The Way Of The Franciscan Brothers Of St. Elizabeth
Cap Haitian, Haiti
Who are the Franciscans?
Franciscans are souls called to dedicate themselves to following Our Blessed Lord in the example of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis is the "spiritual father" of all Franciscans. He was born and lived his life in Italy during the early part of the thirteenth century. Through various manifestations, Francis became aware that God was calling him to a life of poverty and service to the poor. In spite of opposition, his reputation and life of dedication to God’s work grew in recognition. Others soon joined him. Francis’s "literal interpretation" of the Gospel became the foundation of the Franciscan Orders. When he died in 1226, Francis was already regarded as a saint, and the orders which he had founded had spread to all of the known world. Our Rule of Life teaches us to daily perform works of service to the poor, our Church and to all who may be in need.
1. "I love the Father." Jn. 14:31 "I have come that they may have life." Jn. 10:10 The call to follow Jesus as the only master and Lord is the foundation of the Christian vocation illuminating the life of the friars.
2. They have a deep desire to know and love him better and to be instrumental in bringing others to know him more and more. With faith in his resurrection, keeping in mind his life and teachings, as well as, his passion and death, the friars strive to model their lives on his.
3. Participation in the Eucharist of the Lord and openness to his Spirit of holiness enable the friars to share in his plan for the greater glory of the Father.
4. Within the Church, which is called to manifest the love and self-giving of the Savior, the friars' particular vocation is to embrace freely a life of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
5. The friars venerate the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and spiritual Mother of the Church.
6. The community has possessed from the beginning certain distinguishing features: the formation of a community of friars who live in faith, hope, and love with fidelity to prayer; the choice of simplicity in all things; a preference for service among underprivileged of the world and participation in the proclamation of the Gospel.
7. Wherever the community exists it is called to hand on, as a precious heritage, an ardent love for the Church and relieve those who suffer.
8. The community seeks to embody the qualities which marked St. Elizabeth's spirit: her simplicity, her fervor and generosity drawn from the heart of Christ and bearing fruit in joy, her great zeal which has spread like fire to the whole world.
9. The community is present today in Bucksport, Maine but, we have touched God’s poor even in distant Haiti andMexico . It has a ministry of presence and viability. It is blind to divisions of class, culture, color, denomination or any other factor of separation. Those, chosen by Christ, to be members of this community are called upon to see the face of Christ in all of humanity and serve Christ in his many and varied distressing disguises. "In the simplicity of my heart I have joyfully offered all to God." 1 Chron 29:17
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Elizabeth was queen of Hungary and wife of Louis, the landgrave of a part of Hungary called Thuringia. Elizabeth followed the example of Francis in her love of the poor. She would bring bread daily to the hungry who lived in her jurisdiction. Her husband, Louis, forbade her to mingle with the poor but, her call to love Christ in the "least of her brethren" outweighed the powerful authority of her spouse. One day while on secret mission of delivering bread she encountered her husband coming on horseback in the other direction. She quickly concealed the basket of bread beneath her cloak. When the king met up with her, he demanded that she reveal what she was hiding. Elizabeth obediently, though reluctantly, opened her cloak and revealed her basket but, upon looking down she discovered that the freshly baked bread was gone and the basket was overflowing with fresh scented, ruby red roses. To this day, images of St. Elizabeth always include these two beautiful symbols — bread and roses! After the king’s death, St. Elizabeth renounced her fortune, converted her palace into a hospital for the poor and joined the Secular Franciscans. She spent the remainder of her short life in service to God’s poorest of the poor. Elizabeth is the patron saint of bakers. It is for that reason and the wonderful witness of her life of consecration to Christ that she was chosen as our patron saint as well.