St. Francis never envisioned a community held together by a cloister or monastery walls. He and his friars were called to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In imitation of Jesus and his disciples, St. Francis sent his friars out to preach and proclaim the good news, not always with words but always by example.
The evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, which flow from and intensify our baptismal call to holiness, serve to bind the friars together in a common way of life. It is this vowed relationship to God and one another that allows the friars to embrace the world as their cloister and serves to bind them together in a fraternal relationship and way of consecrated life.
Our vow of poverty calls us, in an age of unbridled materialism and consumerism, to focus on putting not things, but people and the needs of others, especially the poor, before all else. The vow of poverty impacts not only those material things we may use in our lives but also any attachment that might result from such use, all for the sake the kingdom.
All the baptized are called to the virtue of chastity, that is, an appropriate expression of our gift of sexuality according to our state in life: whether married, single, or religious life and Holy Orders. Our vow of consecrated chastity as Franciscan Friars directs our energy and focus on the Lord and the people of God we are called to serve. Rather than forming exclusive relationships we open ourselves to be instruments of God’s love to all.
Our vow of obedience is rooted in our desire and call to do not our will, but God’s will. Whether a Franciscan priest or brother, we place our lives at the service of something greater than ourselves in dedicating our lives to proclamation of the Good News of Jesus. In living out our vow of obedience we humbly assent to the fact that no one person has all the answers, and we listen to the collective wisdom of others and our conscience, in discerning God’s will for us.