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St Francis in the ancient habit of the Order, with the tonsure of a friar Deacon.

St Francis in the ancient habit of the Order, with the tonsure of a friar Deacon.

First, there is not much advice that can be given by email for a vocation, so rely on what your spiritual director tells you, after reading and praying over what I am about to say.

As for the form of life which I live, it is the ancient observance of the Rule of St. Francis as the Popes through history have said it was his intention to be observed. This observance existed from the beginning of the order, was temporarily suppressed by Pope John XXI in the 13th century, but revived by some brothers a few decades later, was promoted by the Saints of the Reform, such as St. Bernardine of Sienna, St. John of the March, St. John Capistrano, etc., and existed in the OFMs until 1953 when they altered their constitutions and abandoned it as a formal requirement of their community.

Presently there are no other friars of this observance in the world, and though I have searched for 18 years have not found any, mostly because other friars are either unaware of the ancient Papal documents or are disposed to think that one must conform to the world more than observe the Rule, for the sake of the apostolate they say.

So every couple of years I put a call out for vocations, and that is how I came to write this present letter.

The Ancient Observance requires that a man put unlimited trust in the truth of Scripture and especially in all the words and teachings and counsels of Our Most High Lord Jesus Christ. This requires that a vocation intend to love God not only above all things, but before and more than all things; and that he abandon entirely his own prudence and do what the Apostles did after Cana, “Do whatever He tells you”, abandoning everything and living in obedience, chastity and without property and money either personally or in community.

Such a life is for souls who understand that simplicity in matters of faith and hope and charity is superior to the calculating prudence of men. And being simple souls trusting in the words of God the Truth, they find the sacrifices of this life a joy, since they know that in it they spiritually walk with Christ just as the Apostles did with Him on earth, and that He walks with them by providence and grace.

We live in a very dark, pragmatic, materialistic world shaped by the ideologies of modernism and sentimentalism. This life is therefore not for all vocations and most cannot understand it. And of those who can, unless they pray and desire it greatly, indeed more greatly than any thing, they cannot grasp it or embrace it.

So, that is what it takes to discern such a vocation. And with such a vocation discerned, nothing else matters at all. So if there is such a vocation, I say, let him contact me, and I will found a community and teach him this ancient observance.

And the best way he can be prepared is simply to consider this, that since Our Lord even in His human mind knew the actual future of the world until the end of time, for whomsoever intends to put into practice whatever He counseled, such as, “Take with you neither gold nor silver, nor two cloaks etc.” He is obliged by grace to provide for until the end of time, just as He said, “There is NO ONE who has forsaken father, mother, brother, sister, home or property, who WILL NOT receive a 100 times as many in this world, and in the world to come, life ever lasting”.