20 Mar Preface of the Guidelines for the Establishment of a Hermitage Fraternity or a House of Prayer
The text of the document on the Guidelines for the Establishment of a Hermitage Fraternity or a House of Prayer has been approved by the General Definitorium and will be published shortly. For now, we give you the Preface of the document given by the Minister General, Michael Anthony Perry, on March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph.
Francis, the servant of Christ, “firmly claimed that the grace of prayer must be desired above all else by a Religious…and [he] used whatever means he could to arouse his brothers to be zealous in prayer. For whether walking or sitting, inside or outside, working or resting, he was so focused on prayer that he seemed to have dedicated to it not only whatever was in his heart and body, but also his effort and time.” (LMj 10:1)
The example of St. Francis of Assisi, as described above by St. Bonaventure, is a reminder of the centrality of prayer in the Order of Friars Minor. While we well know the importance of prayer in the lives of all Christians and of every Religious, we also recognize issues such as the difficulty of finding a balance between work and prayer, the reality of how personal prayer may end up being neglected, and the tendency towards living a faith life that is too individualistic. But we approach these issues in the context of a felt need for better forms of prayer and spirituality in the Order, which is shown in the responses from the survey on the State of the Order (cf. Summary Report, Rome 2014) that expressed a desire for more resource material on prayer.
We accept that no one can prosper in the life and service of God, without the grace of prayer (cf. LMj 10 10:1). This is the motivation behind the 2015 General Chapter’s decision to adopt a specific approach — “Hermitage Fraternities or Houses of Prayer”. It is hoped these will be established, or further strengthened, at the level of the Order, of the Conferences, or of the Entities. May all those involved work together in fraternal and corporate way, thus helping to keep the Order’s contemplative dimension alive, for the good of individual Religious and of God’s holy people.
It is with great pleasure that I present these guidelines indicating concrete steps for setting up a community as a Hermitage or a House of Prayer (2015 General Chapter, decision 7). They express the conviction of the Chapter members that there is an urgent need to make space in our daily lives for meaningful times and places devoted to our personal relationship with God and dedicated to building fraternity, which is the source from which the friars can derive joy and experience the beauty of our vocation.