Dear Franciscans all over the world and supporters of Franciscan spirituality, you must surely be asking: why should we reflect today on such an ancient text – like the Earlier Rule – written by a saint from the Middle Ages? Well, let’s reveal that secret now.

In 2021, we will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the writing of this epistle, and yes, it is true that we are talking about a very ancient text, but one whose language hides a pure and healthy source of spirituality. As members of the Franciscan family, when we drink from the sources it rejuvenates our souls, restores meaning to our fraternal life and gives us strength for our mission. This text, like a spring that remains fresh and deep, comes to us after eight hundred years to refresh our minds and hearts.
Therefore, we hope that these humble reflections will arouse a desire to return to the sources, to rejuvenate the Franciscan spirit in our being and in everyday life.
We do not want to bore you today with too much blah-blah-blah. We would rather use this introduction to start us on path of reflection together, a reflection that will take us back to the past and give light to our present.
St. Francis of Assisi wrote: “The rule and life of these brothers is this, namely…” With this simple premise, the Poverello declares to the friars of his day, and to us, the sons and daughters of his spirituality, that the text we are about to read will “regulate” us and help us to embrace a certain lifestyle. Those who freely decide to enter the Franciscan school of life cannot do it in any other way, because the way “is this” and not something else.
Our spirituality “is this” and not something else; we are Franciscans and we want to be Franciscans. However, how do we carry out a proposal today that was made eight hundred years ago? How does a 21st century Franciscan, so distant in time, and so different in culture, respond to a man from the Middle Ages? How does a brother or sister in Kenya, Japan or anywhere in Latin America embody Franciscan spirituality?
How can I embody a spirituality that I do not understand? This is the point! The Poverello of Assisi wrote: “…is this, namely…” What is this Rule and life? How do we live it?
Well, if “knowledge is power,”[1] then studying our spirituality, deepening it and reflecting upon it, will give us the strength to lead our Franciscan lives. This is the intention of these reflections: to motivate you to seek, understand and drink from the sources. Therefore, dear brother and sister readers, we invite you to journey together through these various articles, reflecting on and studying Franciscan spirituality starting with the Earlier Rule.
To conclude, and on the basis of the affirmation that our spirituality “is this and not something else”, let us ask ourselves as Franciscans: What source shall we drink from today?

Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] An aphorism attributed to the English philosopher and thinker Francis Bacon.