CHAPTER IVGUIDELINES TO INITIAL FORMATION THE SFO RULE
OUR RULE • Source of inspiration for living • Rich in Biblical elements • Contains theology of earthly realities • Full of Christian and Franciscan spirituality
TEACHING THE RULE • Don’t present the 26 Articles separately. • Important to develop: • The lines of strength in them • The important ideas in each • The dynamic of each Article • Christ sends us into the world; • Action in the world sends us back to Christ.
THE RULE – CHAPTER 1The Spiritual Family of Francis in the Church – Article 1 “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. “
[Article 1] “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.”
HISTORICALLY It’s good to place the Franciscan family in the history of the Church and society, thereby revealing the richness of the variety of the Orders, Congregations, and Institutes of Perfection generated by the Holy Spirit through the centuries.
[Art. 1] • Inspired by Vatican II documents. • Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) - the Church is the people of God, centered around Christ Jesus as its head, and sustained by the Holy Spirit as its soul.
[Lumen Gentium ] “The Spirit is, for the Church and for each and every believer, the principle of their union and unity in the teaching of the apostles and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42 Gk.). All mankind is called to be part of Christ’s Church, that is, to be united with her.”
[Lumen Gentium ] Speaks of the various gifts given to the laity, to religious, to priests – many spiritual families, who are “bound together in brotherly communion in the army of Christ.” Read again the beginning of Article 1.
[Art. 1] Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity) said: “. . .[T]he laity who have followed their vocation and have become members of one of the associations or institutes approved by the Church try faithfully to adopt the special characteristics of the spiritual life which are proper to them as well.”
[Art. 1] Perfectae Caritatis (The Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of Religious Life) said that the “founders’ spirit and special aims” should be “faithfully held in honor.” Introductory words to that Decree say it applied to both vowed religious and those without vows and in secular institutes.
[Apostolicam Actuositatem and Perfectae Caritatis ] Those words were the inspiration for the words in Art. 1 that the Secular Franciscans “intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father.” Those Vatican II documents also made it clear that all institutes should “share in the life of the Church.”
In an address given by Pius XII to Seculars in 1956, he asserted the great need of the Church for the distinctive Franciscan spirituality to reform the world and help in rebuilding the Church. He also placed emphasis on the fact that the Secular Franciscan Order is “an order: a lay order, but truly an order”, quoting a statement to that effect made earlier (1921) by Benedict XV. (Pius XII, Allocution to Tertiaries July 1, 1956)
WHO WAS FRANCIS? • “Called to follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis” means we need to look at Francis. • The first Life of Celano gives the importance of the conversion-vocation of the young Francis, and brings to mind the biblical elements of the vocation of Abraham.
GENESIS 12:1-2 “The Lord said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”
[Who Was Francis?] • In a parallel way, we should take note how every vocation becomes a mission: Abraham was called to be the father of a great people in order to give witness to the true and one God in the midst of the nations. Israel had a profound consciousness that she was a people, a real community. This awareness we discover again in the first Christian groups and in the Muslim world.
[Who Was Francis] • St. Francis has become the “father of the Franciscan people.” “The Lord gave me brothers,” Francis says in his Testament. These brothers are a “little flock that the Son of God in these latter times has asked of his Father.” (Legend of Perugia 67)
WHO ARE THE “FRANCISCAN PEOPLE/FAMILY”? • First Orders: • Order of Friars Minor, O.F.M. • Order of Friars Minor, Conventual, O.F.M.Conv. • Order of Friars Minor, Capuchins, O.F.M.Cap • Second Order: Poor Clares, P.C.
[Franciscan Family] • Third Orders: • Secular Franciscan Order, S.F.O. • Third Order Regular, T.O.R. • Third order sisters: O.S.F. (and others) • Anglican Third Order of St. Francis • Ecumenical Franciscans
THE CALL TO FOLLOW CHRIST • Each person is called by God and sent. • How were YOU called and sent?
THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER – ARTICLE 2 • “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.“
[Art. 2] • “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.”
[Art. 2] • The Secular Franciscan Fraternity is presented as an integral part of the Franciscan family. Much has been written about the origins of the “Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis.” To understand the SFO, you need to know its history and the contribution of the secular dimension toward the fullness of the Franciscan charism.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN RULE - ARTICLE 3 • “The present rule, succeeding Memoriale Propositi (1221) and the rules aproved 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.”
[Article 3] • “Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes”
[Evolution of the Rule] • It is important to study an overview of the four Rules that the S.F.O. has had since the time of Francis, as well as the Volterra Letter (Prologue to the Rule). • Memoriale Propositi (1221) • Rule of Nicholas IV (1289) • Rule of Leo XIII (1883) • Rule of Paul VI (1978)
[Evolution of the Rule] • It is necessary to know the evolution of the Secular Franciscan Order from Leo XIII to the present, paying attention to the renewal movements pre and post Vatican Council II. The unity of the Franciscan family with its dynamic interaction emerges from this historical reflection.
1ST UNOFFICIAL RULE • The first form of life Francis gave to the lay men and women who wished to follow the Gospel way of life was found in his First Letter to All the Faithful,1 often called the Earlier Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance written between 1209 and 1215 1 Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance Resource Manual, 50.
Five elements set forth in that “First Letter” as directions for the penitents: • Love God; • Love one’s neighbor; • Resist the sinful tendencies of our fallen nature; • Participate in the sacramental life, especially the Eucharist; and • Act in conformity with the conversion that the person has accepted.1 1 Raffaele Pazzelli, St. Francis and the Third Order 42.
[1st “Rule”] • That document is the Prologue to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order today. • Followed in about 1221 by the Later Admonition and Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (Second Letter to the Faithful) • Central theme in both – “love of God”
[1st “Rule] • Called those who would follow Francis to “a radical Christianity that goes against our human nature” where “there could be no compromise.”1 • 1 Esser, La Lettera, 73, quoted in Pazzelli
Memoriale propositii -1221 • First official Rule of the Seculars. • Probably a combined work of Francis and Cardinal Ugolino • Contained specific requirements and prohibitions • Based on an “austere principle of personal sanctification,” demanding a sincere vocation and total dedication
[Memoriale Propositii] • Showed how to live the Gospel in secular life based on the love taught by Jesus. • Demanded a life of prayer and • A more intense sacramental life than was expected of other Christians at the time. • Contained instructions to be peaceful and to be charitable.
Rule of Nicholas IV - 1289 • Had laws on dress, fasting, sacraments, etc. • Required certain communal actions such as monthly meetings • Communal life involved the minister, the visitator, and the “suitable person” for instruction.
[RULE OF NICHOLAS IV] • Affirmed that “the present way of life had its beginning in blessed Francis.” • Had specific prohibitions and requirements on how to live life as a Secular following the Franciscan charism • Contained all the basic Gospel elements of living a life of peace and love.
[Rule of Nicholas IV] • Specified how and when to fast, what to wear, and the color of clothing • Provided for a monthly collection, to be used to first help those brothers and sisters in need, then other poor • Required visiting the sick members once a week. • Visitation was to be once a year.
RULE OF LEO XIII – 1883 • Shortened the Rule to three chapters: • Reception, Novitiate and Profession • Rule of Life • Offices, Visitation and the Rule itself. • Core was based on the teachings of Christ and the Church – love and peace.
[Rule of Leo XIII] • “Habit” was a small scapular and the cord, worn under outer clothing. • 1st year in the Order was one of probation. • Had two fast days – Vigil of Immaculate Conception and Vigil of Feast of St. Francis • Should receive Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist monthly
[Rule of Leo XIII] • Encouraged daily Mass. • Term of office 3 years. • Visitors came once a year. • Visitors admonished those who had failed to live the Rule; after 3 admonishments, members were dismissed from the Order. • For good cause members could be dispensed.
CONNECTION OF THE RULES • A careful study of all the Rules will show some common threads running throughout them. • Our Chapter 1 refers back to all the other Rules. • The importance of the five elements set out in the Prologue have never changed. Present in various forms in every Rule.
[Connection] • Our Article 1 sets out this unity and continuity. • It is essential to our Rule to give present day Seculars assurances of our continuous history since Francis.
THE RULE -CHAPTER 2 THE WAY OF LIFE – ARTICLES 4 - 19 • Introduction: A Project of Life or Rule: This theme should be unfolded in a dialogue with the candidates, starting with the question? “What do you want to do with your life in response to the Divine call?”
[The Way of Life] • Discuss with the candidates the human vocation as related in the Scriptures: • Adam and Eve are called to life to work together with God to develop all of the created world in accord with the plan of God, who entrusts the world to the human family; • Abraham is called to follow the Lord in a special way.
[The Way of Life] • Through the dialogue the candidates will be able to reflect upon the response to this divine call, and how they have responded to their own call to live the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This process will help them to discover sisters and brothers in the Fraternity who tend toward the same basic gospel experience, and who follow the Franciscan way, helping one another in turn.
[The Way of Life] The candidate who wants to "follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi" (SFO RULE #4) will gradually understand that the SFO Rule, the Project of Life, is the light and the help along the way toward Christ; and is necessary as an inspiration and guide to live together in Fraternity according to the same ideal — Franciscan gospel life.
RULE – ARTICLE 4 The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.
2. The Focal Point: Life in Christ, Through Christ, With Christ In the Way of Life there exists a central reality, a constant presence brought to mind in almost every article: Jesus Christ. There are other presences as well: the laity, the fraternity, the Church — and these cannot be detached from Christ
[Life in Christ] The candidate must be presented with the central position that Christ occupies in the Rule. This is clearly indicated in Article #4, and is evident at the beginning of the conversion process of St. Francis (See also, I Celano 6; L3C 8; and I Celano 115).
Legend of Three Companions 8 The reference is in Chapter III which is entitled “How the Lord visited Francis’s heart for the first time filling it with marvelous tenderness that gave him strength to begin to progress spiritually in looking down on himself and all vanities, in prayer, almsgiving, and poverty.
[Life in Christ] The candidate's experience of Christ can vary greatly. It is a service in the formation of the candidate to help each become aware of his/her own unique encounter with Christ, to live it out, and to deepen it . [Emphasis added]