Enclosed are answers to common questions we get. Hopefully these answers will help you see what a contemporary religious order is like and how you may find joy and benefit in a deeper commitment to the Lord and in serving others.
How is a religious life defined?
Essentially its the vocation of devoting your life to God. Your probably thinking "Huh?". Our order defines a religious life as a commitment to Christ and our fellow man, lived out in a disciplined manner, as a witness of the Anglican Communion, we adhere to the daily office, weekly Eucharist, and to the rules of the order: obedience, chastity, and poverty. Moreover, we believe in applying the unique gifts given to each of us by the holy spirit for the betterment of all God’s people.
What does a religious life with the OSF look like?
Who joins your community?
Our community embraces all men. We don't care what your social status, age, state of health or sexual orientation is.
What is the difference between a Monk and a Friar?
We are different from the prevalent perception of a religious life, or what television and movies present. We do not live quietly in a stone monastery set on the side of a mountain; we are friars not monks. Friars live and work out in the world, demonstrating the love of God in visible and tangible ways. A monk is a member of a monastic order; they reside at a monastery, have a cell in which they live, and are cloistered meaning set apart from the world. Friars, who we are, are active in the world. Further, of the two major branches of Franciscans we are considered contemporary.
What parts of my life will change?
The life of a friar is not an easy one. There are many challenges and rewards. You will have expectations placed on you by others. You will gain new friends, and you may have others slip away. Your lifestyle will change even more than it has over the recent years. Your values will intensify, your religious experiences will deepen, and your love for your fellow human beings will grow in ways you may not have anticipated.
What attracts men to a religious life?
Essentially, men who are attracted to this life desire the opportunity grow closer to God and to become a vessel of witness and works on behalf of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This desire can be manifest in The Order of St. Francis with fellowship, resources, and the present assistance of fellow Brothers who can serve as a resource or witness.
What are the requirements for men that are called to this life?
There are several requirements, but the two main ones are:
1) You need to be baptized and a member in good standing of a church within the Anglican Communion.
2) You must obtain a letter from your Priest regarding attendance and member ship at your church.
There are other requirements further down the road but these two are of primary importance. Most members start as a Postulant. This is a time of discernment both by the member and by the order.
Do I need to be an Episcopal/Anglican to become a member of this order?
You need to be both baptized and a member in good standing of a parish within the Anglican Communion in the See of Canterbury. This can be a parish within the Church of England, Episcopal church, Ecumenical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), etc. If you are not baptized or a member of a parish we can help you out.
Do you live in a friary?
Wherever we live is our friary. We live geographically dispersed to serve as many people as possible as Father Francis wanted. Luckily today’s world allows us to communicate almost instantly, whether by email, web, cell phones, so we stay in contact frequently. Some brothers are separated by three thousand miles, others by only a short geographical distance.
What if I am married; in a committed, long term relationship; or have children?
Congratulations! Loving relationships are the center of Christ's teachings and its one thing our Anglican roots strongly embraces. Priests can marry and so can our friars. Balancing this form of religious life can be challenging in many ways. The spouse is brought into a life that they know you are seeking, yet may not fully understand. Time commitments; deeply emotional experiences, both good and bad; and unforeseen expectations, require a strong, understanding and resilient relationship. As for children, clearly they are your greatest joy and responsibility. Insuring they are healthy, educated, and living well is obviously consistent with the order’s values.
Is there an age limit to membership?
No, if you are called, you are called. As we are structured differently than some orders, living in the world and financially responsible for ourselves, we do not see older members as a potential hardship. The Lord stirs people at different times of their life.
What about my secular and religious education?
A religious calling is not driven by the mind; it is an affair of the soul. Your education level has very little to do with your call to a religious life. The levels of education in the order range from a solid basic education to Ph.D.s and theological degrees.
Do you have a regular job?
Most of us do to support our ministries and the ministries of our brothers. Saint Francis wanted his brothers to earn their keep by doing honest work for their meal.
What about my house and my financial situation?
Again, since we live in the world, we have responsibilities; however, we adhere to a simple lifestyle. The goal of this life style is to free oneself from material items not truly needed, and allow time and resources to serve God. We do not ask others with whom we have relationships to join in our lifestyle. We do, however, ask for an allowance to live simply. We don’t require divestment of homes or finances, but more about that later as we define
and discuss poverty.
How long will it take to join
This comes up a lot. This is not about a timeline or status. Basically those that are called are already Franciscans. Those that need to meet a timeline or be able to wear the habit or put OSF by their name are not getting it. Once you have prayed on the subject (discernment) and feel this is what God is calling you to do.. when I say "calling you to do" I mean to live a life as Christ taught us in the Gospels, thats when you are on the Franciscan path. If you need to be in an order first before you are doing this then it's probably not what you are being called to do. Franciscans are a fraternity of men called by God. You are not Franciscan first, you are a follower of Christ first then you just happen to be a Franciscan because we are men with similar calling. Don't be concerned with novitiate, first profession, life profession. Be concerned with loving everyone as if they were the most important person on earth, as if you were interacting with Christ himself, and everything else will fall into place.
Since you are spread out, how do you worship together?
The brothers each have a personal altar in their residence. The size and placement is at the discretion of the brother. This home altar is vital to a religious life as it provides focus and aids in religious discipline. Brothers that live in proximity sometimes share worship at church services, and the bi-annual convention is a time of gathering for corporal worship. Saint Francis would say that each brother carries their cell with them, a reference to our Benedictine brothers. At the appropriate time of the day he would drop to his knees and pray his office.
Is this the only Episcopal/Anglican Franciscan Order?
Gosh no, The Society of St. Francis is the largest group; they are based in New York. The Franciscan Order of the Sacred Heart (FSC) (A Traditional Anglican Religious Order) is in Florida. there is also the Little Brothers of Francis in New South Wales.
Are the brothers of the Order of St. Francis considered ministers/priests?
Priests can be friars but friars don't have to be priests. We take vows which is separate from the holy orders that priests take. St. Francis refused the holy order of the priesthood; yet toward the end of his years he was ordained as a deacon. We generally are not priests or deacons, but may be if called by God.
Do I wear my habit all the time?
Your habit is to be worn at all official services of the church and order. A brother is expected to wear the Tau cross, which is presented to him at the induction service, at all times.
What about chastity, obedience and poverty?
Oh this is the big one! Lets dive in..
Chastity is a vow that brings sexual temperance. The order expects such relationships to be characterized by fidelity; monogamy; mutual affection and respect; careful, honest communication; and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God. We denounce promiscuity, exploitation and abusiveness in the relationships of any of the brothers. The order intends to hold all brothers accountable to these values.
Obedience is obeying the will of God and submitting to requests made by the Minister General, the precepts of The Order and the Church which allows us to practice humility.
Poverty is commonly seen as lacking the socially acceptable amount of money or possessions. As brothers, this is about intentional poverty, living simply in order to focus on God. Some brothers choose varying degrees of ascetic existences such as living in small places with only the basic needs, shopping at thrift stores for clothing and other expressions of thrift and simplicity.
Discerning if this is the right life choice?
Well you made it this far, that's a good sign. Clearly reading this short manuscript cannot answer every question that you might have about living such a life with the Order of St. Francis. So we might recommend a couple of things.
- If you have not been associated with a discernment group at your church you might want to consider such a process. Your priest or deacon can give you more information for calling a group together.
- Prayer is one of the most powerful means of gaining insight to your path. If you are not already doing so, pray about your path.
- Look at your reading material; what are you reading and what direction is it taking you?
- What would you tell your closest friend if they came to you with similar questions about their religious path?
- What religious endeavors have been most rewarding for you?
- What have life’s ups and downs taught you?
- Am I drawn to this life, pushed toward this life, or both?
- Am I at crossroads or transition point in my life?
- Has something kept pulling you toward this type of life over and over?
Once you have answered these questions and think this type of life may be what God is calling you to then contact us and we will be happy to start discussing it with you.