The Life of the Capuchin Friars Minor
ARTICLE I: OUR LIFE ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL
The holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is, in every age, the source of
the entire life of the Church and the message of salvation for the whole
For, through it, the Church, led by the Holy Spirit, comes to know Christ
and accepts in faith His deeds and words which are spirit and life to those
Saint Francis, the founder of our Fraternity, accepted the Gospel as the
principle of his life and activity from the very beginning of his conversion.
In the beginning and end of the Rule, therefore, he expressly commanded
its observance and, in the Testament, declared that it was revealed to him
to live according to the pattern of the holy Gospel.
Since we are his sons, therefore, let us always take care to make progress
in our understanding of the Gospel.
In all circumstances of our life, let us follow the Gospel as the supreme
law, assiduously read the words of salvation, and, like the Blessed Virgin
Mary, carry them in our heart. Thus, as the Gospel increasingly fashions
our life, we may grow in Christ in all things.
Saint Francis, a true disciple of Christ and an outstanding example of Christian
life, taught his own brothers to follow the foot prints of the poor and
humble Jesus Christ joyfully that, through Him, they would be led in the
Holy Spirit to the Father.
Burning with love of Christ, let us contemplate Him in the self-emptying
of His Incarnation and Cross that we might be ever more conformed to Him.
As together we joyfully celebrate the Eucharist, let us take part in the
Paschal Mystery, enjoying a foretaste of His Resurrection until He comes.
Let us courageously observe the gospel counsels, especially those we have
promised: chastity dedicated to God, poverty that is a special way of salvation
for us, and loving obedience.
After he heard the words of the sending forth of the disciples, Saint Francis
founded the Fratemity of the Order of Minors which would bear witness to
the Kingdom of God by a sharing of life and by preaching penance and peace
through example and word.
That we might learn the pattern of a true disciple of Jesus Christ, which
was so wonderfully evident in Francis, let us strive to imitate him, to
cultivate his spiritual inheritance diligently in our life and work, and
to communicate it with all peoples of whatever age.
To this end we should frequently read the life and writings of Saint Francis
himself, those of his sons [and daughters], especially of Capuchins reknowned
for their holiness, apostolic zeal and knowledge, and other books by which
his spirit is made known.
As Capuchin Friars Minor we should renew our knowledge of the genius and
ideals of our Fraternity so that, correctly adapted to the times, our life
may be inspired by the wholesome tradition of our brothers.
It is especially appropriate to imitate our first brothers by a return to
[their] original inspiration, that is, to the life and Rule of our Father
Francis. In this way our Order may always be renewed through a conversion
Following their footprints, let us strive to give priority to a life of
prayer, especially contemplative prayer, to cultivate, together with a spirit
of minority, radical poverty, both personal and communal; and, out of love
of the Lord's cross, to manifest a life of austerity and joyful penance,
taking care as well that even new forms of leading this life of ours, approved
by legitimate superiors, are discerned in light of the signs of the times.
While exercising among ourselves the freedom of brothers, let us joyfully
live among the poor, the powerless and the weak, sharing their life, and
let us maintain our special approach to people.
In many ways, above all in the work of evangelization, let us promote an
apostolic dynamism that is carried out in a spirit of service.
Flowing from the Gospel, the Rule of Saint Francis impels us to an evangelical
Let us zealously commit ourselves to a spiritual understanding [of that
Rule]. Following the admonition of the Founder himself expressed in his
Testament, as well as the spirit, gospel ideals and examples of holiness
of our first Capuchin brothers, let us observe it simply and purely with
[the Spirit's] holy activity.
Superiors, together with the fraternities, should keep the promotion of
knowledge, love and observance of the Rule close to their heart.
Major superiors should take care to seek more appropriate, even pluriform,
expressions of the brothers' life and apostolate, so that the Rule and intentions
of our Father, who gave us a law, may be faithfully observed throughout
the world according to different regions and cultures and the needs of times
The true authentic expression of pluriformity, however, while always preserving
the unity of the same genuine spirit, is based on fraternal communion and
obedience to superiors. In this way it offers a gospel freedom of action,
especially in whatever concerns the renewal of our life, so that we do not
extinguish the spirit.
Our Seraphic Father dictated the Testament when, near death, adorned with
the sacred stigmata and full of the Holy Spirit, he eagerly longed for our
In it he expresses his last will and passes on to us the precious inheritance
of his spirit.
It was given to us that, day by day, we might more perfectly observe the
Rule that we have professed according to the mind of the Church.
Therefore, according to the tradition of our Order, we accept the Testament
as the principal spiritual explanation of the Rule and the preeminent inspiration
of our life.
The purpose of the Constitutions is to offer us assistance in observing
the Rule more perfectly in the changing circumstances of our life.
We find in them a secure support for our spiritual renewal in Christ and
an authentic assistance for carrying out the consecration of our life through
which each brother gives himself totally to God.
Let us observe [the Constitutions] to which we are bound by virtue of our
profession, not as slaves but as sons desiring to love God above all else,
listening to the Holy Spirit instructing us, and concentrating on the glory
of God and the salvation of our neighbor.
All the brothers are strongly urged to apply themselves to a personal study
of the Rule, Testament and Constitutions and to be intimately imbued with
ARTICLE II: OUR LIFE IN THE CHURCH
The Church, the instrument of salvation and of union with God and among
people, appears as a pilgrim people of God in the world. Established by
Christ in a cornmunion of life, charity and truth, it is enriched by the
Holy Spirit with a multitude of gifts or charisms that are useful for the
renewal and the further building up of the same Church.
In that Church, adorned with such a variety of charisms, Saint Francis,
inspired by the Holy Spirit, raised up a religious Fraternity and gave it
form. That a sign of Christ, poor, humble and especially dedicated to the
poor, might shine more clearly upon her face, the Church approved it by
her hierarchical authority and protected it with motherly care.
The Order of Capuchin Friars Minor was also accepted by the Church by virtue
of the decree Religionis zelus given by Pope Clement VII on July 3, 1528.
Therefore, let us love the Church intensely, meditate upon its mystery,
and actively participate in its initiatives.
After the example of Saint Francis who was a catholic and thoroughly apostolic
man, let us offer faithful obedience to the Spirit of Christ living in the
Let us offer obedience and reverence to the Supreme Pontiff, to whom religious
are also subject, by virtue of their vow of obedience, as [their] highest
superior, and to the College of Bishops, which together with him, is a visible
sign of the Church's unity and its apostolicity.
Wherever we are, let us contribute to the welfare of the particular Church
by our fraternal and prophetic presence and by working for its growth and
Under the leadership of the diocesan bishop, let us offer our apostolic
service for the People of God and the entire human community, according
to our charism.
Let us offer due honor to priests and to all others who minister spirit
and life to us and work assiduously with them.
Let us love and obey with a generous heart the general minister who, as
the successor of our holy Founder, has been appointed for the service and
welfare of the entire Fraternity and as the living bond uniting us with
the authority of the Church and among ourselves.
Let us also love and offer an active and responsible obedience to the other
ministers of the Fraternity who have been given to us by the Lord as shepherds
and recipients of the trust of the brothers. Thus we may be more closely
and securely united in the service of the Church in a spirit of faith and
love for Christ.
From his adoration of the Father of all good, Saint Francis obtained a feeling
for universal brotherhood through which he perceived in every creature an
image of Christ, the firstborn and the savior.
As children of this Father, we should regard ourselves as brothers to all
peoples without any discrimation; and as we fraternally encounter every
creature, let us eagerly offer the praise of creation to the God from Whom
United by the Holy Spirit in the same calling, let us foster a sense of
brotherhood throughout the entire Order and especially in our provinces
and local communities by common prayer and activity. Let us cultivate that
same sense toward all our brothers and sisters, whether religious or secular,
who form with us one Franciscan family.
This gospel fraternity of ours, as an example and leaven of social life,
invites people to foster fraternal relationships among themselves and to
combine their efforts for the better development and liberation of the whole
person as well as for the genuine progress of human society.
[The witness of] our fraternal life has special significance and becomes
more effective in the process of the sound social development and association
through which God calls us to work for the realization and growth of brotherhood
in justice and peace.
Accepting the form of a servant, the Son of God did not come to be ministered
to but minister and to give His life for the salvation of all.
Wishing to be conformed to His image, let us not presume to be greater,
but let us expend ourselves as lesser ones in the service of all, especially
of those who suffer want and tribulation or even of those who persecute
Therefore let us willingly live our fraternal life among the poor, sharing
their hardships and humilation in a very loving way.
While relieving their material and spiritual needs, let us devote ourselves
by our activity, deed and word to promoting their human and christian development.
By acting in this way, we make known the spirit of our brotherhood in minority
and, at the same time, become a leaven of justice, unity and peace.
That we may fulfill our gospel calling in the Church and the world fruitfully,
let us faithfully strive to lead an apostolic life that embraces contemplation
and activity, imitating Jesus Who spent His life unceasingly in prayer and
in the work of salvation.
Professing this life of the Master, the apostles, sent by the Lord into
the whole world, were constant in their prayer and in the ministry of the
Although he preferred solitary places, Saint Francis, following the footprints
of the Lord and the apostles, chose a form of life that intimately united
prayer and the proclamation of the message of salvation.
Let us, therefore, devote ourselves to the praise of God and to meditation
on His word through which we become ever more inflamed, so that we lead
others joyfully to the love of God by our activity.
In this way our entire life of prayer will be imbued with an apostolic spirit
while all our apostolic activity will be fashioned by the spirit of prayer.
For information contact
P. MARCO TARCISIO MASCIA