The Brothers' Apostolic Life
The Son of God was sent into the world by the Father so that, assuming
our human condition, he might bring the good news to the poor, heal the
contrite of heart, proclaim liberty to prisoners, and restore sight to the
Christ established the continuation of this mission within the Church by
the power of the Holy Spirit.
This same Spirit raised up Saint Francis and his apostolic Fraternity so
that, according to the more urgent needs of its time, it might offer all
its energies to the Church in its mission to all peoples, especially to
those who are most in need of hearing the gospel messag.
Our Fraternity, therefore, obeying the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity,
fulfills a debt of service to all peoples by bringing them the gospel in
deed and word in the Church.
In our apostolic activity, let us preserve the proper characteristics of
our charism, adapting them to different times and circumstances.
The principal apostolate of a lesser brother is: to live a gospel life in
the world in truth, simplicity and joy.
Let us show respect for all people and [manifest] a spirit ready for dialogue
Although we prefer the evangelization of the poor according to the example
of Christ and SaintFrancis, we should not hesitate to proclaim the message
of the conversion to justice and the responsibility of preserving peace
to those in positions of power and those ruling others.
We should willingly assume any ministry or apostolic activity as long as
it is in harmony with our form of life and responds to the needs of the
Church. Aware of our minority, let us generously undertake those ministries
that are regarded as especially difficult.
Let the Fraternity, whether provincial or local, promote and coordinate
various apostolic initiatives as expressions of the entire fraternity.
As disciples of Christ and sons of Saint Francis, the brothers should keep
in mind that a spirit ready to suffer the cross and persecution, even martyrdom,
is required by the faith and the salvation of our neighbor.
The brothers should willingly engage in any kind of apostolate, even if
it is of private inspiration, under obedience to the competent authority.
Saving the right of the Supreme Pontiff to use the service of the Order
for the good of the universal Church, the exercise of each apostolate is
subject to the authority of the diocesan Bishop, from whom the brothers,
after they have been approved by their ministers, receive the necessary
faculties. When they are invited by a bishop to serve the people of God
and their salvation, the ministers may freely accept [these invitations],
in as much as they are able, according to our charism.
While preserving our Capuchin-Franciscan characteristics, it is the responsibility
of the provincial chapter to adapt our apostolic labors to the needs of
the times. But it pertains to the provincial minister with the consent of
the definitory to coordinate the apostolic resources of the province.
After consulting the local chapter in matters of greater importance, the
superior of a fraternity should allocate work, while keeping in mind the
needs of the Church and the conditions of the individual brothers, [and]
in close collaboration with any pastoral organization established by the
Let the brothers willingly collaborate in the works and initiatives of the
other religious institutes of the Church.
In order that our apostolic initiatives may respond to the demands of evangelization
and to peoples' needs, let the brothers accustom themselves to read the
signs of the times through which the divine plan is perceived by the eyes
They should foster the customary works of the apostolate such as popular
missions, retreats, the sacramental confession of the faithful, the spiritual
care of religious women, especially Franciscans, care of the sick and of
those in prison, works of education and of social development.
When taking on new forms of the apostolate, let the brothers show special
care to those peoples who are deprived of ordinary pastoral care because
of the conditions of their life: the young during decisive moments of their
Christian life, emigrants, laborers, those burdened with financial pressures,
or those harassed by hostility or racial prejudice.
Let them undertake with special zeal an ecumenical dialogue of charity,
truth and prayer with noncatholic Christian brothers and sisters that they
may share the Church's concern for restoring unity.
Likewise let them attempt to establish a salutary discussion with those
among whom they live or to whom they are sent who profess another religion
and who do not believe.
All ministries undertaken for the people must be founded upon a life shaped
by the Gospel. The witness of brothers who live close to the people and
[who] are simple of heart and minors by the condition of their life and
speech is more easily understood and more willingly received.
As he went throughout cities announcing the mystery of Christ in few and
simple words, Saint Francis, the herald of Christ, confirmed by the authority
of the Church, scattered the seeds of the Gospel everywhere.
Following his example and the tradition of our Order, the brothers should
preach the word of God clearly, and adhere to the Sacred Scriptures faithfully.
Let the brothers make every effort to imprint the word of God, Christ, upon
their own hearts and give themselves totally to Him, so that He may impel
them to speak out of an abundance of love. In this way they shall preach
Christ Himself by their life, work and speech.
That this may occur, let them strive to make continual progress in the wisdom
of Christ that is acquired above all in the course of life, and especially
through persistent reading, meditation and careful study of the Sacred Scriptures.
Through the celebration of the sacraments Christ is present to the faithfu1
with His power, sanctifies them, and builds up His body. Therefore, let
the brothers be ready to assist the hithfu1 when administering the sacraments
either by virtue of their office or when invited to do so by the clergy.
Thus, on these occasions, the faith may be nourished, strengthened and expressed.
The brothers who are priests, in the spirit of Christ the Shepherd, should
proclaim the remission of sins in the sacrament of reconciliation and willingly
offer themselves for hearing the confessions of the faithful, especially
since it is a ministry highly appropriate to lesser ones and is often exercised
on behalf of people who are spiritually very poor.
Let zeal for the holiness of God and His mercy, as well as respect for the
dignity of the human person, charity, patience and prudence be resplendent
Confessors should strive to make continual progress in pastoral knowledge
and in the proper exercise of their ministry.
After the example of Saint Francis and the enduring tradition of the Order,
the brothers should willingly undertake the spiritual, and even the bodily,
care of the sick and infirm.
Thus by following Christ Who went about the cities and villages healing
every sickness and infirmity as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God,
they will fulfill the mission of the Church which, through its children,
unites itself with people of every condition, especially the poor and afflicted,
and willingly spends itself for them.
Let the ministers encourage this ministry since it is an excellent and efficacious
work of charity and of the apostolate.
In keeping with the character and tradition of our Order, let the brothers
be ready to offer pastoral assistance to the clergy in the parishes of a
While being attentive to the urgent needs of the faithful, major superiors,
with the consent of the council, may accept with prudence the care of a
parish in the spirit of service to a particular Church.
That we might be faithful to our vocation in assuming this ministry, those
parishes should ordinarily be preferred in which we can more easily give
a witness of minority and lead a form of life and work in fraternity. In
this way the people of God can appropriately share in our charism.
Shrines entrusted to our Order should be centers of evangelization and sound
As they recognize the role of the laity in the life and activity of the
Church, let the brothers encourage the lay people to assume the different
ministries proper to them, especially in the work of evangelization. Likewise
[the brothers] should promote associations of the faithful whose members
strive to live and proclaim the word of God and to change the world from
Among these associations, the Secular Franciscan Order should be close to
our heart. Let us cooperate with Secular Franciscan that their fraternities
may progress as communities of faith endowed with a special effectiveness
for evangelization, as well as in the formation of individual members. Thus
they may spread the Kingdom of God not only by the example of their life
but also by various kinds of apostolic activity.
Saint Francis used to encourage his brothers to proclaim the Kingdom of
God even with songs and praises in the language of the people; he himself
strove to serve the salvation of all peoples through many writings.
Therefore, let us also greatly esteem the modern means of social communication
for their power to influence and move the masses and the entire human society
and as instruments suitable for evangelizing peoples of our time.
That the various forms of the apostolate may be strengthened in our fraternities
by these means of social communication, superiors should take care that
brothers who are found qualified for this receive appropriate training.
AII the brothers should be suitably instructed in a responsible use of these
means of social communication that, through them, they may acquire an accurate
and realistic understanding of the condition of human society and the needs
of the Church.
With combined efforts, let them also exercise the apostolate of the printed
page, especially in publishing matters of Franciscan interest. It is strongly
recommended that offices for this purpose be established in provinces or
nations, and even in the Order as a whole.
The prescriptions of universal law are to be observed in matters pertaining
to the instruments of social communication. When it is a matter of writing
about religion or morals, it should be remembered that permission is also
required from the major superior.
Let the brothers have the equipment necessary for carrying out their duties
without this being a detriment to fraternal life and with due consideration
to our Capuchin-Franciscan vocation.
In whatever capacity they are dedicated to the apostolate, let the brothers
integrate their life and activity in the exercise of love to God and people
that is the soul of every apostolate.
They should also remember that they cannot pursue their mission unless they
are continually renewed in faithfulness to their own vocation.
Let them, therefore, perform works of the apostolate in poverty and humility,
not making a ministry their own, that it may be clear that it is Jesus Christ
alone whom they seek. Let them preserve that unity of the fraternity which
Christ wished to be so perfect that the world would know the Son was sent
by the Father.
Let them cultivate a life of prayer and study in a fraternal exchange, so
that they may be intimately united with the Savior and, moved by the power
of the Holy Spirit, offer themselves with a magnanimous and ready spirit
to witnessing to the joyful good news in the world.
For information contact
P. MARCO TARCISIO MASCIA