Orthodox Order of Friars Minor
Table of Contents
THE RULE 1
CHAPTER I: 1
THE FRIARS WILL LIVE IN SIMPLICITY, CHASTITY AND OBEDIENCE: 1
CHAPTER II: 4
THE RECEPTION AND THE CLOTHING OF THE FRIARS.
POSTULANT FOR LIFE PROFESSION: 5
LIFE PROFESSED FRIARS: 6
CHAPTER III: 8
THE DIVINE OFFICE AND FASTING: 8
CHAPTER IV: 9
THE MINISTERS AND THE OTHER MEMBERS; HOW THEY ARE RELATED: 9
BISHOP PROTECTOR: 10
CHAPLAIN OF THE ORDER: 10
MINISTER GENERAL: 11
THE COUNCIL OF ELDERS: 11
CHAPTER V: 12
IN THE CORRECTION OF FRIARS FOUND IN SIN OR ERROR.
CHAPTER VI: 13
RECOURSE OF THE FRIARS TO THE MINISTER; NO BROTHER SHOULD BE CALLED PRIOR. 13
CHAPTER VII: 13
THE MANNER OF SERVING AND WORKING. 13
CHAPTER VIII: 15
THE FRIARS AND MATERIAL POVERTY. 15
CHAPTER IX: 15
THE FRIARS ARE NOT TO BLASPHEME OR DETRACT BUT SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER. 15
CHAPTER X: 17
CHAPTER XI: 18
CHAPTER XII: 19
CHAPTER XIII: 19
THOSE FRIARS WHO ARE DOING MISSION. 19
CHAPTER XIV: 21
HOW THE FRIARS AND MINISTERS MEET TOGETHER. 21
WEEKLY MEETINGS: 21
FELLOWSHIP MEETINGS: 21
FORMATION MEETINGS: 21
CHAPTER XV: 22
THE FRIARS ARE TO LIVE AS "ORTHODOX" CATHOLICS. 22
CHAPTER XVI: 22
PENANCE AND THE RECEPTION OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. 22
CHAPTER XVII: 22
Based on the Original Rule of 1221
The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor began formation in October of 1996 as the Franciscan Order of Celi De. Due to doctrinal differences with the Episcopal Church of the United States, the orthodox brothers left the FOCD. Archbishop +Joseph Thaddeus granted a charter to the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. It is still in the process of formation as each member is going through a discernment process which includes service, theological and bible study. It will be incorporated as an autonomous order under the Holy Canons of the undivided Church as understood by the American Orthodox Church.
THE FRIARS WILL LIVE IN SIMPLICITY, CHASTITY AND OBEDIENCE:
"The rule of life of these Friars is this: to live in simplicity, chastity, obedience and to follow the teaching and the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who says: 'If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' (Mt. 16:24) 'He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of me.' (Mt. 10:37)" (Ch. 1, Rule of 1221;1-5)
"And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." (Acts 2:44-47a)
For both Franciscans and the early Church, there was no personal property, and humility and compassion were continuously exercised in both human and natural companionship. The Friars, in standing for simplicity of life, are inspired by the faith of the first Christians and the early Orthodox Saints, whose complete surrender to the Lord and reckless giving of all offered to the world of their day a new vision of the divine society in which a fresh attitude was taken towards material things. This vision continued in the early Orthodox Church and was renewed by Saint Francis who, choosing the Lady Poverty for his bride, desired that all barriers set up by privilege based on wealth should be destroyed by love.
Although the Friars may own property and earn money in support of themselves and their families and dependents, they must show their readiness to live simply and to share with others. Thus they show themselves true followers of the Christ of Bethlehem; the early Orthodox Christians and their patron saint. "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. Seek his kingdom first, and these things will be given to you as well." (Lk. 12:27-31)
The Friars recognize that for some of their members there may come the call to a literal following of the Poverello in a life of extreme simplicity. All however will accept that they are bound to avoid luxury and waste, and, regarding their possessions as a trust from God, whose stewards they are, will limit their personal expenditure to what is proper to the health and true well-being of themselves and those dependent upon them.
They will commit to the tithe as a holy minimum of giving to the church. Since complete love gives everything, the Friars will be concerned for the generosity that gives all, rather than for the value of poverty alone. In so doing they will reflect, in spirit, the acceptance of that counsel of their Master's, "Go, sell all, everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. "(St. Matthew 23:37-38] Chastity as interpreted by the O.O.F.M. represents purity in conduct, intention, restraint, simplicity in expression, personal integrity and the dedication of our whole being to God. Wholly given to him, we recognize that we belong to God alone, and because of this knowledge, we see all other people as belonging to Him only.
For the Friars, married, unmarried or celibate the pledge of chastity means purity of conduct and intention as well as a commitment of love to others. "The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Mt. 22:39-40) The Friars know that chastity involves the risk and openness of Christ's love, without either demands or expectation of return. It means to love but not to possess: to give but not to count the cost. Love is voluntary, habitual and a very part of one's being. Within love, the emotions and intimacy of sexual relations are expressed only in married life; a limitation that sets us all free to love many people with openness and generosity.
Those Friars who are married recognize the significance both Christ and the early Orthodox Church bestowed upon marriage. The Friars respect and value their spouses and with them, they will make or renew their vow of fidelity, not only in regard to the gift of sexual intimacy but also in the giving and sharing of all that they are and have.
Using the covenant of marriage as their model, the Friars will seek to found, build and support a strong sense of Christian family and community. Those Friars who are unmarried, whether by choice or through force of circumstance, the pledge of chastity makes clear their commitment to the love of the Lord. Because of this love they will neither exploit nor withdraw from other people. In celibacy, a vow, similar to the marriage vow, makes known to others the intention to make a common life together as brothers in Christ. For the celibate, chastity shall not be a cause for pride, but an expression of their love for Christ and His witness. The Gospel pictures Christ as affectionate and outgoing. Celibacy without love is not only senseless, but humanly degrading to the personality. For all, chastity is not the rejection of one's own or anyone else's sexuality but the appreciation of it as the sacramental expression of loving human relationship. It is through such moral discipline that we portray the freedom we have in Christ.
Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (St. John 14:15). The Friars understand obedience as the acceptance of their vocation as lovers, lovers of God and of our fellow men through which they achieve integrity and fulfillment. Humanity is to fulfill two functions in the universe. In the first place, they are to be the priest, offering for themselves and on behalf of all creation the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the creator. That sacrifice is expressed in obedient love.
Second, we are called to cooperate with God in bringing about a society of love. Mankind has an essential part in this because even God cannot establish such a society from without by force. It can only be developed from within by love. It does not, however, have to be initiated by us. It is the Kingdom of God that our Lord Jesus Christ has brought into our midst. We can enter it here and now by committing ourselves in faith to him. To the extent that we do this, he can use us as the agents through who he extends his love to others.
Obedience is not fulfilled in passively accepting and obeying the directions of others. It involves the offering of our whole personality with all its gifts. For members of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, it means taking our full part in the common life of the Christian community. Obedience means contributing not only our abilities but also our ideas and initiative to the creation of love within their community, the church and the world around us. The Friars' responsibility is to God, society and themselves, which they alone can discover and exercise.
Friars are admonished not to strive for superior positions but, when they are called to bear offices and to exercise leadership, they will attempt to be at the service of all. The Friars called to servant/leadership role are to be gentle, peaceable and a source of light. If we are humble before God in this manner, we shall be able to live as joyful and carefree human beings, prepared to extend our love and care to all. Obedience shall not be imposed from without but must be the inner, loving response of each member to God. It is manifested in obeying the Rule of the Order. All Friars are under obedience to the Rule of the order. Those called to leadership in the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor have the responsibility to administer the Rule and to see to the decisions of the order and their implementation. The Friars are in obedience first to their Arch-Abbot followed by the bishop of their respective Eparchy (diocese). On no authority, however, may anyone act contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the written Word of God, or the guiding of his own conscience.
THE RECEPTION AND THE CLOTHING OF THE FRIARS.
"If anyone, desiring by divine inspiration to accept this life, they should come to our Friars, let him be received by them with kindness. If he is determined to accept our life, the Friars should take great care not to become involved in his temporal affairs; but let them present him to their Arch-Abbot as quickly as possible. The minister on his part should receive him with kindness and encourage him to diligently explain to him the tenor of our life." (Ch. 2, Rule of 1221; 1-3)
Men who feel called to a life within the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor may seek admission as Inquirers by submitting a reference from a member of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, a priest or spiritual director. The Inquirer will commit to six months of study to discern their call as an oblate in the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor formation program. The inquirer will also be requested to join a bible study if they are not already involved in one.
The Inquirer will seek a spiritual director to assist them in the discernment of their call to the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. Our rule and vow will serve as a model for living out their Christian commitment. At the end of the six months as an "Inquire" in the formation program, the brothers will determine if they wish to pursue the Franciscan Life.
If the inquirer has discerned that they wish to pursue the Novitiate in the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, they will submit a written request to become a Novice. The Inquirer will present themselves before the Council of Elders. The Elders will ask them to share the reasons they are seeking admission to the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. If the Council of Elders find that their process of discernment has been acceptable, they will vote on the Inquirer's request for admission into the Novitiate.
Upon acceptance as a Novice, the brother will continue under spiritual direction and will be assigned a "Spiritual Director" who will support and assist them in their desire to follow Saint Francis. They will be expected to make contact with their Spiritual Director on a weekly basis as their spiritual companion. The Spiritual Director is responsible for assisting the Novice in understanding the Rule of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, Franciscan Spirituality, and Catholic Orthodoxy. They will introduce the oblate to methods of praying and contemplation such as the "Franciscan Crown" or the "Pater Noster Psalter" as they continue to support the Novice through the formation and discernment process.
The Novitiate will last for twelve months including one academic year. The Novice is expected to dedicate three or more hours a week in service to the Church, Diocese, Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, or other form of Christian ministry. The Novice will be asked to enroll in some form of biblical or theological education approved by the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. The Novice will be required to develop a plan of personal financial stewardship to help them achieve the tithe within three years or the time of their profession, whichever comes first. The Novice will be requested to give 5% of their tithe amount to the support of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
The Novice is authorized to wear the Franciscan cassock and black cincture as a sign of commitment to their new life in Jesus through Franciscan Vows. They may wear their habit at all private liturgies of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, their worship and with the permission of their priest, in public liturgical worship rather than the standard black cassock. The Novice is admonished that their habit is not intended to become a source of pride or arrogance. It is simply an outward sign of their commitment to Jesus Christ following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi and the early Orthodox Christians.
POSTULANT FOR LIFE PROFESSION:
Approximately twelve months after their acceptance as a Novice, the oblate may apply to the Council of Elders for admission to the Order as a Postulant for Life Profession. The Arch-Abbot in consultation with the Chaplain, Elders, Spiritual Director, Parish Priest and Spiritual Director will review the Novices manner of life and commitment to the rule of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. At the conclusion of this review process, the Novice will either be dropped from the formation process or admitted as a Postulant for Life Profession. It may be recommended that the oblate continue in the Novitiate for some more extended period of time.
The Arch-Abbot may, with the consent of the Council of Elders, admit persons under 20 years of age to Postulancy. He may also recommend any individual to the Postulancy who has fulfilled the requirements for comparable Theological and Biblical instruction, approved by the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. Such candidates will be expected to complete twelve months to twenty-four months of formation in the Orthodox-Franciscan Way of Life before their life profession.
The Postulant will be expected to continue their theological and biblical education and concentrate on the Canons of the Orthodox Church, Homiletics and Apologetics. The Postulant is expected to commit a minimum of four or more hours a week to ministry in the church, diocese, Orthodox Order of Friars Minor or other form of Christian ministry. The Postulant shall continue with spiritual direction and report to their Spiritual Director as to the observance of the Franciscan Rule.
The Postulant may withdraw from the order at any time, upon notification of his Spiritual Director. The Chaplain in consultation with the Spiritual Director and the Arch-Abbot may dismiss a Postulant from the order at any time, and shall notify the oblate of the dismissal and their reasons for such action.
The Arch-Abbot or his assigned formation director shall notify Novices of their admission as Postulant and consult with them concerning the ceremony of investiture. Upon acceptance into the Postulancy, in addition to the Franciscan cassock and black cincture, the Postulant will receive and wear a Franciscan Cross of Commitment. It will be an outward and visible sign of their dedication to Jesus Christ and their desire for Life Profession in the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
LIFE PROFESSED FRIARS:
After at least one year and not more than two years as a Postulant for Life Profession, the candidate may request life profession. Written application shall be made to the Council of Elders requesting profession. The Spiritual Director will submit a written recommendation with this request. The Postulant will also request a recommendation from their spiritual director and where applicable, from the abbot or abbess of their local fellowship. The Arch-Abbot or the Secretary will be responsible for presenting these documents, together with his own recommendation, to the Council of Elders. The Council will vote on the approval of the candidate for life profession. The Arch-Abbot, Secretary and Chaplain must propose any exceptions to the preceding provisions for approval by the Council of Elders.
The Chaplain or Formation Director shall notify the Postulant of his election to profession and consult with them concerning the profession itself. They shall send to the candidate, their mandate for the person accepting the profession on behalf of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. This person shall normally be the Arch- Abbot.
The candidate for Life Profession will then be asked to sign the Statement of Common Belief, to affirm their common understanding and interpretation of the Orthodox Catholic Faith as handed down from the ancient ecumenical councils through the Holy Orthodox Church. The Brother will recommit to their baptismal vows and the creeds. The professed brother will continue their theological and biblical studies and will concentrate on the following:
* Developing methods of teaching courses in Christian Formation, and both adult and child
* Christian education programs.
* Study the art of spiritual direction.
* Other specialized training according to their interest, abilities and gifts for areas of particular need within the Orthodox Church that will assist the church in its mission and witness.
Upon profession, the brother will be invested with the "TAU" cross and cowl of profession. Both the lay or clergy member shall wear this cross in their public ministry. They will wear the cowl with their cassock at all private liturgies of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor and in public liturgical worship. The brothers, at the time of their profession, take an additional Christian name. This is done in accordance with ancient tradition as a reflection of their Orthodox-Franciscan calling. The Professed Brothers may, if they so desire, wear upon their girdle the Pater Noster Psalter.
Professed Friars have the right to vote and become members of the Council of Elders. The Friar, will work a minimum of six or more hours a week in ministry to the church, diocese, Orthodox Order of Friars Minor or other form of Christian ministry according to their gifts, talents and training. Life Profession is renewed annually on or near the Feast of Saint Francis, October 4th. Any professed brother or priest may receive this annual renewal without further mandate. However, the renewal at the annual convocation will be accepted by the Bishop Protector and/or the Arch-Abbot whenever possible.
A request for admission to the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor from a person in communion with the UOC - WRM or recognized as a member of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic church, already professed in another Franciscan Order, shall be referred to the Chaplain. The Chaplain, in consultation with the Arch-Abbot, will determine a period of formation of not less than 12 months, appropriate to the applicant's situation. The Chaplain shall then present the request for admission to the Council of Elders. Upon their approval, the candidate shall make a renewal of their profession within the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
Any professed brother may apply to the Council of Elders, through the Chaplain, for release from their obligations of profession, stating their reasons for desiring release. Where grave cause exist and after careful and repeated admonition, the Chaplain, with the Arch-Abbot's consent, may apply to the Council of Elders for the dismissal or expulsion of a professed brother from the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
One month prior to such action, the Chaplain or Arch-Abbot shall notify the accused brother of their intent. The Brother's reply or a notation that no reply was received, shall be presented to the members of the Council of Elders with the request for dismissal.
Any professed brother, who does not request release from the obligations of profession, and leaves the Church, shall be regarded as having left the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor without release from their obligations.
THE DIVINE OFFICE AND FASTING:
"The Lord says: "This kind of devil cannot come out except by fasting and by prayer (Mk. 9:28); and again, "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. For this reason all the Friars, whether clerical or lay, should celebrate the Divine Office, the praises and prayers, as is required of them." (Ch 3, Rule of 1221 1-3)
Following the example of the primitive Orthodox Church, in which all were of one heart and mind, the Friars, too, must persevere in faith, in fellowship, in breaking of the bread and in prayer. In this way they become the local embodiment of the Church, the Body of Christ. Jesus said "For when two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (Mt. 18:20).
The Friars will have a daily discipline of prayer, they will either do a form of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer or Compline, as found in the "Daily Offices". In their private devotions, they may also use "St. Augustine's Prayer Book" offices. Upon Life Profession the brother will receive a copy of "Celebrating Common Prayer" published by the Society of Saint Francis in England it will be their primary resource. In addition, the Friars, using their "Devotional Companion" will celebrate all Franciscan and Orthodox Saint's days in addition to other special days. Professed Friars are expected to add the additional discipline of saying the "Franciscan Crown" or the "Pater Noster Psalter", supplemented with The Angelus and Regina Coeli according to the liturgical seasons of the church.
The heart of the life of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor is the Holy Eucharist. It is through the Eucharist that the Friars with their fellow Christians are in union with the Real Presence of Christ in the mystical gifts. Thus do the Friars pray at communion: "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner, by your wounds I am healed, by your blood you have reconciled me."
The Friar's faith becomes deepened as they make memorial before God of his death and passion, and feed upon his sacrificial life. Therefore, the Friars will attend Eucharist a minimum of once a week and more often where possible.
As Friars of Penance, the members will do the penitential orders during the season of Lent. Sometime during Holy Week, the members are encouraged to go to a priest to make their confession following the order for "Reconciliation of a Penitent". On Holy Thursday the members should do the "self-examination" found in the St. Augustine's Prayer Book, page 112 during the watch before the Altar of Repose or on Good Friday, and offer their sins upon the altar, receiving the Lords complete forgiveness with thanksgiving.
When on retreat, the Friars will exercise the Liturgy of The Hours, MATINS, LAUD, PRIME, TERCE, SEXT, NONE, VESPERS and COMPLINE, as found in the "Devotional Companion", and attend Eucharist once a day while on retreat whenever possible. The Friars may also use the forms for the above as found in St. Augustine's Prayer Book beginning on page 12. "Similarly, all the Friars should fast from the feast of All Saints until Christmas, and from Epiphany, when our Lord Jesus Christ began to fast, until Easter. At other times, however, they obliged to fast according to the Orthodox life. In between fasts the brothers may eat whatever food is placed before them, according to the Gospel. (Luke 10:8)" (Ch 3, Rule of 1221; 11)
THE MINISTERS AND THE OTHER MEMBERS; HOW THEY ARE RELATED:
"In the name of the Lord. All the Friars who have been established as ministers and servants of the other Friars should assign their Friars to the provinces and to the places where they ought to be, and they should visit them frequently and spiritually admonish and encourage them. All my other blessed Friars should diligently obey them in those matters which concern the well-being of their soul and which are not contrary to our life. Among themselves let them behave according to what the Lord says; "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mt.7:12) Let the ministers and servants remember what the Lord says; "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve," (Mt. 20:28)
Because the souls of the Friars have been entrusted to the ministers, if any brother should be lost because of their fault or bad example, these ministers and servants will have to render an account before the Lord Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment." (Chapter 4, Rule of 1221; 1-6)
The Bishop Protector shall be the guardian of the Constitution of the Order, and shall serve as an arbiter in matters which the Order or its members cannot resolve through its normal process. The Bishop Protector serves the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. Therefore, all professed Friars shall consult in the Bishop Protector's election. This Bishop shall be the advisor to the Order on spiritual, biblical, theological and canonical matters when requested by the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
The Arch-Abbot is responsible for ensuring that the Constitution and Statutes of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor are carried out as well as any other duties assigned him by these Statutes and the Constitution of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
He is responsible for the administration of the Order and preparation of the agenda for the Elders. The Arch-Abbot will preside at the meetings of the Council of Elders, and ensure that their decisions are carried out. In October of the third year after his election, (known as the Chapter of Mats) at the conclusion of the celebration of the Feast of Saint Francis, the Arch-Abbot's term will expire. At that time, unless he has been re-elected in accordance with these statutes, he shall turn over his authority and symbols of the same, to the newly elected Arch-Abbot.
During the time between the Feast of Saint Francis and the First Sunday of Advent of the second year of the Arch-Abbot's Term of office, the professed Friars will nominate the candidate for the next Arch-Abbot. The newly elected Arch- Abbot will be installed according to the preceding paragraph.
CHAPLAIN OF THE ORDER:
The Chaplain of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor is responsible to the Arch-Abbot for the pastoral care of the Order. The Chaplain may be either from the laity or the clergy. The Chaplain, with the approval of the Council of Elders, may appoint one or more assistant chaplains to help in the work of the general pastoral supervision if deemed necessary. The Chaplain's term of office and election will follow the same procedure as that of the Arch-Abbot.
The Secretary of The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor shall assist the Arch-Abbot in the discharge of his responsibilities. In particular, the secretary shall be responsible for all mailings of the order, compilation of the directory, preparation, financial management and distribution of the Minutes of the Council of Elders.
The Secretary shall also be responsible for the general pastoral care and direction of those candidates in formation as either Inquires, Novices or Postulants.
The Secretary's term of office and election will follow the same procedure as that of the Arch-Abbot and Chaplain.
The Minister General is appointed by the abbot and is responsible for ensuring that the Articles of Incorporation of Incorporation, By-Laws and the Plan of the Order are carried out.
The Minister General shall keep an accurate record book, allow inspection of the record book by members of the Order, and allow proceedings recorded in the record book to be presented before a public meeting, if required by five or more members of the Order.
THE COUNCIL OF ELDERS:
The Council of Elders is the legislative body of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. Therefore, the Elders elected to the Council have the ultimate authority in all the concerns, policies and works of the Order. The Elders are entrusted with preserving the spirit of the Order and Rule.
The Council of Elders has the responsibility for the election of Friars to life profession, release of a professed brother and for the performance of the other duties assigned it by these Statutes and the Constitution of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. The Council of Elders is composed of professed Friars, but may designate representatives with voice but not vote, from the other orders, Inquirer's, Postulants and Novices.
The Council will meet once a month, but may be called to extraordinary meetings by the Arch-Abbot of the Order, if need requires such action. All professed Friars have voice in the Council of Elders, but vote is restricted to the elected Elders. Exceptions to this rule are, the elections of a Bishop Protector, Arch-Abbot, Chaplain, Elders and changes in the Constitution or Bylaws of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
The Arch-Abbot shall normally chair the Council of Elders, but the Council may select one of its members to preside in the absence of the Arch-Abbot. The Arch-Abbot may give a casting ballot in any vote or election.
The Council of Elders shall consist of the Arch-Abbot, Chaplain, Secretary and nine other Professed Friars of the Order. The Arch-Abbot, Chaplain Secretary and other Elders may serve two consecutive terms of three years each. However, the nine elected Elders, not officers, shall be staggered in election, with three being elected each year. The members of the Council of Elders may, by a simple majority, permit any other members of the order to participate in its deliberations with voice or with voice and vote. Any professed Brother of the Order is eligible for election to the Council of Elders..
IN THE CORRECTION OF FRIARS FOUND IN SIN OR ERROR.
"Therefore, guard your soul and those of your Friars, since "it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Should any of the ministers command any of the Friars to do something contrary to our life or against his conscience, he is not bound to obey him, since that is not obedience in which a fault or sin is committed. Nonetheless, all the Friars , who are subject to ministers and servants, should reasonably and diligently consider the actions of the ministers and servants. Let all the Friars, both the ministers and servants as well as the others, take care not to be disturbed or angered at the sin or evil of another, because the devil wishes to destroy many through the fault of one. They should spiritually help the brother who has sinned as best they can, because "it is not those who are healthy who need a physician but those who are sick." (Mt. 9:12)
Similarly, all the Friars in this regard should not hold power or dominion, least of all among themselves. For, as the Lord says in the Gospel; "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave." (Mt. 20:25-27)
Nor should any brother do evil or say something evil to another; on the contrary, through the charity of the Spirit, they should voluntarily serve and obey one another. This is the true and holy obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ. All the Friars, as often as they have turned away from the commands of the Lord and wandered outside obedience should know that they are cursed outside obedience as long as they knowingly persist in such sin. When they have persevered in the commands of the Lord, which they have promised through the holy Gospel and their life, they should know that they are standing firm in true obedience and that they are blessed by the Lord." (Chapter 5, Rule of 1221; 1-3, 7-17)
Because we are vessels of clay, we are subject to sin and error. The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor therefore, follows the biblical model of admonition as found in Matthew 18:15-17. As Friars of penance, the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor seeks to provide the brother, found in sin and error, the opportunity to repent and be restored to the community.
* If a brother is found in sin or error, go and reprove them in private; if they listen and repent, you have won your brother.
* If the brother does not listen to you and does not repent, take one or two more with you so that "By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed".
* If the brother still refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Council of Elders, and if they still refuse to listen even to the Elders let them be cast out from the order, until they repent of their sin or error.
If the brother repents let them apply for readmission to the Order. Let the Elders question them and determine the sincerity of their petition. If the Elders are satisfied with the brother's sincerity, let them determine an act of penance. The brother then may be restored to the order on Easter after the first full Lent following the decision of the Council of Elders.
RECOURSE OF THE FRIARS TO THE MINISTER; NO BROTHER SHOULD BE CALLED PRIOR.
"If the Friars , in whatever places they are, cannot observe our life, they should have recourse as quickly as possible to their Arch-Abbot or local abbot or abbess and report this to them. The minister, on their part, should be eager to provide for them as they would wish to be done for them were they in a similar position (see Mt. 7:12). And no one should be called Prior, but all generally should be called Friars Minor. And the one should wash the feet of the others." (See Jn. 13:14)" (Chapter 6, Rule of 1221; 1-4)
THE MANNER OF SERVING AND WORKING.
"The Friars who know how to work should do so and should exercise that trade which they already know, if it is not against the good of the soul and can be performed honestly. For the prophet says: "You shall eat the fruits of your labors; you are blessed and it will be well for you." (Ps. 127:2) And the Apostle [says]; "Whoever does not wish to work shall not eat (cf. 2 Thes. 3:10) and "Everyone should remain in that skill and office in which he has been called (1 Cor. 7:24)." (Chapter 7, Rule of 1221; 3-6)
The Friars show the nature of the Orthodox Order of St. Francis, by the spirit in which they undertake their daily work, whether in the house or in the job by which many of them earn their living. In these ways the Friars will express the simplicity of their lives, their love for Christ, for each other and for all persons.
In their work, the Friars will aim to reflect the one who came among us as the servant of all; by the quality of their labor and the manner in which they perform it. They will, therefore, express the dignity of all human endeavors.
Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light." (Mt. 11:29) Humility is the state of self-forgetfulness, which enables us to listen to God and to hear what he is saying to us. It is the fertile ground from which the Friars can cultivate virtues by coming to awareness that God is all, that we have nothing of ourselves. It is the apparent weakness through which God manifests His power. Humility was the secret of Saint Francis and the early Orthodox Saints, their inspiration and the source of their love and joy.
The source of our life and happiness is God, who so loved us that he gave us his only Son, Jesus Christ, the gift of life and joy in human form. Through his love Christ formed friends with whom he shared his thoughts, to whom he revealed his heart and for whom he offered his very life. Christ asked that his disciples live in brotherly love as proof of their discipleship and as a sign that they share his love for the Father and for their fellow man. It is in this spirit that we undertake the works of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor.
The Friars shall seek to promote human dignity, development and liberation. They will express this mainly in caring for the sick, the underprivileged and the oppressed. The Friars will have a special place in their hearts for those who long for a new meaning to life and who thirst for fullness of truth. The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor is concerned primarily with individual people in their needs and particularly with those who are neglected or rejected. Yet they recognize that their concern for individuals must also mean condemning systems, laws, teachings and practices which are wrong and contrary to Christian principles. The Friars must not cease to work for the reform of conditions that cause poverty, injustice, inequity and miseries of every kind.
Christ challenges us in the age to be a light to shine in the world, to be a city set on a hill and to be salt to give savor to the lives of men and women. Therefore, the Friars will be involved in the life of the church and the world. Their main goal is not to be conformed to the spirit of the age, but to transform it through their work, life and witness.
THE FRIARS AND MATERIAL POVERTY.
"The Lord commands us in the Gospel: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Lk. 12:15) "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighted down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life." (Lk. 21:34) (Chapter 8, Rule of 1221; 1)
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (St. Mt. 5:3) It is as we stand before God stripped and poor, knowing our human limitations and needs that we can open ourselves to God and lose our ambition to be self-sufficient. Material poverty is blessed when it is the sign of a much more profound poverty, the poverty of spirit. Poverty may also be seen as reverence for the integrity of creation. The Friars seek to follow the attitudes of St. Francis and the Orthodox Saints in embracing positive attitudes to nature and constantly celebrating the goodness of Gods creation. God himself has this attitude towards the work of his hands. He does not manipulate the universe from outside to accomplish his will. He works from within it, obeying his own laws, allowing life to reproduce itself into all possible forms. Yet through this process he brings forth human beings in his image.
Poverty is the refusal to exploit or manage the natural world to suit one's own ends. It recognizes the beauty, the sanctity, and the goodness of things. It values them too highly to reject or despise them, for it receives them as the work of God; yet it seeks not to posses them but to use them for God's glory, for the welfare of man and of the universe itself.
For all the members of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor, their families, clothing, means of transport, the manner in which they spend their holidays and express their relationship with all types of people must be characterized by simplicity. We must be ever watchful for ways in which to practice evangelical poverty in our own time.
The members of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor should aim at being free from all attachment to wealth and material gain. They will always keep themselves aware of the poverty of the world and of its claim upon their stewardship.
THE FRIARS ARE NOT TO BLASPHEME OR DETRACT BUT SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
"All Friars should beware that they do not slander or engage in disputes (see 2 Tim. 2:14) rather, they should strive to keep silence whenever God gives them his grace. Nor should they quarrel among themselves or with others, but to respond in all humility. They should love one another and express that love by their deeds." (Chapter 9, Rule of 1221;1,6)
"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Cor. 13:4-7) "We love because He first loved us. If someone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he had seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 Jn. 4:19-21) The Friars see their love as a response to God's love. They believe that, as we love God with our whole heart and mind and strength, that his love fills us and we can love all people with his love.
For the Friar, the love of Jesus is greater than any love they can experience within human relationships, it is a passion for Christ, a desire to be one with him. The Friars seek that Passionate Love that Saint Francis had for his Lord. They seek occasion to love God in everything. The Friars see Jesus Christ as the perfect pattern of authentic love, for in his life and death we see a self-giving complete and utterly free love because it was deliberately chosen. Love is the road to God and through love we encounter God in the way. When we stop giving, we stop loving: when we stop loving, we stop growing. Unless we grow, we shall never attain personal fulfillment, nor shall we ever be open to receive the life of God.
The Friars seek to discern, through prayer, study and action, the difference between Christ love and false forms of love. These forms often are rooted in possessiveness and the desire to dominate always lead to disappointment and frustration. The mark of love for God is that we love our Friars in Christ. The Friars have a special affection for those to whom they are bound within the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor and this will be expressed in the quality of our life together. This love will also flow out to all, of whatever race, class, or color. Following the example of Saint Francis and the Orthodox Saints, the Friars embrace the natural world. The Order is non-hierarchical, favoring a more circular structure to instruct, enable and affirm the ministry of all members of the priesthood of believers, seeing all offices, lay and clergy, as equal in all manner being differentiated only in function and privilege. The order eschews the rule of diocesan communities and rigid parish structures in favor of a loose federation of monastic type Christian communities which include equally married as well as celibate clergy Friars.
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept My Fathers commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full." The Friars love for one another and the people of God gives them the fullness of their joy in Christ.
Joy flows from humility and love and is another mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is not an exciting emotion, which leaves us exhausted, but a happiness that springs from a steady faith in the goodness of all things and of their maker, God. Such joy we may feel in the midst of anxiety, suffering and even agony, because the joy is in the depth of the soul. Nothing can disturb such a faith in the ultimate triumph of what is honest, good and holy. Joy must not be confused with mere pleasure, which may be defined as the happiness of the body or mind. Joy is a reality of the spirit and has an eternal quality that is not dependent on the pleasures or the hardships. The Friars, like their Orthodox Forebears, delight in all the works of God's hands and from the vision of joy on earth their mind's soar aloft to the life giving source and cause of all. The Friar believes in the Divine Presence and Protection of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, in every moment of their daily lives. "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (Jn. 15:13)
Through their love and joy, the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor knows itself to be a Christian family whose members, though of varied race, education and character, are bound into a living whole through God's supernatural love. This unity within the order will become as our Lord intended a special witness to the world of his divine mission.
"It pleases me that you teach sacred theology to the Friars, as long as, in the words of the Rule, you "do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion" with study of this kind." (Letter to St. Anthony of Padua 1223)
"The Apostle says; "The letter kills, but the spirit gives life. (2 Cor. 3:6)" Those are killed by the letter who merely wish to know the words alone, so that they may be esteemed as wiser than others and be able to acquire great riches to give their relatives and friends. In a similar way, those religious are killed by the letter who do not wish to follow the spirit of Sacred Scripture, but only wish to know what the words are and how to interpret them to others. And those are given life by the spirit of Sacred Scripture who do not refer to themselves any text which they know or seek to know, but, by word and example, return everything to the most high Lord God to Whom every good belongs." (Admonitions VII; 1-4)
The Friars commit to the study of scriptures, not so much to interpret them to others but to live by their truths and through their work and example, return everything and all that they are to the most high Lord God of the Universe to whom every good belongs. It is through the study of scripture that the Friar is enabled to move from myth to mindfulness to the mystical. Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Jn. 8:31-32) "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."(2 Tim. 3:16-17) "Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation: so that what ever is not read within scripture or cannot be proved by scripture, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation."
The Friars will diligently prepare themselves by daily prayer and reading of the "living and abiding word of God." (I Pt. 1:23b) They will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Scripture through prayer and study. They will prepare themselves theologically to proclaim and defend the Word of God, "And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe." (1 Thes. 2:13)
The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor is a teaching order, and dedicates itself to teaching the Word of God and the Faith of Christ Crucified. Like the early Church Fathers, the OOFM places a high premium on education in preparing all persons to better know and serve God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. "Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your teacher." (Is. 30:20) "You call Me, Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. Truly, truly, I say to you he who receives whomever I send receives me; and he who receives me received Him who sent me." (Jn. 13:13-20)
The Friars will prepare themselves through prayer and study to teach others the way of Jesus Christ. It is through teaching that others and we may begin to know and understand the will of God for our lives. "And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you should say." (Lk. 12:11-12)
"No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulation of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister. The minister should take care not to grant this permission to anyone indiscriminately. All the Friars , however, should preach by their deeds. No minister or preacher should appropriate to himself the ministry of the Friars or the office of preaching, but he (she) should set it aside without any protest whenever he is told." (Chapter 17, Rule of 1221; 1-4) "And whenever it may please them, all my Friars can proclaim this or a like exhortation and praise among all the people with the blessing of God:
"Fear and honor, praise and bless, give thanks and adore the Lord God Almighty in Trinity and in Unity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit the Creator of all. Do penance, performing worthy fruits of penance since we will soon die. Give and it shall be given to you. Forgive and you shall be forgiven. If you do not forgive men their sins, the Lord will not forgive you your sins. Confess all your sins. Blessed are those who die in penance, for they shall be in the kingdom of heaven. Woe to those who do not die in penance, for they shall be the children of the devil whose works they do, and they shall go into the eternal fire. Beware and abstain from every evil and persevere in good till the end." (Chapter 21, Rule of 1221; 1-9)
Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (St. Mark 16:15-16). The Friars will prepare themselves according to their gifts and the canons of the church to carry out the great commission of Jesus Christ, as Peregrinati pro amore Christi, to go preach repentance and Christ crucified. The Friars remember the Christian's authority to preach affirmed in 1 Peter 9, "You are a Chosen Race, a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God's own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
THOSE FRIARS WHO ARE DOING MISSION.
"The Lord says, "Behold, I am sending you as lambs in the midst of wolves. Therefore be prudent as serpents and simple as doves." (Mt. 10:16)
Therefore, any brother who, by divine inspiration, desires to go among the nonbeliever's to establish missions should go with the permission of his Arch-Abbot and servant. The Arch-Abbot should give these Friars permission and not oppose them, if he shall see that they are fit to be sent; for he shall be bound to give an account to the Lord (cf. Lk 16.2) if he has proceeded without discretion in this or in other matters. As for the Friars who go, they can live spiritually among nonbeliever's in two ways. One way is not to engage in arguments or disputes, but subject to every human creature for God's sake (1 Pt. 2:13) and to acknowledge that they are Christians. Another way is to proclaim the word of God when they see that it pleases the Lord, so that they believe in the all-powerful God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Creator of all, in the Son Who is the Redeemer and Savior, and that they be baptized and become Christians; because whoever has not been born again of water and the Holy Spirit cannot enter into the kingdom of God (cf. Jn 3:5). They can say to the unbelievers and to others these and other things which will have pleased the Lord, for the Lord says in the Gospel:
"Everyone who acknowledges me before men I will also acknowledge before my Father Who is in heaven (Mt. 10:32). And: "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in His majesty and that of the Father and the angels. (Lk. 9:26)" (Chapter 16, Rule of 1221; 1-9)
The gospel calls us to a radical transformation of our being, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jn. 3:3) The Friars trust that the Holy Spirit will fill them and act through them. They will allow for the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in their lives and the lives of those who they seek to serve. The Friars will always recall that the new life of the Gospel began for Blessed Francis when he embraced the leper. Therefore, they give themselves in love to the needy, the unloved and the unattractive. From this new birth, the virtues of humility, love and joy, which flowered so fully in Saint Francis and the Orthodox Christians, become marks of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. "All the Friars, wherever they may be, should remember that they gave themselves and abandoned their bodies to the Lord vulnerable to their enemies, both visible and invisible, because the Lord says: "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." (Lk. 9:24) "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Jn. 15:20) "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." (Mt. 5:11-12)" (Chapter 16, Rule of 1221; 10-20)
HOW THE FRIARS AND MINISTERS MEET TOGETHER.
The Chapter is a meeting of the members of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor for celebration and discussion of the Franciscan Life. It has no legislative powers, but the Council of Elders shall consider its recommendations and suggestions. All members are encouraged to attend The Chapter, in order that they may gain insight into the needs and concerns of the Order.
The Council of Elders may initiate a Chapter when the need arises. However, there will be at least one annual Chapter at the Feast of Saint Francis.
The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor members will meet once a week while they are in theological studies, Gifts Identification programs or Bible studies. Their meetings will include fellowship and worship, theological and biblical study/ discussion, Franciscan and Orthodox spirituality to prepare and enable them to carry out their varied ministries. This time may be applied to their commitment to ministry within the parish church, diocese, Orthodox Order of Friars Minor or other form of Christian ministry. When the brothers and are not close to each other they will use electronic means to meet either via telephone or computer electronics.
When two or more members live in a reasonable proximity of each other, they are encouraged to meet weekly to discuss scripture, their spiritual journeys, their lives, concerns, needs and support and pray for each other. The members may also utilize modern forms of electronic communication to share and support each other in their lives and ministries.
The members of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor may recommend one or more of their number to the Arch-Abbot for appointment as abbot or abbess, but in all cases the appointment is the prerogative of the Arch-Abbot. The Abbot or Abbess shall be responsible for arranging meetings of the fellowship and shall report to the Arch-Abbot on the activities of the fellowship at least once a year.
The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor will hold "Formation Meetings" at least once a month. At these meetings, the inquires, postulants and novices will be instructed in the manor of life embraced by the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. All oblates to the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor are expected to be at the Formation Meetings unless they have contacted and been excused by the Formation Director.
THE FRIARS ARE TO LIVE AS "ORTHODOX" CATHOLICS.
"All Friars must be Orthodox, and live and speak in an Orthodox Catholic manner." The Orthodox Order of Friars Minor is called to be a repository and advocate for the traditional Orthodox faith and order within the Church. As a witness to that call, all oblates who become life professed members will give written acceptance to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as contained in the creeds. They will renew their baptismal vows and sign the "Statement of Common Belief" which represents the member's common understanding and interpretation of the Orthodox catholic faith as handed down from the ancient ecumenical councils through the Church.
PENANCE AND THE RECEPTION OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
"My blessed Friars, both the clerics as well as the lay, should confess their sins to a priest of our Order. If they should not be able to do so, they should confess to other prudent priest, knowing full well that when they have received penance and absolution from any priest, they are without doubt absolved from their sins, provided they have humbly and faithfully fulfilled the penance imposed upon them. If they have not been able to find a priest, they may confess to their brother. Thus contrite and confessed, they should receive the Body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with great humility and reverence, remembering what the Lord says: "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him." (Jn 6:55-56) "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. (Lk. 22:19)"
(Chapter 20, Rule of 1221; 1-5)
"In the name of the Lord! I ask all the Friars to learn the tenor and sense of these things, which have been written in this life for the salvation of our souls, and call them frequently to mind. I ask God that He Who is All-powerful, three and One, bless all those who teach, learn, retain, remember and put into practice all these things, each time they repeat and perform what has been written here for the salvation of our soul, kissing their feet, to love, to guard and cherish them. On behalf of Almighty God and by obedience, I, Brother Francis, firmly command and decree that no one remove anything from what has been written in this life or make any written addition to these things; nor should the Friars have any other rule." (Ch. 24, Rule of 1221;1-4)
Finally, the theology of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor is reflected in its "Statement of Common Belief". This Credenda is an effort to provide standards for the members of the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. For those who choose to follow the Orthodox-Franciscan vocation, it provides a unified interpretation of the "Faith once delivered To the Saints." It is a concise interpretation of the Order's understanding of the Christian faith as it has been given to us down through the ages through the ecumenical councils of the church and the writings of the early church fathers. It is a document of faith as practiced by the Orthodox Order of Friars Minor. Every oblate that becomes "Life Professed" is required to sign this statement as their common understanding of scripture, reason and tradition as practiced by the order.
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