Dear brother readers, thank you for reading our series of humble reflections in honor of the 800th anniversary of the writing of the Earlier Rule by St. Francis of Assisi. Today, we conclude the series with this last reflection.

In chapter XVI, 21 of the Earlier Rule, Francis writes, “Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.” (FF 45). Of course, we could end by saying that after 800 years, we are called to hold on to the Franciscan ideal and persevere in the values ​​we have inherited from the spirituality of the Poverello of Assisi. However, we are aware that persevering is not all that easy.
At the beginning of our vocational journey, we have plenty of energy and we even resolve, in a heroic and naive way, to live according to the example of Jesus, poor and humble, obedient and chaste, as St. Francis suggests to us in the Earlier Rule:

“Let all the brothers strive to follow the humility and poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ and let them remember that we should have nothing else in the whole world except, as the Apostle says: having food and clothing, we are content with these” (Cf. 1 Tim 6:8)[1].

However, as time passes, the road, with its ups and downs, becomes arduous and winding and sticking to what we have promised becomes much more difficult.
We are not referring to friars who have left the Order, but to those who, despite belonging to it in the juridical sense, no longer persevere in the lifestyle of the Friars Minor, and have abandoned themselves to a life that does not correspond to the Franciscan ideal, or worse, to Gospel values.
The question we should ask ourselves is not, ‘Why do some of us abandon religious life?’ Rather, we should be asking, ‘Why do some of us persevere?’
After 800 years, the Earlier Rule continues to challenge us about the way we live and persevere in being “friars and minors.”
Why do we persevere? Because we have food and a roof over our heads? Because we have economic security? Do we remain because we are afraid to face a world we do not know?
Whom do we follow as an Order, or as a Province, or as a simple Friar Minor who one day decided that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ would be his way of life?
We know that the Franciscan charism is not some low-cost utopia, much less an ideology. It is a way of life, it is the embodiment of the values that make a friar minor stand out in life, as a brother and a servant of all[2], living the Gospel to the best of his ability, according to the cultural, social, political and religious context of his day.
With that, let us bid you farewell with a quote from St. Francis:

“‘Great things have we promised,’ he said, ‘greater things have been promised us; let us observe the former and yearn for the latter. Pleasure is short and punishment is eternal; suffering is slight and glory infinite. Many are called; few are chosen, all are repaid’”[3].

Friar Elio J. ROJAS

[1] Earlier Rule IX, 1 (FF 29).
[2] Second Version of the Letter to the Faithful IX, 47 (FF 199): “We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake” (1Pt 2:13).
[3] 2Cel CXLIV, 191 (FF 778).