Preliminary Comments

1. The spiritualities of both SFO and TOR are so strikingly similar that it is inept, in this case, to contain rigidly each article under a single subject heading and compare the headings as such. Oftentimes, several secondary themes are present to reinforce the main subject and for the purposes of comparison, it became necessary to break up the article.

2. It is noted that the authors of these Rules may utilise the same quote or similar sayings to support different subjects. An example would be a reference to RnB 7:16 "happy in God, cheerful and courteous". The SFO Rule employs it for the theme of "Equality of all in Christ" asking their members to accept all people "with a gentle and courteous spirit" (#13); the TOR Rule refers to it under "The manners of minority in our life of witness" exhorting members to "be meek, peaceful and unassuming, gentle and humble, speaking courteously to everyone" (#20). Because of this, this work will examine these secondary themes and accents rather than the main subject headings, which are, as mentioned above, comparable.

3. Relating the TOR Rule to the SFO Rule carries out the method of comparison. In other words, the structure of the SFO Rule is maintained and the corresponding emphasis and quotes from the TOR Rule are drawn out to ‘match’, or to highlight a contrast. The quotes written in black will indicate a similarity, and those in red will show dissimilarities.


The Rule of the SFO

The Rule of the TOR of St. Francis


Name of document

Seraphicus Patriarca

Franciscanum Vitae Propositum

Date issued

24 June 1978

8 December 1982


Paul VI

John Paul II

Number of Chapters



Number of Articles



Listing of Chapters2 Prologue

Chap 1 -- The Secular Franciscan Order

Chap 2 -- The Way of Life

#4 - #6 Meaning of gospel living in

Franciscan tradition

#7 - #8 Necessary preconditions


Chap 1 -- Our Identity

Chap 2 -- Reception into this Way of Life

Chap 3 -- The Spirit of Prayer

Chap 4 -- The Life of Chastity for the sake of

the Kingdom of Heaven

Listing of Chapters (continued) #9 - #19 Manner of sharing the

Good News

~ #10 - #14 by how they live (lifestyle)

~ #15 - #19 by what they do (apostolate)

Chap 3 -- Life in Fraternity

Chap 5 -- The Way to Serve and Work

Chap 6 -- The Life of Poverty

Chap 7 -- Fraternal Life

Chap 8 -- The Obedience of Love

Chap 9 -- The Apostolic Life

Exhortation and Blessing




The Exhortation and Blessing is not included in the SFO Rule.

Prologue Letter to All the Faithful

Chap 1: concerning those who do penance

Chap 2: concerning those who do not do


Chap 1 only The presence of the Prologue in both Rules signifies their common origin and affinity.
Nature of document Largely spiritual with legislative elements. Almost wholly spiritual in nature, comprising mainly Francis’ writings. Examples of legislative elements in SFO Rule are that this present Rule succeeds previous rules (#3), division of fraternities into levels (#20), a minimum formation period (#23).
Origin of quotations/ indirect references Total 56

Vatican II documents 18

Francis’ Writings 21

Papal Letters 3

Code of Canon Law 6

Scripture 5

Previous Rules 3

Total 146

Francis’ Writings 92

Clare’s Writings 12

Scripture 42

SFO Rule embodies many aspects of the vision of Vatican II, especially from Lumen Gentium (Church), Apostolicam Actuositatem (Laity) and Gaudium et Spes (Church Today). TOR Rule borrows heavily from RnB & RB and includes the writings of Clare.
The place of Franciscan family #1 "The Franciscan Family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God"   No parallel in TOR Rule.
The place of SFO #2 "The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle"   No parallel in TOR Rule.
New Rule for new times #3 "This present rule… adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times"   No parallel in TOR Rule.
Rule and Life #4 "the rule and life is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi"


#4 "should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to the gospel"

#1 "the form of life: to observe the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, in poverty and in chastity… after the example of St. Francis. They are bound to deny themselves as each has promised to God"

#11 "should keep in mind and meditate on the words of our Lord Jesus Christ… which are spirit and life"

The Rules have the same observance of the gospel, but the TOR includes the three vows and they are bound to deny themselves.



Reading and meditating on the Word are paramount in their Christian lives.

Encounter Christ in all spheres of life #5 "seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in the Church and in liturgical activity"   No parallel in TOR Rule.
Sharing Christ’s mission through life in the Church #6 "they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words"

#6 "in full communion with the pope, bishops and priests"

#29 "He has sent them into the world to bear witness by word and deed to his voice and to proclaim to everyone that he alone is the Almighty Lord"

#3 "promise obedience to the Pope, and to the Catholic Church"

Proclaiming Christ by gospel living, which is the starting point for the apostolic life.


Communion with the Pope and the Church are important to both orders.

Conversion &


#7 "on this road to renewal, the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace" #13 "should do penance without delay… outwardly by confession… They should fast" The significance of Confession as part of their life of renewal is presented in both. Penance is not mentioned in SFO Rule but is more explicit in TOR, e.g. fasting.
Worship -- Sacraments, Liturgy of the Hours, #8 "As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do"

#8 "Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist"

"9 "They should adore him with all their heart because we ought always to pray and not lose heart. The Father seeks such worshippers."

#12 "They should take part in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and receive his Body and Blood with great humility and reverence"

Both emphasising the centrality of prayer ("be the soul", "with all their heart"), with the focus on the Eucharist.
Mary – protectress and advocate #9 "express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving" #17 "they are to follow the example of the Immaculate Virgin Mary who called herself handmaid of the Lord" Both express love for Mary and in imitation of her and her fiat, as did Francis.
Simple living – sharing Christ’s passion #10 "let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to him even in difficulties and persecutions"





#10 "united themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed his will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfil the duties proper to their various circumstances of life"

#23 "They should desire for themselves whatever the Lord wills for them, be it to be healthy or sick."

#30 "Blessed are those who suffer persecution in the cause of right, theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

#25 "remember that they have renounced their own wills for God’s sake… no one is to have power or dominate over others… through love all should serve and obey one another willingly. This is the true and holy obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ"

The desire for union with Christ is so intense that they are willing to share Christ’s passion: in suffering, pain or persecution.




Obedience is quite differently understood for the two. The TOR has elements of renunciation of self-will and minority.

Spirit of detachment #11 "Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life… Let (them) seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs"






#11 "in the spirit of the Beatitudes and as pilgrims and strangers on the way to the home of the Father they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power"

#21 "All must strive to follow the humility and poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ… chose poverty in this world as did his mother… we are to have nothing of this world except food and clothing… They should be profoundly suspicious of money"

#6 "as a sign of conversion and consecration to the gospel life, they are to wear poor clothes and lead a simple life"

#22 "the truly poor in spirit… neither possess nor defend anything as their own. They live in this world as pilgrims and strangers… which makes us heirs of the kingdom of heaven."


SFO and TOR follow Jesus in choosing a poor and humble life, adopting a spirit of detachment. However, TOR appears to have a more radical approach to poverty even to the extent of deprecating money. The TOR also leads a simple life as a sign of conversion and a consecration to the gospel life.



"Living for the kingdom of God and not for this world according to the charter for happiness given in the Beatitudes" [commentary for SFO #11].

Free to love God and neighbour #12 "obliged to acquire purity of heart because of the vocation they have embraced, they should set themselves free to love God and their brothers and sisters"

#12 "acquire purity of heart"

#8 "with undivided hearts, they grow in all-embracing love, as they turn without ceasing towards God and their neighbour"


#15 "professing chastity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, they should be solicitous for the things of the Lord… so that love for God and everyone in the world may shine forth in all that they do"

An undivided pure heart is turned to God and neighbour.



Difference here is in the profession of chastity which the TOR does. But the end result is the same: free to love God and neighbour.

Equality & dignity of all people







Solidarity with the poor

#13 "as the Father sees in every person the features of his Son… accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ"


#13 "with a gentle and courteous spirit"



#13 "a sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ"



#13 "place themselves on an equal basis with all people"

#14 "keep in mind the great dignity with which the Lord has endowed them (TOR), ‘for he created and formed’ them ‘in the image of his beloved Son’."

#20 "should be meek, peaceful and unassuming, gentle and humble, speaking courteously to everyone"

#21 "Let them rejoice when they live among the outcast and despised, among the poor and weak, the sick and the lepers and those who beg in the streets"

#30 "have been called to heal the wounded, mend the broken and bring back those who have gone astray"

#19 "they should be subject to every human creature"

Dignity and reverence of self and all creation.



Similar manner of gentleness and courtesy when treating others.


Being one with the minores, offering them equality and fraternity.







Minority is not explicit in the SFO Rule.

Selfless service with talents #14 "let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service" #18 "should serve and work faithfully and devotedly" SFO includes the attribute of competence in their service.
Social Justice #15 "promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives"   Justice is not explicitly mentioned in the TOR Rule.
Work #16 "esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption and service of the human community" #18 "should serve and work faithfully and devotedly. Let them beware of idleness… should not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion"




#19 "In return for their work they may accept what is necessary for their material needs… what they have over they should give to the poor… they should be subject to every creature"

For the SFO, work is a gift and a sharing. TOR adds that work is the opposite of idleness and must not encroach on prayer life. This aspect is not detailed in SFO Rule though it hints that "prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do" (#8).

Wages, giving excesses to the poor and minority are not explicitly cited in the SFO Rule.

Family Life #17 "in their family they should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity and respect for life"

#17 "by living the grace of matrimony… joyfully accompany their children on their human and Christian journey"

#23 "whenever they meet each other, they should show that they are members of the same family" SFO brings love into family life, TOR by love shows that they are family.


SFO Rule spells out Franciscan life within the family – dealing with spouse and children, which is not applicable to TOR.

Ecology #18 "they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which bear the imprint of the Most High and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation" #10 "praise the Lord… in union with all his creatures. He created all things spiritual and material" Both Rules state that all things are created by God, but the SFO enunciates the respect and non-abusive attitude due to them.
Peace-making & preparation for death #19 "mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly" #30 "As they proclaim peace with their lips, they must have it to overflowing in their hearts" Importance of being peacemakers, which results in joy and hope [commentary for SFO #19].
Peace-making & preparation for death (cont) #19 "since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father"   For SFO, a special application of this ministry of peace-making is preparation for death, at which time a person arrives at that ultimate encounter with God and an eternal peace in his presence that fulfil the earthly quest for peace [commentary].
Levels of Fraternities #20 "local, regional, national and international… each one has its own moral personality in the Church."   No parallel article in TOR Rule since there are hundreds of different congregations involved.
Choice of Minister & Constitutions #21 "each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected" #26 "always bound to have one of their members as minister and servant of the fraternity, whom they are strictly obliged to obey" Similar requirement for a minister though the TOR does not state an election process. The SFO also mentions the election of a council. TOR members are obliged to obey their ministers.
Local Fraternity #22 "local fraternity… becomes a visible sign of the Church, a community of love" #23 "should love one another… let them show by their actions that they love one another… make their needs known to one another"



#24 "if any… gravely transgress the form of life they have professed… should admonish them"

The fraternity is the sign of love. However the TOR Rule is more elaborate in spelling out how to love and it includes caring for the sick within the fraternity.

For the TOR, fraternal love includes admonition.

Admission, Profession & Withdrawal #23 "council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sisters"


#23 "admission into the Order… through a time of initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule"

#4 "they are to be presented to the ministers who have the authority to admit them"


#7 "At the end of the period of formation they are to be received into obedience, promising to observe this rule and life always"

SFO council admits new members while it is the minister of the TOR who has the authority to do so.

SFO Rule is more juridical with the stating of a minimum duration for formation. Besides, SFO members profess the rule while the TOR has, in addition, the vows, and the latter are being received into obedience.

Admission, Profession & Withdrawal (cont) #23 "members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue" #27 "(those) who know and acknowledge that they cannot observe the rule spiritually, they can and ought to have recourse to their ministers" Consultation with authority

(SFO: council, TOR: minister) when faced with difficulties, is strongly encouraged.

Regular Meetings #24 "the council should organise regular and frequent meetings of the community"

#24 "the council should organise… meetings with other Franciscan groups"



#3 "They should foster unity and fellowship with all the members of the Franciscan Family"

No parallel article in TOR Rule.


Similar emphasis on fellowship with other members of the Franciscan Family.

Monetary Contributions #25 "regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship… all should offer a contribution"   No parallel article in TOR Rule.
Spiritual Assistants & Visitations #26 "ask for a regular pastoral visit by a competent religious superior and a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities"

#26 "ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance"

#27 "those who are ministers… should visit them" Visitations are necessary, to give advice, encourage, "provide spiritual growth and organisational development" [commentary for SFO #26].

SFO asks for spiritual assistance while TOR members avail themselves to provide it.

Detachment from ministry   #28 "no one is to appropriate any ministry… should relinquish it gladly at appointed time" No parallel in SFO Rule.
Gratitude   #31 "strive to have humility in all things… all good things come from God and we thank him for it" No parallel in SFO Rule.




1. When the comparisons between the Rules are performed, the subjects referred to are those of the SFO, except for those in Italics which would be TOR.

2. Since there are only 3 chapters in the SFO Rule, it is not meaningful to list them without the sub-chapter categorisations.