Overview of perpetual vows preparation course

Prepared by Gary Devery OFM Cap

Aim: The friars vow to God to live in obedience, without anything of their own and in chastity. They will profess to live this by way of the life and Rule of the Friars Minor in accordance with the Constitutions of the Order of the Capuchin Friars Minor. A sufficient knowledge, understanding and reasonably tranquil living of the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity is presumed to have taken place over the previous years of initial formation.

The Rule and Constitutions will continue to be reference and reorientation points and guides for a normative Capuchin way of life into the future.

The aim of this course is to assist the friars to approach the Rule and Constitutions critically, that is, with sufficient tools to carry out a dialogue, individual and fraternally, in analysing and evaluating how the Rule and Constitutions will be an orientation point for the changing vicissitudes of life. The critical approach will hopefully then be of assistance in formulating judgements for action in applying the Rule and Constitutions or recognising necessary adaptions to the latter for a continued fidelity to the evangelical life.

This course is brief and therefore cannot be too ambitious in the depth of the analysis of such an important theme. Nevertheless, it can provide some basic critical tools for the friar to continue to be responsible for his ongoing formation as a perpetually professed friar.

Logic of the choice and flow of the articles: There are four articles written by Capuchin friars competent in the fields they address. Their articles are to be used as a guided reading for the first part of the course, hopefully accompanied by fraternal discussion.

The first two articles are by Pietro Maranesi. Intentio Francisci provides a critical look at the passage from the Regola non bollata to the perceived need for the Regola bollata. In this passage from one normative text to the other the tensions between the intention of Francis and the changing needs and requirements of both the Order and the Church can be observed. This will continue to be a travail for each generation of friars.

The second of Maranesi’s articles, The minoritic Constitutions reveals the same travail in the perceived need, and resistance to it, of an accompanying text to the Rule. Maranesi will note that in the Capuchin Constitutions of 1536 is to be found the most mature expression in the Franciscan tradition of the travail from life to legislation.

The article of Calloni, “States” of the Capuchin Reform 1528-1596 demonstrates parallel tensions experienced by the friars of the early Capuchin reform as to those of Francis in the progress from the Regola non bollata to the Regola bollata in the first Maranesi article. For the Capuchins it will be the movement from eremitical/contemplative to charismatic itinerancy and preaching, and then, consequent to such events as the Ochino crisis and the great expansion in numbers, to a more conventual way of life, as demonstrated by the likes of Saint Felice of Cantalice.

The final article by Cargnoni, The Rule of Saint Francis in Capuchin Tradition demonstrates the friars in the first two centuries of the Order applying a critical approach, according to their own particular time and tools, in discerning the Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation in the tension between the vicissitudes of their own time and fidelity to the Rule and the intention of Francis.

The course concludes with a reflective reading of the Formula of Profession.