Collage of the life of the Little Brothers of Francis
Browse Our Site - menu to right

Rule for Hermitages

Contemplative Living and Prayer
or
Rule for Hermitages
St Francis

Reflections on Lifestyle

Introduction

Everything we do is related to the life of prayer, the prayer of the community and the prayer of the individual. In choosing a life of prayer we seek to create an environment that aims at nothing except living in the presence of God. The contemplative life exists for its own sake and to fulfil the first and the most important commandmen4 March, 2010 God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the most important commandment said Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The great joy in the solitary life is not found simply in quiet in the beauty and peace of nature, or in the song of birds, or even in the peace of one’s own heart. It resides in the awakening and the attuning of the inmost heart to the voice of God - to the inexplicable, quiet, definite inner certitude of one’s call to obey Him, to hear Him, to love Him, and worship Him here, now, today, in silence and alone. It is the realisation that this is the whole reason for one’s existence. (Thomas Merton)

In not engaging in pastoral work, preaching and other apostolic activities we seek to offer a clear alternative to these in the life and witness of the church. It is ironic that, in the very giving up of seeking to change the world through these activities, places of contemplative prayer exercise a profound influence.

St Francis' Vision and Rule for HermitagesClick here to return to top of this page

1217-1221

Bullet

Not more than three, or at the most four Brothers should go together to a hermitage to lead a religious life there.

Bullet

Two of these should act as mothers, with the other two, or the other one, as their sons.

Bullet

The mothers are to lead a life of Martha; the other two, or one, the life of Mary.

Bullet

Those who live the life of Mary are to have a separate enclosure and each should have a place to himself in which he may pray and sleep.

Bullet

Immediately after sunset they should say Compline of the day. They must be careful to keep silence and say their Office, rising for Matins.

Bullet

Their first care should be to strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mtt. 6:33)

Bullet

Prime and Terce should be said at the proper time, and after Terce the silence ends and they can speak and go to their mothers.

Bullet

If they wish, they may beg alms from them for love of the Lord God, like any other ordinary poor people.

Bullet

Afterwards, they should say Sext and None, with Vespers at the proper time.

Bullet

They are forbidden to allow anyone to enter the enclosure where they live, and they must take their meals there alone.

Bullet

The Brothers who are mothers must be careful to stay away from outsiders and in obedience to their custos keep their sons away from them, so that no one can speak to them.

Bullet

The Brothers who are sons are not to speak to anyone except their mother or their custos, when he chooses to visit them, with God’s blessing.

Bullet

The sons, however, may periodically assure the role of the mothers, taking turns for a time as they have mutually decided. Let them strive to observe conscientiously and eagerly everything mentioned above.

The Principles set out in the Rule as understood by the Little Brothers of FrancisClick here to return to top of this page

St Francis’ Rule for hermitages is not prescriptive in the way that some Rules are for other Orders:  like that of St Benedict which covers every aspect of the life for his monks from the psalms to be used in worship to the role of the Abbot. But, with its brevity, the rule for hermitages clearly sets out the principles necessary to live and organise life within a hermitage.

The following is our understanding of the principles expressed in the rule for hermitages.

Community

Size

Each hermitage is to have three or, at the most, four brothers, which means that they would be both little and fraternal.

Bullet

Not more than three, or at the most four, Brothers should go together to a hermitage to lead a religious life there.

Authority

Authority resides in the group and not in a single person or leader, as understood by these words:

Bullet

Two of these should act as mothers, with the other two, or the other one, as their sons.

Bullet

The sons, however, may periodically assume the role of the mothers, taking turns for a time as they have mutually decided.

Bullet

The Brothers who are sons are not to speak to anyone except their mother or their custos, when he chooses to visit them, with God’s blessing.

All Brothers should be involved in discussions about issues that arise. But at the end of this process, the decision is made only by those who are in Life Vows. Among them there must be a consensus or no decision is to be made.

We envisage a federation of hermitages, with three or four Brothers in each, and the Custos being elected from among the brethren who live in the various hermitages.

Worship

Liturgy of the Hours is the focus, and sets the rhythm of the daily prayer.

In order to protect this focus, those that join the Brothers should remain in whatever ecclesiastical state they are in, before and after joining.

Those who are priests are to relinquish any licence to celebrate or perform any function pertaining to their office.

Bullet

Immediately after sunset they should say Compline of the day. They must be careful to keep silence and say their Office, rising for Matins.

Bullet

Prime and Terce should be said at the proper time, and after Terce the silence ends and they can speak and go to their mothers.

Bullet

Afterwards, they should say Sext and None, with Vespers at the proper time.

Ministry

The hermitages are not to be places or centres of ministry.

The life itself is a wordless sermon.

Bullet

They are forbidden to allow anyone to enter the enclosure where they live. Brothers who are mothers must be careful to stay away from outsiders and in obedience to their custos keep their sons away from them, so that no one can speak to them.

Bullet

The Brothers who are sons are not to speak to anyone except their mother or their custos, when he chooses to visit them, with God’s blessing.

Solitude

Within this framework, Brothers could withdraw for periods of solitude.

Bullet

Two of these should act as mothers, with the other two, or the other one, as their sons.

Bullet

The mothers are to lead a life of Martha; the other two, or one, the life of Mary.

Bullet

The sons, however, may periodically assure the role of the mothers, taking turns for a time as they have mutually decided.

The Gospels

Their first care should be to strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Mtt. 6:33)

Jesus said:

So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.

But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was! (Mt.7:24-27)

Therefore we need to ponder and pray the Gospels because they are the only books in which we have Jesus’ life and teaching.

MembershipClick here to return to top of this page

What we would be looking for:

That Jesus and your love for Him is the most important thing in your life.

In response to that love:  the Religious Life is the means and vehicle to express and work out one’s discipleship.

The Qualities necessary for those seeking Membership

Bullet

Good Health

Bullet

Preparedness to put in a good day's work, particularly manual work.

Bullet

A driving license

Bullet

Preparedness to find and develop some small cottage industry to generate an income

Bullet

A commitment to prayer expressed in the Liturgy of the Hours and personal prayer

Click here to return to top of this page