Chapter One: The Secular Franciscan Order
Chapter Two: The Way Of Life
- The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the
Church, unites all members of the people of God -- laity, religious, and priests - who recognize
that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.
In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the
charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.
- The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of
all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In
these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their
own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of
Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.
- The present rule, succeeding "Memoriale Propositi" (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme
Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations
of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See
and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.
Chapter Three: Life in Fraternity
- The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and
the center of his life with God and people.
Christ, the gift of the Father's love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads
us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.
Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from
gospel to life and life to gospel.
- Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in
their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith
of St. Francis, who often said, "I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world
except His most holy body and blood," should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic
- They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism;
they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth
as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote
themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering
an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.
- United by their vocation as "brothers and sisters of penance" and motivated by the dynamic power of
the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical
interior change which the gospel calls "conversion." Human frailty makes it necessary that this
conversion be carried out daily.
On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father's mercy
and the source of grace.
- As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all
they are and do.
Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join
in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life
- The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call. She was embraced
by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family. The
Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving
and by praying earnestly and confidently.
- United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father's hands,
let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also
follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.
- Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He
valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of
detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that
according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God's
Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the
Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and
- Witnessing to the good yet to come and obligated to acquire purity of heart because of the vocation
they have embraced, they should set themselves free to love God and their brothers and
- As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and
sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift
of the Lord and an image of Christ.
A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all
people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of
people redeemed by Christ.
- Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and
evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that
anyone "who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself," let them exercise their
responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.
- Let them individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of
their human lives and their courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, they
should make definite choices in harmony with their faith.
- Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the
- In their family they should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity, and respect for life,
striving to make of it a sign of a world already renewed in Christ.
By living the grace of matrimony, husbands and wives in particular should bear witness in the world
to the love of Christ for His Church. They should joyfully accompany their children on their human
and spiritual journey by providing a simple and open Christian education and being attentive to the
vocation of each child.
- Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which "bear the imprint of the
Most High," and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the
Franciscan concept of universal kinship.
- Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out
ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in
everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon. Messengers of perfect joy in every
circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others. Since they are immersed in the
resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the
ultimate encounter with the Father.
- The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels -- local,
regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These
various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the
- On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected
by the professed according to the constitutions.
Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a
duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.
Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the
constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the
guidance of their respective council.
- The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order
and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for
developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its
- Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local fraternity,
whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sisters.
Admission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of formation of
at least one year, and profession of the rule. The entire community is engaged in the process of
growth by its own manner of living. The age for profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are
regulated by the statutes.
Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.
Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council
in fraternal dialogue. Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of
the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.
- To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the
community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should
adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life
of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for
- Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the
apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to
their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity
- As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping
with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance.
They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the
Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.
To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support
in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should
take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a
fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the
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