Spreading and Fostering The Faith
TITLE l: THE MISSIONARY COMMITMENT OF THE ORDER
Christ Jesus, God's Good News, the first and greatest preacher of the
Gospel, gave to all his disciples through them, to the community of faith
that is the Church, the grace and mandate of spreading the gospel.
All the baptized, and especially religious by the special gift of themselves,
are united to the Pilgrim Church. Through Christ's mission and that of the
Holy Spirit, [the Church] is the universal sacrament of salvation and, therefore,
missionary by its nature.
Through divine inspiration, Saint Francis renewed the missionary spirit
of his time by the example of his life and the power of his Rule. Moreover,
he added momentum to those initiatives of the Church that are called missionary
and through which the Gospel is proclaimed. In this way the coming Kingdom
of God transforms the human person, creates a new world that is just and
full of peace, [and] each day the Church is established and, day after day,
becomes more perfect.
Our Order accepts as its own the responsibility of spreading the Gospel
that belongs to the whole Church. It regards and takes on this missionary
work as one of its principal apostolic obligations.
Missionaries are those brothers who bring the good news of salvation to
all those in any continent or region who do not believe in Christ.
We recognize, however, the special situation of those brothers who engage
in missionary activity in the service of newly established Churches.
As Saint Francis provided, missionary brothers can conduct themselves
spiritually among non-Christians in two ways: either, while being subject
to every human creature for God's sake, they give witness with great confidence
to the Gospel life by their charity; or, when they see that it pleases God,
they openly proclaim the word of salvation to non-believers that they may
be baptized and become Christians.
The brothers should willingly listen to members of the newly established
Churches and dialogue with them, recognizing that particular Churches have
already acquired a preferred role in the work of evangelization. In this
way it becomes clear that they have come to serve those Churches and their
As they evaluate historical, religious, social and cultural conditions in
light of the Gospel, let them act in a spirit of charity, with the freedom
of the sons of God, and impelled by a prophetic spirit.
Let them promote, in dialogue with Christian churches and non-Christian
religions, those changes that foster the coming of a new world and be attentive
to ideas that influence the mentality and activity of peoples.
Brothers who feel they are called by divine inspiration to missionary
activity in another region where evangelization is more urgent should make
this known to the provincial minister. The provincial minister, however,
may also call upon other qualified brothers willing to assume such work.
After a special doctrinal and practical preparation in missiology and ecumenism
in keeping with each one's ability, the same minister should present them
to the general minister who is responsible for granting letters of obedience.
The ministers should not refuse to send suitable brothers because of a scarcity
of brothers in the province, but let them cast their care and thought upon
Him Who has continuing care of us.
Different provinces of the Order should generously offer mutual assistance
as opportunities arise and, through the general minister, offer missionaries
and support to other circumscriptions in need of them.
Brothers may be invited to share in missionary work even for a while, especially
to provide special services.
The brothers should cooperate with lay missionaries, especially catechists,
in work and programming and, with them, zealously care for the spiritual
animation of the people, as well as their social and economic welfare.
Let superiors foster among the brothers a love and spirit of cooperation
for missionary work. Let this be done in such a way that everyone, according
to his own state and ability, may satisfy his missionary responsibility
in fraternal communion with missionaries, by praying for the newly established
Churches in union with them, and by awakening a concern among the Christian
Since the state of those who profess the gospel counsels belongs to
the life and holiness of the Church and, for that reason, should be zealously
promoted even from the period of the implantation of the Church, let missionary
brothers strive to foster our charism in the particular Churches.
It is the responsibility of major superiors, therefore, to provide that
brothers qualified for forming candidates of the Order be present among
Let the form of our life and the spiritual heritage of our Order, which
is universal and embraces all the rites of the Catholic church, be transmitted
and expressed according to the circumstances of a region as well as to the
unique character of each nation and particular church. Customs peculiar
to one region should not be transplanted into another. It is the responsibility
of the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, to decide the
rite of individual jurisdictions, while observing the prescriptions of law.
The general minister, with the consent of the definitory and in union
with ecclesiastical authority, has the responsibility of promoting and coordinating
missionary activity in the particular churches.
After receiving the approval of the general minister with the consent of
the definitory, the provincial minister, with the consent of the definitory,
has the responsibility of accepting a missionary commitment proposed by
the general minister as well as to underwrite agreements with the respective
The general minister as well as the provincial ministers, with the consent
of the definitory, should establish a secretariat for missionary promotion
and cooperation and determine its responsibility.
The brothers should cooperate diligently with religious institutes that
are engaged in missionary activity in a particular Church in the same territory
or in missionary promotion at home.
The summit of missionary activity should be considered the building up of
the particular church in which the clergy, religious and laity shall have
responsibility according to each one's competence.
Let the brothers be mindful of Saint Francis who wished to send his companions
into the world after the example of the disciples of Christ, in poverty
with full trust in God the Father, proclaiming peace everywhere by their
life and word.
Let us commend this great undertaking to the intercession of the blessed
Virgin Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, who gave birth to Christ, the
light and salvation of all nations, and who, with the work of the Holy Spirit,
was present on the morning of Pentecost at the beginnings of evangelization.
ARTICLE II: THE BROTHERS' LIFE OF FAITH
As true disciples of the Lord and sons of Saint Francis, let us preserve,
with the help of divine grace, the faith that we have received from God
through the Church. With all our energies and sound judgement, let us enter
more profoundly into [this faith] and apply it ever more fully to our life.
We should implore God through diligent prayer for an increase of this inestimable
gift and live in intimate union with the entire People of God.
Led by the Holy Spirit, let us bear witness to Christ everywhere and, to
those who ask, let us explain that hope of eternal life which is within
Saint Francis profoundly desired to adhere faithfully to the magisterium
of the Church as the guardian of the written and spoken word of God as well
as of the gospel life.
In order to preserve this spiritual heritage intact, let us nourish a special
devotion to holy Mother Church.
Let us be one with the Church in all things: in thought, word and action,
diligently avoiding false or pernicious doctrines.
Led by a sense of an active and responsible conscience, let us offer religious
submission of intellect and will to the Roman Pontiff, the supreme teacher
of the universal Church, as well as to the bishops who, as witnesses to
the faith, teach the people of God in union with the Supreme Pontiff.
At the beginning of their term of office, the superiors and the other brothers
should make a profession of faith, as decreed in law.
Responding to the divine vocation through which God each day requests
us to take part in carrying out His plan of salvation, let us remember how
closely we are bound to Christ before the people of God by virtue of profession.
Let us strive, therefore, to walk worthily and to excel all the more in
the vocation to which we are called, remembering that God never gives His
gifts or, therefore, a vocation in vain. His grace will not fail us in overcoming
difficulties on this narrow path that leads to life.
Zealously dedicating ourselves to our renewal, let us persevere with a joyful
heart in the commitment of ourlife. Yet, conscious of our human frailty,
let us move forward on the way of conversion with the entire Church that
is always being renewed by the Holy Spirit.
By virtue of our profession, we must observe the Rule of Saint Francis,
confirmed by Pope Honorius, simply and in a catholic manner.
Its authentic interpretation is reserved to the Holy See which has abrogated
earlier pontifical declarations on the Rule only as regards their preceptive
force, excepting those contained in the existing universal law and in these
Furthermore, the Holy See recognizes the right of the General Chapter to
adapt the Rule to new circumstances when appropriate. But these adaptations
obtain the force of law only through the approval of the Holy See.
The aumentic interpretation of the Constitutions is reserved to the
Holy See. The General Chapter, with the consent of two-thirds of the vocals,
may add to, change, repeal or abrogate the Constitutions, according to the
needs of the times, so that appropriate renewal, with a certain continuity,
may be fostered. [Such acts, however, require] the approval of the Holy
Outside the chapter, the general minister, with the consent of the definitory,
has the right to settle doubts or to fill in the lacunas that may occur
in our own law; these solutions remain in force until the next chapter.
In particular cases, superiors may dispense their own subjects and guests
according to circumstances from disciplinary regulations of the Constitutions,
whenever they judge that it would be beneficial for their spiritual good.
A temporary dispensation of an entire province is reserved to the general
minister, of an entire fraternity to its own major superior.
Provincial chapters or the Conferences of Major Superiors may enact special
statutes that must be approved by the general minister with the consent
of the definitory, so that the prescriptions of the Constitutions may be
appropriately applied according to the circumstances of provinces and regions.
All questions of conflicting rights whether between religious or houses
or between circumscriptions of the Order are resolved according to our Modus
Our Order is governed by the universal law of the Church, the Rule and
the Constitutions. Only this text of the Constitutions has juridical force
in the entire Order.
Since laws and statutes cannot be made for every particular case, in all
our actions let us keep before our eyes the Holy Gospel, the Rule we have
promised to God, the sound traditions and the example of the saints.
Let superiors lead the brothers in the life of our fratemity and in the
observance of the Constitutions, and inspire them in adhering to these Constitutions
as a daring adventure of love.
When near death, Saint Francis imparted the blessing of the most holy
Trinity, together with his own, upon sincere observers of the Rule. Therefore,
after casting aside every negligence, let all of us endeavor with fervent
love to follow the gospel perfection manifested in the Rule itself and in
Let us remember, dearest brothers, the text on which our seraphic Father
preached to a chapter of the brothers: 'Great things have we promised to
God, but greater things has He promised to us.' For this reason, let us
strive to observe these Constitutions and whatever we have promised, and,
with a burning desire, aspire to those goods that have been promised to
us, with the help of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.
While pursuing all these things, let us cast our eyes upon our Redeemer
that, knowing his good pleasure, we may strive to please Him with pure love.
Observance of the Constitutions will help us not only to observe the Rule
we have promised but also to fulfill the divine law and follow the gospel
counsels. As our labors abound so will our consolation in Christ Jesus.
We will be able to do all things in Him Who strengthens us, for He Who is
the Wisdom of God grants us understanding in everything and gives abundantly
Christ then, Who is the Light and Expechtion of the nations, the End of
the Law, the Salvation of God, the Father of the world to come, the Word
and the Power that upholds all things and, lastly, our Hope, in Whom all
things are possible, delightful and easy, and to Whom our frailty is known,
will not only give us strength for following His commands and counsels,
but will also pour out His heavenly gifts in such abundance that, after
overcoming all obstacles, we may be able to follow and imitate Him with
the greatest eagerness of our hearts, using visible things as passers-by
and as those yearning for things eternal.
Who is God and Man,
the True Light, the Splendor of Glory,
and the Brilliance of Eternal Light;
the Mirror without blemish,
the Image of the Goodness of God;
appointed by the Father as the Judge, Law-giver,
and Savior of all peoples;
to Whom the Father and Holy Spirit
have bome witness
and in Whom are our merit,
model of life, help and reward;
Who by God has been made for us
Wisdom and Justice,
be all our thought, meditation and imitation.
Who lives and reigns
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
co-etemal, consubstantial, and co-equal,
be everlasting praise, honor and glory
for ever and ever.
For information contact
P. MARCO TARCISIO MASCIA