The council or meeting of elected brothers or sisters which deliberates and makes decisions about the community is known as the Chapter.
Community of St Francis (CSF)
Now the oldest surviving Anglican Franciscan community, CSF was founded in 1905 by Sr Rosina Mary. In 1964 the sisters became part of the Society of St Francis (SSF), adopting The Principles as their Rule. In 1973 they were recognised as the sisters of the First Order.
The first of the Orders to be created by Francis consisted of those men who followed Francis taking the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience as vows, and were received into the fellowship of the community. The Roman Catholic Church recognises that there are three branches of the First Order: the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), the Coventuals (OFM Conv) and the Capuchins (OFM Cap).
For Anglican Franciscans, the First Order also include a women’s community (CSF) who follow the same Rule as their First Order Brothers.
Guardians are heads of houses or local communities and have the care and charge of brothers and sisters living in their friary or convent. Francis deliberately chose the terms Minister and Guardian in direct contrast to Superior, Abbot and Prior, indicating that those in positions of leadership in the Order should be seen as the servants of the community.
The distinctive clothing of a community, common to all, is known as the habit. In some community houses the habit is worn at all times, in others only at certain times or for certain activities, in others only on formal occasions. The white, three-knotted cored is a Franciscan symbol reminding its wearers of the three vows.
Ministers have the care and charge of brothers and sisters in a Province (Minister Provincial) or of the whole Order (Minister General). Francis deliberately chose the terms Minister and Guardian in direct contrast to Superior, Abbot and Prior, indicating that those in positions of leadership in the Order should be seen as the servants of the community.
A member of a community who is in the formation stage of their Religious Life, when he or she learns the mind, work and spirit of a particular community whilst living among its members, is normally known as a novice. The Noviciate is a name for the whole group of novices.
The round of liturgical services of prayer and worship, which mark the rhythm of the daily routine in the religious life, is called the Office. Religious communities may use the services laid down by the Church or may have their own particular Office book. Anglican Franciscans have their own book, The Daily Office SSF, which contains Morning, Mid-day, Evening and Night Prayer.
Someone who is in the first stage of living the religious life. The postulancy usually begins when the aspirant begins to live in the community and ends when he or she becomes a novice and receives the habit. Postulants usually wear secular clothes, perhaps with some distinguishing feature to mark this initial commitment.
The Principles are the Rule of the First Order Anglican Franciscans. They are in large measure derived from the documents of the Christa Seva Sangha, a brotherhood established in 1922 in Poona, India. They were revised in 1930 for the Brotherhood of the Love of Christ, St Ives, Huntingdonshire, England and again in 1937, when the Brotherhood of the Saint Francis of Assisi, Hilfield, Dorset, England amalgamated with them to form the Society of St Francis (SSF). The Community of St Francis, founded in 1905, became a part of the Society in 1964 and adopted The Principles as their Rule, as did the Order of St Francis, a men’s community in America when they became part of SSF, in 1967.
The Principles are arranged for daily reading over a month, and are read corporately each day in Franciscan houses.
The ceremony at which a religious brother or sister makes promises (or vows) to live the Religious Life with integrity and fidelity to the Rule. The profession of these vows may be for an initial period of some years, or for life. The pattern in the Anglican Franciscans is to make a ‘first’ or simple profession in which the vows are made to the community. After three or more years, a Life Profession may be made, which is to the church, and so the vows are received by a Bishop.
The written text containing the principles and values by which the members of a community try to live. The Rule is not simply a set of regulations, although it may contain such; it is an attempt to capture the spirit of a community in written form. Some Franciscan communities follow traditional Rules, such as that of St Francis and St Clare; others have written their own in the spirit of Francis or Clare. The Rule of the First Order of the Society of St Francis is called The Principles.
Rule of Life
A short rule adopted by an individual or a community laying out clearly the obligations and duties of the individual or each member of the community, such as prayer and attendance at Office and Eucharist; penance; study; work and leisure; retreats and quiet days, etc.
The Order of the Poor Ladies of Assisi, who came to be known as the Order of St Clare, or simply, the Poor Clares, constitute the Second Order of the wider Franciscan family. They live the contemplative life, concentrated on prayer within the convent, rather than on work or ministry outside the house.
Society of St Francis
SSF is both the name for the First Order brothers among Anglican Franciscans, and also of the umbrella organisation which includes First Order brothers and sisters, Second Order sisters and Third Order sisters and brothers.
The five wounds received by our Lord on the cross are traditionally known as the stigmata. They were made by the nails penetrating Christ’s hands and feet when he was nailed to the cross, and by the lance of the soldier in the side of Christ (John 19:34).
The stigmata of St Francis was the occasion in 1224 when St Francis received in his own body on Mount Alverna the stigmata of Christ, during a vigil of prayer following Holy Cross Day. This incident in the life of Francis is usually celebrated on 17 September.
Third Order (TSSF)
Members of the Anglican Third Order are known as the Tertiaries; in the Catholic Church they are called the Secular Franciscans. They are men and women who take vows modified so that they are able to live in their own homes and have their own jobs. They may also marry and have children. They have a Rule of Life and are linked to other Tertiaries through regular meetings.
The promise or promises made by a religious sister or brother at profession. Traditionally they are vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.