Rule of the Congregation of Franciscan Servants

GENERAL RULE
Congregation
of
Franciscan Servants
( Franciscan Servants)

Transfiguration Community
Copyright CFS 2015
Prelude

From our birth, we are hard-wired with the need to belong. This mechanism impels us to seek out and form relationships. The most important, the bond between mother/father and child. forms first, followed by the desire to extend this bond to others in the immediate family. Familial bonds, when formed correctly, with love and nurturing, last throughout life. Aswe form relationships beyond the family, we demonstrate the need for close nit support groups, thus forming communities and so forth. Within these communitites, we find strength, protection, support, nurturing and meaning. We develop selfidentities and identify with the greater group as well. We find a place to belong and a purpose.
Within the Franciscan Family, we express our bonds of love in our selfless serving of one another. Based on the example of Christ as a servant, we build community by serving each other and in growing in purpose as followers of Christ who laid down his life for us, the ultimate expression of love.
We are all called to a level of responsibility for one another as Christians. Jesus said, “Salt is good but if the salt has lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another.” (Mk. 9:50) St. Francis made a point to stand for unity, social justice, and to be a living witness to the world. If we are to truly follow “he” that followed HIM, then we must be accountable to our brethren and live in a way that is favorable in the eyes of our Lord. And if we choose to pick up our own cross and bear it, then we must live by a certain rule of life; a guideline to which we may be answerable to. It has been written, “And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Mat. 10:38)

Accept all as coming from God, do all for God, offer all to God, and seek ardently the perfection of Charity and the love of the Cross.
GENERAL INSTRUCTION
The Congregation of Franciscan Servants (or Franciscan Servants) are committed to praying and working for a fuller expression and realization of the unity of the Body of Christ through the ministry and sacrament of reconciliation which heals the dismembered Body of Christ—the Church. Reconciliation begins with our relationship with God, one another and our self. The continual healing of the Body of Christ makes visible of His presence, kingdom, love and grace in the present moment.
This rule is not meant to be a burden, but is to enable us to live the common life in Christ. In our daily life in community these disciplines must be lived. It is here that God shapes Christ in us. It is here Christ calls us to be his Body, living in love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, gentleness and self-control. It is here God gives us our place among the faithful.
“Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore, praising thee, and saying:

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF HOSTS: HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF THY GLORY! GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD MOST HIGH! AMEN.”
Any common life shared by Christians is built upon the new commandment given to us by Jesus; “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  Within such company, mutual acceptance and forgiveness is to transcend discord.  The pursuit of truth and honesty is to build faith on a spirit of generosity and hospitality.  Its’ goal is to extend peace to all neighbors, both friend and stranger alike.  This quality of love, including all of its’ practical applications, is the aim of Christian monastic life.

FOUR-FOLD PURPOSE
Community of Prayer
Community of Reconciliation
Community of Availability
Community of Vunerability

DIRECTION AND GUIDANCE

SACRAMENT OF THE PRESENT MOMENT

In gratitude for the gift of life we will seek to be aware of God present in every moment, trusting that as we respond in faith to the duties of each day God is revealed. The Word made flesh and dwelling among us shows His glory in the ordinary circumstances of daily life, in our neighbor’s need, in the beauty of creation, in the tasks set before us and in the rub of community life. In these moments we would see and hear and taste and touch the goodness of God. And we would ask the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and words and actions that we might glorify God in all.

PRAYER

In recognition of God’s longing for us and our longing for God we will set aside a time each day for prayer. As a part of the whole people of God, we pray the prayer of the Church and the Office of Psalms. This corporate prayer, based on the Liturgical Year, is the primary expression of our life together in Christ. As we pray the Office we experience the mystery of Jesus’ presence in us. Remembering God’s command and promise we will delight in the Lord by keeping the Sabbath holy. As individual members of the Body of Christ, we will give ourselves to personal prayer, to being with God and to listening for His word to us. These times set aside for prayer, corporate and personal, are to enable us to pray “unceasingly” and to live prayerfully.
SIMPLICITY

Acknowledging God as Giver and Sustainer of life we will order our lives in simplicity, relying on God’s Providence. We will seek daily to un-clutter our lives by letting go of things, concerns and habits that divide our hearts and keep us from simplicity itself. We will content ourselves with the place and provision God grants and call to mind each day the plight of the poor and the needs of the world’s peoples. We will order our day so that we will have time — time for God, time for people, time for ourselves, observing a rhythm of work and leisure. Ordinarily the morning will be given to reflective activities, to prayer, reading and correspondence; the afternoon to physical labor; the evening to community life and nurture through the company of the faithful.
SILENCE AND SOLITUDE

In response to God’s one true Word, the Word our hearts long for, we will spend time daily in silence and solitude. In silence and solitude we listen for the Word, Christ, present in the beginning and dwelling within us. We are drawn beyond division, into the mystery of unity in Christ, in whom all things in heaven and earth are made one. The Word is spoken to us personally, and in the solitude of the heart our true identity is revealed. Time set aside for silence and solitude creates and awareness of God’s Word and cultivates and attitude of attentiveness and receptivity, enabling us to think and speak and act in response to God’s Word throughout the day.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

In gratitude for God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit, we will listen for direction and seek to discern God’s will. We will give thanks each day for the church on earth and the company of heaven, for the Holy Scripture and tradition. Acknowledging that God’s grace is most often mediated through others, we will seek regular spiritual direction from a person of holy wisdom (Anam Cara). When a suitable Anam Cara (soul-friend) is not available we will seek direction through good books, family and friends, and our own prayer.
SPIRITUAL READING

In response to God’s call to seek Him and grow in wisdom we will attend to the Divine Word spoken to us through Scripture. This will include study, but also taking to our heart the Word through meditating, praying and contemplating Scripture. Thus we come to know and love the person of Christ Jesus. We will also seek insight by reading other writings of spiritual significance.

EUCHARIST

In thanksgiving we will gather at Christ’s table regularly, receiving His Body and Blood given to us for the life of the world. The celebration of Eucharist is central in the life of faith. “The one who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me; and I in him.  Just as the Father who has life sent Me and I have life because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will have life because of Me” (Jn 6:56-57). Christ offers Himself to us in this sacrament, and we respond in obedience. In receiving Christ we become that which we receive, the Body of Christ. Taken, blessed, broken and distributed, we are drawn into the mystery of the paschal pattern of dying and rising. In this sacrament we anticipate the fullness of the kingdom when all creation will be gathered as one at Christ’s table. We will celebrate this hope each day as we gather at table, making each meal a remembrance of Christ’s feast.
CORPORATE PRAYER

The corporate worship of the Church nourishes and sustains our life in Christ.  Care should be taken to avail ourselves of opportunities to be united in and with the Body of Christ in order to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.   Regular participation in Sunday worship is of primary importance.
INDIVIDUAL PRAYER
Prayer is responding to God by thought, word and deed, with or without words, through Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider regular times and places for the offering of meditation, contemplation, adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition.
REPENTANCE AND RECONCILIATION

This is a regular examination of conscience with emphasis on living in love of God, love your neighbor, and of yourself. This may include the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Forms of self-denial are found useful by many people but a hindrance by some who find it difficult to judge what is the proper place for the use of these in their lives. It is deemed appropriate to fast from meats, fishes, alcohol, and oils on Wednesdays and Fridays. No fast should ever occur on a Sunday, as this is the joyous occasion of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Consideration is given to those who may not be able to fast due to health conditions.
DEVOTIONAL READING

Regular reading, study and devotional consideration (meditation) of Holy Scriptures in particular and other spiritual books is an enriching part of our spiritual life.

STEWARDSHIP

Consider regular giving of a portion of your time, your talents, and your money to you church and to support the Community through prayer, work and gifts, as may be appropriate for your circumstances.

STATEMENTS OF AFFIRMATION

I will pray daily, remembering to use the Lord’s Prayer with special intention that God’s will may be done in me and in all humankind.

I will cultivate a personal prayer life, and seek a closer walk with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Healer.

I will pray for the whole Body of Christ for the purpose of supporting the Scriptural intent that the whole Body “upbuild itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

I will receive Holy Communion regularly.

I will seek such health of body, soul and spirit as will make me capable of maximum vocation.

I will cultivate the gifts that God has given me for the work of healing by study, active service, and by giving heed to the revelation God gives in particular circumstances.

I will seek continued growth as an instrument our Lord can use for the healing of others.

I will share this healing Gospel with others by personal witness, by praying for others, and by contributing to the edification of the Body of Christ according to my ability.

I will attempt all of this so far as I am able with the help of God.
TYPES OF VOCATION

Engaging in a lengthy process of discernment and formation can be difficult and tests the patience of the partaker. It is urged to NOT take these steps in haste or because of a desire to simply “be a part of a group”. This formation is best served cold with no pressure or corporate expectations. This is a very personal journey but made with loving brothers and sisters of like mind. SIMPLICITY, PURITY and FIDELITY are the building blocks of Franciscan spirituality.
Conversion (dedication to the transformation of one’s life in the image of Christ) and stability (the vow to persevere with one’s brothers and sisters until death) is the ultimate aim of this profession.

POSTULANCY (Postulant)
Period of learning the rythm of the Order, our life and discipline. The time in which we get to know the candidate and they, in turn, get to know us. Postulancy is to last a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year. Postulants wear civilian cloths in simplicity.
NOVITIATE (Novice)
Period where in the candidate is clothed in the holy habit, with out capuche or veil, and is bound with the cord without knots. Candidates engage in all aspects of fraternal life as well as participate in daily formation classes and OCI Courses which pertain to Franciscan Life and Ministry. Novitiate lasts a minimum of one year. Under special circumstances, Novitiate may be extended.

PROFESSED (Profession)
Simple Profession: First vows, taken for a period of three years. The simple cinture is replaced with the knotted cord and the capuche or veil are given.
Solemn Profession: Perpetual vows are taken by the Friar or Sister thus binding them to the Lord and the Community for life.
CONCERNING THE HABIT

As we adorn ourselves with humility, we bring to mind the charge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”. We are reminded of our duties as poor men and women of Christ.
All brothers and sisters of the Congregation of Franciscan Servants will be allowed the Habit of our Seraphic Father St. Francis. The humility of this habit should be worn for all Liturgical functions and church sanctioned events. For our use we will employ a Brown Habit after the fashion of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, a Black Scapular, bound with a white Cord of three barrel knots and with side beads of the Franciscan Crown, a wooden cross is worn by all members. If a member holds the rank of Bishop, a gold pectoral cross and a roman purple zucchetto may be worn. If a member holds the rank of Priest or Deacon, a silver pectoral cross and a black zucchetto may be worn. Sandals are our accustomed foot wear. It is not expected for all members outside of a walled monastery to wear the habit at all times. But it is expected for the cross of the Victorious Christ to be worn under secular clothes.
The General Rule of the Congregation of Franciscan Servants (based on the Primitive Rule of St. Francis of Assisi-1221)
The 12 Statements
1 In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Brother Francis – and whoever is head of this religious order – promises
obedience and reverence to the Servant General and his
successors.*
2 The rule and life of these brothers is this, namely: “to live in
obedience, in chastity and without anything of their own” and to
follow the teaching and the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who says: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give
(Mt 19.21) the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. And: If any want to become my followers, let them deny
(Mt 16.24) themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Again: Whoever
(Lk 14.26) comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children,
brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. And,
Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or
children or fields for my name’s sake will receive a hundredfold, and will
(Mt 19.29) inherit eternal life.
3 If anyone, wishing by divine inspiration to accept this life, comes
to our brothers, let him be received by them with kindness.
(Mt 19.21) Let him sell all his belongings and be conscientious in giving
everything to the poor.
Let all the brothers wear poor clothes and, with the blessing of
God, they can patch them with sackcloth and other pieces, for our
Lord says in the Gospel: Those who put on fine clothing and live in
(Lk 7.25) luxury are in royal palaces.
In accordance with the Gospel, it may be lawful for them to eat of
(Lk 10.8) all the food that is placed before them.
4 Let all the brothers not have power or control especially among
(Mt 20.25) themselves; for, as the Lord says in the Gospel. The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It
will not be so among the brothers. Whoever wishes to be great among
(Mt 20.26) them must be their minister and servant. Whoever wishes to be first (Mt 20.27) among them must be their slave. (Mt 20.27) Let no one be called ‘prior’, but let everyone in general be called a (Mt 23.8) lesser brother. Let one wash the feet of the other.
5 None of the brothers may be treasurers or overseers in any of
those places where they are staying to serve or work among
others. They may not be in charge in the houses in which they
serve nor accept any office which would generate scandal or
(Mk 8.36) forfeit their life; let them, instead, be the lesser ones and be subject (Lk 22.26) to all in the same house.
Let the brothers who know how to work do so and exercise that
trade they have learned, provided it is not contrary to the good of
their souls and can be performed honestly.
And for their work they can receive whatever is necessary
excepting money. And when it is necessary, they may seek alms
like other poor people.
6 Let all the brothers strive to follow the humility and poverty of
our Lord Jesus Christ and let them remember that we should have
nothing else in the whole world except, as the Apostle says:
(1Tm 6.8) If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.
They must rejoice when they live among people considered of
little value and looked down upon, among the poor and the
powerless, the sick and the lepers, and the beggars by the
wayside.
When it is necessary, they may go for alms. Let them not be
ashamed.
7 Let all the brothers be careful not to slander or engage in
disputes; let them strive, instead, to keep silence whenever God
gives them the grace. Let them not quarrel among themselves or
with others but strive to respond humbly, saying: We are
worthless slaves.(Lk 17.10) Let them love one another, as the Lord says: This is my (Jn 15.12) commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
8 When the brothers go through the world, let them take nothing for
the journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money. Whatever house
(Lk 9.3) they enter, let them first say ,’Peace to this house!’ They may eat and
drink whatever is provided for as long as they remain in that
(Lk 10.5) house. (Mt 5.39) Let them not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes them on the (Mt 5.40) right cheek, let them turn the other also. If anyone wants to take their coat, let them give their cloak as well. Let them give to everyone who (Lk 6.30) begs from them; and if anyone takes away their goods, let them not ask for them again.
9 Wherever they may be, let all my brothers remember that they
have given themselves and abandoned their bodies to the Lord
Jesus Christ. For love of him they must make themselves
vulnerable to their enemies, both visible and invisible, because the
Lord says: Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those
(Lk 9.24) who lose their life for my sake will save it in eternal life.11
10 Let all the brothers be, live and speak as Catholics.
If someone has strayed in word or in deed from catholic faith and
life and has not amended his ways, let him be expelled from our
brotherhood.
Let us consider all clerics and religious as our masters in all that
pertains to the salvation of our soul and does not deviate from our
religion, and let us respect their order, office and administration
in the Lord.
11 Whenever it pleases them, all my brothers can announce this or
similar exhortation and praise among all peoples with the
blessing of God:
Fear and honour,
praise and bless,
(1Thess 5.18) give thanks and adore
the Lord God Almighty in Trinity and in Unity,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
the Creator of all.
(Mt 3.2) Do penance,
performing worthy fruits of penance
because we shall soon die.
(Lk 6.38) Give, and it will be given to you.
(Lk 6.37b) Forgive and you will be forgiven.
If you do not forgive others,
(Mt 6.15) neither will the Lord forgive your trespasses.
(Jas 5.16) Confess your sins.
Blessèd are they who die in penance,
for they shall be in the kingdom of heaven.
Woe to those who do not die in penance,
(1Jn 3.10) for they shall be children of the devil
whose works they do (Mt 18.8; 25.41) and they shall go into the eternal fire.
Beware of and abstain from every evil
and persevere in good till the end.
(Col 3.17)
12 In the name of the Lord Jesus!
I ask all my brothers to learn and frequently call to mind the tenor
and sense of what has been written in this life for the salvation of
our souls. I beg God, who is All-powerful, Three and One, to bless
all who teach, learn, retain, remember and put into practice these
things, each time they repeat and do what has been written there
for the salvation of our soul, and, kissing their feet, I implore
everyone to love, keep and treasure them greatly.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it
was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

* the Original rule read: “religion, promises obedience to the Lord Pope and his successors.”
The Amedments for our Time and Culture
I Amendment to the First Statement:
As Old Catholics, separated from the oversight of the Pope of Rome, we swear obedience and reverance to Our Bishop and His/Her successors.
II Amendment to the Second Statement:
A) The brothers and sisters may work to support themselves and the convents in which they dwell. They are to retain a “living allowance” for personal necessities and understand that the remainder of their earnings should be placed at the disposal of the community when needed.
B) Brothers and Sisters may marry should they be led of God to do so. It is preferable that their spouses be of like mind and understand the dictates of the Franciscan Charism. Should the life of a brother or sister become an wedge in ones marriage, the religious must relinquish their religious vows in favor of their marriage vows, thus maintaining peace and harmony in the Holy Sacrament of the Marital Estate.
C) The sexual orientation of a candidate is not an impediment to vocation as long as one understands that the state of celibacy is the norm for all unmarried persons in the Church family.
III Amendment to the Third Statement:
In all things, we should dress modestly and simply. Our habit is to be worn where appropriate and simple, decent forms of dress in other circumstances. In keeping with the founding rule, when our habits are damaged in places, they are to be patched, though civilian dress need not follow this. It is lauditory to seek clothing at second hand stores so as to keep with the spirit of the rule. For those amongst us who have the dignity of the Priesthood in it’s differing ranks, the simplist of vestments should be chosen in all circumstances, for how can we come before God arrayed in the finest of garments when our brothers and sisters lack even the most necessary.

Our deepest thanks go to Fr. James Hager II, Prince of Peace CEC, Columbia, South
Carolina for generously offering a template in which to build our own Rule of life. Upon examination it is found to be in keeping with the vision of the Congregation of Franciscan Servants and as such IS adopted with additions and amendments as the
Rule of Life by the Franciscan Servants.

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