Basic Requirements

Basic Requirements of the
Secular Franciscan Order

1. Knowledge of St. Francis
2. Apostolic Life of St. Francis
3. Nature and Purpose of the Order
4. Community Life
5. Spirit of St. Francis

1. Knowledge of St. Francis
It is not enough to know a factual history of St. Francis’ life — not just what he said and did; but more importantly, what he felt and believed in. It is a probing into his inner most thoughts, his struggles, motivations and his SPIRIT — not just the what and the when, but the WHY.
Reading is all-important, like biographies, but not just one and not just bits and snatches of any one, but the whole book.
Scripture reading is important. Not just reading, either; but, pondering and assimilating the MESSAGE; listening to the over-all message and using the little messages in one’s daily living.

2. Apostolic Life of St. Francis
The First Order, the Friars Minor, Observants, Capuchins and Conventuals are members who were required by Francis to give all their goods to the poor, to pray intensely, serve lepers and the poor, and to live in peace and brotherly love and service to all.
The Second Order, known as the Poor Ladies, or Poor Clares, was founded by St. Clare, under St. Francis’ Rule and guidance, in 1212. This was a cloistered community of women who lived under the austere poverty advocated by St. Francis, who established them at the little church of San Damiano.
The Third Order founded in 1209 was for lay people who aspired to follow the life and spirit of St. Francis while remaining in the world. Simple frugality of living, prayer, peace and brotherly love were their norm.
Francis’ remarkable example, his compassion and universal love for all people and all things created by God, were an outgrowth of his passionate love for Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother Mary. His concern for the Universe was shown beautifully in his “Canticle of Brother Sun,” known also as the “Canticle of the Creatures.”
In recent times he has been designated as the patron of ecology.
In 1224, while he fasted and prayed on Mount La Verna he received the sacred Stigmata on his hands, feet, and side. He was a perfect example of patience in suffering, of which he had an abundance in addition to the Stigmata. But, in spite of his physical afflictions, he carried on his apostolate of preaching and serving, even when he was nearly blind and could no longer walk because his feet were crippled by the wounds of the stigmata.
On October 3rd or 4th, 1226, he died at his beloved Portiuncula, the sanctuary he dedicated to Our Lady, the little church he himself rebuilt, Our Lady of the Angels. He made this little church the cradle of his three Orders. It is now enshrined almost like a little doll’s house inside the great basilica of St. Mary of the Angels just outside Assisi. Two years after his death he was canonized.

3. Nature and Purpose of the Order
The unity of the Church, from the time of the apostles down through the popes, the bishops, the priests, and the laity, is centered in the See of St. Peter in Rome.
In Rome, the Rule of the Franciscan Order was approved, at first informally, then formally in writing.
Therefore, we who are members of the Order are sent by the Church to further Christ’s work on earth. Our Order belongs to the Church and we are committed to be evangelizers.
We are dedicated to strive for Christian perfection as faithful members of the Catholic Church and members of our fraternity. Our way is the way of Gospel living in our secular world, following the message and spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to strive to know what that spirit and message is. To supply that information is the point of these instructions.
Francis wrote his first rule directly from the Gospel teachings of Jesus Christ and we are committed to the task of making present the charisma of St. Francis.
The lay followers of Francis were advised by him to dedicate themselves to a life of penance and simple living right in their homes and places of work. Francis brought about renewal in the Church under the rule of his three Orders for priests, religious, and the laity, all of which were approved by the Pope.
We seculars are members of his great Franciscan family in the life and mission of the Church.
The Secular Franciscan Order is a union of fraternities throughout the world, open to all the faithful. Secular Franciscans strive for perfect charity right in their own environment, bringing that charity and evangelization into action in their own life style.

4. Community Life
Jesus said, “The command that I give you is that you love one another.”
This is the basis upon which we should build our life in the Franciscan community. This community life takes place for each of us in our fraternities.
To achieve brotherly love in fraternity, and elsewhere, requires that we diligently cultivate the virtues of humility, meekness, patience, gentleness, kindness, tolerance, honesty and tactfulness. A peace-loving commitment and concern for the other members of the fraternity should be the endeavor of each member.
St. Francis reached out to everyone as his brother or sister. As a rule, he always had at least one of his brothers as a companion wherever he went.
Secular Franciscans should look upon the other members of their fraternity in this same spirit; one in Christ, one in the spirit of St. Francis, and one in the spirit with each other.
Coming together in a reunion of their community life at least once a month, they should aid one another wherever needs arise. They should also act together in works of charity and apostolates. It is impossible to be a true Franciscan alone.
The Holy Spirit moves in each one of us. Each is imbued with a deep love for Jesus under the paternal blessedness of our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, a Secular Franciscan should be gentle and courteous, cheerful, and be at the service of all of his or her Franciscan brothers and sisters in the fraternity.

5. Spirit of St. Francis
The most important aid in formation of a Secular Franciscan is the spirit of St. Francis. What is this spirit?
It is to KNOW Jesus as Francis did, the poor Jesus, the humble Jesus. As St. Paul says, “You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be helpful to one another, and forgive one another, whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive each other in the same way that the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. (Col. 3: 12-14).
As we go our Gospel way with Christ at our side, we strive for harmonious relations with our brothers and sisters in the world; with the Church and its teachings; with its liturgies; with the pope, the bishops and the priests.
We are in continual renewal of our “metanoia,” (a Greek word meaning “radical inner conversion”).
fostered by prayer and the Sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist.
We imitate Mary, our Mother.
We surrender to the will of the Father.
We imitate Jesus, the poor one — our suffering servant.
Our lifestyle is simple, humble, unostentatious — a striving for purity of heart, with a deep concern for the poor and deprived of the world.
We share our time and energies in the service of others.
We are promoters of justice.
We carry out our part in the continuing creation and redemption that never ends by the work we do — occupational, family, neighborhood, parish and the market place. We should be an example of Christ’s love at all times in all places.
We should be respectful of and careful stewards of all of God’s creation, animate and inanimate.
And most important, we should be instruments of God’s peace.

Questions:

What do you think is the charismatic spirit and message of St. Francis?

How could use your abilities to aid spiritually, mentally, and physically, the other members of your fraternity?

Do you think you would derive aid, spiritual or otherwise, from meeting with the members of the fraternity at the monthly gatherings. Think about this in depth. Ask Jesus to help you be absolutely honest in answering these questions.

3 thoughts on “Basic Requirements

  1. Brother Michael E. Nelson RN SF

    I am & have lived as a Franciscan for over 30 yrs as a RN working with the sick & frail elderly, I’m currently studying a St James Seminary to meet the State & Federal requirements to be a Hospice / Hospital Chaplain, would like to know more about your community as it has been my vocation to live as a Franciscan & now look to a community to belong to.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Brother Michael

  2. Jim DeCorse

    I have served the past thirty years within the Catholic Church, beginning first as a Youth Minister and now having served as a DRE, Pastoral Assistant, Youth & Young Adult Minister, Mentor, Altar Server Trainer, Lector, Minister of the Eucharist, Coordinator of the Kateri Circle (Native American Ministry), Speaker, Master Catechist, Church Bookkeeper, Liturgy Coordinator and still more. St. Francis always has and continues to be a guiding force in my life and I feel very strongly that it’s time for me to move forward as a Secular Franciscan.

    I would appreciate consideration, application and the acceptance.

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