Franciscan Brothers Minor


Forma Vitae

The Franciscan Brothers Minor live a traditional religious life professing four vows: The Evangelical Councils of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, and a fourth vow of Total Consecration to the Immaculate. The Marian Vow is the crowning jewel of the vows and we understand it to be the first of the vows.

This “Forma Vitae” is a brief outline of the life of the Franciscan Brothers Minor. Each of the items listed below are based on the long standing traditions of our Capuchin-Franciscan charism and it's implementation for our modern culture. For a more detailed explanation of the life see the Constitutions of the Franciscan Brothers Minor.

I. Fidelity to the Magisterium

A. We Friars profess fidelity and unswerving loyalty to the Holy Father, the


1. Friars shall pray for him in their private prayers and periodically Masses

    will be celebrated for his intentions and well being.

B. We Friars profess obedience to the local bishop and bishop’s conference.

C. We Friars profess orthodox belief in the all areas of faith and morals


D. We Friars profess traditional obedience to our Minister General.

E. We Friars profess full acceptance and implementation of the G.I.R.M and the

     G.I.L.H. in accordance with our traditional Franciscan Capuchin customs.

II. We Friars profess obedience to the Rule of 1223 “Sine Glossa” according to our

      early Capuchin charism.

A. We Friars embrace all that the Council and Post-Council documents offer for

     genuine renewal.

B. We Friars embrace all parts of our present Constitutions that enforce the

     renewed understanding of our charism.

C. We Friars renounce all relaxations of the Rule and all privileges, even though

     granted by legitimate ecclesial authority.

III. We Friars accept and observe of the Testament of Saint Francis as the only true

      commentary of the Rule.

A. We Friars discern aspects of our life and its place in modernity by using the

     life and writings of Saint Francis, the Testament, and all of our Capuchin

     heritage that stands in support of the Rule.

IV. We Friars adopt the Capuchin Constitutions of 1536 as our own and as a Hedge for the Rule and Testament.

A. We Friars claim the entirety of the text of the 1536 Constitutions as defining our way of life, and protecting the observance of the Rule and Testament of St. Francis.

B. We Friars use the basic principles of our charism, as laid forth in the 1536 Constitutions, in order to discern and live out our life.

C. The Constitutions of 1536 are altered only where they are in need of adaption to the counsels of the Counciliar and Post Conciliar decrees of Vatican II. 

V. Our Capuchin Life of Prayer

A. The Divine Office

1. All 7 hours of the Divine Office (Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline) are said in common at the appropriate times.

a. Following the example of St. Francis the Friars will pray the Office at midnight [Matins].

2. The Office will be prayed according to the norms set by the G.I.L.H.

    and those traditions in keeping with our ancient Capuchin charism.

B. Mental Prayer

1. Two Eucharistic Holy Hours a day will be scheduled for common

mental prayer.

2. A spirit of silence is kept throughout the Friary.

a. The Friars will establish particular areas for conversation.

b. The Friars may speak whenever they wish, but in a low soft


c. Grand silence is kept from Night Prayer until breakfast.

3. Laity are always permitted in the visiting areas established for them.

a. Special circumstances may dictate that laity may go elsewhere in

the Friary, but only with the express approval of the House     


b. Special circumstances are not frequent or perpetual.

4. Friars shall arrive at least five minutes early to Mass and Prayers in

    order to interiorly prepare themselves.

C. The Fraternal Mass

1. Unless circumstances and permission dictate otherwise, one Fraternity

    Mass is celebrated in the Friary.

a. All priest Friars are to concelebrate if they have no other

    obligations of celebrating that day.

b. All rubrics and Norms laid out by the G.I.R.M., Redemptionis

   Sacramentum, and local Bishop’s Conferences are observed.

D. Marian Devotion

1. We profess four vows, the first being Total Consecration to the


a. The Friars renew their consecration twice daily.

2. The Angelus is prayed thrice daily.

a. Before Lauds, Sext, and Vespers.

3. Daily the Fraternity prays a communal Rosary at the time best agreed

    upon by the local Fraternity.

a. At various times Friars may wish to use the Franciscan Crown.

4. Those Friars who wish to may say the Little Office in common, but not in replacement of the Liturgy of the Hours.

5. On those Saturdays which do not fall on a Solemnity, Feast, or Capuchin’s Memorial, the Memorial of the B.V.M. shall be said.

E. Devotion to the Saints

1. The Prayer of Saint Michael, written by Saint Francis, is said

    communally after the Fraternal Mass.

2. The Prayer of Saint Joseph, written by Saint Bernadine of Sienna, is

    said after the Angelus.

3. The Litany of the Capuchin Saints and Blessed is prayed at the end of

    the Fraternal Rosary.

a. The Litany begins with the invocation of Saint Francis, Saint

    Clare, Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Joseph and/or any of the

    Friars particular patrons that they may wish to add.

F. Readings at Meals

1. At the start of each dinner, excepting Fridays, a chapter of the Gospels

    is read.

2. On Fridays at dinner a chapter of the Rule of Saint Francis and our

    present Constitutions are read until its completion.

3. Talking and recreating at dinner follows the readings.

4. A short passage of the life of Saint Francis is read at supper.

5. During Lent the meals shall be eaten in silence, broken only by the customary readings.

VI. Our Capuchin Life of Penance, Poverty, and Austerity

A. Food

1. The Friars will not prepare, eat, or serve food associated with the


2. The Friars will not eat between meals without the permission of


3. As stated in our early legislation, no alcohol is stored or consumed by

    the Friars except cheap wine that is “well watered down.”.

4. The Friars will strive to serve only one dish at the main meal.

5. Sweets are permitted on Sundays (vigils inclusive), Solemnities,

    Capuchin Feasts and any birthday or name-day of a Friar of the


6. Ecclesial style fasts are observed on prescribed days by ecclesial

    authority and days that are customary to our charism and tradition.

a. An ecclesial fast is defined as two small meals that do not equal

    one meal and one main simple meal. They are also meatless.

7. Abstinence from meat on every Wednesday and Friday (excepting the

    prescribed days of feast above)

8. The Friars will not eat out at restaurants except when traveling.

a. The restaurants can never be fancy or those that associated with

    the wealthy.

b. The Friars must be invited by a benefactor and only in the most

    rare occasions.

9. In keeping with the Rule of Saint Francis, the Friars will follow the

    Ecclesial fast from All Saints Day until Christmas.

B. The Capuchin Franciscan Habit

1. One coarse wool habit is worn at all times.

2. The Friars shall wear the tonsure.

3. The Friars keep their beards uncut and un-manicured.

4. The Friars are to go barefoot except when necessity calls for sandals

    and if sandals are insufficient, (due to extreme temperatures

    which could harm the feet), shoes.

a. The Friars shall go barefoot as much as possible, especially in

    the Friary.

5. The Friars wear the Rosary on the cord and the Rosary is to be without

    ornamentation, excepting a Miraculous Medal.

6. The Friars shall wear mantles in place of a coat.

7. All other undergarments shall be few, poor and only what is called for

    by necessity.

8. A few extra habits, sandals, boots and other necessary under clothes

    may be kept in a common closet for the purpose of mending and

    cleaning their personal habits.

C. The Lodging and Possessions of the Friary

1. The Friars shall not own the property where they live.

a. In accordance with early custom, each year, “within the octave of the Seraphic Father,” the Guardian of each Friary shall go to the owner of that property, thank him for that year’s use of the place, and “humbly ask him” to lend it to them for the span of another year.

2. The Friary shall be built or arranged according to our ancient customs.

a. Guest parlors with bathroom facilities located in a public area

    outside the enclosure.

b. A refectory and kitchen reserved for the Friars use alone.

c. A Friars’ choir connected to a larger chapel for laity to attend the

    Divine Liturgy.

(1) A small and functional sacristy

d. Friar’s cells being small, simple, and austere.

e. A small but functional library.

f. A community room

g. Other basic rooms for laundry, workshop and supplies.

3. Community Rooms-in General

a. No Television or other entertainment devices

(1) However, for a certain period of time and for a specific

      purpose, the Friars may borrow a device and return it in

      a reasonable amount of time.

b. No soft couches or soft chairs.

(2) The furniture shall be simple, plain, cheap, and poor.

c. No curtains or drapes.

(1) Simple, plain, poor and cheap blinds may be used for

      privacy sake.

d. No carpeting

e. One crucifix, an image of Our Lady and Saint are permitted to

    each common room.

(1) No other images are permitted.

(2) No knick knacks or objects for mere decoration.

4. The Library

a. The library shall be modest, poor, and yet functional for

    knowledge, spiritual growth and the apostolate.

b. It shall have a well developed section of:

1. The Fathers of the Church

2. Franciscanism

3. Spiritual Life and Lives of the Saints

4. Church Documents

5. Mariology

c. The Library shall not contain any useless or secular books (such

as those used for simple entertainment; eg. novels) which would distract the friars from their life of prayer and penance.

5. The Kitchen

a. Only the most minimal cooking utensils necessary for a house of


b. No more than a two or three day supply of food, or a week at

    most, excepting those things that are commonly stored in bulk.

c. No other spices than pepper and salt are kept and used in the


d. A simple and modest stove

e. No electronic kitchen devices:

(1) This includes a microwave, blender, crock pots and the


6. The Refectory

a. Poor, cheap and simple dishes and silverware are kept.

(1) Only enough for the Fraternity and some guests.

b. No tablecloths

c. Only enough cloth napkins for each Friar of the fraternity and

    some guests is kept.

7. The Sacristy and Chapel

a. Enough simple and dignified vestments for each of the priest

    Friars and one extra.

b. Necessary vessels, simple and dignified, for liturgy are kept.

c. All liturgical items and liturgical furniture, enough for the proper

    function of the liturgy, are always to be simple and dignified.

d. The chapel is to contain a crucifix, and image of Our Lady and

    St Joseph and maybe an image of Saint Francis.

e. The choir benches are to be simple and un-cushioned.

8. The Friars Cell may contain:

a. Only a Crucifix, an image of Our Lady, and a Saint.

b. A writing Desk and no more than 1 to 3 books, besides a Bible

     and the Breviary.

c. The Friars sleep on the bear ground, or, if age or infirmity

    requires it, a thin mattress.

d. A simple and modest alarm clock.

e. The Friars shall strive to keep all personal belongings to the

    absolute minimum necessary.

D. Technology

1. Computers may be used at the local Public Library but not kept within

    the Friary.

a. A laptop may be borrowed only on rare occasion and only with

               permission of the Guardian for a task, as other tools, and

    returned as soon as the task is completed.

2. A phone will be kept in common room to receive calls.

a. Outgoing calls may be done by using a phone card.

b. No cell phones.

3. Modern Conveniences

a. No dishwasher, microwave or other kitchen electronic devices.

b. No keeping of power tools.

c. No washing Machines or dryers

(1) Washing is done by hand.

d. No fax machines, photocopy machines or other such devices.

4. Musical instruments of a Friar are kept in the community.

E. Transportation

1. Choice of traveling is to follow the following hierarchical order:

a. First: Walking (to be the primary choice, even when going long distances.)

b. Second: Hitching or accepting a ride

c. Third: Public Transportation –Ticket begged (precluding


d. Fourth: Borrowing a vehicle in manifest necessity or


F. Every year the Friars shall take a day for a poverty check.

1. As a Fraternity the Friars shall go through all the public rooms of the

    Friary in order to purge it of any accumulated unnecessary items. All

    such unnecessary items are to be given to the poor.

2. Each Friar, on a personal level, shall go through his room and purge it

    of any non- essentials, the guardian shall give such items to the poor.

VII. The Use and Acquisition of Money

A. The Friars of this Fraternity do not have, use, or accept money in any form.

B. The Friary and the Friars will not have bank accounts, stocks, bonds, saving

    accounts, or credit cards.

C. The Friars will not create nor have created for them any corporation, by

    whatever name, to receive, hold, or use money for them.

D. In ABSOLUTE rare occasions money may be used for immediate transactions

     only and for a particular instance and for that instance alone.

1. When borrowing a vehicle and the benefactor provides the Friars with

    money for Gas and toll.

2. When we are handed money for a ticket because the benefactor would

     be gravely inconvenienced to do so for us.

3. In the event, when traveling, that begging proves fruitless or a

    benefactor gives us money for food because for them to do so would be

    a grave inconvenience.

4. Any leftover money from a rare transaction must be returned to the

    benefactor as soon as possible and without hesitation.

E. Utility bills will be paid in exchange for ministry.

1. For example; If a Friar is a chaplain to a Secular Franciscan Fraternity,

    the Fraternity, at it’s meeting, may give the Friar a check made out to

    the electric company for the charge for that month.

a. The same would be true for Mass stipends, retreat payments, and

    the like.

2. In this way the Friars will be held accountable for the usage of public


VIII. Minority

A. Manual Labor

1. The Friars shall do their own chores of cooking, cleaning, gardening

    and so on.

2. Professionals may be sought for those larger tasks that are beyond the

    ability of the Friars.

B. The Friars will not run shrines, parishes, be pastors or hold any office of

    director, by whatever name, of any institutions.

IX. Our Life in Fraternity

A. The Friars shall participate, as much as possible, in a common apostolate.

1. They shall not take on any apostolate that takes a Friar out of

    community life for any extended period of time.

B. The Friars shall take all three meals in community.

C. The life necessitates a common observance as a corporate identity.

D. The Friars share in Fraternal prayer and especially the Holy Mass.

E. The Fraternal life is also built through common recreation at meals and

    celebrating all major feasts together as a family.

X. The Apostolate

A. All apostolic efforts must be subordinate to our life of prayer, poverty,

     penance, minority and fraternity.

1. No wages may be accepted for any apostolic work.

2. Other things may be accepted in place of money:

a. Food

b. Bus Tickets

c. Phone Cards

d. Payment of a Bill

e. Toiletries

f. Household supplies

g. Any other particular need approved by the guardian.

3. Our needs should be made known to those who request our ministry.

4. Whenever possible, the Friars shall go out as a Fraternity or in two’s.

B. Some Various Apostolate that are in keeping with our charism.

1. Confessors at local parishes

2. Spiritual directors to the Secular Franciscans, convents, or individuals.

3. Hospital and Prison Chaplaincy

4. Youth Ministry

5. Coordinating Padre Pio Prayer Groups or other similar groups

6. Preaching Apostolate

7. Hands on work at shelters, soup kitchens, and other ministry to the poor

8. Parish help-outs

9. Pro-Life Ministry

10. Street preaching

11. Door to door Evangelization

C. When “on the road” the Friars are to be as faithful as possible to our life of

     poverty, prayer, and penance.

1. Only when charity demands it of them may they divert from the life that

    the friars are observing at home.

a. Each Friar will have to discern for himself, in his conscience, 

    what a reason is for dispensation of charity and that which is


D. Although the Sister have no juridical connection to the Brothers, the

     Friars are always to provide spiritual assistance to the Franciscan Sisters


The General Minister will assign only a Friar of mature years to this task.

Interaction between the Friars and the Sisters is minimal and most necessary.