Franciscan spirituality in Protestantism

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This article is about spirituality in Protestantism inspired by the Catholic friar Saint Francis of Assisi. For the original Catholic religious order, see Order of Friars Minor.

Franciscan spirituality in Protestantism refers to spirituality in Protestantism inspired by the Catholic friar Saint Francis of Assisi. Emerging since the 19th century, there are several Protestant adherent and groups, sometimes organised as religious orders, which strives to adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The 20th century High Church Movement gave birth to Franciscan inspired orders among revival of religious orders in Protestant Christianity.

One of the results of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church during the 19th century was the re-establishment of religious orders, including some of Franciscan inspiration. The principal Anglican communities in the Franciscan tradition are the Community of St. Francis (women, founded 1905), the Poor Clares of Reparation (P.C.R.), the Society of Saint Francis (men, founded 1934), and the Community of St. Clare (women, enclosed). There is also a Third Order known as the Third Order Society of St Francis (T.S.S.F.).

A U.S.-founded order within the Anglican world communion is the Seattle-founded Order of Saint Francis[1] (OSF) an open, inclusive, and contemporary expression of an Anglican First Order of Friars. There is also an order of Clares in Seattle (Diocese of Olympia) The Little Sisters of St. Clare,[2] where the OSF is officially headquartered.

There are also some small Franciscan communities within European Protestantism and the Old Catholic Church.[3] There are some Franciscan orders in Lutheran Churches, including the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, and the Evangelische Kanaan Franziskus-Bruderschaft (Kanaan Franciscan Brothers). In addition, there are associations of Franciscan inspiration not connected with a mainstream Christian tradition and describing themselves as ecumenical or dispersed.

Both the Anglicans and also the Lutheran Church has third orders in emulation of the Catholic ones. The Anglicans has a "Third Order of Saint Francis (TSSF)", with the same name as the Catholic third order, the Third Order of Saint Francis, and the Lutherans has a Order of Lutheran Franciscans.[citation needed]

Anglican Communion[edit]

One of the results of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church during the 19th century was the re-establishment of religious orders, including some of Franciscan inspiration. The principal Anglican communities in the Franciscan tradition are the Community of St. Francis (women, founded 1905), the Poor Clares of Reparation (P.C.R.), the Society of Saint Francis (men, founded 1934), and the Community of St. Clare (women, enclosed). There is also a Third Order known as the Third Order Society of St Francis (T.S.S.F.).

A U.S.-founded order within the Anglican world communion is the Seattle-founded Order of Saint Francis[4] (OSF) an open, inclusive, and contemporary expression of an Anglican First Order of Friars. There is also an order of Clares in Seattle (Diocese of Olympia) The Little Sisters of St. Clare,[5] where the OSF is officially headquartered.

Another officially sanctioned Anglican order with a more contemplative focus is the order of the Little Brothers of Francis in the Anglican Church of Australia.[6]

The Company of Jesus Community, of both Franciscan and Benedictine inspiration, is under the episcopal oversight of a bishop of the Episcopal Church (United States), but accepts any baptized Christians as members.[7]

Society of St Francis[edit]

The main manifestation of the Franciscan life within the Anglican Communion is the Society of St Francis. It is fully recognised as part of the Anglican Communion and has around 3,000 members in its constituent orders. The society is made up of several distinct orders: the brothers of the First Order (Society of St Francis, SSF); the sisters of the First Order (Community of St Francis, CSF); the Sisters of the Second Order (Community of St Clare, OSC); the brothers and sisters of the Third Order (Third Order of St Francis, TSSF).[8]

Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi, the founders of the Franciscan movement, produced separate rules for three parallel orders - the First Order were to be mendicant friars, embracing poverty as a gift from God and living community life in the world by serving the poor. The Second Order were to be a parallel community of sisters living a more enclosed life of prayer and contemplation. The Third Order was to consist of brothers and sisters not living in community, nor under full monastic vows, but nevertheless taking simple promises and following a rule of life in the world. These three orders still co-exist as parts of the Franciscan family in Anglicanism as well as in other Christian denominations. Francis also wrote a rule for those wishing to follow the contemplative life (in the style of the Second Order), but living alone as Christian hermits.

The Society of St. Francis includes an order of tertiaries, people who have taken promises and are followers of a version of the Franciscan Rule but do not live together in community.[9][10] This Third Order (T.S.S.F.) was founded in 1950. The T.S.S.F. consists of men and women, lay and ordained, married and single. It is divided into five provinces: Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the Americas.[citation needed]

The Franciscan Order of the Divine Mercy,(FODM}. Based in the United States of America. They live in harmony within the Orthodox Anglo-Catholic Church and invite other Christian faiths to follow an Ecumenical Christian path. They are a Third Order society of Men and Women who live out of community.

First Order[edit]

First Order Franciscans live in community under traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. In the Anglican Communion the male first order is known as the Society of St Francis, and brothers have the initials 'SSF' after their name; the female first order is known as the Community of St Francis, and sisters have the initials 'CSF' after their name. The First Order brothers and sisters operate worldwide, dividing themselves into internal provinces, and have around 200 members.

Second Order[edit]

Second Order Franciscans live in enclosed community, taking the same traditional vows but following a version of the Rule of St Francis modified to reflect a more contemplative lifestyle. Second Order sisters are often known as "Poor Clares", though they should properly be known as the Order of St Clare or the Community of St Clare. The sisters have the initials "OSC" after their names. They are the smallest part of the Franciscan family and are currently active only in the United Kingdom at St Mary's Convent, Freeland, Oxfordshire. The sisters believe that their "enclosed" life does not mean being "shut in", but rather an opportunity to live and work together on one site in real community.[11] The former second order convent in New York, opened in 1922, closed in 2003 following the death of the last sister of the Poor Clares of Reparation and Adoration (OSC).

Third Order[edit]

A Third Order of Saint Francis (TSSF), with the same name as the Catholic third order, exists in the Anglican Communion, alongside the Anglican Society of St Francis and Community of St Francis (First Order Franciscans), and the Community of St. Clare (Anglican Second Order of Franciscan Sisters).[citation needed]

Third Order Franciscans live as a dispersed community, which means that they meet together regularly for prayer, study, and fellowship, but live individually on a day-to-day basis. Some live alone, others as part of a family. Members may be single or married, and male or female. They do not take the traditional three-fold vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but they do enter into a binding promise and live by a rule of life based upon Francis of Assisi's original Third Order rule.

Other Franciscan orders[edit]

Whilst the Society of St Francis (First, Second and Third Orders), operating worldwide, is widely recognised as the principal branch of Francsicanism within the Anglican Communion, there are other religious orders following the Franciscan rule, and living the Franciscan life. Those that are officially recognised as part of the Anglican Communion include the following:

First Order

  • The Korean Franciscan Brotherhood (KFB) is a First Order male community in formation in Korea, with assistance from the Society of St Francis. An SSF brother has headed the KFB since its formation in 1994, and by an agreement reached in 2001 will continue to support KFB in achieving full independence as an order.[12] The brothers are building friaries and a retreat centre.[1]
  • The Sisters of St Francis (SSF) is a Korean community of First Order sisters living in a convent at Cheongwon County, Korea. The sisters engage in community work and parish work within the Anglican Church of Korea.
  • The Order of St Francis (OSF) is an international dispersed community of men. Unique amongst First Order Franciscans, married men may be admitted to membership; this has necessitated changes to the traditional vows, particularly those of chastity and poverty. The vows are still taken, but with a broader interpretation.
  • The Society of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary (FSJM) is a community of women founded in 1935, and living in a convent at Posbury in Devon. The sisters accept guests for retreats and also have a small retreat cottage which is sometimes available for guests. The community is small in number, and has ceased much of its active community work.
  • The Daughters of St Francis is a community of women following the Franciscan rule in Korea.[13]
  • The Order of St Elizabeth of Hungary was an early experiment in Franciscan First Order life for women, founded during the First World War and named after the Franciscan divine Elizabeth of Thuringia. Operating extensively in England and Australia, the society declined rapidly in the 1980s and closed in the 1990s.

Second Order and hermitage

  • The Little Brothers of Francis (LBF) is a small Australian community of men, whose three founders were First Order brothers (SSF) who felt called to a more individual and contemplative life. They live according to the Rule of St Francis for Hermitages, and thus bring a further dimension to the Franciscan family within Anglicanism.
  • The Little Sisters of Saint Clare (LSSC) is a fresh expression of the Second Order rule founded in 2002. The sisters wear traditional habit and follow the contemplative life, but they currently live as a dispersed community (though with regular Chapter meetings) pending the funds to establish a physical convent.
  • The Society of Our Lady of the Isles (SOLI) is a contemplative community living on Fetlar, an island in Shetland (Scotland), according to a hybrid rule derived from a blending of the Franciscan Second Order rule and the Cistercian rule. Oblate sisters live enclosed within the community, whilst fully professed sisters live as solitary sisters, engaging with community activities at prescribed times.

Third Order

  • The Company of Jesus is an unusual order in two respects. Firstly, it is a deliberate mix of the Franciscan and Benedictine rules, forming a "hybrid" community. Secondly, although it is a Third Order movement, it bears many of the characters of the First Order. The members spend large amounts of time in community in traditional habit and the order maintains a residential monastery (Livingstone Monastery in Virginia) where members may live the monastic life, despite their Third Order status.

Lutheranism[edit]

The Order of Lutheran Franciscans is an order within the Lutheran Tradition.

In the Evangelical Church in Germany, apart from the high church movement, there exists a Protestant Evangelische Kanaan Franziskus-Bruderschaft (Kanaan Franciscan Brothers), affiliated with Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary.

In Church of Sweden, there is Helige Franciskus Systraskap (Sisterhood of Saint Francis), a religious community in Klaradal convent in Sjövik.

Franciscan Brothers of St. Michael (FBSM), also in North America, within Evangelical Marian Catholic Church, is a Congregation of men, women and children. are now part of the American Orthodox Catholic Church Inc.

In the Lutheran church, there has been also more general interest to Franciscan spirituality. E.g. "Assisi-Kredsen" in Denmark and "Franciskus-Sällskapet i Finland" are ecumenical societies, which e.g. arrange journeys to Assisi and in Franciscan convents. Members are mostly Lutherans.

Lutheran third orders[edit]

The Order of Lutheran Franciscans is an "undifferentiated" Order in the tradition of the Third Order of Saint Francis. Life-professed women and men, lay or ordained, make Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.[14]

In Europe, there are nine Franciscan third orders, two of which are commonly referenced.

Evangelische Franziskaner-Tertiaren (Lutheran Franciscan Tertiaries, officially "Evangelische Franziskanerbruderschaft der Nachfolge Christi") was founded in Germany 1927 within Hochkirchliche Vereinigung.

Franciskus Tredje Orden, FTO in Church of Sweden, is part of the European Province of the Third Order of the Anglican Society of St Francis. Stockholm based pastor Ted Harris is a well established member and contact man for Franciskus Tredje Orden.[15][16]

Ecumenical organisations[edit]

In addition, there are associations of Franciscan inspiration not connected with a mainstream Christian tradition and describing themselves as ecumenical or dispersed.

The Free Episcopal Church in the USA sponsors the Order of Servant Franciscans, whose members are committed to "the process of becoming" ministers of Christ's message of reconciliation and love, as demonstrated by the holy lives of Saints Francis and Clare.[17][18]

The Mission Episcopate of Saints Francis and Clare, "an autocephalous (self-governing) ecclesial jurisdiction", sponsors the Order of Lesser Sisters and Brothers,[19] open to Christians male or female, married, partnered or single, clergy or lay.[20] The Australian Ecumenical Franciscan Order[21] is now an independent community in which most members live their everyday life in the world. They may be male or female, married, partnered or single, clergy or lay. They may belong to any Christian tradition. There is no discrimination of any sort, save as to minimum age.

The Companions of Jesus,[22] founded in the United Kingdom in 2004, is "a Franciscan Community of Reconciliation".

The United States Order of Ecumenical Franciscans adopted its Rule on 22 November 1983.[23] The Order of Lesser Sisters and Brothers[24] is a dispersed ecumenical Franciscan community similar to the older Third Order model under which most members live their everyday life in the world. They may be male or female, married, partnered or single, clergy or lay. There is no discrimination of any sort, save as to minimum age.

The Ecumenical Franciscan Society from Eastern Europe has Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and free Protestant members.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Order of Saint Francis". 
  2. ^ "The Little Sisters of St. Clare". 
  3. ^ For example, the OSFOC.
  4. ^ "Order of Saint Francis". 
  5. ^ "The Little Sisters of St. Clare". 
  6. ^ "Little Brothers of Francis". Franciscanhermitage.org. 2012-04-28. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  7. ^ "Who We Are". Company of Jesus. 
  8. ^ "The Society of Saint Francis - The Constitution"
  9. ^ The Manual of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis; part 2: European Province. Wantage: Printed by St Mary's Press, 1975
  10. ^ Third Order, S.S.F., Chronicle: the journal of the European Province. Freeland, Oxon: printed by St Clare's Press. (2 issues a year)
  11. ^ The community describes this on this webpage.
  12. ^ The agreement and history are outlined here at the Anglican Communion website.
  13. ^ Details here on the Anglican Communion website.
  14. ^ "Order of Lutheran Franciscans". Lutheranfranciscans.org. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  15. ^ http://www.skolhuset.nu/fto.html
  16. ^ http://www.adolffredrik.se/verksamhet/skolhuset-franciskansk.htm
  17. ^ "Tifpecusa". Tifpecusa.faithweb.com. 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  18. ^ "The Order of Servant Franciscans". Tifpecusa.faithweb.com. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  19. ^ http://orderoflessersistersandbrothers.weebly.com/
  20. ^ "Order of Lesser Sisters and Brothers OSFM". Retrieved 2004-11-26. 
  21. ^ "History". 
  22. ^ http://scjesus.org.uk
  23. ^ "Order of Ecumenical Franciscans". Franciscans.com. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  24. ^ http://orderoflessersistersandbrothers.weebly.com/about.html

Literature[edit]

Articles[edit]

  • Halevi, Masha (2012). "Between Faith and Science: Franciscan Archaeology in the Service of the Holy Places". Middle Eastern Studies. Routledge. 48 (2): 249–267. doi:10.1080/00263206.2012.653139. Retrieved 31 May 2016. (registration required (help)). 
  • Schmucki, Oktavian (2000). "Die Regel des Johannes von Matha und die Regel des Franziskus von Assisi. Ähnlichkeiten und Eigenheiten. Neue Beziehungen zum Islam". In Cipollone, Giulio. La Liberazione dei 'Captivi' tra Cristianità e Islam: Oltre la Crociata e il Gihad: Tolleranza e Servizio Umanitario. Collectanea Archivi Vaticani. 46. Vatican City: Archivio Segreto Vaticano. pp. 219–244. 

External links[edit]

Lutheran[edit]

Anglican third order[edit]

Independent Catholic[edit]

Non-denominational[edit]

Research resources[edit]