Questions & Answers

Common Vocation Questions

The following questions are often asked by those discerning a vocation to the priesthood/religious life. The answers to all questions on this page are taken directly from the Constitutions of the Capuchin Friars Minor. As such they are not the personal opinion of any one friar, but the expression of the mind of the whole Order. Click on the links below to see what the Constitutions have to say:

* What is the central focus of your Order?

* Why do you make it difficult to enter your Order?

* What are some of the things you would look for in a person asking to join your Order?

* If I decided to join the Capuchin Order, who has to give permission?

* What is "Postulancy"?

* What happens in "Novitiate"?

* What does the vow of Poverty mean?

* What about this vow of Chastity?

* What about the vow of Obedience?

* What sort of apostolate do the friars get involved in?

* Who is in charge of the order? Who has authority?

* Why are the Capuchins called "Friars"?

* Are you allowed to have contact with your family, relatives and friends?

* I understand that fraternity, for the Capuchin friars, is an important part of their way of life.How does it work in practice?

* What do the Capuchins have to say about prayer?

* What exactly are the words used to make profession of vows?

 

WHAT IS THE CENTRAL FOCUS OF YOUR ORDER?

St. Francis, the founder of our fraternity, from the very beginning of his conversion accepted the Gospel as the guiding principle of his life and activity. [Capuchin Constitutions 1:3]
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WHY DO YOU MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO ENTER THE ORDER?

St. Francis, concerned about the purity of his way of life, and foreseeing the great growth of his fraternity, at the same time was afraid of having a lot of unsuitable brothers. Therefore, those who wish to embrace our life should be carefully examined and selected. [Const. 17:1,2]
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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU WOULD LOOK FOR IN A PERSON ASKING TO JOIN YOUR ORDER?

* The candidate must be temperamentally suited to live the fraternal fellowship of our Gospel life.

* It must be evident that they have the physical and mental health necessary to live our life.

* Candidates must show by their lives that they firmly believe what the Church holds and believes and that they have a Catholic spirit.

* They should have a good reputation, particularly among those who know them well.

* They should be of appropriate maturity and fervent will, and it must be understood that they enter the Order solely for the purpose of sincerely serving God and the salvation of people in accordance with the Rule and way of life of St. Francis and our Constitutions.

* They should be educated according to the standards of each one's region, and should show promise of being able to carry out their future duties successfully.

* Especially where there is a question of candidates of more mature age and those who have already had some experience of religious life, all useful information concerning their previous life should be obtained.

If there is question of admitting secular clerics or those who had been admitted to another institute of consecrated life, a society of apostolic life, or a seminary, or readmission of a candidate, the prescriptions of universal law must be observed. [Const. 17:3]
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IF I DECIDE TO JOIN THE CAPUCHIN ORDER, WHO HAS TO GIVE PERMISSION?

Besides the General Minister, it belongs to the Provincial Minister in each Province to admit candidates to postulancy. [Const. 19:1]
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WHAT IS "POSTULANCY"?

The Postulancy is a period of initial formation and of choice of our way of life. During this period the candidate gets to know our way of life, while the fraternity, on its part gets to know the candidate better and is able to discern his vocation. The formation of the Postulants is aimed chiefly at completing their catechesis in the faith and includes an introduction to the Liturgy, methods of prayer, Franciscan instruction and first experience of apostolic work. It is also meant to test and develop their maturity, especially their emotional maturity, and their ability to discern the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. [Const. 28:1,2]
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WHAT HAPPENS IN THE "NOVITIATE"?

The Novitiate is a period of more intense initiation and of deeper experience of the Capuchin Franciscan life of the Gospel in its fundamental demands, and it presupposes a free and mature choice of the religious life. The direction of the novices, under the authority of the major superiors, is reserved solely to the Master of Novices. The formation of the novice is based on the values of our consecrated life. The rhythm of life in the Novitiate should correspond to the primary aspects of faith, contemplative prayer, fraternal living, contact with the poor, and work. To be valid the Novitiate must comprise twelve months. [Const. 29:1-5]
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I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE THREE VOWS THAT A RELIGIOUS MUST TAKE: WHAT DOES THE VOW OF POVERTY MEAN?

Gospel poverty is the highest ideal of our way of life. The Church perceives voluntary poverty, especially in religious, as a sign of the following of Christ. Gospel poverty includes loving availability and conformity with the poor and crucified Christ who came to serve, and it leads to solidarity with the little ones of this world. We should use temporal goods with a sense of gratitude and share them with those in need, and so at the same time give an example of the right use of things to those who desire them excessively.[Const. 59:6,3,5,7]
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WHAT ABOUT THIS VOW OF CHASTITY?

IS THAT WHY RELIGIOUS SEEM SO SERIOUS?

The reason for our vow of chastity is preferential love of God and of all people; in a unique way it gives us greater freedom of heart to cling to God with undivided love and enables us to become all things to all people. The charism of celibacy, which not everyone can accept, is an option for the Kingdom of God and in a prophetic manner heralds that Kingdom in our midst, and gives witness to the life to come, in which those who have risen are brothers and sisters to one another before God, who will be all in all to them. [Const. 168:2,3]

One of the notable characteristics of St. Francis is the richness of his affections and his ability to express them. Thoroughly courteous and noble, sensitive to all that is good and beautiful, he desires that his brothers should be joyful heralds of penance and conversion, immersed in peace and in the universal, even cosmic, brotherhood. [Const. 169:1,3]

While we are on the way to the Kingdom of God, chastity always involves a certain privation which is to be acknowledged and accepted. Diligent recourse to supernatural and natural means makes it possible to maintain a proper balance and to avoid the dangers which greatly threaten a celibate brother, such as boredom, loneliness, love of comforts, excessive gratifications, or on the other hand, morbid aversions to displaying affection. [Const. 170:1]
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WHAT ABOUT THE VOW OF OBEDIENCE?

HOW DOES IT WORK? DO YOU EVER ARGUE?

While they show themselves ready to obey the Ministers in the spirit of faith, the brothers should make known to them their own plans and projects for the common good; but it belongs to the Minister to judge and decide what is to be done, after they have willingly considered everything with the brothers. By living in obedience the friars, together with the fraternity, more surely discover the will of God and strengthen fraternal unity itself. If a brother, after fraternal dialogue, should judge something to be better and more useful than what the Minister enjoins on him, let him willingly sacrifice his own ideas to God and do his best to carry out what the Minister has decided upon. This is true and loving obedience, which pleases God and our neighbour. [Const. 165:1; 164:2; 165:3]
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WHAT SORT OF APOSTOLATE DO THE CAPUCHINS GET INVOLVED IN?

The chief apostolate of the lesser brothers is this: to live the Gospel life in the world in sincerity, simplicity and joy. We prefer to evangelise the poor, yet, following the example of Christ and St. Francis, we should not be afraid also to proclaim to persons in positions of power and to rulers of peoples the message of conversion to justice and the duty of preserving peace. The brothers should promote the customary works of the apostolate, such as popular missions, retreats, hearing the confessions of the faithful, the spiritual care of religious women, especially franciscans, the care of the sick and those in prisons, and works of education and of social advancement.

When taking on new forms of the apostolate the brothers should give special attention to those people who, on account of the conditions in which they live, lack ordinary pastoral care. Such are: young people in danger of turning away from the Christian life, emigrants, workers and people burdened with financial worries, or harassed by hostility or racial prejudice.[Const. 145:2,4; 147:2,3]
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WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE ORDER? WHO HAS AUTHORITY?

The General Chapter, which is the eminent sign of unity and solidarity of the whole fraternity assembled through its representatives, possesses supreme authority in the Order. The General Chapter is held every six years. In the General Chapter the General Minister is the first to be elected, he thereby receives full authority over the entire Order and over all the brothers. Eight General Definitors are also elected (to assist the General Minister). [Const. 116:1,2; 118:1,3]

The Provincial Chapter, in which the members assembled in fraternal communion act in the name of the entire Province, is the highest Provincial authority. At the Provincial Chapter the Provincial Minister is elected. Four Provincial Definitors are also elected. [Const. 124:1; 127:3,5]

The Provincial Minister, with the consent of his Definitory, shall form the local fraternities and appoint the Guardians. The Local Chapter consists of all the professed brothers. The votes of the Local Chapter are consultative.[Const. 140:1; 142:1,6]
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WHY ARE THE CAPUCHINS CALLED "FRIARS"?

Inspired by God, St. Francis initiated a way of Gospel life which he called a fraternity, following the example of Christ and his disciples. [Const. 83:5]"Friar" meaning "brother".
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ARE YOU ALLOWED TO HAVE CONTACT WITH YOUR FAMILY, RELATIVES AND FRIENDS?

We should always fulfil our duties of love and friendship towards our parents, relatives, benefactors, helpers and others who belong to our spiritual family and commend them to God in our community prayers. [Const. 94:4]
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I UNDERSTAND THAT FRATERNITY, FOR THE CAPUCHIN FRIARS, IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE. HOW DOES IT WORK IN PRACTICE?

* As brothers given to each other by the Lord, each with his own special gifts, we should accept one another with a grateful heart. Therefore, wherever we may be, gathered together in the name of Jesus let us be of one heart and mind, striving always to advance to greater perfection. As true disciples of the Christ we should love one another from the heart, bearing with one another's burdens and defects. We should continually practise love of God and brotherly charity, striving to give an example of virtue to each other and to all, and fight against our own passions and evil inclinations. [Const. 84:1]

* We should cultivate an ability to converse with one another, confidently sharing our experiences and making known our needs. Moreover, a spirit of brotherly understanding and sincere esteem should prevail at all times. [Const. 84:2]

* In as much as they have the same vocation, the brothers are equal. For this reason, in accordance with the Rule, the Testament and the earliest customs of the Capuchins, all of us should be called brother without distinction. The precedence which is necessary for the service of the Fraternity comes from functions and offices actually held. [Const. 84:3,4]

* St. Francis also desired that anyone who comes to our houses should be received kindly; therefore we should welcome all with the greatest charity, especially the unfortunate and those suffering hardship, and help them in their needs. [Const. 96:2]
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WHAT DO THE CAPUCHINS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT PRAYER?

* Prayer to God, as the breath of love, originates from a movement of the Holy Spirit by which the interior man listens to the voice of God speaking in his heart. For to pray is nothing other than to speak to God with the heart. God, who first loves us speaks to us in many ways: in all creatures, in the signs of the times, in the lives of people, in our own heart, and especially through his Word in salvation history. Christ himself is our life, our prayer and our work. [Const. 45:1,2,4; 52:6]

* Franciscan prayer is affective, ie. from the heart, leading us to an intimate experience of God. When we contemplate God the Supreme Good from whom all good things come, our hearts cannot but break into a chorus of adoration, thanksgiving, wonder and praise. [Const. 46:6]

* Since we have been consecrated to the service of God by baptism and religious profession we should place the highest value on the sacred liturgy, which is the exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ, the summit of all the Church's activity and the source of Christian life. We should strive to nourish our spiritual life and that of the fraternity from the liturgy, and to open its treasures to the faithful. [Const. 47:1]

* In the liturgy of the hours we speak to God with his own words taken from the Scriptures and in his word God himself meets us and speaks to us.[Const. 51:1]

* The practice of Mental Prayer leads us to a spirit of true adoration, unites us intimately with Christ and enables the sacred liturgy to have a continuing influence in our spiritual life. [Const. 52:2]

* It is of the greatest importance to form one's conscience about the vital necessity of personal prayer. Every brother, wherever he may be, should take for himself sufficient time every day for mental prayer, eg. a whole hour. [Const. 53:2]
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WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE WORDS USED TO MAKE PROFESSION OF VOWS?


To the Praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity!

I, Brother ................,
moved by Divine inspiration to live the Gospel
and follow closely in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ
with a firm and steadfast will,
before the Brothers here present
and you, Brother .................,
vow to God the Father, all Holy and Almighty
to live all the days of my life
in poverty, chastity and obedience
and promise to observe faithfully
the Rule and Life of the Friars Minor
confirmed by Pope Honorius
according to the Constitutions
of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor.

Therefore I commit myself with all my heart to this Brotherhood
so that through the operation of the Holy Spirit,
the example of the Immaculate Virgin Mary,
the intercession of our Father Francis and all the Saints
and with the help of my Brothers,
I may attain the perfection of charity
in the service of God, the Church and all people.

 

If you have any other questions, conact the Vocation Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and he will provide some assistance.

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