A LIFE OF FRATERNITY, MINISTRY, AND PRAYER
“Inspired by God, St. Francis initiated a gospel form of life that he called a brotherhood according to the example of the life of Christ and His disciples.” Capuchin Constitutions #83:5
“For this reason, united by faith in God and nourished at the table both of the Divine Word and the Eucharist, we love one another that the world may know we are Christ’s disciples.” Capuchin Constitutions #83:7
Capuchins see their life in fraternity as defining who they are and enabling them to live a life of equality and mutual support. Our communities, on average, have three to five friars who gather for prayer at least twice a day and take their meals in common. All of the goods of the friars are held in common, each friar contributing whatever he can to the support of the community.
“The Son of God was sent into the world 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” Capuchin Constitutions #144:1
God wishes that each of His beloved children contribute to the ongoing creation and renewal of the world through the diverse gifts that have been given to each just for that purpose. In that sense, we are all called to ministry and so we are all called to continue Christ’s mission of healing the world.
Capuchins carry out this mission through many kinds of ministry and service to their brothers and sisters in Christ. Following the example of St. Francis, Capuchins are both contemplative and active, each kind of life informing the other and both equally important.
Capuchins have always served all people, but with a special emphasis on the poor and the marginalized- those whom our society forgets or rejects but who we know are beloved by God and deserve to live in dignity and security. Capuchins serve in all kinds of parishes (inner city, suburban, and rural); we are chaplains in hospitals, prisons, and colleges; we are involved in youth and retreat work; we serve the poor in soup kitchens and in assisting them with clothing, housing, and immigration issues; the list goes on. We are also serving God’s people in Guam, Hawaii, Honduras, Japan, and Africa.
Wherever there is a need, Capuchins are there to do whatever they can to empower the people we serve and let them know that God loves and cares for them.
“Desiring above all things the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity, praying always God with a pure heart, let us offer people a witness of authentic prayer in such a way that they may see and sense in our faces and in the life of our fraternities the goodness and kindness of God present in the world.” Capuchin Constitutions #45:8
Prayer is nothing more, and nothing less, than a response to the God who continually and in all places invites us into a deeper relationship with Him. As St. Paul urges us, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)- or in other words, pray at all times and in all places, and allow prayer to influence and to shape every part of your life and every action that you perform. St. Francis was able, with the grace of God, to do just that- so much so that he was seen to be “not so much praying as becoming totally prayer.” (Thomas of Celano- Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, #95)
Capuchins are men of action, but in order for us to be effective ministers in the world we first need to be contemplatives, or those who aim to see God’s presence and action in all parts of our world. We foster that contemplative sense through many forms of prayer: meditation and mental prayer which makes us aware of God's presence within us and in the world we live in; the celebration of the Eucharist which helps us to become united to Christ and to one another in Christ; and the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in which we offer the prayer of the Church and sanctify the hours of the day. Private prayer and devotions are encouraged and each friar is expected to make a retreat once a year.
Prayer is obviously a priority for the Capuchins and we make sure that we are faithful to this part of our life. We know that without prayer we can do nothing.