Dominicans and Franciscans


#1

Please discuss anything related to the Dominicans and Franciscans. Here are some questions to get the conversation going:

What is the difference between the two Orders?
How does their spirituality differ?
What are their respective charisms?
How does Franciscan theology and mysticism differ from Dominican theology and mysticism?
Have you had any experience with either of these Orders?

I would love to hear your opinions on these two great Orders.


#2

I believe that the Franciscans studied the philosophy of Plato and the Dominicans studied the philosophy of Aristotle.

Or, the other way around. :hmmm:


#3

Other people will be able to give much more technical answers than I can. However, my parents are close friends with a good number of Dominicans and with a pair of Conventual Franciscans, and these are the main differences I think I noticed (keeping in mind that I do not have first-hand experience with respect to the other Franciscan groups, and I do not know how much of what I say is applicable to, let's say, the Capuchins):

  • Priesthood is a much more central part of the Dominican vocation than it is of the Franciscan one. Don't get me wrong, obviously plenty of Franciscans are priests, and superb ones at that; but, at least in my experience and according to what I think I understood, the Dominican priests constitute the essential kernel of the Dominican order, while the Franciscan priests tend to be "simply" Franciscan friars who happen to have taken the Holy Orders for the benefit of their communities and of the population that surrounds them.

  • Dominicans are big on preaching and study. No, even bigger than that. Their dedication to study and predication is simply unbelievable, and it shows - do not start an argument with a Dominican, ever, because YOU WILL LOSE. HARD :)

They also have other interests, obviously, and for example I know for a fact that, during the last thirty years or so, a number of them have being doing some absolutely magnificent work with youth in my natal city - my mum and dad met there, by the way - but the main focus of the Dominican Order is definitely predication and study.

On the other hand, the Franciscans are big on living with the poor and the afflicted, assisting them, suffering with them, and in general taking the Sermon of the Mount in an annoyingly literal way ;). Now, there have always been Franciscan scholars and preachers, and excellent ones at that, so the matter is nowhere as clear-cut as I am making it; but I think that it is fair to say that Franciscans are found more often than Dominicans in hospitals, soup kitchens and the like, while Dominicans are found more often than Franciscans in universities, colleges and the like.

  • Franciscans do plenty of excellent work on the issue of ecumenism. The Dominicans, as far as I know, less so, and they tend perhaps to have a more polemic vein when discussing with 'heretics' - it's a typical "good cop, bad cop" routine, I guess ;)

  • If we really, really need to take the whole "traditional Catholicism vs. liberal Catholicism" nonsense seriously, I guess that one could say that the Dominicans tend to lean more on the traditional 'side' and the Franciscans tend to lean slightly more on the liberal 'side'. But, frankly, I doubt that this makes any sense whatsoever: both orders are wholly loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and I doubt that either one would appreciate attempts to draw them into this ridiculous excuse for a doctrinal conflict.

Hope that helps!


#4

The Dominican Orders wear a black cloak over white habit.The Fransican Orders wear a Capuchin of brown or grey ,much more versatile .It is after all, all about the clothes.


#5

Priesthood is a much more central part of the Dominican vocation than it is of the Franciscan one. Don't get me wrong, obviously plenty of Franciscans are priests, and superb ones at that; but, at least in my experience and according to what I think I understood, the Dominican priests constitute the essential kernel of the Dominican order, while the Franciscan priests tend to be "simply" Franciscan friars who happen to have taken the Holy Orders for the benefit of their communities and of the population that surrounds them.

I am really pleased that priesthood is a central part of the Dominicans. I want to be a priest and I could see myself joining the Dominicans. I had heard that the priesthood was not a central part of the religious life and this was the main reason I had against becoming a Dominican. Thanks for sharing this because it has made me want to investigate a Dominican vocation even more.

  • If we really, really need to take the whole "traditional Catholicism vs. liberal Catholicism" nonsense seriously, I guess that one could say that the Dominicans tend to lean more on the traditional 'side' and the Franciscans tend to lean slightly more on the liberal 'side'. But, frankly, I doubt that this makes any sense whatsoever: both orders are wholly loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and I doubt that either one would appreciate attempts to draw them into this ridiculous excuse for a doctrinal conflict.

One thing I have found is that the Dominicans are beyond the whole "traditional" vs. "liberal" thing. The Dominicans are all things to all people. I have known Dominicans who will celebrate the EF Mass one day, and preside over a Mass with liturgical dance the next. It is really difficult to categorise the Dominicans because they embrace everything (as long as it doesn't conflict with Church teaching.)

On the other hand, the Franciscans are big on living with the poor and the afflicted, assisting them, suffering with them, and in general taking the Sermon of the Mount in an annoyingly literal way . Now, there have always been Franciscan scholars and preachers, and excellent ones at that, so the matter is nowhere as clear-cut as I am making it; but I think that it is fair to say that Franciscans are found more often than Dominicans in hospitals, soup kitchens and the like, while Dominicans are found more often than Franciscans in universities, colleges and the like.

Thanks for this. Having never met a Franciscan, I know very little about them. I like the fact that they devote themselves to a life of service to others, particularly the poor. However, would I be right in saying that the Franciscans are less scholastic than the Dominicans?


#6

Franciscans emphasize on Poverty. Our rule is different than the Dominican. Bro JR has answered this question before in this forum. We live our lives according the the Gospel as St. Francis did .


#7

Impetinens has captured many of the differences. As a Franciscan myself, I’d like to clarify some points.

Let’s talk about priesthood. The priesthood is not essential to the religious life. The religious life is a complete way of life by itself. The priesthood is not more essential to the religious life than it is to the married life. Religious need priests for the same reasons that lay people who are married need them, the sacraments. That being said, there are religious orders and religious congregations (not the same thing) that were founded specifically to perform priestly ministries. The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) is one of them. They were founded to be preachers in the formal sense (deacons and priests).

The Friars Minor (Franciscans) were never founded. We happened by accident. Francis set out to live his life according to the Beatitudes. Others took notice of him and followed him. Among them there were priests, scholars, merchants, farmers, noblemen and men from many walks of life. That’s why we still call ourselves Friar, which is really very bad English for the Latin word, Frater or Brother. As these men came together, they formed a brotherhood. Later, women joined them and later, married couples and diocesan priests joined them. Eventually, Francis organized his family into three distinct orders: Friars, Nuns and everyone else: seculars, more friars and religious sisters. They are often referred to as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd orders, because of the chronology, not rank.

Those brothers who are priests often perform priestly work, some do not. We have brother-priests who run soup kitchens, serve as maintenance men, are teachers, serve as spiritual directors, or are administrators. In other words, all of our brothers go where ever there is a need. Our ordained brothers (priests) have no special place in the community nor do they have special rights, because they are ordained.

In this, the Dominicans are similar. Their ordained brothers do not have a special place or special rights in their order either, except for one. The Prior must be ordained. They have friars who are not ordained who are very involved in the ministry. However, they do consider the vocation to be a Dominican brother and the vocation to be a Dominican priest to be two different, but complimentary vocations.

Among Franciscans, there are no two different vocations. Everyone enters for one reason, to be a son or daughter of St. Francis. Therefore, a friar (ordained or not), a nun, a sister, a Secular Franciscan are all equal. Each has a ministry according to his gifts and according to the rule of the order.

Now let’s talk about poverty. There is a slight difference between the two orders and there is a similarity. Dominic and Francis insisted that their friars not own property. Both make solemn vows of poverty. However, the Dominicans (men and women) may own property in common or what we would call corporate property. Therefore, they live in houses called Priories.

Franciscans may not own property in common or individually. Therefore, any property that the Franciscans “own” (notice the quotation marks), is really Church property. When the time comes to leave it, the friars may not profit from it. It must be surrendered to the Church. It does not belong to the friars, even though the friars raised the funds. The same applies to the nuns, sisters and Secular Franciscans. Joint property must be surrendered to the Church when no longer useful or when the Church demands it. This is not the case with the Dominicans. It is their property to do with as they wish. But no individual may claim to any of it.

Let’s talk about ministry. The primary ministry of the Dominican family is to preach. Hence they are the Order of Preachers. The primary ministry of Franciscans is to live the Gospel in fraternity. When a Dominican goes out, he goes out to preach. When a Franciscan goes out, he goes out as a brother among many. He preaches by word and life. This takes us back to poverty. How does he live his life and where? He lives his life among the most sinful, the poorest, the immigrant, the unwanted, the unconverted, but most especially among the unconverted Catholic.

The Dominicans were founded to go out and fight heresy. Francis attempted to be a missionary to the Muslims, but that did not work out. When he returned, Clare pointed out to him that Catholics where worse Christians than Muslims were. He made it his mission to convert Catholics back to the Church. Thus, he wrote a number of letters and admonitions for Catholics. That’s how the Secular Order came to be founded. It was a way of bringing Catholic laymen and women into the religious life. It was the first secular order in the history of the Church and it is the only Secular Order that is canonically erected as an independent order of Pontifical Right with its own government, rule, constitutions and papal delegate. All the other Lay Orders and Secular Orders are associations dependant on the religious. Not so with the Secular Franciscans. In this sense, the Franciscan family is much more independent than the Dominicans are. Each order has its own government, its mission and its canonical place in the Church.


#8

Let’s talk about the rule. The Franciscan family has four rules. The Friars Minor has a rule. The Poor Clares has a Rule. The Third Order has two rules, one for the Secular Franciscans and one for the Regular Franciscans. Francis wrote all of them. Therefore, each of the orders has Franciscan Succession.

This is rather interesting. The Dominicans were founded first. Dominic actually founded the nuns first, then the friars. He wrote a rule for his order. However, there was a ban on new rules. All new religious communities had to use one of the existing rules and write constitutions that would adopt the rule to its way of life. Dominic took the rule of St. Augustine. The Dominicans follow the same rule as the Augustinians. They fill in the gaps with the statutes that Dominic wrote for them and their own contribution today.

When Francis approached the Pope Innocent III, the pope had a revelation from Christ. This rule was to be approved, because it came directly from Jesus. Therefore, Pope Innocent waved the ban on new rules, and approved the Rule of the Friars Minor. Later, Francis would approach him with three other rules. Innocent approved one more and died. Pope Honorius approved another and died. Pope Gregory IX approved the rule for the Poor Clares. Then the ban was in place again to this day. No more rules may be written. Every other founder has statutes. The difference is that a rule cannot be changed by anyone except a pope. Statutes can be changed by the membership through a democratic process.

Let’s talk about prayer and penance. The Dominicans are much more monastic in their form of prayer than are Franciscans. They live in communities that mimic the life of the monastery. For example, they chant the Divine Office. Their larger houses have choirs where they pray the office. Francis demanded that the office not be chanted. Franciscans recite the office. We do not have choirs to pray the office. We pray the office as a community wherever we are. It can be in a chapel or while walking. It can be in a parlor or under a tree.

The mass was much simpler than the Dominican Rite. Innocent III gave Francis a missal that the Franciscans used. They made it very popular. This form of the mass would later become what we know today as the TLM. The Church added the Gregorian chant. But the rest of the form was an old form preserved by the Franciscans. The Church would also tweak it to adjust it to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Church, since the Franciscans do not follow the Roman liturgical calendar. We have our own.

Both communities have a tradition of lectio divina, silent prayer, abstinence and fasting. The Franciscans introduced two things into the Roman Church: 1) the Saturday devotion to the BVM and 2) adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Dominicans introduced popular missions. The Franciscans also introduced the Christmas cretch (sp?) and the stations of the cross as we know them. They defended the Immaculate Conception. The Dominicans followed Aquinas teaching that Mary was born without Original Sin, not conceived. However, both have a strong Marian tradition. Contrary to popular myth, Franciscans have great admiration for Aquinas, but we Bonaventure and Augustine. We use their method more than the scholastic method.

Franciscans do not have priors or abbots. Obedience is always to the pope, Francis, the local bishop, the chapter and the Ministers, in that order. The Ministers (superiors) must obey their subordinates. They can only command what Francis, the Church and their subordinates allow them to command. All of this is written into a document called a constitution. The Dominicans have a Prior. He is a servant of the community, but he is the first among equals, if you will.

Francis banned the use of the term Prior. We call Francis, Father and all other superiors, Father. It makes no difference whether the superior is a priest or not. The Dominicans have only priests as superiors over men.

Here is an interesting difference. Even though the Franciscan superior must obey his subordinates, the rule and constitutions say that the subordinates are to obey without questioning. Once the Minister is authorized to command, his commands may not be questioned. This is not the case among the Dominicans. They do not require absolute and blind obedience, as do Franciscans. Yet, their superior is looked up to. The Franciscan superior receives authority from his brothers and seen as the caretaker of his brethren. In the end, the theology is the same, but he structure is different.


#9

Finally, the two orders have been intimately related in ministry since the foundation. Bonaventure and Aquinas were associates and friends at the University of Paris. They defended the mendicants when they were dismissed from the university. The Dominicans and Franciscans defended the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Americas against the Spanish Catholics arguing that the Natives were not pagans and presenting a case before the King and Queen of Spain that would eventually stop the mandatory baptizing of the Indians by the Spaniards and would introduce catechesis and voluntary conversion. The Franciscans would also protect and defend the rights of the Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land as part of an agreement with the Sultan, which allowed them to minister to Christians in that area. This agreement is still in place to this day. The pope created the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land for this sole purpose of serving Christians and pilgrims, without interfering with Muslims and Jews. This does not mean that Muslims and Jews are not allowed to convert. It simply means that there are no missions to convert them. The friars are present in the Holy Places. It’s up to them to come or not. But they do work together for the poor, sick, children and they now have the first joint Muslim-Catholic University in Jordan, which Pope Benedict approved. I’m not sure how that works. So don’t ask me. Obviously, the Franciscans and Dominicans have been involved in ecumenism for centuries, contrary to popular belief. The word ecumenism is a Dominican creation of the 20th century. But the work of ecumenism began with St. Francis. Preaching against heresy and the formation of the clergy was always a Dominican mission. Preaching against Cafeteria Catholicism was always the work of Franciscans. Today, there are some groups who accuse the Franciscans of popolatry, because Francis wrote in the rule that the pope may never be questioned or second-guessed, unless he commands you to commit an act that the Church has identified as a sin. It must be identified by the Church as a sin, not by your conscience. Your conscience is not the arbiter of sin, the Church is. Your conscience must always conform to the teachings of the Church. This is where the Church first came up with the notion of a “well formed conscience.” This was a Bonaventurian concept. But Bonaventure was simply being faithful to his spiritual father.

Both families have made great contributions to the Church and we have great respect for each other. So great is our respect for each other that we refer to both founders as our Holy Fathers, Dominic and Francis. We celebrate their feasts with great joy. We see each other as the two sides of a coin.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#10

Let’s talk about priesthood. The priesthood is not essential to the religious life. The religious life is a complete way of life by itself. The priesthood is not more essential to the religious life than it is to the married life. Religious need priests for the same reasons that lay people who are married need them, the sacraments. That being said, there are religious orders and religious congregations (not the same thing) that were founded specifically to perform priestly ministries. The Order of Preachers (Dominicans) is one of them. They were founded to be preachers in the formal sense (deacons and priests).

While I feel called to the religious life, I also feel strongly called to the priesthood. I would only become a religious if I could also become a priest. Who decides if a brother should become a priest? If I joined an Order, could I ask for permission to become a priest?

The mass was much simpler than the Dominican Rite. Innocent III gave Francis a missal that the Franciscans used. They made it very popular. This form of the mass would later become what we know today as the TLM. The Church added the Gregorian chant. But the rest of the form was an old form preserved by the Franciscans. The Church would also tweak it to adjust it to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Church, since the Franciscans do not follow the Roman liturgical calendar. We have our own.

I never knew the EF Mass was originally the Mass of the Franciscans. I always thought the EF Mass originated with the Order of Preachers because of the fact that Pope St. Pius V, a Dominican, mandated all priests of the Roman rite to celebrate this form of Mass.

Do the Franciscans still celebrate the EF Mass and do the Dominicans still celebrate the Dominican rite Mass? I ask these questions because I attend the EF Mass every week and it would be great if these Religious Orders still celebrated their ancient forms of Mass.

Brother JR, would you also mind explaining what the difference is between a Capuchin and an ordinary Franciscan? I never understood why there were all different kinds of Franciscans. As far as I know, the Order of Preachers doesn’t have different branches like the Franciscans.

Brother JR, thanks for taking the time to explain all of this to me. Your posts have answered a great deal of my questions! Thanks a lot!!


#11

In religious communities that have priests, a candidate would normally state that he would like to be ordained at the time that he applies for admmission. In a community that was founded for priests, such as the Dominicans, once you’re admitted, this course is rarely changed, unless you change your mind or the Major Superior feels that you are called to the religious life, but not to Holy Orders.

In religious communities that are fraternal, such as the Franciscan family, you may also state your desire to be BOTH a priest and a brother. Again, the Major Superior has the final word. Usually, if it is approved from the beginning, the decision stands. However, the Major Superior’s hands are not tied. He may decide that you are called to be a priest, but not a religious. In which case, at some point before making solemn vows, the community would ask you to leave, but would certainly give you a reference to a diocese and you can become a secular priest. The opposite can also happen. The Major Superior can approve you for solemn vows. If for some reason, after you have made solemn vows, he decides that you do not have a call to be a priest, he will deny the permission. In which case, the friar is bound to religious life until death. This does not mean that he can never ask again in the future.

Generally speaking, if a man applies to the community with the desire to be both a priest and a brother and he is admitted to solemn vows, unless something major changes, everything goes as planned.

I should add that no bishop can ordain a member of a religious community without the written permission of the Major Superior. That bishop would be placing himself in great canonical trouble. The Major Superior alone has the authority to approve someone for Holy Orders. In some religious orders the constitution says that he must consult his council. A bishop can refuse to ordain. The Major Superior just finds another bishop.

I never knew the EF Mass was originally the Mass of the Franciscans. I always thought the EF Mass originated with the Order of Preachers because of the fact that Pope St. Pius V, a Dominican, mandated all priests of the Roman rite to celebrate this form of Mass.

What we call the EF today, is not exactly the same as the mass of that time. Our EF goes back to 1962. In other words, it has undergone some changes. As to Pius V, what he did was unify the Latin rite. He did not touch the other rites: Dominican, Carmelite, Ambrosian and Carthusian. These are also forms of the Latin Rite. However, not every cleric was a member of one of these orders. He did not impose these rites on the clergy. The Ambrosian Rite is not properly that of an order. It’s used in Milan and maybe elswhere. I’m not too familiar with it.

The Latin Rite was never the “Mass of the Franciscans”. The Francisans preserved it and spread it throughout Europe, because of their great missionary activities. But it existed long before us. As I said, it was one of many. But Innocent III gave the missal to Francis and it was adopted and adapted. See more Here

Do the Franciscans still celebrate the EF Mass and do the Dominicans still celebrate the Dominican rite Mass? I ask these questions because I attend the EF Mass every week and it would be great if these Religious Orders still celebrated their ancient forms of Mass.

Many Franciscans have learned to celebrate the EF and the local superiors have given permission to celebrate it when there is a quorum for it.


#12

Brother JR, would you also mind explaining what the difference is between a Capuchin and an ordinary Franciscan? I never understood why there were all different kinds of Franciscans. As far as I know, the Order of Preachers doesn’t have different branches like the Franciscans.

As I said above, Francis did not set out to start a new religious order. He set out to live according to the Gospel and many men and women followed him. Therefore, his rule is rather sketchy. After his death, new situations arose that Francis had not addressed in the rule. The friars had to decide how to respond to them. They did not always agree. Remember, Francis began with one brother and had 5,000 by the time he died. That number kept climbing.

Eventually, the popes allowed the friars to gather into smaller communities, each with their own Minister General. There were thre very large communities: Friars Minor Conventual, Friars Minor Capuchin, Friars Minor Observants and many smaller communities. All follow the same rule, but each filled in the gaps as they believed to be the closest to the mind of Francis. In the 1800s, Pope Leo XII gathered the small communities under one group. He united them all to the Friars Minor Observants. When asked which of the many names they should keep, the pope answered, “Why not just call yourselves Franciscans.” That’s how today, we have a branch of the Franciscan family who are simply The Franciscans. They are a merger of many little communities brought together in the 1800s. They have been called by many names: Franciscans of the Leonine Unione, Observant Franciscans or simply Franciscans.

All of these are the same order. They follow the same rule and each Minister General is a successor of St. Francis. There was never a break from the order. They were originally clusters of houses that lived according to a common constitution that filled in the gaps left in the rule. There were several of these constitutions.

Today, there are still many constitutions, but one rule. Therefore, there are many of us Franciscans. Each community tries the best we can to write a constitution that is consistent with the original rule and adds whatever is missing in the rule. The differences are in matters of ministry, degrees of poverty and matters of culture.

The Dominican men were split only once. There is another branch of the Dominican Order. It’s very small and I’m not even sure where they are. As I said in my post above, Dominic set out to start a religious order and St. Augustine also set out to start a religious order. Dominic tooks Augustine’s rule, which was a well written and detailed map and added a few statutes that helped his friars live the life of an itinerant preacher, which Augustine did not envision. The statutes that govern the Dominicans were much more specific and more elaborate than the Rule of St. Francis. There is not much room for diversity.

Francis deliberately leaves his rule very open, because it was not meant for any specific ministry. It was meant for a group of men who wanted to come together to live the Gospel as brothers. He was not too interested in any one ministry. He was not too interested in having or not having priests. He was not interested in having very formal houses and communities. He was interested in one thing only: obedience. His love for poverty is the flip side of obedience. To obey, one must detach from everything that stands between the self and God. The Franciscan rule allows for greater creativity in ministry and in matters of daily life than the Rule of St. Augustine, which the Dominicans follow and the statutes given to them by St. Dominic.

I hope that this helps.

Brother JR, thanks for taking the time to explain all of this to me. Your posts have answered a great deal of my questions! Thanks a lot!!

You’re most welcome

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#13

Thank you Brother JR - for all the great information.

I do have to add to the one poster that said one should never get into an argument with a Dominican - there was once an argument between a Dominican known as St Thomas Aquinas and a Franciscan known as the Bl John Dun Scotus. The Franciscan won this argument and the running tongue in cheek joke is he will never make it to full canonization due to it. So what was the topic you may ask - the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hey you cannot have a thread like this without having a little laugh and poking a little fun as at the end of the day our goal is to evangelize for the Lord Jesus Christ in the name of the Blessed Mother.


#14

When you write to the Prior Provincial of the Dominican Order, you would state your preference. I know of 2 men who have recently been ordained who asked to become lay brothers, but the Prior Provincial convinced them otherwise. In the UK, the expectation is that most Dominican brothers will become priests. The main reason for remaining a lay brother in this country is if one is not considered intellectually up to the task. This is not to say that they are less intelligent - most of the lay brothers we currently have are older men whose education before joining the Order just didn’t allow them to access higher education at the right level. As I say, it would be very unusual in this country (not unheard of elsewhere) not to be ordained.

There are many Traditional Catholics amongst the Dominican friars in the UK, particularly the younger ones! They very occasionally have the Dominican Rite bur do frequently celebrate the EF, according to need. Most conventual Masses are OF.

Correct. All friars are part of the same branch of the Order. There are many variations amongst the sisters (who are not subject to the friars), but that probably doesn’t interest you.

Br JR is right in (everything he says, but particularly) the close relationship and respect between the two orders. For example, here in the UK it is customary for a Franciscan to preach on the feast of our Holy Father Dominic and vice versa.

2 notes on Dominicans:

  1. although JR is right in the greater flexibilty allowed by the Franciscan rule, the primary emphasis for Dominicans is on preaching. Almost everything else can be subsumed into the requirement to preach. For example, although friars live in community, they can miss parts of the LOTH, meals and other parts of the horarium to preach.

  2. Dominicans take only one vow, which is obedience. They are, of course, expected to keep chastity and poverty, but these are seen as being aspects of obedience. Dominican governance is as much as possible by consent. Most posts of authority are elected and the idea is for decisions to be taken communally as much as possible. Dominicans do not subscribe to the idea of a top-down authority (although clearly there will be times when it is necessary for someone to be told to do something they don’t want to), obedience is practised by all within the community. I’m not commenting on Franciscans here because I don’t know their internal systems well enough.

hth :slight_smile:


#15

These were good clarifications… As the other posters can see, there are four major differences between the two orders, but they each serve a purpose.

[LIST=1]
*]Franciscans do not distinguish between ordained and non-ordained. The use of the term Lay-Brother means a non-cleric friar. The reason is that in many orders, the Lay Brothers are usually men who, as said above, have less academic skills and serve the needs of the priests in the order. That is not the case among Franciscans. All friars can go on to higher education. We have non-ordained brothers (Lay Brothers) who are theologians, superiors, physicians, psychologists, and many who have gone through the entire formation program for the priesthood, but are not called to be priests. They use their skills and knowledge according to the needs of the community. The Franciscans do not actively recruit for priests. All of the Franciscan branches always recruit for the Franciscan way of life. If a man feels called to be a priest, he presents that at the time that he applies. The details are worked out slowly as he goes through formation. The stress is on being a faithful son of St. Francis. That’s why we have non-ordained friars who are superiors.

*]Our governemnt is hierarchical. The highest authority is always the pope, followed by St. Francis, the rule that he wrote, the constitutions that are written at a General Chapter, the elected Ministers whose role is to implement the rule and constitutions. Every house has a local chapter too. But that’s only consultative. The Guardian of the house can overrule the house chapter. It rarely happens, because good ideas usually come from it.

*]Community life takes precedence over ministry. A friar, whether he’s a priest or not, cannot regularly absent himself from community life for the sake of ministry, even if it’s to celebrate mass. Something has to change. You try the best you can to coordinate the schedules, is what usually happens. There are those rare times when it’s impossible. One must be ready for that.

*]Finally, the life of the Franciscan Friar focusses on living the Gospel. The ministry, whether it’s preaching, teaching, parish, soup kitche, gardening, cooking, praying or whatever it is, is going to be determined by the gifts and the need. However, there is no one ministry that is specifically Franciscan. It’s really about living the Gospel in obedience. To be obedient, one must be detached. This is where Lady Poverty enters the picture. She and obedience are two sides of the same coin. That’s always our goal, to be detached so that we can obey. Even the ministers must obey. They are not at the top of the “food chain”. LOL
[/LIST]
Most Franciscan communities of men are different from each other, but only in the ministry and the degree of poverty. The rest is pretty much the same, because it’s the same rule. You can’t change the rule or ignore it. You can fill-in the blanks where situations arise that Francis never foresaw. You submit to the decisions made by the chapter as they are enforced by the local Guardian.

But again, even though we’re different, we’re also very complimentary. I think that’s why we have always worked fraternally since the foundation of the two orders.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


#16

There is no difference in the theology of any Religious Order in the Latin Rite of the church. There are differences in the practicess, and in the roles of those orders.

I was brought into the Church by the example of Dominican Nuns. I had been raised with a very strict and fundamentalist Protestant belief pattern. I was suddenly put into a Catholic Boarding School operated by Dominican Nuns (it was the cheapest school my mother could find).

It was the loving, happy and caring attitude of those Nuns that converted me. To this day, I am the ONLY Catholic in my family (most are very anti-Catholic).

It was those Dominican Nuns that taught me that theology is the same the church around. But each religious order has it mission, it rule and each emphasizes different gifts of the Holy Spirit.


#17

There is plenty of legitimate theological diversity in the Latin Church. Franciscans are more likely to be followers of Duns Scotus or Bonaventure. Dominicans prefer Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Augustianian canons and friars look to Augustine as their father. Benedictines have Anslem and other great theologians. These men were not identical in their theology at all. Sure they were all men of orthodox opinion, but one can teach the orthodox faith without agreeing all the time.


#18

In the UK, the expectation is that most Dominican brothers will become priests.

I am really pleased to hear this because I feel called both to the Religious life and the Priesthood. I don’t feel called to the diocesian priesthood at all. Any priestly vocation I embrace would be part of the Religious life because I would really need the community life.

Batfink, do you know anything about the formation process that a Dominican goes through? For example, what kind of things do Dominicans study at Blackfriars? Do they study Ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin?


#19

Br. JR,

I have a quick canonical question, which perhaps you can answer: are modern Franciscan communities members of the Third Order? A Capuchin friar told me the other day that any Franciscan community which is not one of the “Big Three”, so to speak (or the Poor Clares), is canonically a Third Order community–so the CFR’s, FI’s, MFVA’s, etc. would all fall under this category. I found that interesting. Is it true?

Thanks!


#20

[quote="Thepeug, post:19, topic:227534"]
Br. JR,

I have a quick canonical question, which perhaps you can answer: are modern Franciscan communities members of the Third Order? A Capuchin friar told me the other day that any Franciscan community which is not one of the "Big Three", so to speak (or the Poor Clares), is canonically a Third Order community--so the CFR's, FI's, MFVA's, etc. would all fall under this category. I found that interesting. Is it true?

Thanks!

[/quote]

It's not a canonical issue per se. Canon Law does not specifically address this. However, it is a long standing Franciscan tradition that the Order of Friars Minor consists of three branches: Friars Minor Obervants (Franciscans), Friars Minor Capuchin, Friars Minor Conventual. To add another branch to the Order of Friars Minor requires the consent of the pope.

The Order of Poor Clares consists of several branches: Poor Clares, Order of St. Clare, Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, Poor Clares Capuchin, Poor Clares Colettine and a few others.

Next, came the SFO, Secular Franciscan Order. Out of them came the Third Order Regular. A group of diocesan priests and laymen joined the Secular Order. Gradually, they came together to live in community. Eventually, they were erected as an autonomous religious order, not long after the death of St. Francis. Instead of being called the Third Order Secular (TOS), they were called the Third Order Regular (TOR). Francis had already written a rule for the Secular Order. Pope Gregory IX adopted it for those Secular Franciscans who wanted to live the life of a friar. Today, we call them the Third Order Franciscan Friars.

I guess you can say that canonically, we are not a branch of the Friars Minor. We are a branch of the Third Order Regular Franciscan, but we follow the Rule of the Friars Minor. The reason for this is the chronology. All of these Franciscan communities were founded after the third order was founded. As new communities branched out of the larger communities they were appended to the Third Order. However, with the exception of the TOR, the other friars live by the Rule of the Friars Minor. This branch of the family includes:

Order of St. Francis (OSF)
Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA)
Franciscans of the Renewal (CFR)
Franciscans of the Primitive Observance (FPO)
Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI)
Franciscans of the Eucharist (FBE)
Franciscans of Christ the King (FBCK)
Franciscans of Peace (BoP)
Franciscans of Life (OSF)
Brothers of Penance of the Third Order Regular (TOR)
Franciscans of the Atonement (SA)
Franciscans of the Holy Family (FSF)

Those are just Francisan communities of men found in the USA. Between communities of men and women we are over 100 branches of the Franciscan family of religious.

The Secular Franciscans (SFO) are the largest Franciscan order. They number over 500,000. Historians believe that they may be older than the Friars Minor. This is still under study.

At last count, there were about 1.7 million Franciscans in the Catholic Church. That number is not fixed. People die; people enter, and people leave. But we are the largest religious family in the Church.

The beauty of it is that Francis wrote only four rules. Each community follows one of those rules. As I said, Francis had no intention of founding an order. His rules were very simple. They were guidelines on how to live the Gospel. Over the centuries, the brothers and sisters have had to fill-in the gaps to address situations that Francis never thought of. That's how these communnities came to be born. Each comes out of another. They all have Franciscan Succession, because there is no rupture. The founder of one community is usually a member of another Franciscan community or the formator is a member of another Franciscan community. My own community was founded by two Capuchin Friars Minor and three Secular Franciscans. We see ourselves as a family with one single father, Brother Francis of Assisi.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


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