III - The Brothers' Life of Prayer

34. Our Seraphic Father, thoroughly Catholic, apostolic and enlightened by
God’s Spirit, always held the Roman Church in special veneration, as the judge
and mother of all other Churches. Hence he laid down in the Rule that the
clerics should say the office according to the custom of the Holy Roman
Church, and in his Testament forbade them to alter it in any way. We
therefore order that the brothers, united in spirit under the same standard and
called to the same end, shall observe the same rites as those used by the Holy
Roman Church as regards the Missal, Breviary and Calendar.

35. On hearing the first sound of the bell for the Divine Office, the clerics
and priests not legitimately prevented shall make their way to the choir as
quickly as they can to prepare their hearts for the Lord. There, with devotion,
composure, mortification, recollection and silence, they shall remember that
they are in the presence of God, about to engage in the angelic function of
singing the praises of God.

36. The Divine Office, and that of Our Lady, shall be said with all due
devotion, attention, gravity, uniformity of voice and harmony of mind,
without embellishments or harmonies and with proper pauses, with the voice
pitched neither too high nor too low, but moderately. The brothers shall
endeavour to sing to God more with their hearts than with their lips, so that none shall be able to say to us what our Saviour said to the Jews:" This people
honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me".

37. The lay brothers shall assemble at the beginning of Vespers, Compline
and Matins, and for the Te Deum Laudamus, or for the Miserere When the
communal preparation is over and the Office commences they may retire to
the church or other suitable place and say the Our Fathers laid down by the
Rule. On all festivals they shall assist at Vespers. They shall say their five
Offices for the dead for our benefactors, according to ancient custom, i.e. the
first around the feast of St Mary Magdalene; the second around Michaelmas in
September; the third on St Francis?; the fourth in Advent and the fifth in
Septuagesima. In choir the night office of the dead shall be said every month
during the year, and weekly during Advent and Lent. During Lent, and on
the days appointed according to the rubrics of the Breviary, the gradual psalms
and the seven penitential psalms shall be recited with the Litanies. At Mass
and Divine Office only the words contained in the missals and breviaries shall
be said, with the correct ceremonies.

38. Since the celebration of Mass is a ministry that is eminently divine, we
order that no cleric be promoted to the subdiaconate before the age of twenty
two, to the diaconate before twenty three, or to the priesthood before he is
twenty-five years of age, in accordance with the Decree of the Council of Trent,
and those who have been ordained shall not say Mass until they have reached
that age. Nor shall any cleric be ordained to the priesthood unless, in addition
to a good spirit, he also has sufficient intelligence to enable him to pronounce
and understand the words he utters when celebrating. Nor shall he be
ordained without the permission of the Reverend Father General unless he has
been at least eight years in the religious life, and anyone who has ordained
before that time shall not be allowed to perform any priestly act.

39. When sending clerics for Ordination, the Provincials shall observe the
Decrees of the Sacred Congregation of the Council of Trent: namely, the shall
send them to the bishop of the diocese of the friary where they reside, and not
to others, except where the diocesan bishops are absent or unwilling to
conduct ordinations, in which case they may send them to other bishops. And
if they do go to other bishops, the obedience must expressly mention the
absence or other impediment of the diocesan bishop.

40. Clerics and priests who are not very literate must prepare what they
will have to read in public at Mass and the Divine Office, lest they harm the
things of God, disturb the congregation and provoke the holy Angels who
assist at the worship of God.

41. We exhort priests that, when celebrating Mass, they do not allow the
eye of their mind to turn towards human favour or glory or anything
temporal, but with a simple, pure and clean heart they shall celebrate out of
pure charity, with the most humble faith and devotion, seeking only the glory
of God. Let them prepare themselves with as much care as their frailty will
permit, since sacred Scripture denounces as accursed anyone who performs
this work of God negligently. And since this act above all others pertains to God, He is highly displeased when it is performed irreverently. Neither
should they desire any earthly reward for celebrating, but follow the example
of Christ the High Priest, who without any temporal advantage offered
Himself for us on the painful cross. Let them rather realise that they have
acquired a greater obligation in the sight of God. And when incense is used, a
cleric shall serve the Mass.

42. On feast-days the clerics and lay brothers shall attend as many Masses
as they can, and daily strive to attend the Conventual Mass if they can. We
exhort everyone to remember to pray to God often for all the faithful in all
their Masses, Offices and prayers - for the living as well as for the dead - since
our Seraphic Father expressly mentions this in the Rule.

43. We exhort all brothers who attend the celebrations of priests to do so
with the utmost reverence; their attitude in the presence of such a sublime
mystery should be like that of the angels before the face of God. They too
should celebrate and communicate spiritually together with the priest, offering
in union with them a sacrifice that is so pleasing to God.

44. Since holy prayer is our spiritual mistress, the mother and nurse of all
true virtue, in order that the spirit of devotion, above all things desirable,
should never fail or grow lukewarm among us, but continually burn on the
sacred altar of our heart and be enkindled more and more, as our good Father
wished, we order that, whilst a good devout brother should always pray
inwardly, nevertheless at least two special hours be set aside for prayer, one
after Compline during the whole year, the other from Easter until the Nativity
of Our Lady immediately after None, except on fast days when it shall be after
Sext, and from the Nativity of Our Lady until Easter, after Matins.

45. Let the brothers remember that prayer is nothing other than speaking to
God with the heart. Consequently, he does not pray who speaks to God only
with his lips. Therefore, whenever possible, there must be room not just for
vocal prayer but also mental prayer, and according to the teaching of Christ,
our highest teacher, let the brothers worship the Eternal Father in spirit and
truth, taking great care to enlighten their minds and enkindle their affections,
far more than to utter words. Before None or Matins, and on fast days after
Sext, they shall recite the litanies, calling upon the Saints to pray for us. Before
Compline the Litany of Our Lady shall be said. No other Offices shall be added
in choir, so that the brothers have more time to devote to private mental and
prayer, which is far more fruitful than vocal prayer alone.

46. Since our Father, wholly Catholic as he was, ordered at the beginning
and end of his Rule that special reverence be paid to the Pope as Vicar of Jesus
Christ our God, and likewise to other Prelates and priests, we order that in
addition to the ordinary prayers each friar, during his private prayers, shall
pray the divine Goodness for the welfare of the Church Militant and for His
Holiness, that he may be given the grace to see clearly, to will effectively and to
carry out successfully everything that is to the glory and honour of the divine
Majesty, the salvation of the Christian people and the conversion of heretics
and unbelievers. They shall do the same for all reverend Cardinals, Bishops and Prelates who are directly subject to the Supreme Pontiff: for the Emperor,
for all Since our Father, Catholic as he was, ordered at the beginning and end
of his Rule that special reverence be paid to the Pope as Vicar of Christ our
Lord and God on earth, as well as to other Prelates and priests, we order that
in addition to the ordinary prayers each friar, during his private prayers, shall
pray the divine Goodness for the welfare of the Church Militant and for His
Holiness, that he may be given the grace to see clearly, to will effectively and to
carry out successfully everything that is to the glory and honour of the divine
Majesty, the salvation of the Christian people and the conversion of
unbelievers. They shall do the same for all reverend Cardinals, Bishops and
Prelates who are subject to the Supreme Pontiff: for His Highness the Emperor,
for all Kings and Christian Princes, and for all people, especially for our
benefactors, to whom we are most indebted.

47. In addition, since we know that silence is the safeguard of the religious
spirit, and since according to St James the religion of the man who does not
refrain his tongue is vain, we order that, as far as our human frailty allows we
shall observe evangelical silence, knowing, as the infallible Truth said, that we
shall have to give account on the last day for every idle word. So great is the
abundance of divine grace towards us who are consecrated and dedicated to
God’s worship, that it is no small fault for a us to speak unnecessarily of
worldly things.

48. As regards regular silence, it shall be perpetual in the church and in the
dormitory. In these places it shall not be lawful to speak without necessity, and
then only in a low voice and briefly. In the refectory silence shall be kept from
the first sign given at table until grace has been said. And in general, from
Easter onwards the signal shall be given for silence everywhere from the
beginning of evening prayer. After lunch at a suitable time silence shall be
observed by all until the prayer of None has been said, and likewise from
midnight until the bell for Prime the following morning. Anyone breaking the
silence is to recite five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys in the refectory with
arms extended in the form of a cross. Always and everywhere the brothers
shall accustom themselves to speaking in a religious manner, without making
a noise, for such a fault is unbecoming in religious.

49. In order that our body may not rebel against the spirit but obey the spirit
in all things, and in memory of the most bitter passion of our sweet Saviour,
we order that the customary disciplines, namely on Mondays, Wednesdays
and Fridays, shall not be omitted even on major feasts. The discipline shall be
taken after Matins, except when it is very cold, in which case it shall be done in
the evening. During Holy Week the discipline shall be taken every night. And
the brothers, while they discipline themselves, shall think with compassionate
hearts of the sweet Christ, the Son of God, bound to the pillar, and shall strive
to experience at least some tiny part of his sufferings. They shall meanwhile
recite the Miserere, the De Profundis and the Antiphon Christus factus est pro
nobis obediens with the prayer, Respice. And after the Salve Regina with its
versicle they shall say five devout prayers, the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
50. In addition, to avoid anything that could offend the most sublime
poverty, spiritual peace and tranquil humility, and in order to maintain peace
between ourselves and other clerics and priests, and to avoid all impurity,
which might in time leave a blemish on our Order, we order that the dead shall
not be buried in our places, except in the case of someone too poor to find
someone to bury him, in which case we must show mercy and charity to them
and receive them, with permission of the Ordinary.

51. Similarly, the laity are not to be buried in our churches, but our brothers
shall be buried in some becoming place close to the church. Where possible a
chapel shall be build adjacent to it for this purpose, or else near to the church,
with an altar on which to say Mass and a place to bury the brothers who die
there. We point out that the body is not to be buried under the altar.

52. When the brothers visit sick seculars, they shall take care not to induce
them to be buried in our places, and if they request it they shall in no way be
allowed. Lest such a new practice cause scandal to those ignorant of the good
reasons for it, they should be informed and helped to understand.

53. When one of our brothers dies, the others shall be careful to commend
his soul to God with devout charity. And in the province where he dies, each
priest shall say Mass for him, the clerics shall say Matins for the Dead and the
lay brothers one hundred Our Fathers. And every week each priest shall say
one Mass or a collect for all our deceased brothers.

54. To maintain uniformity in the ceremonies, both in choir and in every
other place, the teaching of St Bonaventure and the Ordinances of our ancient
Fathers shall be read. And in order the better to understand the mind of our
Seraphic Father, we should read his "Fioretti", the "Book of Conformities" and
other writings of our Order.

55. Since abstinence, austerity and discipline are highly praised by the
saints, and since after the example of Christ our Lord and of St. Francis we
have chosen a strict life, the brothers are exhorted to keep the holy Lents that
our blessed Father used to keep (although a penitential brother will always
fast). They are not to have excessive or superfluous meals, but rather ordinary
ones. On Wednesdays, they shall not eat meat. And in order to limit the
insatiable desires of the body, no more than one kind of soup shall be served at
table. On fast days some cooked or raw salad may be added. And let them
remember that, whereas a little suffices to satisfy necessity, nothing can satisfy

56. And in order that, according to our holy Saviour's teaching, our hearts
are not coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness, but our minds may be
clear and our senses mortified, we order that strong wine shall not be served at
table unless mixed with a reasonable amount of water. Even then, it ought to
appear a sensual delight, when we remember that, according to St
Bonaventure, our Father St Francis did not dare drink enough water to quench
his thirst, because he said it was difficult to satisfy necessity without giving in
to sensuality. It will seem delightful to them if they remember that Our Lord Jesus Christ was denied water on the cross, and He was given wine mixed with
myrrh, or vinegar and gall. And St Jerome writes that in his day even the sick
monks would drink cold water and to eat anything cooked was considered

57. No special treatment shall be given at table, except to sick, travelling,
aged or very weak brothers, And if any brother wishes to abstain from wine,
meat, eggs or other foods, or to fast more often, his Prelate shall not prevent
him if he sees that it will do him no harm, but rather encourage him, provided
he eats at table with the others. As a sign of poverty, tablecloths are not to be
used, but only a small napkin for each brother.

58. They shall be careful not to allow any secular person to eat in the
refectory with the brothers, except when this cannot be avoided without giving
grave offence. The reading at table and the customary ceremonies shall be
observed as usual, and all shall be content to treat them modestly in
accordance with our state.

59. No brother shall presume to take any bodily refreshment either at home
or outside, without the blessing of the Prelate, or if he is not present, of the
senior brother.

60. Since anyone who delights in worldly feasts is easily defiled, we order
that the brothers are not to attend feasts except in order to preach the word of
God, after the example of Christ our only Master who, when invited to a feast
did not wish to go, but later went in order to preach. We should remember
that, as the Blessed Paul said, we have been made a public spectacle before
God, the angels and mankind; and they should strive to live such exemplary
lives that God may be glorified through them.

61. In addition, we order that the brothers shall not go outside the house
alone, but with a companion, after the example of our holy Saviour’s disciples.
And they shall not travel without the written obedience of their superiors,
sealed with the provincial or local seal. For this purpose each of our houses
shall not fail to have a seal, according to the ancient tradition of religious. They
shall not part company on the way, nor quarrel, but with all humility and
charity, following the example of Christ the blessed one, let each strive to serve
and obey his companion, considering him as a brother in Christ. If necessary
they shall fraternally correct one another, and if they do not amend, shall
report each other’s faults to their Prelate.

62. And since our Father tells us in his Testament that God revealed this
greeting to him: "The Lord give you peace", we order the brothers to use this
evangelical of greeting.

63. Because true lesser brothers should depend on their loving heavenly
Father with lively faith, we order that when they are travelling they follow the
counsel of Christ and take no provisions of food with them, except in case of
real necessity, especially when they go among people who are meek, familiar
and devout, not going far from place to place but leaving all care of themselves to God, who feeds not only the animals but also those who constantly offend
Him.. They shall not stop to sleep or eat in cities or towns that are near our
places, except in case of great necessity. We order that in the lands where our
houses are, no brother shall dare to go and conduct any kind of business
without first being presented to the Father Guardian or else to the Vicar of that
place. And no-one, without his permission, shall dare to go and eat or sleep in
the house of seculars, even of their relatives, and the Prelate is not to give such
permission easily. The same applies when leaving that place, and anyone who
contravenes this order is to eat bread and water and take a discipline in the

64. When arriving in any of our houses, as true sons of our heavenly Father
they shall first visit the church, and having spent some time in devout prayer
they shall present themselves to the Prelate and show him their obedience.
And when the brothers of the same house go out on some business they shall,
in addition to requesting the Prelate's permission, kneel and ask for his
blessing. They shall do the same on returning home. And all the brothers shall
strive to avoid vain and unnecessary conversations.

65. Since some of the ancient patriarchs, through their hospitality, merited
the privilege of entertaining angels, we order that in each place a brother be
appointed to welcome strangers with great care and with all possible charity.
Following the example of the humble Son of God, he shall wash their feet, with
all the brothers assembling for this act of charity, reciting as they do so some
devout hymn or psalm, and always considering themselves as useless
servants, while doing everything they possibly can.

66. In order that we may run more freely along the way of the divine
commandments, no animal for riding shall be kept in any of our houses.
However, in case of need, according to the example of Christ and His imitator
Francis, it is permissible to ride a donkey, if one can be had. In this way our
lives will always preach the humble Christ crucified. If anyone does ride
without such manifest necessity he shall eat bread and water on the ground
five times, more or less, as the Vicar shall decide depending on the gravity of
the excess.