HISTORY AND PURPOSE OF THE ORDER

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The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion is a traditional, orthodox, Anglo-Catholic Religious Order formed to preserve the historic Catholic Faith as the Anglican Church received it.  First Order members are Friars.  Second Order Members are Poor Clares. Third Order vocations are secular in nature. Tertiaries (Third Order Members) and Non-Conventual Oblates of St. Francis (members of the Order who have taken one or more of the traditional monastic vows in addition to the promises of the Third Order) do not live in monasteries. Although under vows, they pursue the "religious life" while living in their own homes.

The information that follows is primarily focused on the life of a Tertiary.  For information on other forms of membership in the order, contact Fr. John-Mark, OSF, Vicar-General by sending him e-mail from here.

Our Beginnings
Historically, Francis of Assisi was called by God to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, and so, "build up the Church, which was spiritually falling into decay." In this calling, he chose Lady Poverty as his companion and the Holy Gospel as his rule. Armed with the Catholic Faith, he went out to bring the love of God to a waiting world. Soon others wanted to join him in his way, and so an order of poor brothers was formed [The First Order].  Likewise, a noble born girl of Assisi, Clare, sought him out to join his order.  He received her vows and asked her to undertake as her vocation the high calling of a life of prayer, and so, the Poor Clares [The Second Order] came into existence. As time went on, Francis became aware that there were many who desired to share in the Franciscan witness, but due to worldly ties [family, vocation, commitment, etc.] could not do so.  In the year of our Lord 1221, Francis received the vows of Blessed Luchesio and his wife Bonadonna, a married couple living in the city of Poggibonsi, and the Third Order was born. Francis told them to live in the world and to do penance for the sins of mankind.
 

Our Goal

It was Divine Compassion that caused Our Blessed Lord to come from Heaven and offer his life and death in penance for the sins of the world. It was in imitation of that Divine Compassion that Francis sent the first Tertiaries [members of the Third Order] to do penance in the places where they lived for the sorrows and shortcomings of all men. In the words of the prayer attributed to St. Francis, "Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
 

Our Way

As did our Holy Father Francis, so we, too, strive to give ourselves to Lady Poverty in the spirit of simplicity. All that we possess is a trust from God, given to us to administer in stewardship. It is not the possession, but the attachment to worldly goods, which separates us from our Lord. Tertiaries, though they possess property and work to support themselves and their families, will strive to live in the spirit of simplicity according to their station in life, ever mindful of the world's poverty and its demands upon them. We take as our rule the Holy Gospel, as did St. Francis, striving to make our Lord known and loved by all men in all places. Our vocation is to do penance for all mankind, spreading the love, brotherhood, and unity of our Lord Jesus Christ among all people.
 

Our Commitment

In order to meet the demands of our way, a Tertiary must be committed to right faith, and a life of prayer, study, and work in his or her life:

[A.] We believe that commitment to a common faith is the foundation on which our corporate life is built. We therefore require all Novices prior to their profession, to give written acceptance to the Credenda of the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion ["The Credenda" is a formal statement of the Holy Catholic Faith as contained in Scriptures and the Historic Creeds; as taught by the early Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church; and as confirmed by catholic consent in every age to the present]. A copy of "The Credenda" is enclosed for your review.

[B.] Our commitment to a life of prayer, study, and work is achieved through the formations and commitment to a rule of life.

The postulancy normally lasts for six months, during which time postulants will receive guidance in the formation of a rule of life. Monthly reporting and mailed correspondence is required, since a Third Order vocation is lived in the secular world and pursued from the postulant's own home.

At the end of the postulancy, a postulant may request reception into the novitiate. He or she will be asked to submit a rule of life and make his or her first promises. The postulant will also be required to report monthly and to make a monthly renewal of those promises and of his or her pledge to keep the rule of life.

The novitiate normally lasts for two years, during which the postulant will receive instruction on the Holy Catholic Faith as contained in The Credenda. At the end of the two years and upon successful completion of all requirements, the postulant may request either profession in the Third Order or Oblate status. In addition to the normal Third Order promises, Oblates take one or more of the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Postulants will then be required to give written acceptance of The Credenda.

At that time you will make your first simple perpetual promises, which are predicated on an annual renewal and pledge. Professed Brothers and Sisters of the Order are normally required to report on their observance of their rule and on their Franciscan way of life at the end of each calendar quarter of each year.

The Rule of Life may be changed at any time with the approval of the Order.

If you feel moved to try your vocation with our Order, there are several things you are asked to do at this time:

[A.] Read a life of St. Francis. We require St. Francis of Assisi, by Omer Englebert (December 1982, Servant Publications, paperback), which is available through our Franciscan Hands web site.

[B.] Print out the Application and return it as indicated. The Order considers the answers to the questions asked to be "confidential" in nature, and they will not be shared beyond that which is reasonably required in order to verify the information you provide.  For an Application in A4 (non-USA) format, click here

[C.] Submit a short paragraph on why you feel that God is calling you to try your vocation in the Third Order.

[D.] Ask your parish priest, or some priest known to you, or if in Orders, your Spiritual Director, to write the Order giving his assessment of your spiritual pilgrimage up to this time.

[E.] Choose a Spiritual Director who you feel possesses the spiritual qualities necessary to aid you in your vocation and life of prayer. This person need not be a priest, but should also be under the guidance of a Spiritual Director. During the postulancy and novitiate, you will be asked to meet with this person at least monthly. Each member of the Order is required to have a Spiritual Director approved by the Order.
 

May God be with you as you contemplate a vocation  in The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion.
 

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