IX - The Apostolic Life of the Brothers

136. Preaching the Word of God, is one of the most honourable, useful and
divine duties of His Church on earth, on which, under God, the salvation of the
world principally depends. This was why Christ our God had it so much at
heart, and wished to exercise this ministry Himself with all the fervour of His
divine love.

137. In order to ensure that the noble and fruitful work of preaching is never
lost among us (which would cause grave harm to souls), we order that in every
Province, where possible, there shall be a few places for devout and holy
studies abounding in charity and humility, both in grammar and in sacred
letters, and other sciences necessary for a better understanding of sacred and
scholastic theology. Since anyone who would preach worthily and with due order needs to have
some understanding of scripture as well as a religious and upright life; and
since this is naturally impossible except through some literary study, Brothers
shall only be admitted to studies by the Provincial Vicar of the Province, by the
Definitors at a Provincial Chapter, or by the Father General, if, in the
judgement of those Fathers, they have fervent charity, irreproachable conduct,
humble and holy conversation, and are able to learn, so that later by their life
and teaching they may be useful and productive in the house of the Lord.
Admission to studies shall be by secret ballot. Normally, brothers shall not be
admitted to study logic and philosophy if, in addition to their good conduct,
they have not spent at least two years in religion after their profession. We
also command that those who do not have the good qualities mentioned
above, or who are slow-witted, shall not be made to study, and if they have
been, they should be removed as soon as they are discovered to be unfit and
unworthy of study.

138. Let the students not seek to attain the sort of knowledge that only
inflames pride, but let them strive to profit from the love of Christ, which gives
the light and fire of charity. They should not be so absorbed in literary study
that they neglect zeal for holy prayer. This would be against the expressed
intention of our Holy Father, who wished that holy prayer should never be
abandoned for the sake of any literary study whatsoever. On the contrary, in
order to possess the spirit of Christ our Lord more securely, both lectors and
students should endeavour in their studies to pay more attention to the spirit
than to the letter, since without the spirit true learning is never acquired, in
fact the letter alone blinds and kills.

139. Therefore we order that all our lectors who are healthy should turn up
for the night office in choir, at least for Matins, and for Vespers, and one hour
of prayer. They should read, and take care of themselves under obedience to
their Prelates, and should not normally preach during the year. Finally, we
enjoin upon the students attendance at Matins and all the canonical hours in
choir, and for prayer; if they do otherwise they shall be removed from study.

140. Those who are put to study should also strive, while maintaining holy
poverty, never to leave the royal road that leads to heaven: that is, holy
humility. Let them often remember the fine saying of Blessed Jacopone, that
knowledge without a humble heart inflicts a mortal wound. It will be an
occasion of humility for them if they realise that they have acquired new
obligations in the sight of God through being found worthy of studies and
being admitted to the true and consoling understanding of the sacred
scriptures, under which lies hidden Him, the Supreme Good, Whose Spirit is
sweeter than honey to those who taste it.

We exhort them, each time they go to lectures, to recollect themselves in a
spirit of humility, and with a contrite heart to raise their minds to God, saying:
LORD, I am the lowliest of your servants, unworthy of anything good, but I wish to
enter and see your treasures. May it please you to let me come in, and give me the gift,
through these words and sacred reading, of loving you as much as knowing you, because I wish to know you only so that I may love you, my Creator, my Lord and my
God. Amen.

141. Having completed their theology course they may be promoted to the
office of preaching, but not before having been examined and approved by the
Most Reverend Father General, as intended and commanded by our Rule, and
not until they have made the Profession of Faith in accordance with the Decree
of the Council of Trent, and the Constitution of Pope Pius IV, of happy
memory. The same is to be done by the Lectors before they are promoted to
that office.

142. This ministry is not to be conferred upon anyone who is not seen to be
living a holy and exemplary life, clear and mature in his judgement, and of
strong and fervent will, because we know that knowledge and eloquence
without charity are often destructive rather than edifying. In fact, often it is
destructive, as St Gregory says, because the preaching of one who lives a
despicable or careless life is easily despised. For this reason, the Prelates shall
take great care not to show any respect for persons when assigning this office:
they must not be swayed by human friendship or favour, but act solely out of
zeal for God's honour, aiming to have a few capable preachers rather than
many who are incapable. In this they should imitate the profound wisdom of
Christ, Who from so great a number of the Jews chose only twelve apostles
and seventy-two disciples, and then only after having prayed at length.

143. In addition we order all preachers to refrain from using trivialities,
novelties, poems, other vain, redundant, strange or useless notions, redundant
or strange doctrines or subtleties that few understand. Rather, following the
example of John the Baptist, let them raise their voices and proclaim with
passion: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”; with St Paul the
Apostle let them preach Christ crucified, and as our Father St Francis exhorts
us, let them preach about vices and virtues, punishment and glory, with
brevity, putting Christ forward as their principal example, for His authority
prevails over all other persons and reasons in the world. They should base
their preaching on sacred Scripture, and consequently on the Apostolic and
ecclesiastical traditions, and the sacred Councils and holy Doctors. Let their
discourses be careful and honest, without descending into criticism of any
particular person, least of all of Religious and Prelates of the Church. If they do
otherwise they are to be severely punished.

144. They should avoid complicated, rhetorical and affected phrases as
unworthy of our naked, humble, crucified Lord, using instead words that are
simple, clear, plain, humble and lowly, and above all inspired, ardent and full
of charity, after the example of that chosen vessel Paul, who did not preach in
the high-flown words of human eloquence but with the power of the Holy
Spirit. Therefore we exhort preachers to strive to imprint upon their hearts
Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour through humble, fervent and constant prayer,
so that He can take peaceful possession of them, and that He may speak and
act in them through overflowing love, like Paul, the Teacher of the Gentiles,
who did not dare to preach virtue to others unless Christ had first
accomplished it in him. This was commanded and taught to us by Christ Himself, our perfect Teacher, not only in word but by His own example, when
He taught that those will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven who first do
God’s will themselves, and then preach and teach it to others.

145. We therefore order preachers who are healthy that when they are not
engaged in preaching they attend choir for all the canonical hours and for the
ordinary prayers, as far as this is possible, and live common life with the other
brothers. And those who cannot fast and keep to the Lenten regime while
preaching shall by no means be allowed to preach.

146. Our preachers are forbidden to accept superfluous or sumptuous meals,
but they shall live like poor mendicants, as they have freely promised out of
love for Christ. Being content with what is necessary for their keep, let them
above all things beware of any kind of avarice, so that by freely and sincerely
preaching Christ they may reap more abundant fruit. We forbid them when
preaching to ask for money either for themselves or for our brothers, so that as
the Apostle teaches all will know that they seek the interests of Christ Jesus,
and not their own, in other words, God’s glory and the salvation of souls
redeemed by His precious Blood.

147. Still more do we forbid and command them not to accept from the
communities or from any individual any reward or monetary wage on account
of their preaching, which would be simony; nor shall they have books, habits,
clothes or anything else bought for them that would appear as payment or
reward for their preaching. The Provincial Vicar shall make transgressors take
the discipline in the refectory for the space of a Miserere, and if they do not
mend their ways they shall be suspended from the office of preacher

148. But if the need arises, for piety’s sake, to make some recommendation
on behalf of a poor person, they must by no means involve themselves in
receiving or distributing alms, either themselves or through third parties acting
in their name.

149. In order that, while preaching to others they do not themselves become
outcasts, they shall sometimes leave the crowds behind and return to solitude,
to ascend the mountain of holy prayer and contemplation with our gentle
Saviour, staying there long enough to be so filled with God that the impulse of
the Holy Spirit will once more move them to sow the divine graces in the
world. They shall endeavour, like the Seraphs, to be inflamed with love for
God, so that their own fervour may enkindle others. By doing this, now
serving in the ministry like Martha, now in silence like Mary, they will be
following Christ in the mixed life, who after praying on the mountain, went
down to the temple to preach, or rather, He came down to earth from heaven
in order to save souls.

150. Therefore all preachers shall strive to ensure that, as soon as possible
once they have finished the course of Lenten sermons, they leave the town or
place where they have been preaching and return to their friaries, unless
compelled by necessity, lest the fruit they have harvested in the Lenten season be lost through over-frequent conversation and familiarity with seculars, and
the authority and reputation of their ministry is diminished.

151. Anyone who does not know how to read and imitate Christ, the Book of
Life, lacks the learning necessary for preaching. Therefore, so that they may
study Him, we order preachers not to carry many books, because the blessed
Christ Himself contains all the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge. But
all the necessary books of the brothers shall be kept in common and not
individually, as was always our Seraphic Father's intention. And so that
poverty can be better observed and all individualistic attachments removed
from the brothers’ hearts, we order that in each house there shall be a small
room where the sacred scriptures shall be kept, together with a few holy
Doctors and spiritual books. But useless and worldly books which make a
man more pagan than Christian are not to be kept in our houses, and if there
are any such let them be given back to their owners or else burned, as the
General or Provincial Vicar shall determine.

152. We also forbid anyone to presume to have books printed or published,
either by himself or through others, without written permission from the Most
Reverend Father General. And the General shall not give permission without
first having them seen and examined by a few learned persons. Once they have
been examined and approved, he may allow them to be publicly printed, but
with the permission of the Ordinary or others deputed. If anyone acts to the
contrary, he shall be deprived of all legitimate acts, in addition to the penalties
prescribed by the Lateran Council.

153. All the brothers should remember the Admonition our Seraphic Father
left us in his Testament, that we are to honour all theologians and those who
minister to us God’s most holy words, as those who minister spirit and life.