Christ Jesus, God’s Good News, the first and greatest preacher of the Gospel, gave to all his disciples through them, to the community of faith that is the Church, the grace and mandate of spreading the gospel.
All the baptized, and especially religious by the special gift of themselves, are united to the Pilgrim Church. Through Christ’s mission and that of the Holy Spirit, [the Church] is the universal sacrament of salvation and, therefore, missionary by its nature.
Through divine inspiration, Saint Francis renewed the missionary spirit of his time by the example of his life and the power of his Rule. Moreover, he added momentum to those initiatives of the Church that are called missionary and through which the Gospel is proclaimed. In this way the coming Kingdom of God transforms the human person, creates a new world that is just and full of peace, [and] each day the Church is established and, day after day, becomes more perfect.
Our Order accepts as its own the responsibility of spreading the Gospel that belongs to the whole Church. It regards and takes on this missionary work as one of its principal apostolic obligations.
Missionaries are those brothers who bring the good news of salvation to all those in any continent or region who do not believe in Christ.
We recognize, however, the special situation of those brothers who engage in missionary activity in the service of newly established Churches.
As Saint Francis provided, missionary brothers can conduct themselves spiritually among non-Christians in two ways: either, while being subject to every human creature for God’s sake, they give witness with great confidence to the Gospel life by their charity; or, when they see that it pleases God, they openly proclaim the word of salvation to non-believers that they may be baptized and become Christians.
The brothers should willingly listen to members of the newly established Churches and dialogue with them, recognizing that particular Churches have already acquired a preferred role in the work of evangelization. In this way it becomes clear that they have come to serve those Churches and their pastors.
As they evaluate historical, religious, social and cultural conditions in light of the Gospel, let them act in a spirit of charity, with the freedom of the sons of God, and impelled by a prophetic spirit.
Let them promote, in dialogue with Christian churches and non-Christian religions, those changes that foster the coming of a new world and be attentive to ideas that influence the mentality and activity of peoples.
Brothers who feel they are called by divine inspiration to missionary activity in another region where evangelization is more urgent should make this known to the provincial minister. The provincial minister, however, may also call upon other qualified brothers willing to assume such work.
After a special doctrinal and practical preparation in missiology and ecumenism in keeping with each one ability, the same minister should present them to the general minister who is responsible for granting letters of obedience.
The ministers should not refuse to send suitable brothers because of a scarcity of brothers in the province, but let them cast their care and thought upon Him Who has continuing care of us.
Different provinces of the Order should generously offer mutual assistance as opportunities arise and, through the general minister, offer missionaries and support to other circumscriptions in need of them.
Brothers may be invited to share in missionary work even for a while, especially to provide special services.
The brothers should cooperate with lay missionaries, especially catechists, in work and programming and, with them, zealously care for the spiritual animation of the people, as well as their social and economic welfare.
Let superiors foster among the brothers a love and spirit of cooperation for missionary work. Let this be done in such a way that everyone, according to his own state and ability, may satisfy his missionary responsibility in fraternal communion with missionaries, by praying for the newly established Churches in union with them, and by awakening a concern among the Christian people.
Since the state of those who profess the gospel counsels belongs to the life and holiness of the Church and, for that reason, should be zealously promoted even from the period of the implantation of the Church, let missionary brothers strive to foster our charism in the particular Churches.
It is the responsibility of major superiors, therefore, to provide that brothers qualified for forming candidates of the Order be present among the missionaries.
Let the form of our life and the spiritual heritage of our Order, which is universal and embraces all the rites of the Catholic church, be transmitted and expressed according to the circumstances of a region as well as to the unique character of each nation and particular church. Customs peculiar to one region should not be transplanted into another. It is the responsibility of the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, to decide the rite of individual jurisdictions, while observing the prescriptions of law.
The general minister, with the consent of the definitory and in union with ecclesiastical authority, has the responsibility of promoting and coordinating missionary activity in the particular churches.
After receiving the approval of the general minister with the consent of the definitory, the provincial minister, with the consent of the definitory, has the responsibility of accepting a missionary commitment proposed by the general minister as well as to underwrite agreements with the respective ecclesiastical superior.
The general minister as well as the provincial ministers, with the consent of the definitory, should establish a secretariat for missionary promotion and cooperation and determine its responsibility.
The brothers should cooperate diligently with religious institutes that are engaged in missionary activity in a particular Church in the same territory or in missionary promotion at home.
The summit of missionary activity should be considered the building up of the particular church in which the clergy, religious and laity shall have responsibility according to each one’s competence.
Let the brothers be mindful of Saint Francis who wished to send his companions into the world after the example of the disciples of Christ, in poverty with full trust in God the Father, proclaiming peace everywhere by their life and word.
Let us commend this great undertaking to the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, who gave birth to Christ, the light and salvation of all nations, and who, with the work of the Holy Spirit, was present on the morning of Pentecost at the beginnings of evangelization.
ARTICLE II: THE BROTHERS LIFE OF FAITH
As true disciples of the Lord and sons of Saint Francis, let us preserve, with the help of divine grace, the faith that we have received from God through the Church. With all our energies and sound judgement, let us enter more profoundly into [this faith] and apply it ever more fully to our life.
We should implore God through diligent prayer for an increase of this inestimable gift and live in intimate union with the entire People of God.
Led by the Holy Spirit, let us bear witness to Christ everywhere and, to those who ask, let us explain that hope of eternal life which is within us.
Saint Francis profoundly desired to adhere faithfully to the magisterium of the Church as the guardian of the written and spoken word of God as well as of the gospel life.
In order to preserve this spiritual heritage intact, let us nourish a special devotion to holy Mother Church.
Let us be one with the Church in all things: in thought, word and action, diligently avoiding false or pernicious doctrines.
Led by a sense of an active and responsible conscience, let us offer religious submission of intellect and will to the Roman Pontiff, the supreme teacher of the universal Church, as well as to the bishops who, as witnesses to the faith, teach the people of God in union with the Supreme Pontiff.
At the beginning of their term of office, the superiors and the other brothers should make a profession of faith, as decreed in law.
Responding to the divine vocation through which God each day requests us to take part in carrying out His plan of salvation, let us remember how closely we are bound to Christ before the people of God by virtue of profession.
Let us strive, therefore, to walk worthily and to excel all the more in the vocation to which we are called, remembering that God never gives His gifts or, therefore, a vocation in vain. His grace will not fail us in overcoming difficulties on this narrow path that leads to life.
Zealously dedicating ourselves to our renewal, let us persevere with a joyful heart in the commitment of ourlife. Yet, conscious of our human frailty, let us move forward on the way of conversion with the entire Church that is always being renewed by the Holy Spirit.
By virtue of our profession, we must observe the Rule of Saint Francis, confirmed by Pope Honorius, simply and in a catholic manner.
Its authentic interpretation is reserved to the Holy See which has abrogated earlier pontifical declarations on the Rule only as regards their preceptive force, excepting those contained in the existing universal law and in these Constitutions.
Furthermore, the Holy See recognizes the right of the General Chapter to adapt the Rule to new circumstances when appropriate. But these adaptations obtain the force of law only through the approval of the Holy See.
The aumentic interpretation of the Constitutions is reserved to the Holy See. The General Chapter, with the consent of two-thirds of the vocals, may add to, change, repeal or abrogate the Constitutions, according to the needs of the times, so that appropriate renewal, with a certain continuity, may be fostered. [Such acts, however, require] the approval of the Holy See.
Outside the chapter, the general minister, with the consent of the definitory, has the right to settle doubts or to fill in the lacunas that may occur in our own law; these solutions remain in force until the next chapter.
In particular cases, superiors may dispense their own subjects and guests according to circumstances from disciplinary regulations of the Constitutions, whenever they judge that it would be beneficial for their spiritual good.
A temporary dispensation of an entire province is reserved to the general minister, of an entire fraternity to its own major superior.
Provincial chapters or the Conferences of Major Superiors may enact special statutes that must be approved by the general minister with the consent of the definitory, so that the prescriptions of the Constitutions may be appropriately applied according to the circumstances of provinces and regions.
All questions of conflicting rights whether between religious or houses or between circumscriptions of the Order are resolved according to our Modus procedendi .
Our Order is governed by the universal law of the Church, the Rule and the Constitutions. Only this text of the Constitutions has juridical force in the entire Order.
Since laws and statutes cannot be made for every particular case, in all our actions let us keep before our eyes the Holy Gospel, the Rule we have promised to God, the sound traditions and the example of the saints.
Let superiors lead the brothers in the life of our fratemity and in the observance of the Constitutions, and inspire them in adhering to these Constitutions as a daring adventure of love.
When near death, Saint Francis imparted the blessing of the most holy Trinity, together with his own, upon sincere observers of the Rule. Therefore, after casting aside every negligence, let all of us endeavor with fervent love to follow the gospel perfection manifested in the Rule itself and in our Order.
Let us remember, dearest brothers, the text on which our seraphic Father preached to a chapter of the brothers: Great things have we promised to God, but greater things has He promised to us.For this reason, let us strive to observe these Constitutions and whatever we have promised, and, with a burning desire, aspire to those goods that have been promised to us, with the help of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.
While pursuing all these things, let us cast our eyes upon our Redeemer that, knowing his good pleasure, we may strive to please Him with pure love. Observance of the Constitutions will help us not only to observe the Rule we have promised but also to fulfill the divine law and follow the gospel counsels. As our labors abound so will our consolation in Christ Jesus. We will be able to do all things in Him Who strengthens us, for He Who is the Wisdom of God grants us understanding in everything and gives abundantly to all.
Christ then, Who is the Light and Expechtion of the nations, the End of the Law, the Salvation of God, the Father of the world to come, the Word and the Power that upholds all things and, lastly, our Hope, in Whom all things are possible, delightful and easy, and to Whom our frailty is known, will not only give us strength for following His commands and counsels, but will also pour out His heavenly gifts in such abundance that, after overcoming all obstacles, we may be able to follow and imitate Him with the greatest eagerness of our hearts, using visible things as passers-by and as those yearning for things eternal.
Who is God and Man,
the True Light, the Splendor of Glory,
and the Brilliance of Eternal Light;
the Mirror without blemish,
the Image of the Goodness of God;
appointed by the Father as the Judge, Law-giver,
and Savior of all peoples;
to Whom the Father and Holy Spirit
have bome witness
and in Whom are our merit,
model of life, help and reward;
Who by God has been made for us
Wisdom and Justice,
be all our thought, meditation and imitation.
Who lives and reigns
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
co-etemal, consubstantial, and co-equal,
be everlasting praise, honor and glory
for ever and ever.