The General Rule of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans
(as adopted November 22, 1983)
The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God, clergy and laity, who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Christ calls us to follow this way so that he may send us, like Francis, to offer all that we have and all that we are. We shall strive to be living witnesses among all nations to the great truth that in Christ “there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and freemen, between men and women” (Galatians 3:28); that there are no barriers of race or nations in God’s family. There is only the All-loving Creator, the Divine Redeemer, the one fellowship in the All-Wonderful Comforter.
The Order of Ecumenical Franciscans consists of men or women, married or single, ordained or laity from any Christian denomination; who, though following the ordinary professions of life, feel called to a lifelong dedication under a definite discipline and vows. This is in accord with St. Francis’ intention when he encouraged the formation of a Third Order, recognizing, as he did, that unlike Friars Minor and the Sisters who followed St. Clare, many of God’s children are called to serve God not in a literal acceptance of the evangelical Counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, but in an observance of their spirit in the ordinary professions of life.
1. We covenant together, as the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.
2. We seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in our brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity.
3. We shall go forth as witnesses and instruments of the Church’s mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by our life and words. Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let us devote ourselves energetically to living accountable to our respective denominations and in spiritual fellowship with Christians everywhere.
4. As the successors to the original “brothers and sisters of penance” (the original name of the Third Order), and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let us conform our thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel itself calls “Conversion”. Human frailty calls us to strive for this conversion daily.
5. Following the example of Jesus, let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all we are and do. Let us participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let us join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms in use in the Church.
6. The Order of Ecumenical Franciscans shall follow the example of Mary by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.
7. We shall faithfully fulfill the duties proper to our various circumstances of life. We shall also follow the poor and crucified Christ and witness to him even in difficulties and persecutions.
8. Christ chose for himself a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying our own material needs. Let us be mindful that according to the gospel we are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children. We shall strive to purify our hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.
9. As members of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, with a gentle and courteous spirit, we accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ. A sense of community will make us joyful and ready to place ourselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom we shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.
10. We shall individually and collectively be in the forefront of promoting justice by testimony of our human lives and courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, we should make definite choices in harmony with our faith.
11.We shall esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption and service of the human community.
12. In our families, we shall cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity, and respect for life; striving to make of it a sign of a world already renewed in Christ.
13. We shall respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High”, and we shall strive to move from the temptation of exploiting Creation toward the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.
14. In obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ and the example of Saint Francis, we are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly. We are compelled to seek out ways of resolving conflict through non- violent means, trusting in the presence of the divine soul in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.
15. Since we are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let us accept death serenely as an encounter with our God.
16. As members of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans we covenant to draw up and live by a Personal Rule of Life based on the Rule of this Order and falling into these disciplines: Worship, Prayer, Penitence, Work, Lifestyle, Mission, Obedience, Community. We shall always be under supervision and accountable to an advisor.
17. Admission into this Order is gradually attained through a time of orientation, a period of formation of at least two years, and profession of the Rule. The entire community is engaged in this process of growth and formation. Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment. Members of any Christian denomination may belong to the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. This Order is a self-governing body whose members meet annually, and is governed by its professed members who shall elect officers and make rules as they see fit, in accordance with this Rule and in harmony with Jesus Christ.
Br. Louis Canter, OEF has set these principles to music so that they can be chanted by the community in worship. Click below to listen!