GOD HAS SENT YOU INTO THE ENTIRE WORLD FOR THIS REASON
The friars have been called to evangelize
§1 As the Son was sent by the Father, so all the friars, guided by the Holy Spirit, are sent to proclaim the Gospel in the whole world, to every creature and to make everyone know by the witness they give to his voice, that no one is all-powerful except God.1
§2 All the friars are to share in the task of evangelisation that belongs to the whole Church. After the example of Saint Francis, who “made a tongue out of his whole body”,2 they are to be ready to receive the inspiration of the Lord,3 and, wherever they have been called and sent, they are to build up all the nations in word and deed through the purity of their entire life.4
Wherever they are and whatever they do, the friars are to dedicate themselves to the task of evangelisation: in fraternal fellowship through their contemplative and penitential life and the various tasks they perform for the fraternity; in human society through their intellectual and material activities, through the exercise of a pastoral office in parishes and other ecclesiastical institutions; and finally by announcing the coming of God’s kingdom through their witness of a simple Franciscan presence.5
In fulfilling the task of evangelisation, the friars are to proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified;6 desiring only to follow in his footsteps, they are to bring to everyone they meet the peace and the good of the Lord,7 as well as the certain hope of a better world.8
When they wish to admonish people about penance,9 the friars are first to bear fruits worthy of penance themselves,10 knowing that no one can evangelise who has not first accepted evangelisation.11
§1 The whole fraternity, that is the Order, the Province, the House, as well as every friar, is not to live for itself alone; it must benefit others,12 and seek for that same fraternal fellowship with all mankind which it cultivates in its own midst.13
§2 Since this fraternal fellowship, based on prayer and penance, is the first and foremost witness to the Gospel14 and a prophetic sign of a new human family, the manner of life of the friars among the nations is to be such that whoever sees or hears them will glorify and praise the heavenly Father.
§3 In order that the Church may always be seen more and more as the sacrament of salvation for our time, the friars are to set up fraternities in the midst of the poor and in secularised groups and consider them a privileged means of evangelisation.
The friars are to promote union and cooperation among all members of the Franciscan family, for a more effective proclamation of the Gospel.15
Methods of evangelisation
§1 The witness of one’s life, or the silent proclamation of the kingdom of God, is a kind of initial step and the first method of evangelisation.16 It can and must be given by all the friars, clerics and lay,17 by those who preach, pray or “work”, by the young and the old, by the healthy and the sick,18 in such a way that, as they live their life as minors in fraternity, they make known the fact that they are Christians.
§2 The witness of the Word, or explicit proclamation,19 is another way of evangelisation and it is carried our by those who, by their word or their office, announce the name and the doctrine, the life and the promise, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God.
A. They are to live subject to all among the nations
and acknowledge that they are Christians (Rnb 16,6).
The friars are to hold the Catholic faith, which is a gift of God, in very great esteem. Putting aside all human respect, they are to profess their faith humbly, staunchly and joyfully before all.20
The friars are not to seek or accept privileges for themselves or their fraternities,21 except that of minority. As Saint Francis pointed out, the friars bear fruit in the Church of God if, as minors, they remain in the status proper to their vocation.22
§1 Living among the faithful the friars are to consider themselves indebted to God for his favours and they are to work with all their strength so that, in unity and charity, all may persevere in the true faith and penance.23
§2 As the desire grows among peoples to live and practise their faith in ways that are adapted to their own particular genius,24 the friars are to lend aid readily to further this work of inculturation.25
§1 The friars are to strive to listen reverently to others with unfeigned charity, learn willingly from the people among whom they live, especially from the poor, who are our teachers,26 and be ready to enter into dialogue with everyone.27
§2 The friars are to discern the seeds of the Word and the secret presence of God in the world of today, as well as in the many elements of other religions and cultures,28 to the study of which they are to dedicate themselves with great reverence.
The evangelisation of cultures is most important and is to be promoted energetically by the friars; thereby truly human values grow in all sectors of life and abuses harmful to human dignity are eradicated.29
§1 The ecumenical spirit is to be encouraged everywhere and, if circumstances permit, ways and means are to be sought for cooperation with all other Christians,30 with due regard for Canon 755.
§2 By a kind and reverential presence among them, the friars are to work with believers of other religions in order to build up the people God has given them.31
§3 As followers of Saint Francis and of the first missionaries of the Order, the friars are to be especially concerned to go humbly and devoutly among the nations of Islam,32 for whom also no one is all-powerful except God.33
§1 Thoroughly conscious of the importance and seriousness of social problems, the friars are diligently to learn and to teach the Church’s doctrine regarding the social order, the family, and the human person. They are also to investigate critically other cultural elements as suitable for beginning a dialogue to evoke a Christian response.34
§2 Since a large part of mankind is still in bondage to need, injustice and oppression, the friars, along with all people of good will, are to devote themselves to establishing a society of justice, liberation and peace in the Risen Christ.35 They are to investigate carefully the causes of each situation, and take part in undertakings of charity, justice and international solidarity.36
§3 They are also to work humbly and staunchly in the bosom of the Church and of the Order, so that the rights and human dignity of all may be promoted and respected.37
§1 After the example of Saint Francis, whom the Lord led among lepers, each and every friar is to give preference to the “marginalised”, to the poor and oppressed, to the afflicted and infirm;38 rejoicing when they live among them,39 they are to show them mercy.40
§2 In fraternal fellowship with all the lowly of the earth and looking on current events from the viewpoint of the poor,41 the friars are to exert every effort so that the poor themselves become more fully conscious of their own human dignity and that they may safeguard and increase it.42
§1 When they encounter important people, the powerful and the rich, the friars are neither to despise nor judge them.43 Rather are they to admonish even them about penance and encourage them to restore all their goods to the Lord God, who is always present in the poor.44
§2 After the example of Saint Francis, the Friars Minor are to approach those people who threaten life and liberty to offer them the good news of reconciliation and conversion, as well as the hope of a new life.45
Faith is born in the hearts of mankind not through controversies, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, who grants his gifts to everyone as he wishes.46 When people are unwilling to accept their testimony, the friars are to place their trust in prayer and patience, and “when they have not been received, let them flee into another country to do penance with the blessing of God”.47
B. “They are to proclaim the work of God
when they see that it pleases the Lord” (Rnb 16,7).
The friars to whom the Lord has given the grace of preaching are to proclaim the Good News of salvation in such a way that they put forward the mystery of Christ faithfully and in its entirety, teaching everyone to fear and love the creator of heaven and earth, and to do penance.48
§1 Friars in holy orders enjoy the faculty of preaching everywhere, with due regard for the requirements of law. Lay friars who are approved by their Minister enjoy the same faculty of preaching to members of our family everywhere, except for the liturgical homily, as well as to the lay faithful in accordance with the prescriptions of the Episcopal Conference.49
§2 Ministers of the Word and all theologians are to be formed with the greatest care, so that they may minister spirit and life to others.50
§3 The Ministers of the Order are to examine candidates for the ministry of the Word in accordance with the requirements of universal and proper law and they are to approve them if they are suitable.51
§4 In order to preach to the friars in their own churches or oratories, the permission of the Minister or Guardian is required.52
§1 The preaching of the Word, which is intended for the instruction and edification of the people,53 is to have its origin in Sacred Scripture, as it is received in the tradition of the Church, and in the living context of the needs and circumstances of peoples.
§2 In order that preaching may be truly prophetic, the signs of the times are to be carefully examined and perceived in the light of the Gospel.54
§1 With the Holy Spirit speaking in the hearts of those who hear him, the friars are to preach briefly with words that are chaste and pure about the virtues and vices of the present time.55
§2 In carrying out the work of preaching, the friars are to remember that those who hear them listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and indeed, they only listen to teachers if they are also witnesses:56 therefore, they are to preach first to themselves.
In announcing the Gospel, the friars are to work with patience and humility and show a great reverence for the consciences of all. Setting aside any kind of proselytising, they are to expect nothing from their listeners except what the Lord shall have given them.57
§1 Imbued with an indefatigable zeal, the friars who are entrusted with the task of preaching are to devote themselves to preaching the Word of God in the particular Churches, in season and out of season, solicitously and continuously, but not against the wishes of the diocesan Bishop.58
§2 In accordance with the venerable tradition of the Order, the friars are to assist the particular Churches by disseminating Sacred Scripture and the Catholic faith, using means which are suitable and which have been adapted to persons and times.
The friars are to be especially concerned to engage in catechetical instruction.
By means of the popular preaching highly esteemed from the beginnings of the Order, ministers of the Word are to show special attention to those who are simple and illiterate, and are to present the truth of the Gospel in a manner suited to them.
Friars are willingly to assist and promote the sanctification of each person; priests are to do this particularly through the ministry of the sacrament of reconciliation.
§1 The friars are to use the instruments of social communication for evangelisation and human development, and are to prepare themselves in a manner that is appropriate and in accord with our charism and status. They are not to forget, however, that a spirit of minority has a greater efficacy in spreading God’s Word.
§2 The friars need the permission of their Minister in order to publish writings dealing with questions of religion and morals.59
The friars who are experts, particularly in the theological sciences, and whose works are of great benefit to the task of evangelisation, enjoy in our Order a well-grounded freedom to conduct their investigations and, with due regard for the requirements of law, to publish the results of these “professing the truth in love”.60
Organizing the task of evangelization
All those works that contribute to the task of evangelisation that the people of God must fulfil, and which are in accord with our status of fraternity and minority, can be taken on by our Order.
§1 It is the duty of the General and Provincial Chapters to examine whether or not the Order’s activity regarding the choice, the specific forms of action and the force of witness responds to the demands of the present time and Franciscan evangelisation; it is also their duty to establish suitable plans and ways to further the apostolate.
§2 The activities to be taken on by the friars are to be defined by consultation in local chapters, with a view to the real needs of mankind, the Church, the Order, and of individual friars; this is to be done, however, without prejudice to the faculty of Ministers and Guardians to determine which works are to be chosen and to which friars they are to be entrusted.
Norms for the acceptance, direction, distribution and renunciation of ministries and works of evangelisation are to be provided in the General Statutes or particular Statutes.
§1 It is the duty of the Conferences of Ministers Provincial to coordinate the works which provinces undertake to carry out in fraternal co-operation, without prejudice to their autonomy; it is also their duty to find appropriate ways of fostering that co-operation.
§2 The Ministers are to cooperate, readily and profitably, with the Conferences of Major Superiors, in order to render assistance to one another, to establish a close relationship with the Episcopal Conferences as well as with individual Bishops, and to effect a better coordination of works and activities. Likewise, friars are to be permitted to participate in undertakings that help in the formation of religious.61
§1 The friars who work in the particular Churches are to be ready to help the Bishops and their collaborators to carry out their pastoral plans, particularly those which are in keeping with our Franciscan charism.
§2 In order that our fraternity may be prophetic in fulfilling its duty to evangelise, the friars are to be eager to live the Franciscan charism according to the mind of the Church and in union with the life of the fraternity.62
§1 Our entire fraternity is missionary and shares in the mission of the Church, following the example of St. Francis and the desire he expressed in the Rule.63 Each friar, therefore, conscious of his own responsibility, is to play his part in missionary work.
§2 The friars are to be concerned that the Order adapts itself to the character of each people and that it is established in the whole world from the outset, and they are to see that the Order becomes part of the particular Churches.64
§1 In our Order those friars are called missionaries who, in accordance with the Rule and by divine inspiration, wish to dedicate themselves to carrying out the missionary activity of evangelising and are sent by the competent Minister.65
§2 The purpose of missionary activity is to bring the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ among peoples or groups where that joyful News has never been heard, and to assist those who have accepted the Gospel in building up the particular Church.
§3 Missionary activity remains necessary in all the particular Churches until, using all the resources and means necessary, they have been fully established or re-established in their former vigour.
§1 “Those friars who, by divine inspiration, desire to go among non-believers, should ask permission from their Ministers Provincial”,66 whose duty it is to decide if they are suitable and if it is opportune to send them.67
§2 Individual friars are to foster among the faithful an awareness of their missionary responsibility.68
§1 The authority to direct and supervise missionary evangelisation in the Order belongs to the Minister General with his Definitory.
§2 The Minister General is to take special care of missionary friars and of the missionary work of the Order; the Ministers Provincial are to have the same care in their Provinces.69
§3 It is the duty of the Minister General to promote, direct and co-ordinate within the Order undertakings and works that concern its missionary activity, in accordance with the guidelines of the General Chapter and the norms of the General Statutes.
§1 It belongs to the Minister General, with the consent of his Definitory, to accept any new missionary undertakings on behalf of the Order, and to draw up the necessary agreements, whether these undertakings have been offered by the Holy See or by the local Ordinary.70
§2 The competence of others in accepting missionary undertakings and sending friars into missionary activity as well as promoting the missionary effort of the Order at every level and in every way, is to be provided for in the General Statutes and the particular Statutes.
§1 The Ministers Provincial are to be sure that missionaries receive appropriate formation so that they will be able to sa?tisfy the demands of their future responsibility more effectively.
§2 Given the progress of time and the profound changes in society, missionaries must renew themselves, so that they may always respond to the needs of their ministry. It is the duty of the Ministers to see that this renewal is given to all missionaries through suitable programs of on-going formation.71
The holy land
The friars are to have a special place in their hearts for the Land made holy by the earthly light of the Son of God and his poor Mother, Land venerated by St. Francis. There, in a special way, they are to be witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his kingdom of peace.
§1 The task of taking care of the Holy Land, committed to our Order by the Holy See, consists in the following: guarding the holy places, promoting divine worship within them, fostering the devotion of pilgrims, carrying out the task of evangelisation there, exercising pastoral activity in accordance with the spirituality of the Order, and establishing and conducting apostolic works.
§2 The Custody of the Holy Land is an international entity governed by the Custos or Guardian of Mount Sion. Elected by the General Definitory for six years, he rules the Custody with ordinary power in accordance with the General Constitutions and the Statutes.
The international character of the Holy Land, as well as the work of inculturation, is to be fostered with every care, and each Province is always to seek to have one or another friar there.
All the Provinces of the Order are to foster the activity of the Commissaries of the Holy Land in accordance with the General Statutes.