The Brothers' Life of Prayer
Prayer to God, as the breathing of love, has its origin from a movement
of the Holy Spirit through which an interior person listens to the voice
of God speaking to the heart.
For God, Who has loved us first, speaks to us in many ways: in all creatures,
in the signs of the times, in people's lives, in our heart, and, above all,
in His Word in the history of salvation.
As we respond to God speaking to us, we achieve fullness in prayer to the
extent that we move from our love of self and pass over into Christ, the
GodMan, in communion with God and people.
For Christ Himself is our life, our prayer and our activity.
We truly carry on a filial conversation with the Father, therefore, when
we live Christ and pray in His Spirit which cries in our heart: Abba, Father!
Since we have been more intimately consecrated for divine worship through
the profession of the evangelical counsels, let us strive in freedom of
spirit to pursue this life of prayer faithfully and continually .
Let us above all cultivate the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which
all temporal things should contribute that we may become true followers
of Saint Francis who was seen not so much as praying as having totally become
Desiring above all things the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity,
praying always to God with a pure heart, let us offer people a witness of
authentic prayer in such a way that they may see and sense in our faces
and in the life of our fraternities the goodness and kindness of God present
in the world.
Let our prayer be a special manifestation of our calling as lesser brothers.
We truly pray as brothers when we gather in mutual love in the name of Christ
so that the Lord may be really in our midst.
And we truly pray as lesser ones when we live with the poor and humble Christ,
presenting the cry of the poor to the father and effectively sharing their
As the prophets, psalmists and Christ himself taught us, our prayer should
not evade reality, but, after the example of Saint Francis, who found the
Lord in a leper, let it become each day more incarned in life's situations,
in the events of history, in the popular religiosity and practices of the
people, and in the particular culture of the regions.
Thus prayer and work, inspired by one and the same Spirit of the Lord, far
from being opposed to each other, complement one another.
Franciscan prayer is affective, a prayer of the heart, which leads us to
an intimate experience of God. When we contemplate God the Supreme Good
from Whom all good flows, our hearts cannot but break in adoration, thanksgiving,
admiration and praise.
Beholding Christ in all creatures, let us go throughout the world proclaiming
peace and penance, inviting everyone to the praises of God as witnesses
of His love.
Since we have been consecrated to the service of God by baptism and religious
profession, let us place the highest value on the sacred Liturgy, which
is an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, the summit of all
the Church's activity, and the source of all Christian life. Let us strive
to nourish our spiritual life and that of the fraternity from the liturgy,
and to open its treasures to the faithful.
For that reason, we should have the greatest respect for the mystery of
the Eucharist and the Divine Office, which Saint Francis wished to shape
the entire life of the brotherhood.
To this end, it will be beneficial for the fraternities to designate brothers
to prepare the liturgical celebrations, so that each day, in fidelity to
the liturgical norms and in their spirit, these may be ever more renewed
with creativity and spontaneity.
As for the rite, the brothers should conform to the prescriptions issued
by the competent ecclesiastical authority of that region in which they live.
Let us fully, consciously and actively participate in the Eucharistic
sacrifice in which we celebrate the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ until
He comes, holding back nothing of ourselves so that He Who gives Himself
totally to us might receive us totally.
Each day a Community Mass should be celebrated in our fraternities so that
it may be more obvious that in the breaking of the Eucharistic Bread we
are lifted up to communion with Christ and with one another. Where this
cannot be done each day, it should at least be celebrated periodically and
participated in by all the brothers.
Where an individual celebration [of the Eucharist] is not necessary, it
is laudable to concelebrate to manifest the unity of the sacrifice, of the
priesthood and of the fraternity.
The Eucharist in which our Lord Jesus Christ is present to us under the
consecrated species should be reserved in our oratories or churches in a
preeminent place and manner.
Following the example of Saint Francis, let us venerate above all else Jesus
Christ present in the Eucharist. With Him let us offer ourselves and our
actions to God the Father, and frequently pour out devout prayers before
Him Who is the spiritual center of the fratemity.
In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and in our prayers, conscious
of the catholic sense of Saint Francis, let us implore God for Holy Mother
Church, for those who govern us, for all peoples, and for the salvation
of the whole world, especially for the whole Franciscan family and for all
our benefactors. With a devout sense of charity, let us also commend to
God all the deceased.
Regarding suffrages, it is decreed: a Mass for the Dead shall be celebrated
by each fraternity at the death of the Roman Pontiff, of a general minister,
and of a former general minister. Let the same be done for general definitors
and former general definitors in each fraternity of the group to which they
It is the responsibility of the provincial chapter to determine the suffrages
to be offered for deceased provincial ministers, former provincial ministers
and for deceased brothers, parents and benefactors.
Every year, after the solemnity of Saint Francis, each local fratemity shall
celebrate a memorial liturgy for all deceased brothers and benefactors.
The Church joins in Christ's song of praise and intercessory prayer
not only in celebrating the Eucharist but in other ways as well, especially
in celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours, and it unites us to such a gift
Therefore, let the entire fraternity gather together each day in the name
of Christ to celebrate in common the Liturgy of the Hours. Where this cannot
be done in its entirety, at least Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer should
be celebrated in common.
It is recommended, moreover, that the brothers do the same wherever they
may be or meet one another; and, according to the circumstances of the place,
the Liturgy of the Hours should be celebrated with the faithful.
The local chapter, with the approval of the major superior, should arrange
the schedule and work of the house in such a way that the course of the
day may be sanctified by the praise of God, taking into account the special
circumstances of persons, times and cultures.
Let those who cannot celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours in common remember
that, even when celebrating in private, they are united spiritually with
the whole Church and especially with their brothers. Let those brothers
who say the Office of the Lord's Prayer privately according to the Rule,
pray it with the same profound intention.
In the Liturgy of the Hours we speak to God with His words taken from
Scripture and God Himself comes to meet us in His word and speaks to us.
That the word of God may penetrate our hearts more profoundly and form our
entire life more effectively, let the Liturgy of the Hours be living and
vibrant, with praise worthy intervals of silence that very fittingly contribute
to an attentive and fruitful celebration.
In imitation of Saint Francis who frequently expressed his feelings with
song and music, let the Liturgy be celebrated with song, as far as possible,
at least on feast days.
Let the brothers pay attention not so much to the melody of the voice as
to the harmony of the mind, so that the voice may be in harmony with the
mind and the mind with God.
Let us preserve and promote that contemplative spirit that shines in
the life of Saint Francis and our forebears. Therefore let us give a greater
place to it by fostering mental prayer.
Authentic mental prayer leads us to the spirit of true adoration, unites
us intimately with Christ, and renders the Sacred Liturgy continually efficacious
in our spiritual life.
Moreover, that the spirit of prayer may never grow cold within us but be
ever more inflamed from day to day, we must give ourselves to its exercise
in our daily lives.
The ministers and the others to whom the care of the spiritual life is entrusted
should take pains that all the brothers make progress in the knowledge and
practice of mental prayer.
Let the brothers, then, draw the spirit of prayer and prayer itself from
the genuine sources of Christian and Franciscan spirituality that they may
acquire the eminent knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Mental prayer is the spiritual teacher of the brothers who, if they are
true and spiritual lesser brothers, pray ever more interiorly. To pray,
in fact, is nothing other than to speak to God with the heart; in fact,
whoever speaks to God with his lips alone does not pray at all. For this
reason everyone should apply himself to mental prayer or contemplation and,
according to the doctrine of Christ, the best teacher, endeavor to adore
the eternal Father in spirit and truth, striving earnestly to enlighten
the mind and enkindle the heart rather than to formulate words.
Let the primacy of the spirit and of a life of prayer be totally brought
into effect both by the fraternities and the individual brothers, wherever
they may be, as the words and example of Saint Francis and sound Capuchin
It is of the greatest importance to form one's conscience about the vital
necessity of personal prayer. Each brother, wherever he lives, should take
sufficient time every day for mental prayer, for example, an entire hour.
The provincial and local chapters should see to it that all brothers have
that time necessary for mental prayer, whether this is done in common or
In its chapters, let the local fraternity examine itself concerning the
common and personal prayer of the brothers. Let the brothers, especially
the superiors as their pastoral duty, feel themselves responsible for inspiring
a life of prayer.
As disciples of Christ, although poor and weak, let us so apply ourselves
to prayer that those who sincerely seek the Lord may be invited to pray
Above all let us cultivate among the People of God the spirit and the development
of prayer, especially interior prayer, for from the beginning this was a
charism of our Capuchin Fraternity and, as history testifies, the seed of
As sons of God, let us allow ourselves to be led in our prayer by the
Holy Spirit so that It may make us grow day by day in communion with Father
and with our brothers.
In the spirit of the Holy Gospel, let us especially reflect on and preach
to the faithful the mysteries of the humanity of Christ, especially His
nativity and passion in which Saint Francis marveled at the love and humility
of the Lord.
Let us, in particular, venerate, especially through liturgical worship and
the rosary, the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, conceived without sin, daughter
and handmaid of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit,
"[the virgin] made Church," according to the words of Saint Francis,
and let us especially promote devotion to her among the people. For she
is our mother and advocate, the patroness of our Order, the companion of
her Son's poverty and suffering, and, as experience witnesses, the way to
arrive at the spirit of the poor and crucified Christ.
In the same way, let us venerate, according to ancient tradition, Joseph
Let us encourage and promote, according to local custom, veneration of our
holy Father Francis, the form of the minors, and of the saints, especially
our own, but in a way that such veneration is always in conformity with
the spirit of the sacred liturgy.
In order to renew our religious life continually, all the brothers should
make an annual retreat and also have other occasional periods of recollection
which might laudably be organized in various ways according to a diversity
To this end, the ministers should provide the necessary time and opportunity
for each one, including those who live outside a house [of the fraternity].
Every fraternity must be truly a praying fraternity. In order to achieve
this, it is useful, according to the manifold grace of God, to encourage,
either in provinces or in regions, fraternities of recollection and contemplation
in which brothers can devote themselves for some time to the spirit and
life of prayer, as God gives them the grace.
Let those brothers, in communion with the provincial fraternity, be mindful
of what Saint Francis wrote for those who wish to live religiously in hermitages.
It is the responsibility of the provincial chapter or of the Conference
of Major Superiors to determine the advisability of such fraternities and
to provide for their administration.
Let silence, which is the faithful guardian of the interior spirit and
required by charity in community life, be held in great esteem in all our
fraternities in order to preserve a life of prayer, study and recollection.
It is the responsibility of the local chapter to protect the atmosphere
of prayer and recollection in our fraternities, keeping out of them whatever
might impede it.
The reading of Sacred Scripture and other spiritual books is an effective
means of nourishing true devotion and of fostering the experience of God.
Let each brother faithfully take a sufficient period of time for himself
to do such reading.
That we might always have before our eyes the way and life that we have
professed, norms should be promulgated in each province concerning the public
reading of Sacred Scripture, the Rule, the Testament and the Constitutions
and the renewal of profession in common.
For information contact
P. MARCO TARCISIO MASCIA