practice of the presence of God. Whitaker House: Springdale, PA: 1982.
[xx] Later Rule, III, 1: “Let the clerical [brothers] recite the Divine Office according to the rite of the Holy Roman Church excepting the psalter, for which reason they may have breviaries.”
[xxi] Laudis Canticum, 1970. As the letter from Paul VI lays forth and we emphasize in our way of the life, the hours to be prayer are Matins, Lauds, one ‘little hours’ of Terce, Sext, or None depending on the daytime hour, Vespers, and Compline.
[xxii] The Testament relates: “And we must honor all theologians and those who minister the most holy divine words and respect them as those who minister to us spirit and life. And after the Lord gave me some brothers, no one showed me what I had to do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel.”
We mean to make a connection between our lives and St. Francis’ own life regarding the Word of God. St. Francis explains, as well as his early biographers, that his conversion came through a series of communications between the Divine and himself. Primary to this communication was the scriptures that St. Francis heard in Church and especially on the day that St. Francis, Br. Bernard of Quintavalle, and Br. Peter gathered together in Church to receive instruction from God.
St. Francis’ reverence for the Office of Theologian, a role that was given particular prominence in the middle ages, is an expression of his reverence for the Word of God and those who are anointed with the ministry to interpret it.
For examples of St. Francis being guided by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God see:
Francis of Assisi: Early Documents: The Saint. Edited by Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. Conv., and William J. Short, O.F.M. New City Press: Hyde Park, NY, 1999.
_____. “1 Celano,” v. 22 pg. 20; v. 93, p. 262
_____. “Julian of Speyer,” vv. 15-16, p. 379
Francis of Assisi: Early Documents: The Founder. Edited by Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. Conv., and William J. Short, O.F.M. New City Press: Hyde Park, NY, 1999.
_____. “Anonymous of Perugia,” vv. 10-11, pp. 37-38
_____. “Legend of the Three Companions,” v. 25; v. 29 on pp. 84-85
_____. “The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul,” v. 15, p. 254
_____. “Major Legend,” Chapter 3, v. 3, pp. 542-4
_____. “Minor Legend,” p. 689
[xxiii] In a “Letter to a minister of his community,” St. Francis offers advice to the minister regarding the manner in which he should interact with the brothers under his care. St. Francis encourages the ministers to a holy indifference in his dealings with difficult brothers so as to not be disturbed in spirit and therefore lose his peace. St. Francis states: “let this be more than a hermitage for you.” This injunction indicates that peace of soul comes from self-mastery by the workings of grace within us and does not depend on the peace of our surroundings as one might experience in the quietude of a hermitage.
The above principle is found in a Rule for Hermitages wherein St. Francis organizes the brothers to live in hermitages together and to continue serving each other and praying the Divine Office with each other. St. Francis is departing from any idea that hermitage is an escape from fraternity and discourages any practice that would follow in consequence of such an idea.
[xxiv] Higgins, Michael. “Saint Francis and the Eremetical Movement.” Analecta TOR 32 (Rome, 2001): 87-137.
[xxv] “Immovable assets” in this case refers to the ownership of lands or buildings. This enables our fraternity to remain free from such attachments in order to live the life we profess as mendicants.
[xxvi] Cn. 634§1 “As juridic persons by the law itself, institutes, provinces, and houses are capable of acquiring, possessing, administering, and alienating temporal goods unless this capacity is excluded or restricted in the constitutions.”
[xxvii] Admonition XI: “Nothing should displease a servant of God except sin. And no matter how another person may sin, if a servant of God becomes disturbed and angry because of this and not because of charity, he is storing up guilt for himself. That servant of God who does not become angry or disturbed at anyone lives correctly without anything of his own. Blessed is the one for whom nothing remains except for him to return to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
[xxviii] Admonition XXII: “Blessed is the servant who endures discipline, accusation, and reprimand from another as patiently as he would from himself. Blessed is the servant who, after being reprimanded, agrees courteously, submits respectfully, admits humbly, and makes amends willingly. Blessed is the servant who is not quick to excuse himself, and endures with humility, shame, and reprimand for a sin, when he did not commit the fault.”
[xxix]Cn. 623 “In order for members to be appointed or elected validly to the function of superior, a suitable time is required after perpetual or definitive profession, to be determined by proper law, or if it concerns major superiors, by the constitutions.”
At this early juncture we have not set a “suitable time” after profession, but we expect to amend the statutes at a later time acknowledging that our progeny demands wise prerequisites for the election of the superior.
Cn. 624§1 “Superiors are to be constituted for a certain and appropriate period of time according to the nature and need of the institute, unless the constitutions determine otherwise for the supreme moderator and for superiors of an autonomous house.”
§2 “Proper law is to provide for suitable norms so that superiors, constituted for a definite time, do not remain too long in offices of governance without interruption.”
§3 “Nevertheless, they can be removed from office during their function or be transferred to another for reasons established in proper law.”
[xxx] Cn. 631§1 “The general chapter, which holds supreme authority in the institute according to the norm of the constitutions, is to be composed in such a way that, representing the entire institute, it becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. It is for the general chapter principally: to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in can. 578, promote suitable renewal according to that patrimony, elect the supreme moderator, treat affairs of greater importance, and issue norms which all are bound to obey.”
[xxxi]Cn. 596§1 “Superiors and chapters of institutes possess that power over members which is defined in universal law and the constitutions.”
[xxxii] Cn. 618 “Superiors are to exercise their power, received from God through the ministry of the Church, in a spirit of service. Therefore, docile to the will of God in fulfilling their function, they are to govern their subjects as sons or daughters of God and, promoting the voluntary obedience of their subjects with reverence for the human person, they are to listen to them willingly and foster their common endeavor for the good of the institute and the Church, but without prejudice to the authority of superiors to decide and prescribe what must be done.”
Cn. 619 “Superiors are to devote themselves diligently to their office and together with the members entrusted to them are to strive to build a community of brothers or sisters in Christ, in which God is sought and loved before all things. Therefore, they are to nourish the members regularly with the food of the word of God and are to draw them to the celebration of the sacred liturgy. They are to be an example to them in cultivating virtues and in observance of the laws and traditions of their own institute; they are to meet the personal needs of the members appropriately, solicitously to care for and visit the sick, to correct the restless, to console the faint of heart, and to be patient towards all.”
[xxxiii] Cn. 627§1 “According to the norm of the constitutions, superiors are to have their own council, whose assistance they must us in carrying out their function.”
[xxxiv] Cn. 625§3 “Other superiors are to be constituted according to the norm of the constitutions, but in such a way that, if they are elected, they need the confirmation of a competent major superior; if they are appointed by a superior, however, a suitable consultation is to precede.”
[xxxv] Cn. 636§1 “In each institute and likewise each province which is governed by a major superior, there is to be a finance officer, distinct from the major superior and constituted according to the norm of proper law, who is to manage the administration of goods under the direction of the respective superior. Insofar as possible, a finance “officer distinct from the local superior is to be designated even in local communities.”
§2 “A the time and in the manner established by proper law, finance officers and other administrators are to render an account of their administration to the competent authority.”;
[xxxvi] Cn. 610§1 “The erection of houses takes place with consideration for their advantage to the Church and the institute and with suitable safeguards for those things which are required to carry out properly the religious life of the members according to the proper purposes and spirit of the institute.”
[xxxvii] This paragraph is inspired by an address given by Pope Francis to the participants in the 37th National Convention of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit on Sunday, June 1, 2014. Fr. Zygmunt Mazanowski was in the audience for this address.
In this address he outlined his goals for those who have enjoyed the common experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and form renewal groups. The Holy Father said, “I expect you to share with everyone in the Church the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit (a phrase we find in the Acts of the Apostles).” “This is your path: evangelization, spiritual ecumenism, caring for the poor and needy, and welcoming the marginalized.”
We believe that our ministry is guided by the three principles outlined in that address:
- Evangelize by praying for others to receive the baptism in the Spirit,
- Engage in ecumenism
- Live and work among the poor, needy and marginalized in society.
[xxxviii] The apostolates of this community continue the apostolic heritage of the Third Order of Saint Francis, which has traditionally carried out corporal works of mercy in hospices, hospitals, retreats, and educational institutions.
[xxxix] “Let the brothers be careful not to receive in any way churches or poor dwellings or anything else built for them unless they are according to the holy poverty we have promised in the Rule. As pilgrims and strangers, let them always be guests there.”
[xl] Cn. 587§2 “A code of this type is approved by competent authority of the Church and can be changed only with its consent.”
Cn. 595 §1 “It is for the bishop of the principal seat to approve the constitutions and confirm changes legitimately introduced into them, without prejudice to those things which the Apostolic See has taken in hand, and also to treat affairs of greater importance affecting the whole institute which exceed the power of internal authority, after he has consulted the other diocesan bishops, however, if the institute has spread to several dioceses.”
§2 “A diocesan bishop can grant dispensations from the constitutions in particular cases.”