CHAPTER NINE THE BROTHERS’ APOSTOLIC LIFE

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BROTHERS’ APOSTOLIC LIFEThe Son of God was sent into the world by the Father so that, assuming our human condition, he might bring the good news to the poor, heal the contrite of heart, proclaim liberty to prisoners, and restore sight to the blind.
Christ established the continuation of this mission within the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This same Spirit raised up Saint Francis and his apostolic Fraternity so that, according to the more urgent needs of its time, it might offer all its energies to the Church in its mission to all peoples, especially to those who are most in need of hearing the gospel messag.
Our Fraternity, therefore, obeying the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity, fulfills a debt of service to all peoples by bringing them the gospel in deed and word in the Church.

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In our apostolic activity, let us preserve the proper characteristics of our charism, adapting them to different times and circumstances.
The principal apostolate of a lesser brother is: to live a gospel life in the world in truth, simplicity and joy.
Let us show respect for all people and [manifest] a spirit ready for dialogue with them.
Although we prefer the evangelization of the poor according to the example of Christ and SaintFrancis, we should not hesitate to proclaim the message of the conversion to justice and the responsibility of preserving peace to those in positions of power and those ruling others.
We should willingly assume any ministry or apostolic activity as long as it is in harmony with our form of life and responds to the needs of the Church. Aware of our minority, let us generously undertake those ministries that are regarded as especially difficult.
Let the Fraternity, whether provincial or local, promote and coordinate various apostolic initiatives as expressions of the entire fraternity.
As disciples of Christ and sons of Saint Francis, the brothers should keep in mind that a spirit ready to suffer the cross and persecution, even martyrdom, is required by the faith and the salvation of our neighbor.

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The brothers should willingly engage in any kind of apostolate, even if it is of private inspiration, under obedience to the competent authority.
Saving the right of the Supreme Pontiff to use the service of the Order for the good of the universal Church, the exercise of each apostolate is subject to the authority of the diocesan Bishop, from whom the brothers, after they have been approved by their ministers, receive the necessary faculties. When they are invited by a bishop to serve the people of God and their salvation, the ministers may freely accept [these invitations], in as much as they are able, according to our charism.
While preserving our Capuchin-Franciscan characteristics, it is the responsibility of the provincial chapter to adapt our apostolic labors to the needs of the times. But it pertains to the provincial minister with the consent of the definitory to coordinate the apostolic resources of the province.
After consulting the local chapter in matters of greater importance, the superior of a fraternity should allocate work, while keeping in mind the needs of the Church and the conditions of the individual brothers, [and] in close collaboration with any pastoral organization established by the episcopal hierarchy.
Let the brothers willingly collaborate in the works and initiatives of the other religious institutes of the Church.

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In order that our apostolic initiatives may respond to the demands of evangelization and to people  needs, let the brothers accustom themselves to read the signs of the times through which the divine plan is perceived by the eyes of faith.
They should foster the customary works of the apostolate such as popular missions, retreats, the sacramental confession of the faithful, the spiritual care of religious women, especially Franciscans, care of the sick and of those in prison, works of education and of social development.
When taking on new forms of the apostolate, let the brothers show special care to those peoples who are deprived of ordinary pastoral care because of the conditions of their life: the young during decisive moments of their Christian life, emigrants, laborers, those burdened with financial pressures, or those harassed by hostility or racial prejudice.
Let them undertake with special zeal an ecumenical dialogue of charity, truth and prayer with noncatholic Christian brothers and sisters that they may share the Church’s concern for restoring unity.
Likewise let them attempt to establish a salutary discussion with those among whom they live or to whom they are sent who profess another religion and who do not believe.
All ministries undertaken for the people must be founded upon a life shaped by the Gospel. The witness of brothers who live close to the people and [who] are simple of heart and minors by the condition of their life and speech is more easily understood and more willingly received.

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As he went throughout cities announcing the mystery of Christ in few and simple words, Saint Francis, the herald of Christ, confirmed by the authority of the Church, scattered the seeds of the Gospel everywhere.
Following his example and the tradition of our Order, the brothers should preach the word of God clearly, and adhere to the Sacred Scriptures faithfully.
Let the brothers make every effort to imprint the word of God, Christ, upon their own hearts and give themselves totally to Him, so that He may impel them to speak out of an abundance of love. In this way they shall preach Christ Himself by their life, work and speech.
That this may occur, let them strive to make continual progress in the wisdom of Christ that is acquired above all in the course of life, and especially through persistent reading, meditation and careful study of the Sacred Scriptures.

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Through the celebration of the sacraments Christ is present to the faithfu1 with His power, sanctifies them, and builds up His body. Therefore, let the brothers be ready to assist the hithfu1 when administering the sacraments either by virtue of their office or when invited to do so by the clergy. Thus, on these occasions, the faith may be nourished, strengthened and expressed.
The brothers who are priests, in the spirit of Christ the Shepherd, should proclaim the remission of sins in the sacrament of reconciliation and willingly offer themselves for hearing the confessions of the faithful, especially since it is a ministry highly appropriate to lesser ones and is often exercised on behalf of people who are spiritually very poor.
Let zeal for the holiness of God and His mercy, as well as respect for the dignity of the human person, charity, patience and prudence be resplendent in them.
Confessors should strive to make continual progress in pastoral knowledge and in the proper exercise of their ministry.

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After the example of Saint Francis and the enduring tradition of the Order, the brothers should willingly undertake the spiritual, and even the bodily, care of the sick and infirm.
Thus by following Christ Who went about the cities and villages healing every sickness and infirmity as a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God, they will fulfill the mission of the Church which, through its children, unites itself with people of every condition, especially the poor and afflicted, and willingly spends itself for them.
Let the ministers encourage this ministry since it is an excellent and efficacious work of charity and of the apostolate.

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In keeping with the character and tradition of our Order, let the brothers be ready to offer pastoral assistance to the clergy in the parishes of a particular
While being attentive to the urgent needs of the faithful, major superiors, with the consent of the council, may accept with prudence the care of a parish in the spirit of service to a particular Church.
That we might be faithful to our vocation in assuming this ministry, those parishes should ordinarily be preferred in which we can more easily give a witness of minority and lead a form of life and work in fraternity. In this way the people of God can appropriately share in our charism.
Shrines entrusted to our Order should be centers of evangelization and sound devotion.

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As they recognize the role of the laity in the life and activity of the Church, let the brothers encourage the lay people to assume the different ministries proper to them, especially in the work of evangelization. Likewise [the brothers] should promote associations of the faithful whose members strive to live and proclaim the word of God and to change the world from within.
Among these associations, the Secular Franciscan Order should be close to our heart. Let us cooperate with Secular Franciscan that their fraternities may progress as communities of faith endowed with a special effectiveness for evangelization, as well as in the formation of individual members. Thus they may spread the Kingdom of God not only by the example of their life but also by various kinds of apostolic activity.

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Saint Francis used to encourage his brothers to proclaim the Kingdom of God even with songs and praises in the language of the people; he himself strove to serve the salvation of all peoples through many writings.
Therefore, let us also greatly esteem the modern means of social communication for their power to influence and move the masses and the entire human society and as instruments suitable for evangelizing peoples of our time.
That the various forms of the apostolate may be strengthened in our fraternities by these means of social communication, superiors should take care that brothers who are found qualified for this receive appropriate training.
AII the brothers should be suitably instructed in a responsible use of these means of social communication that, through them, they may acquire an accurate and realistic understanding of the condition of human society and the needs of the Church.
With combined efforts, let them also exercise the apostolate of the printed page, especially in publishing matters of Franciscan interest. It is strongly recommended that offices for this purpose be established in provinces or nations, and even in the Order as a whole.
The prescriptions of universal law are to be observed in matters pertaining to the instruments of social communication. When it is a matter of writing about religion or morals, it should be remembered that permission is also required from the major superior.
Let the brothers have the equipment necessary for carrying out their duties without this being a detriment to fraternal life and with due consideration to our Capuchin-Franciscan vocation.

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In whatever capacity they are dedicated to the apostolate, let the brothers integrate their life and activity in the exercise of love to God and people that is the soul of every apostolate.
They should also remember that they cannot pursue their mission unless they are continually renewed in faithfulness to their own vocation.
Let them, therefore, perform works of the apostolate in poverty and humility, not making a ministry their own, that it may be clear that it is Jesus Christ alone whom they seek. Let them preserve that unity of the fraternity which Christ wished to be so perfect that the world would know the Son was sent by the Father.
Let them cultivate a life of prayer and study in a fraternal exchange, so that they may be intimately united with the Savior and, moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, offer themselves with a magnanimous and ready spirit to witnessing to the joyful good news in the world.